Joy and Woe

Categories: Angelology › Demonology › Satan Angelology › Demonology › Spiritual Warfare Eschatology › Views of Eschatology › Partial Preterism


Revelation 12 7 War was declared in heaven; Michael and his angels were to wage war with the dragon; so the dragon and his angels made war, 8 but he was not strong enough; neither was there any place found for him in heaven any more. 9 So the great dragon was expelled, that ancient serpent, who is called Slanderer and Satan, who deceives the whole inhabited world; he was thrown into the earth, and his angels were expelled with him. 10 And I heard a loud voice in the heaven saying: “Now the salvation and the power have come, even the Kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ, because the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accused them before our God day and night. 11 And they conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not cherish their lives, even up to death. 12 Therefore rejoice, O heavens, yes, you who are dwelling in them! Woe to the earth and the sea! Because the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, knowing that he has little time.” 13 So when the dragon perceived that he had been thrown into the earth, he persecuted the woman who gave birth to the Male.


We come to a verse that commands joy in heaven and pronounces woe or grief to land and sea. And a lot of people have been discouraged by this verse because they assume that the only way we can find consistent joy is by escaping to heaven - that anyone left on earth will face woe. In their mind, woe is our destiny while on earth. And they get discouraged because they wrongly assume that the sea and land represent everyone on planet earth, including Christians. But the sea never represents God's people. Nor does the land. And though the dragon does persecute the church, that is not who is the recipient of this woe. Instead, the sea represents Rome and the land represents Israel. And as we will see in verse 16, the land actually helps the church by diverting the dragon's venom away from the church. When verse 12 is read in light of the whole chapter, it actually teaches the exact opposte of what the Pessimillennialists say.

As we will see, this is a verse that is rather rich in irony. The two nations that Satan had used to destroy God's people end up destroying each other. The very people that the world might have considered to have made it big are guaranteed God's greatest woe. Israel was envied by other nations because they had special favors that no other religion or nation had. Rome was envied because they were in power. But over the next few years, both Israel and Rome would suffer unbelievable misery. Satan had intended to use both Rome and Israel to exterminate the church, but verses 13-16 indicate that the very venom that Satan spewed out of his mouth to devour the woman (the true church) would end up destroying the land (in other words, Israel) in verse 16. In fact, let me read verses 15-16 because those two verses are also rich in irony.

15 So the serpent expelled water from his mouth after the woman, like a river, so as to cause her to be overwhelmed by the flood. 16 But the ground [that's the Greek word γῆ which in this book represents Israel. But the ground]helped the woman; indeed, the ground opened its mouth and drank up the river that the dragon expelled from his mouth.

Israel was the church's mortal enemy, so how on earth could the text be saying that Israel helped the church? But it did. The water of Rome's armies designed to destroy the church became sidetracked into destroying Rome's ally, Israel. You see, the Sadducean leaders of Israel were pro-Roman and tried desperately to avoid war with Rome, but God made sure that the hotheads of Israel goaded Rome into war, and in AD 66 and following, Israel absorbs most of that venom that was intended for the church and Israel ended up being destroyed by that venom. But where does the venom go? It too disappears. So we will later see that as a direct result of this war, a great deal of the Roman empire was destroyed as well. And thus the woe upon both land and sea, or upon both Israel and Rome.

So back to verse 12 - God is pronouncing woe upon the very ones who have enjoyed the world's happiness so much. If wealth could produce joy, then you would expect that no one would be happier than Caiaphas, who was the Sadducean billionaire leader of Israel, and his incredibly wealthy family. He was probably the wealthiest man in the world, yet he was miserable.

If power could produce joy, then one would expect that Vespasian and Caiaphas would both be joyful, but both experienced misery. These two people groups represent the epitome of what the world might think would bring happiness. Yet they have the opposite. They have woe.

Robert Savage once said, "The most miserable people in all the world are those who make pleasure a business." In contrast, "Those who have experienced the true joy of the Lord will never be satisfied with merely having fun." So today's sermon will be exploring the subject of joy and woe, and use this passage's description of two quite different people groups to apply the subject in our own lives.


The reason for joy ("Therefore" v. 12a) - Satan and sin removed

The first sentence deals with joy: "Therefore rejoice, O heavens, yes, you who are dwelling in them!" The word "Therefore" points us to the reason for this joy. Any time you see the word "therefore" in the Bible you need to ask what it is therefore. It is pointing backwards to the previous sentences to explain the reason for this joy. And the reason is that Satan and sin had just been removed from heaven. What greater reason could you have? Satan and sin are at the root of joylessness. They promise joy and happiness, but they cannot deliver.

In the last two sermons we have examined the battle that removed Satan and sin from heaven forever. Verse 8 says that from AD 66 and on, Satan could no longer be found in any place in heaven. Verse 9 says that all of his angels were expelled from heaven along with him. Verse 10 says that the accuser of the brethren could no longer bring his accusations to God's courtroom. Verse 7 says that Satan was conquered by angels and verse 11 says that Satan was conquered by the saints on earth. Therefore, heaven was called to rejoice. Commentators point out that the saints on earth experience joy too because their citizenship is in heaven, but that is not the focus here. So the "Therefore" points to the reason for heaven's joy.

And the application you can draw from that theological point is that Satan is the great joy sucker. He promises happiness to people through sin, independent living, pleasure, position, and other things, but when people pursue his promises, they end up robbed of all joy. Those verses describe Satan (a name which means adversary), demons, sin, war, accusation, slander, deceit, and conflict. They describe why those who pursue joy apart from God have never been ultimately successful. In the May, 1993 edition of Turning Point, the editor said,

Men have pursued joy in every avenue imaginable. Some have successfully found it while others have not. Perhaps it would be easier to describe where joy cannot be found:

Not in Unbelief -- Voltaire was an infidel of the most pronounced type. He wrote: "I wish I had never been born." Not in Pleasure -- Lord Byron lived a life of pleasure if anyone did. He wrote: "The worm, the canker, and grief are mine alone." Not in Money -- Jay Gould, the American millionaire, had plenty of that. When dying, he said: "I suppose I am the most miserable man on earth." Not in Position and Fame -- Lord Beaconsfield enjoyed more than his share of both. He wrote: "Youth is a mistake; manhood a struggle; old age a regret." Not in Military Glory -- Alexander the Great conquered the known world in his day. Having done so, he wept in his tent, before he said, "There are no more worlds to conquer."

Where then is real joy found? -- the answer is simple, in Christ alone.

That word "Therefore" points us to the real source of lack of joy. It is sin and Satan. When we lose the joy of the Lord, we ought to ask whether it is at least possible that sin or Satan may be the cause.

The command for joy (v. 12b)

But I want you to notice second that this was a command to be joyful. It didn't automatically happen; it had to be commanded. So here is the question: "Why would those in heaven even have to be commanded to be joyful? Isn't heaven already the place that is full of joy?" Yes, it is. Psalm 16:11 says,

In Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

So why would rejoicing need to be commanded? They are already rejoicing, right? Well, if God's presence brings fullness of joy, perhaps Satan's occasional presence in heaven (like what happened in Job 1) could diminish that joy. Or perhaps joy could be diminished when sin was observed, or when the kind of warfare that verse 7 talks about had to be engaged in. Is there a kind of joy in carrying out God's will in battle? I'm sure there is. But I'm sure that the verse-7-types-of-situations had joy mixed with something that might diminish that joy to some degree.

Let's consider a few passages that might help us to understand why joy had to be commanded in heaven. Turn first to Revelation 6:9-11. This passage is describing the souls of martyrs in heaven. And I want you to notice that there is a holy discontentment with the way things exist. Even though they are in heaven; even though they are in glory, there is still a holy discontentment. Even in heaven they recognize that things are not right yet. Beginning to read at verse 9:

9 And when He opened the fifth seal I saw underneath the altar the souls of the people who had been slaughtered on account of the Word of God and on account of the testimony of the Lamb which they held. 10 And they cried out with a loud voice saying, “How long, O Sovereign, Holy and True, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” 11 So a white robe was given to each of them, and they were told that they should rest a while longer, until both their fellow slaves and their brothers, who were about to be killed just like they were, should complete the number.

First, it says that they cry out. The Greek word κράζω has the implication of disturbed emotions being loudly expressed. And that they are disturbed by something can be see by their question of puzzlement over why God has not avenged them. In heaven it is possible to have a degree of joy removed when people are confronted with (or face-to-face with) things that are contrary to God's revealed will. So perfect beings will respond perfectly by being grieved over something that is not perfect. After all, the Holy Spirit is grieved when confronted with sin in believers, right? Isaiah 63:10 says, "But they rebelled and grieved His Holy Spirit." Ephesians 4:30 says, "And do not grieve the Holy Spirit..." If the perfect Holy Spirit can be grieved without in any way diminishing his perfection, I see no reason why believers in heaven cannot be grieved when confronted with injustices on earth, or when confronted with demons in heaven. They could be, and this passage indicates that they were - at least prior to AD 66. Grief would be the perfect response to an imperfect state that displeases God. So it makes sense that when heaven is cleansed of sin and Satan that heaven is commanded to have full joy. There has been grievous battle going on, but now there has been a change for the better.

And any time there is a change for the better, there is increased joy. For example, Luke 15:7 says, "I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance." More joy indicates that each time there is a convert there is increased joy. So if heaven can have fluctuations of joy going up, it indicates that there could be times when there are fluctuations of joy going down. There is still joy, but it is maybe not as high a joy. The words "more joy" indicates either a qualitative or a quantitative difference, but either definition shows that joy is not static in heaven.

And while the next verse in Revelation 6 does indicate that the saints in heaven do have rest or relief compared to what they had on earth (and "relief" is the meaning of the Greek word ἀναπαύω) God makes them wait just a little while longer before their holy discontentment with the way things are will be resolved. Interestingly it gets resolved at the same time that our passage is addressing - in AD 66, and I believe for the same reason.

Turn to Isaiah 25:8. This is a passage that gives comfort to afflicted saints. And these passages that we are looking at need to inform our view of heaven. Our view of heaven must be Biblical, not sentimental. Isaiah 25:8. Verse 8 says,

He will swallow up death forever, and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from all faces; the rebuke of His people He will take away from all the earth; for the LORD has spoken.

When are tears wiped away from all faces? It is at the very time that death is swallowed up forever and when the rebuke of God's people is forever removed from the earth. When does death get swallowed up forever? Well, 1 Corinthians 15:54 quotes Isaiah 25:8 and says that death gets swallowed up forever on the last day of history - at the Second Coming. And why would there be tears on judgment day? Because Jesus said that believers will be judged for every idle word and for every evil thought that we have ever thought. My eyes will be gushing with tears on that day. But praise God, He will wipe away those tears and usher me into a glorious eternity. I believe there will be sorrow on judgment day for believers, though there will also be relief and gladness that we are saved, all mixed together with tears of sorrow and gladness.

Turn to Revelation 21:4. This is another passage that quotes Isaiah 25:8, and it too places the taking away of every tear at the future Second Coming of Christ.

21:1 Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, because the first heaven and the first earth had passed away; also, the ocean was no more. 2 And I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared like a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Take note, the tabernacle of God is with men and He will dwell with them, and they will be His people. Yes, God Himself will be with them. 4 And He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there will be no more death nor sorrow nor crying nor pain—they will exist no more because the first things have gone.”

If all tears are not removed till the Second Coming, it implies that there could be "crying out" in heaven or tears in heaven prior to that time. Now, when we get to heaven, will tears be wiped away? I'm sure they will be. But will there be further opportunity to grieve over earth's rebellion against God? If saints in heaven are perfect, my guess is that they will still be occasionally grieved just as the Holy Spirit is grieved. And now that Satan and sin have been removed from heaven, there is reason for increased joy.

The command to rejoice implies the need to be commanded. And we too (as much as God has blessed us in Christ Jesus) need to be reminded that we must rejoice. The command to rejoice occurs over one hundred times - "rejoice before the Lord" (Lev. 23:40), "you shall rejoice in all to which you have put your hand" (Deut. 12:7), "you shall rejoice before the Lord" (Deut. 12:18), etc.

The place of joy (v. 12c)

But having given the implied possibility of diminished joy, and the fact that a new focus can give increased joy, we see that heaven after AD 66 should be the place of pure joy now that Satan is removed. There is nothing in heaven itself that should remove joy. It is only consideration of earth that could diminish that. When we get to heaven, we will be arriving to the place of joy; unmarred by Satan. As Psalm 16:11 says,

In Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

We will no longer be in the world's presence, and no longer in Satan's presence. So since we will only be in the presence of a Holy God, and holy angels, and holy people, it will also be the place of fullness of joy. Oh, the glory that awaits us in heaven! Heaven is a subject that is worth studying. Masterful books have been written on it. I think Randy Alcorn's book, Heaven, is a good place to start.1 And to meditate on what awaits us in heaven can actually elevate our joy on earth. Heaven is the place of full joy.

The people of joy (v. 12d)

And as just mentioned, we will be joining the people of joy. Verse 12 says, "Therefore rejoice, O heavens, yes, you who are dwelling in them!" Joy is one of the benefits that Christ's atonement purchased, and joy will be our eternal heritage once the last vestige of sin and of Satan is removed from this universe.

But I would add that since Christ has purchased us to eternally be a joyful people, we dishonor His name if we never experience joy. We should more and more press toward that goal of being joyful now; of fulfilling Paul's admonition, "Rejoice in the Lord always! And again I say, Rejoice!" I would encourage you to read Puritans like Richard Sibbes who called his people to enjoy God. Or moderns like John Piper, who plays a one stringed violin when it comes to joy, but who plays it well.


But we turn now to woe. Verse 12 continues:

Woe to the earth and the sea! Because the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, knowing that he has little time.”

The word for woe is οὐαί and refers to intense distress, grief, sorrow, or even horror. It can cover the experience of those who suffer depression, fear, or who are under God's prophetic judgments. And certainly when God pronounces οὐαί upon people, it is upon His enemies.2

The place of woe (v. 12e)

Sea (Rome)

I've already identified the two places of this woe. The sea represents Rome. And to prove it, let me have you turn to a couple passages. Turn first to Revelation 13:1. As John looks out at the Mediterranean, what does he see?

13:1 Now I was standing on the seashore, and I saw a Beast of prey coming up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and on his horns ten diadems and on his heads blasphemous names.

Rome came from the direction of the Mediterranean. But in one sense it wasn't just Rome as an ethnic people, but everyone over whom Rome ruled. Chilton rightly points out that the Mediterannean represents all the Gentile nations that were part of the Roman empire. Look at Revelation 17:15.

15 Then he says to me: “The waters that you saw, where the whore sits, are peoples and multitudes and nations and languages.

Now, Rome ruled over those peoples and multitudes and nations and languages. The Roman legions that came to Israel represented a vast array of ethnic groups and skin colors. So the woe is pronounced upon the Roman empire. And as I have pointed out several times in this book, we make a huge interpretive mistake if we see this book as only focusing upon God's judgment of Israel. God is an equal opportunity Judger, and this book promises judgments upon all nations in rebellion to God's law and Gospel.

With this woe being pronounced, you would expect that Rome would soon suffer intensly. And it does. It will suffer astonishing judgments in the next few years. In fact, within two years Rome will break apart as an empire and vast multitudes will die.

Land (γῇ - Israel)

But he first mentions the earth because it was the first to be destroyed: "Woe to the earth..." (or literally, "the land" - the Greek word γῆ). Unfortunately, Pickering has translated the word γῆ as ground, land, and earth, but throughout it should refer to the land of Israel. Verse 16 says that the dragon spews out his venom in a torrent on the Christians who are in Israel, but unbeknown to him, the church has already escaped from Jerusalem and were hiding in a secret place in Pella, leaving only the last two prophets. So when Satan comes to Jerusalem and finds that everyone is gone except for these prophets, he fights against the prophets, as described in chapter 11:7. Now, it is possible that he thought that Rome had already killed everyone else. But whether that is the case or not, in Satan's attempt to kill the last two prophets in Jerusalem, he has to fight against Israel as well. So that is why verse 16 says that the land (γῇ) ironically swallows up the flood of venom. Israel consumed the bulk of Rome's fierce attacks. But where does the water go? It disappears too. Satan's two tools fight each other and consume each other and neutralize each other.

The reason for woe (v. 12f)

The next phrase gives the reason for the woe: "Because the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, knowing that he has little time." There are three parts to that reason.

The devil's presence

The first is the devil's presence. It says, "Because the devil has come down to you." Let's think about Satan's presence bringing woe or grief. It makes sense. If being in the presence of God brings fullness of joy, it makes sense that being in the presence of Satan would bring woe and grief. Of course, this would go for any demons who are in your presence.

Yet many Christians have no idea that it may be demons who are inflicting their depression, discouragement, suicidal thoughts, temptations, doubts, and other joy-robbers that have been injected into their consciousness. When I first moved to Omaha as a pastor it took a while for me to figure out why I was going through such oppression. I had a dark cloud hanging over me. And sometimes the oppression was so thick I couldn't even pray spontaneously. So I read some prayers, and it was while reading some spiritual warfare prayers that I had stumbled onto that the cloud immediately lifted and I was filled with joy and able to pray spontaneously. I didn't put two-and-two together until about the third time that it happened, and I realized that there were demons seeking to suck me dry of joy, energy, and power. And I began more consistently experiencing the joy of the Lord, which is our strength.

And like my experience in 1983, there are many Christians who go year after year enduring these miserable feelings without ever considering the possibility that demons may be a cause of these things. Certainly sickness can impact our joy (though it needn't), but too many Christians consume medical drugs as their only pursuit of joy. Others might examine their own spiritual state and wonder what is wrong with them. And it is true that our flesh is plenty capable of robbing us of joy. But many of these Christians do keep close accounts with God and guard their hearts, yet they experience this loss of joy.

Too many Christians have never thought about engaging an unseen joy-robber - the devil, or his demons. James 4:7 says, "Resist the devil and he will flee from you." But if you aren't even aware that Satan's emissaries are the ones robbing you of joy, it is unlikely that you will resist the demons, and if you don't resist the demons, they will not flee. The Puritans were far more aware of the reality of the demonic than most modern Reformed people are, and I believe we need to recover a Puritan theology of spiritual warfare. Unless we fight all three enemies (the world, the flesh, and the devil) we will have only partial victory. That is at least part of the message of this book. So where is this woe? It is in Satan's presence. One of our goals is to get rid of the presence of demons in our lives, in our homes, in our churches, and eventually in planet earth.

The devil's rage

Second, Satan's rage spells woe. Verse 12 gives as the second reason, "having great wrath..." He was angry because he had been kicked out of heaven. Any time Satan is angry because he has lost territory, you can expect trouble. There were times of relative peace in history - such as when Satan walked to and fro upon the earth in Job chapter 1, seeing what was going on. But when you see relative peace, it probably means that the church is doing very little. On the other hand, when Satan's kingdom is being penetrated or defeated, Satan unleashes his wrath upon anyone who is on the frontlines of the battlefield. And just like the two prophets of chapter 11 were casualties of Satan's wrath, there have been countless casualties of Satan's rage - or at least of the rage of Satan's underlings.

This is why it is so critical that we pray for Christians going into the lion's den in Washington, DC, or into Lincoln, Nebraska, or Des Moines, Iowa. When Christians try to undo what Satan has accomplished, he doesn't take it well. He has irrational hatred against those people. He will bring attacks against them, slander them, and cause other people to hate them. And we have seen a great deal of irrational hatred unleashed against even a person like Donald Trump. Why? Because he was (at least for a time) outside the establishment and he has been messing up some of the things that Satan has already established. Satan doesn't take kindly to that. Well, in the same way, Satan got mad not only at the Christians, but also at the Jews who were messing up his plans and at the Romans. And he got mad at them because they were not doing what he had wanted them to do. If he can get angry at his subjects, don't be surprised if he gets angry at you.

Don't be surprised when you are persecuted, or opposed, or resisted when you are on the front lines of the battlefield making a difference. Satan goes after people like Job, Joshua the high priest of Zechariah 3, the apostle Paul, and others. You cannot impact Satan's kingdom for very long without his demons being upset. And we will see in verse 17 that when Satan could not find the 144,000, he went after other Christians throughout the empire.

The devil's limited time (three and a half years)

But the last reason given as to why Satan was upset was "knowing that he has little time." What does that mean? Most of my commentaries agree that the "little time" phrase refers to the three and a half year war mentioned in this book. That three and a half year period is mentioned in verse 6, again in verse 14, and again in chapter 13:5. Look at the way it is worded in 13:5.

5 And he was given a mouth speaking great things, that is, blasphemy; and he was given authority to make war forty-two months.

That implies that his authority would be taken away at the end of those forty-two months. So most agree with the commentator, G. K. Beale when he says, "This “little time” is the same period as the three and a half years of 11:2–3; 12:6, 14; and 13:5 and the “delay” of 10:6–7."3

But while there is general agreement that the three and a half years is the little time, there is obviously disagreement as to when that three-and-a-half years occurs and what constitutes that war. Dispensationalists believe it is future to us. They put the vast majority of this book off into the future. So, for example, John Walvoord says,

The devil knew that his time was limited to 1,260 days, the period of the Great Tribulation. By no stretch of the imagination can these prophecies be spread to cover the whole Interadvent Age as some attempt to do.4

The view he rightly criticizes is the second view, which sees the three and a half years as symbolic of the entire time from Christ's first coming to His Second Coming. Some of these authors see the three-and-a-half years as identical to the thousand years of Revelation 20. Most of those would be amillennialists. Others see the three-and-a-half years as the time from Christ's ascension till their future millennium. But they strangely see the three and a half years as being a long time, not what this text says - a "little time." How do they explain that? Some say that a couple thousand years is a little time as far as Satan is concerned, but I think that explanation is ridiculous. Robert Utley represents many when he says,

This seems to refer to the time from the Ascension of Christ (cf. Acts 1:9–11) to the Second Coming which John and the first century Christians thought would be in a short period of time. It has been almost 2,000 years now; every generation has the hope of the any-moment return of the Lord. Believers were warned of this delay in II Thessalonians and Matt. 24:45–51.5

You would think that only unbelievers would hold to a silly viewpoint like that, but there are many evangelicals who do. There are four major problems with that position. The first is that it makes no sense of why the devil would be so upset and feel so urgent about his task if he knows he has thousands of years left. The text indicates that Satan is mad precisely because he thinks he doesn't have much time left.

Second, it seems to make John and the early church mistaken in their belief that Christ would bring this tribulation soon. What does that say about Biblical inerrancy? They claim that the apostle thought that the Second Coming would happen soon.

Third, it makes the Bible contradictory since their explanation of the soon passages are explained away by other passages that say it won't happen soon, but will be delayed. My view is that the soon passages are soon and the not soon passages are not soon, but refer to the end of history. And in any case it makes the apostle Paul in the know and John mistaken. Anyway, let me read that quote again and see if you can detect these three problems. The author says,

This seems to refer to the time from the Ascension of Christ (cf. Acts 1:9–11) to the Second Coming which John and the first century Christians thought would be in a short period of time. It has been almost 2,000 years now; every generation has the hope of the any-moment return of the Lord. Believers were warned of this delay in II Thessalonians and Matt. 24:45–51.

To me that makes no sense, yet it is a viewpoint shared by many premils and amils. Not all, but many. Virtually every person who holds to a view that Christ's Second Coming is imminent has these contradictions inherent in their eschatology.

A fourth reason why this makes no sense is pointed out by several commentaries. If John had meant the "little time" to refer to our whole age, he would have used the Greek word chronos, not the Greek word kairos. Kairos always refers to a specific appointed time and never to an age.6 So for those four reasons I reject the second view.

The third view is the one that I hold to and that partial preterists hold to, and I believe makes a whole lot more sense. It is the view that the three-and-a-half years are literally three-and-a-half years and that those three-and-a-half years were about to start and would soon be ended in AD 70. That would indeed give urgency to the devil. If he knew he only had three-and-a-half years left, he would have real urgency to try his hardest to win. It would also make "little time" mean "little time." And it would contrast with the long time of the thousand years of Revelation 20, during the whole of which Satan would be bound. It also makes the flow of this chapter totally unforced.

We have already seen in a previous sermon that the right-hand-demon to Satan would be bound in AD 70. So if this is the binding of a second demonic ruler (Satan), and if the three-and-a-half year war of Revelation 19 (that describes the end of that war) is immediately followed by the binding of Satan in chapter 20, then this third position is a very strong position. It has strong exegetical support. It would certainly make Satan have a desperate and irrational attempt to do everything he could to win during the little time that he had.

Of course, it makes the thousand years of Revelation 20 symbolic rather than literal, and it makes them start in AD 70, not in AD 30. The thousand years is symbolic just like the seven Spirits of God are not a denial of the Trinity, but are also symbolic. When Scripture says that God owns the cattle on a thousand hills, it doesn't mean that the cattle on hill number 1001 don't belong to him. So it has been much more firmed up in my thinking recently that the thousand years is the entire time between AD 70 and the end of time. But in terms of this book's focus on AD 70, that makes a great deal of sense. And once we get to chapters 19 and 20 you will see that it makes even more sense.

So that is the general meaning of verse 12. Satan was cast out of heaven in AD 66. He unleashes his fury on Israel and Rome in the Jewish war and following in an attempt to also exterminate the church. We will be looking more at that disaster in the bowl judgments of this book. But though the Beast and Satan would both be bound in AD 70, Daniel 7:12 makes clear that the rest of the demonic princes would not be bound. They would continue to make trouble for a season and a time.

What is a season and a time? The Hebrew word for season means after a long period and the Hebrew word for time means at an appointed time. The Hebrew word for "appointed time" has the same meaning as the Greek word used here for Satan's appointed time. And Amils, Postmils, and Premils are agreed on the meaning of this term. For example, Premil, Paige Patterson, says this:

Not only is his time short, but in the Greek text the very use of the word kairos rather than chronos, as one might have expected, suggests that the matter is not simply that time is running short but that God has set a particular time for the final judgment of Satan.7

So the Beast and Satan had an appointed time to be bound (I believe in AD 70), and other demons will have their appointed time to be bound (obviously still future to us). Daniel 7:12 says that the other demonic princes would not have their appointed time to be bound until after a long season - or a long period. Are we nearing the end of that long season? I have no idea, and in Acts 1:7 Jesus told the apostles that He was not going to answer that question of when. He said,

“It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

By using the term "times and seasons" He may well have been alluding to Daniel 7:12. For the full manifestation of the peace and prosperity of the kingdom that Daniel 7 and Revelation 20 will look at, it will require the binding not just of Satan, but the later binding of all demons. And God does not tell us when the rest of the demons will be bound. Instead, He wants us to focus on our task of discipling the nations. We have a task, and we cannot expect victory in history unless we aggressively engage in that task. We looked at a portion of that task when we looked at the spiritual warfare of verses 10-11 last week.

But I praise God that He puts limits on Satan's kingdom, and that Satan himself is already bound. I praise God that if God commands us to rejoice, then we are able to rejoice just as heaven was able to rejoice. And the fact that Paul commands us to rejoice in the Lord always implies to me that there should be no reason why we as believers cannot successfully make demons flee at all times. May we engage in such successful warfare against the world, the flesh, and the devil, that we will continually be renewed in that joy of the Lord, which is our strength. Amen.



  2. Aune says, "12b οὐαὶ τὴν γῆν καὶ τὴν θάλασσαν, “Woe to the earth and the sea.” The term οὐαί, “woe,” in the NT occurs primarily in the synoptic Gospels (twelve times in Matthew; two in Mark; fifteen in Luke), always in sayings of Jesus. The term occurs fourteen times in Revelation. In both contexts it conveys a prophetic gravity that calls to mind the great prophetic speeches of denunciation in the OT, particularly in Isaiah and Jeremiah. While the term “earth” is a figure of speech for the people of the world (cf. 14:16), it is not immediately evident why the author includes the “sea” in his pronouncement of woe."David E. Aune, Revelation 6–16, WBC 52B; Accordance electronic ed. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1998), 704. Louw and Nida define it this way: "οὐαί f: a state of intense hardship or distress — ‘disaster, horror.’" Greek–English Lexicon of the New Testament Based on Semantic Domains,” L&N

  3. G. K. Beale, The Book of Revelation: A Commentary on the Greek Text, New International Greek Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI; Carlisle, Cumbria: W.B. Eerdmans; Paternoster Press, 1999), 667. See also Thomas, Robert L. Revelation 8–22 An Exegetical Commentary. Chicago: Moody Press, 1995. Walvoord, John F. The Revelation of Jesus Christ. Chicago: Moody, 1966; John F. Walvoord, “Revelation,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 959; John R. Yeatts, Revelation, Believers Church Bible Commentary (Scottdale, PA: Herald Press, 2003), 227; Robert Vacendak, “The Revelation of Jesus Christ,” in The Grace New Testament Commentary, ed. Robert N. Wilkin (Denton, TX: Grace Evangelical Society, 2010), 1294; etc.

  4. John F. Walvoord, “Revelation,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 959.

  5. Robert James Utley, Hope in Hard Times - The Final Curtain: Revelation, vol. Volume 12, Study Guide Commentary Series (Marshall, TX: Bible Lessons International, 2001), 93.

  6. Lange is one example of an Amil who objects to seeing the three and a half years as the whole age: "We cannot identify καιρός with χρόνος, as if the whole time from the Dragon’s expulsion from Heaven to the coming of the judgment were intended, as the “time of Anti-christ,” or, according to Bengel, the period from the year 947 to 1836. The καιροί of Satan do not run through the whole Chronos of the Church of the cross; they emerge from time to time only, as particular moments of apparent triumph for the kingdom of darkness, even though Satanic temptations pervade all times; see Luke 22:53." John Peter Lange et al., A Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Revelation (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2008), 250.

  7. Paige Patterson, Revelation, ed. E. Ray Clendenen, vol. 39, The New American Commentary (Nashville, TN: B&H, 2012), 269.

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