Home > Book of Revelation, Christ's kingdom, The 3 ½ years, The Exodus > Charles D. Alexander on the earth helping the woman

Charles D. Alexander on the earth helping the woman

June 29, 2013

Charles D. Alexander discussed the flood that the serpent cast out
of his mouth to carry away the woman, who represents the church, in his
commentary, Revelation
Spiritually Understood Part 16: The Woman In The Wilderness.

Revelation
12:14-15
And the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman,
that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood. And the earth
helped the woman, and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed up the
flood which the dragon cast out of his mouth.


Alexander wrote:

THE DEVIL’S FLOOD

“And the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a
flood after the woman ….” (Verse 15)

Literalism and Futurism can make nothing of these
words, for they would require the abandonment of their entire system of
interpretation. They deny that Revelation is a symbolic and spiritual
book, for to accept the spiritual interpretation would mean the
dismantling of all their theories. Yet who would teach that the Woman
is a literal person and not a symbolic figure? Likewise if the Woman is
a symbol, so is the flood of water poured from the mouth of Satan, and
so by consequence the entire edifice of literal interpretation of
Revelation must fall to the ground.

Historicist interpreters have seen this flood of
waters as the Goths and Huns, some the Roman armies of Vespasian sent
to destroy Jerusalem, others the Arian heretics, or again, the Islamic
hosts of Saracens and Turks. Futurists see the armies of Antichrist set
in motion against the Jews in some coming day.

We prefer Hengstenberg’s consistent and sober
estimate, “The hostile overflowing of the Church, the beginning of
which gave rise to this Book, namely the Roman persecution.”

The flood of waters is a common and constant OT
figure of the rising tide of enmity again and again in history, aimed
at overwhelming and destroying the people of God. It is not one
isolated episode of history, past or to come, but the constant
experience of the Church in her warfare against all forms of Satanic
hate, whether in terms of the flood of antichristian doctrine or of
open persecution and suppression.

O.T. EXAMPLES

The following examples of this kind of Satanic
opposition to the people of God, should be studied:

Jeremiah 47:2: “Thus saith the Lord; Behold,
waters rise up out of the north, and shall be an overflowing flood, and
shall overflow the land, and all that is therein; the city, and them
that dwell therein: then the men shall cry, and all the inhabitants of
the land shall howl.”

The flood waters in this verse are the armies
which came against Jerusalem in the days of Jeremiah.

Psalm 24:1-5: “If it had not been the Lord who was
on our side, now may Israel say; If it had not been the Lord who was on
our side, when men rose up against us: Then they had swallowed us up
quick, when their wrath was kindled against us: Then the waters had
overwhelmed us, the stream had gone over our soul: Then the proud
waters had gone over our soul.”

Psalm 18:16: “He drew me out of many waters.”

Isaiah 8:7-8: “Now therefore, behold, the Lord
bringeth up upon them the waters of the river, strong and many, even
the king of Assyria, and all his glory: and he shall come up over his
channels, and go over all his banks: And he shall pass through Judah;
he shall overflow and go over, he shall reach even to the neck; and the
stretching out of his wings shall fill the breadth of thy land, O
Immanuel.”

This prophecy interprets itself. The flood waters
of the river are the Assyrian army, which surged against Jerusalem in
the days of Isaiah and Hezekiah.

Jeremiah 46:7-8: “Who is this that cometh up as a
flood, whose waters are moved as the rivers? Egypt riseth up like a
flood, and his waters are moved like the rivers; and he saith, I will
go up, and will cover the earth; I will destroy the city and the
inhabitants thereof.”

THE EARTH HELPING THE WOMAN

The swallowing up of the flood by the earth
denotes the rise of opposing powers who by engulfing the persecutors or
oppressors of the Church, unwittingly ‘help’ the Woman. The dominion of
the whole creation, including the nations and their leaders and
tyrants, is given into the hand of Christ (Matt. 28:18). In the texts
quoted above, especially Isaiah 8.7-8, it is the Lord who raises up the
power of the nations to execute His sovereign purposes. Thus He decreed
the destruction of Babylon by the Medes and Persians, then the
destruction of the Persian power by the Greeks, the Grecian empire by
the Roman, and finally the disintegration of the Roman Empire by the
Barbarian conquerors. Many times since then, even down to modern days,
have we seen the same process at work – the ruin of Spain, the fall of
Napoleon, the destruction of the Nazi empire almost as soon as it was
created. In the post-Reformation age the antichristian persecutions by
the Papal power were halted by the rise of the Turks and their invasion
of Europe as far as the gates of Vienna. The discovery of America
provided a haven of refuge for the oppressed people of God in Britain
and Europe. The folly of Britain resulted in the independence of the
Americas from European domination. Now an invisible and far more
dangerous power threatens to overwhelm all of us – and we are NOT
referring to Russia, which on account of its geography can neither
successfully attack nor be attacked; we are referring to the flood of
scientific and religious error which has substituted the mind of man
for the fact of God, with the inevitable rise of the tide of open
immorality and disgusting social sin which would have made even the
inhabitants of Sodom to blush.

There is no power but of God. The powers that be
are ordained of God. Even Satan has to seek divine permission to try
the righteous (as the Book of Job plainly indicates). Nevertheless the
divine sovereignty, which is absolute, operates secretly and
mysteriously so as neither to interfere on the one hand with the
liberty of volition without which angels would not be angels and men
would not be men; and on the other to lead infallibly to the
accomplishment of the holy purposes of God. How this is achieved by the
Godhead is not within the capacity of man or angel to understand before
the all-revealing day of judgment. The efforts of extreme Calvinism
(which Calvin and the other Reformers would not countenance) to devise
a scheme complete in all its details, subjecting even the deity Itself
to its merciless logic, is only matched by the puerile theology of
present-day Arminianism which, in the effort to escape from the
enormity of a universe entirely mechanical in its operation, has
dethroned God and put sovereign man in His place.

No-one can believe in a universe in which God has
failed in the slightest degree to carry out His entire purpose. But
neither can any enlightened soul charge God with the deplorable outcome
of unbelief – “As I live, saith the Lord, I have no pleasure in the
death of the wicked but that the wicked turn from his way and live.
Turn ye, turn ye, from your evil ways, for why will ye die, O house of
Israel?” (Ezek. 33:11). Neither man nor angel can solve that paradox.
We must hold both reins if we would be guided on the right course, and
be content to wait for the full light of God’s glory in the Day of
Judgment.

We now understand the meaning of these words, “The
earth helped the woman.” The earth, considered as the worldly
multitudes and powers, goes its own way, but the omnipotence of God in
Christ, working secretly and marvelously through all history, sets
power against power and strength against strength and policy against
policy (as in the Book of Daniel) to put down one and raise up another,
always with the welfare of the Church in view, for the Church is the
one enduring object in all history. Indeed, all history belongs to the
Church, as Moses taught the Israelites in the wilderness, “When the
Most High divided to the nations their inheritance, when he separated
the sons of Adam, he SET THE BOUNDS OF THE PEOPLE ACCORDING TO THE
NUMBER OF THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL” (Deut. 32.8; see also Acts 17.26).
The very geography of the earth as well as all human history, has been
shaped by divine omnipotence to promote the interests of the Church,
the Kingdom of God. Wars and revolutions are disposed by the iron
sceptre of Christ for the judgment and chastisement of human pride and
power and the limitation of evil (which always multiplies itself with
limitless arrogance when left at peace with itself). Christ exercises
this sovereignty over all, as much by the control He has over the Evil
One as over the kings of the earth, rulers, presidents, democracies,
dictatorships, and tyrannies. But He does this in such a way as to defy
all human ability to trace His pathway, “Thy way is in the sea, and thy
path in the great waters, and thy footsteps are not known”. (Psalm
77:19). (See also Psalm 93:3-4, and Psalm 29:10.)

It is thus that the earth helps the Woman, and
thus the purposes of God are fulfilled. “All things are ours, and we
are Christ’s and Christ is God’s”. (1 Corinthians 3:21-23)

Alexander interprets the earth as the nations of the world, ‘the
worldly multitudes and powers.’ He believed that events of world
history promote the interests of the Church, and the Kingdom of God, in
unknown ways.

Although there are examples where armies of the heathen who attack
Jerusalem are described as a “flood,” the church of the New Testament
does not wrestle against flesh and blood, “but against principalities,
against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world,
against spiritual wickedness in high places.” [Eph. 6:12] Her
adversaries include theories, doctrines, flawed interpretations; the
warriors in the OT events and prophecies may be symbolic of spiritual
foes of the church.

The armies who were associated with floods that threaten Israel in
the OT (Assyria and Egypt) may be typical of spiritual foes of the
church, such as theories, systems of interpretation, and the like.

The prophecy of the earth helping the woman is set in the context of
the woman in the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God.

The earth which helps the woman by swallowing up the serpent’s flood
must therefore be the wilderness, to which she flees, and where she is
nourished, which corresponds to the ‘place’ that God has prepared for
her.

The word “earth” (γῆ, gē) in Rev. 12:15 may be translated “land;”
for example γῇ Ζαβουλὼν, ‘The land of Zabulon,’ [Matt. 4:15] γῇ Χαναὰν,
‘the land of Canaan’ [Acts 13:19].

The “flood” from the mouth of the serpent extends its waters over
the wilderness where the woman dwells. Like the wilderness where Israel
dwelt during the time of the exodus, the wilderness in Rev. 12:14-15 is
the church’s spiritual environment, prepared by Christ, who said, “I go
to prepare a place for you.” [John 14:2] Part of this environment
consists of God’s word, the Old and New Testaments which God has
provided to the church. The wilderness experience varies for each
individual. Knowledge is cumulative; the fruits of many centuries of
scholarship and biblical interpretation attempts are now available to
the church through the Internet.

The wilderness of the church is not a literal wilderness, but
compasses the cultural and spiritual development of the church during
the whole of the present age, represented by the ‘time, times and a
half.’

Over time, the earth, the wilderness of the church’s environment,
which is the ‘place’ prepared for her by God, has changed in cultural,
technological, and in spiritual ways. One of the most notable examples
of this was the development of the printing press by Johannes Gutenberg
(c. 1400-1467).

The Catholic
Encyclopedia
says of him:

The invention of Gutenberg should be classed with the greatest
events in the history of the world. It caused a revolution in the
development of culture, equalled by hardly any other incident in the
Christian Era. Facility in disseminating the treasure of the intellect
was a necessary condition for the rapid development of the sciences in
modern times. Happening as it did just at the time when science was
becoming more secularized and its cultivation no longer resigned almost
entirely to the monks, it may be said that the age was pregnant with
this invention. Thus not only is Gutenberg’s art inseparable from the
progress of modern science, but it has also been an indispensable
factor in the education of the people at large. Culture and knowledge,
until then considered aristocratic privileges peculiar to certain
classes, were popularized by typography, although in the process it
unfortunately brought about an internal revolution in the intellectual
world in the direction of what is profane and free from restraint.

Today, with the development of the Internet, the earth helps the
woman by providing new opportunities for reaching people with the
gospel. And the flood from the mouth of the serpent is swallowed up as
flawed interpretations are corrected and understanding is increased.

Charles D. Alexander discussed the flood that the serpent cast out of his mouth to carry away the woman, who represents the church, in his commentary, Revelation Spiritually Understood Part 16: The Woman In The Wilderness.

Revelation 12:14-15
And the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood. And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed up the flood which the dragon cast out of his mouth.


Alexander wrote:

THE DEVIL’S FLOOD

“And the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman ….” (Verse 15)

Literalism and Futurism can make nothing of these words, for they would require the abandonment of their entire system of interpretation. They deny that Revelation is a symbolic and spiritual book, for to accept the spiritual interpretation would mean the dismantling of all their theories. Yet who would teach that the Woman is a literal person and not a symbolic figure? Likewise if the Woman is a symbol, so is the flood of water poured from the mouth of Satan, and so by consequence the entire edifice of literal interpretation of Revelation must fall to the ground.

Historicist interpreters have seen this flood of waters as the Goths and Huns, some the Roman armies of Vespasian sent to destroy Jerusalem, others the Arian heretics, or again, the Islamic hosts of Saracens and Turks. Futurists see the armies of Antichrist set in motion against the Jews in some coming day.

We prefer Hengstenberg’s consistent and sober estimate, “The hostile overflowing of the Church, the beginning of which gave rise to this Book, namely the Roman persecution.”

The flood of waters is a common and constant OT figure of the rising tide of enmity again and again in history, aimed at overwhelming and destroying the people of God. It is not one isolated episode of history, past or to come, but the constant experience of the Church in her warfare against all forms of Satanic hate, whether in terms of the flood of antichristian doctrine or of open persecution and suppression.

O.T. EXAMPLES

The following examples of this kind of Satanic opposition to the people of God, should be studied:

Jeremiah 47:2: “Thus saith the Lord; Behold, waters rise up out of the north, and shall be an overflowing flood, and shall overflow the land, and all that is therein; the city, and them that dwell therein: then the men shall cry, and all the inhabitants of the land shall howl.”

The flood waters in this verse are the armies which came against Jerusalem in the days of Jeremiah.

Psalm 24:1-5: “If it had not been the Lord who was on our side, now may Israel say; If it had not been the Lord who was on our side, when men rose up against us: Then they had swallowed us up quick, when their wrath was kindled against us: Then the waters had overwhelmed us, the stream had gone over our soul: Then the proud waters had gone over our soul.”

Psalm 18:16: “He drew me out of many waters.”

Isaiah 8:7-8: “Now therefore, behold, the Lord bringeth up upon them the waters of the river, strong and many, even the king of Assyria, and all his glory: and he shall come up over his channels, and go over all his banks: And he shall pass through Judah; he shall overflow and go over, he shall reach even to the neck; and the stretching out of his wings shall fill the breadth of thy land, O Immanuel.”

This prophecy interprets itself. The flood waters of the river are the Assyrian army, which surged against Jerusalem in the days of Isaiah and Hezekiah.

Jeremiah 46:7-8: “Who is this that cometh up as a flood, whose waters are moved as the rivers? Egypt riseth up like a flood, and his waters are moved like the rivers; and he saith, I will go up, and will cover the earth; I will destroy the city and the inhabitants thereof.”

THE EARTH HELPING THE WOMAN

The swallowing up of the flood by the earth denotes the rise of opposing powers who by engulfing the persecutors or oppressors of the Church, unwittingly ‘help’ the Woman. The dominion of the whole creation, including the nations and their leaders and tyrants, is given into the hand of Christ (Matt. 28:18). In the texts quoted above, especially Isaiah 8.7-8, it is the Lord who raises up the power of the nations to execute His sovereign purposes. Thus He decreed the destruction of Babylon by the Medes and Persians, then the destruction of the Persian power by the Greeks, the Grecian empire by the Roman, and finally the disintegration of the Roman Empire by the Barbarian conquerors. Many times since then, even down to modern days, have we seen the same process at work – the ruin of Spain, the fall of Napoleon, the destruction of the Nazi empire almost as soon as it was created. In the post-Reformation age the antichristian persecutions by the Papal power were halted by the rise of the Turks and their invasion of Europe as far as the gates of Vienna. The discovery of America provided a haven of refuge for the oppressed people of God in Britain and Europe. The folly of Britain resulted in the independence of the Americas from European domination. Now an invisible and far more dangerous power threatens to overwhelm all of us – and we are NOT referring to Russia, which on account of its geography can neither successfully attack nor be attacked; we are referring to the flood of scientific and religious error which has substituted the mind of man for the fact of God, with the inevitable rise of the tide of open immorality and disgusting social sin which would have made even the inhabitants of Sodom to blush.

There is no power but of God. The powers that be are ordained of God. Even Satan has to seek divine permission to try the righteous (as the Book of Job plainly indicates). Nevertheless the divine sovereignty, which is absolute, operates secretly and mysteriously so as neither to interfere on the one hand with the liberty of volition without which angels would not be angels and men would not be men; and on the other to lead infallibly to the accomplishment of the holy purposes of God. How this is achieved by the Godhead is not within the capacity of man or angel to understand before the all-revealing day of judgment. The efforts of extreme Calvinism (which Calvin and the other Reformers would not countenance) to devise a scheme complete in all its details, subjecting even the deity Itself to its merciless logic, is only matched by the puerile theology of present-day Arminianism which, in the effort to escape from the enormity of a universe entirely mechanical in its operation, has dethroned God and put sovereign man in His place.

No-one can believe in a universe in which God has failed in the slightest degree to carry out His entire purpose. But neither can any enlightened soul charge God with the deplorable outcome of unbelief – “As I live, saith the Lord, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn ye, turn ye, from your evil ways, for why will ye die, O house of Israel?” (Ezek. 33:11). Neither man nor angel can solve that paradox. We must hold both reins if we would be guided on the right course, and be content to wait for the full light of God’s glory in the Day of Judgment.

We now understand the meaning of these words, “The earth helped the woman.” The earth, considered as the worldly multitudes and powers, goes its own way, but the omnipotence of God in Christ, working secretly and marvelously through all history, sets power against power and strength against strength and policy against policy (as in the Book of Daniel) to put down one and raise up another, always with the welfare of the Church in view, for the Church is the one enduring object in all history. Indeed, all history belongs to the Church, as Moses taught the Israelites in the wilderness, “When the Most High divided to the nations their inheritance, when he separated the sons of Adam, he SET THE BOUNDS OF THE PEOPLE ACCORDING TO THE NUMBER OF THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL” (Deut. 32.8; see also Acts 17.26). The very geography of the earth as well as all human history, has been shaped by divine omnipotence to promote the interests of the Church, the Kingdom of God. Wars and revolutions are disposed by the iron sceptre of Christ for the judgment and chastisement of human pride and power and the limitation of evil (which always multiplies itself with limitless arrogance when left at peace with itself). Christ exercises this sovereignty over all, as much by the control He has over the Evil One as over the kings of the earth, rulers, presidents, democracies, dictatorships, and tyrannies. But He does this in such a way as to defy all human ability to trace His pathway, “Thy way is in the sea, and thy path in the great waters, and thy footsteps are not known”. (Psalm 77:19). (See also Psalm 93:3-4, and Psalm 29:10.)

It is thus that the earth helps the Woman, and thus the purposes of God are fulfilled. “All things are ours, and we are Christ’s and Christ is God’s”. (1 Corinthians 3:21-23)

Alexander interprets the earth as the nations of the world, ‘the worldly multitudes and powers.’ He believed that events of world history promote the interests of the Church, and the Kingdom of God, in unknown ways.

Although there are examples where armies of the heathen who attack Jerusalem are described as a “flood,” the church of the New Testament does not wrestle against flesh and blood, “but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” [Eph. 6:12] Her adversaries include theories, doctrines, flawed interpretations; the warriors in the OT events and prophecies may be symbolic of spiritual foes of the church.

The armies who were associated with floods that threaten Israel in the OT (Assyria and Egypt) may be typical of spiritual foes of the church, such as theories, systems of interpretation, and the like.

The prophecy of the earth helping the woman is set in the context of the woman in the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God.

The earth which helps the woman by swallowing up the serpent’s flood must therefore be the wilderness, to which she flees, and where she is nourished, which corresponds to the ‘place’ that God has prepared for her.

The word “earth” (γῆ, gē) in Rev. 12:15 may be translated “land;” for example γῇ Ζαβουλὼν, ‘The land of Zabulon,’ [Matt. 4:15] γῇ Χαναὰν, ‘the land of Canaan’ [Acts 13:19].

The “flood” from the mouth of the serpent extends its waters over the wilderness where the woman dwells. Like the wilderness where Israel dwelt during the time of the exodus, the wilderness in Rev. 12:14-15 is the church’s spiritual environment, prepared by Christ, who said, “I go to prepare a place for you.” [John 14:2] Part of this environment consists of God’s word, the Old and New Testaments which God has provided to the church. The wilderness experience varies for each individual. Knowledge is cumulative; the fruits of many centuries of scholarship and biblical interpretation attempts are now available to the church through the Internet.

The wilderness of the church is not a literal wilderness, but compasses the cultural and spiritual development of the church during the whole of the present age, represented by the ‘time, times and a half.’

Over time, the earth, the wilderness of the church’s environment, which is the ‘place’ prepared for her by God, has changed in cultural, technological, and in spiritual ways. One of the most notable examples of this was the development of the printing press by Johannes Gutenberg (c. 1400-1467).

The Catholic Encyclopedia says of him:

The invention of Gutenberg should be classed with the greatest events in the history of the world. It caused a revolution in the development of culture, equalled by hardly any other incident in the Christian Era. Facility in disseminating the treasure of the intellect was a necessary condition for the rapid development of the sciences in modern times. Happening as it did just at the time when science was becoming more secularized and its cultivation no longer resigned almost entirely to the monks, it may be said that the age was pregnant with this invention. Thus not only is Gutenberg’s art inseparable from the progress of modern science, but it has also been an indispensable factor in the education of the people at large. Culture and knowledge, until then considered aristocratic privileges peculiar to certain classes, were popularized by typography, although in the process it unfortunately brought about an internal revolution in the intellectual world in the direction of what is profane and free from restraint.

Today, with the development of the Internet, the earth helps the woman by providing new opportunities for reaching people with the gospel. And the flood from the mouth of the serpent is swallowed up as flawed interpretations are corrected and understanding is increased.

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  1. rory
    July 3, 2013 at 12:28 pm

    We find the wilderness to be tribulation, the time of trouble, the place of testing, the time of refining and purging.. for bringing forth a remnant from both the natural branches and the seed of the woman.
    The flood from the dragon’s mouth is all that is false and deceiving, “knowlege shall be increased” comes to mind, in both the spiritually good sense and the worldly sense

    This fits the context of “the things that shall be” and “shall soon come to pass”.
    God bless

    • July 6, 2013 at 9:12 am

      In 1 Cor. 10:1-12, Paul compared the experiences of the Israelites after their Exodus from Egypt with the experience of those who believe in Christ. He said the events they experienced happened for our examples: “Now all these things happened unto them for examples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come. Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.” [1 Cor. 10:11-12]

      In the period after the Exodus, and before the Israelites entered the promised land, they dwelt in the wilderness. Their experience corresponds to the spiritual experience of Christians, after they believe. The saints remain in the world, where they are nourished with the spiritual manna of God’s word, and drink of the spiritual waters, which signify the Spirit of Christ. Their spiritual envoironment is depicted as a wilderness, when they are en route to their permanent inheritance. This contrasts with the world, and the great city, from which they escape upon believing the gospel.

      Paul explains that not all the Israelites who departed from Egypt with Moses made it to the promised land, and applies this lesson to the church. In Rev. 12:4, a third of the stars of heaven are drawn by the tail of the dragon, and cast to the earth, depicting Christians who become deceived, and who lose their heavenly status, and return to the world which they had escaped. Heaven contrasts with the earth, as the wilderness contrasts with the great city [Rev. 11:8]

      The duration of the woman’s sojourn in the wilderness is a symbolic three and a half years, represented by 1,260 days and by ‘a time, times and a half.’ [Rev. 12:6, 14] In the first Exodus the people dwelt in the wilderness for up to 42 years. The ‘time, times and a half’ is one half of seven times, which together with the three and a half natural years of the ministry of Jesus, correspond to the 70th week in Dan. 9, when he “confirms the covenant with many.” The ‘time, times and a half’ is the biblical symbol for the whole age of the church.

      In the Exodus the wilderness was the land between Egypt and promised land. The wilderness of Rev. 12:6 & 14 is the place prepared by God for the woman. When Jesus said to his disciples, “I go to prepare a place for you,” [John 14:2] He implied a heavenly location, his Father’s house, in which there are many mansions. This is a definition of a city. It is the heavenly city, built by God, which Jesus is now preparing. The many mansions represent the eternal inheritance of all believers. In Rev. 12:1 the heavenly Jerusalem, the church, is represented by a woman in heaven, who in verse 6 is also depicted fleeing to the wilderness, to the place prepared for her by God, where she is nourished for 1,260 days.

      Can the woman be in heaven, and in the wilderness, at the same time? John clearly teaches it in Rev. 12:1, 6, & 14. The saints remain in the world, but are separate from it; they “come out from among them,” [2 Cor. 6:17] and “keep themselves unspotted by the world.” [James. 1:27] The wilderness contrasts with the great city, the worldly system called Babylon, and spiritually Sodom and Egypt, “where the Lord was crucified,” which was outside the earthly Jerusalem. [Rev. 11:8; Heb. 13:12] The city of Jerusalem is symbolic of the heavenly city, and locations outside the city signify the world of unbelief and Babylon. The saints are in a spiritual sense in heaven, Paul taught in Ephesians 2: “But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.” [Eph. 2:4-7]

      At the same time, they are also in the wilderness, again in a spiritual sense as indicated in 1 Cor. 10, where Paul compares the experience of believers to that of the Israelites in the wilderness who were led by Moses. The wilderness metaphor means that believers occupy a place prepared by God, which is their spiritual environment, where they are nourished by the spiritual teaching of God’s word, which corresponds to the manna that fed the Israelites in the wilderness. Jesus identified himself as the ‘true bread from heaven,” and the ‘living bread.’ [John 6:32, 51] Jesus promised, “And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent?”

      But Jesus warned those who remain attached to the world’s religious system, called Babylon: “And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues. For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities.” [Rev. 18:3-5]

      The serpent persecutes the woman and she flees to the wilderness. She is given two wings of a great eagle. The wilderness to which she flies in Rev. 12:14, is the place Jesus has prepared for her, where she is nourished, and where the serpent is overcome, as serpents are the eagle’s prey. The saints overcome Satan by the blood of the Lamb. [Rev. 12:11] The two wings of an eagle, I believe, signify the gift of understanding prophecy. Knowing the symbolic meaning of wilderness and other symbols in Rev. 11 and 12 are keys to this understanding.

      “And the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood. And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed up the flood which the dragon cast out of his mouth.” [Rev. 12:15-16]

      The flood from the mouth of the serpent is swallowed up when ‘the earth opens her mouth.’ Increased knowledge and technological development in the world swallow up ignorance and superstition.

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