I believe the text of Revelation 12 depicts war waged by the devil against God. First, war in Heaven (vs. 7-12). The devil was defeated and expelled from Heaven, whereupon he turned his attack upon the faithful followers of God on earth, the church (vs. 13-17).
I believe that much of what is written in The Revelation deals with the war waged against the church by the devil through the agency of the Roman government. Rome persecuted the church severely for a period of approximately 250 years. Ultimately, Satan failed to destroy the church as God brought Rome to its knees.
Chapter 20 portrays the devil being restrained for 1000 years (symbolic for a long period of time), during which time he could not deceive the nations (vs. 1-3). However, that text also states that at the end of that long period of time he would be “released for a little while.” (vs. 3).
A few verses later (vs. 7-10) it is described what would happen when Satan would be released. He would “go out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, God and Magog, to gather them to battle, whose number is as the sand of the sea.” (vs. 8). Gog and Magog is a symbolic reference to enemies of God’s people from Old Testament times (Ezk. 38:18-23). When the devil gathered his army together, they “surrounded the camp of the saints” (vs. 9). I believe “the camp of the saints” is a clear reference to the church.
When the devil was bound, the only restriction placed upon him was that “he should deceive the nations no more till the thousand years were finished.” (vs. 3). Many people believe that means that he would have no power or influence upon humanity during the time of his being bound. But the true meaning can be seen in what he would do when he would be released. He would again “deceive the nations” and gather them to battle to make war on the church.
His being bound was the result of his having made war on the church, trying to destroy it through the aggressive and barbarous persecution leveled against it by Rome. When released from being bound, the appearance is that he immediately sets about to again wage war on the church. The persecution by Rome against the Lord’s church was carried out, basically, on a world-wide basis. I believe this text foretells another such war against the Lord’s body.
I don’t know what form that war will take. It may be violent persecution, as was the case in the first few centuries of its existence. It may be waged through legal means, restricting what can be taught and imposing severe punishment upon any who would violate the restrictions. It may take the route of extreme social prejudice and pressure against the principles and morals of Christianity. It may combine all of these avenues, and more…
It does not take much vision to recognize that all of these tactics are already being used against the church, right now! There is a war being waged on Christianity in our world as we speak. In some places extreme violence is being committed against people who proclaim faith in Christ. In other places, laws are being passed restricting what can be taught publicly on some moral issues. We are being bombarded with unrelenting prejudice against many of the principles and doctrines of Christianity through the entertainment industry and much of the news and social media.
Our world is being turned Upside Down… In following articles in this series we’ll look at some of the evidences that demonstrate the reality of the present War On Christianity…
Gary L. Hutchens