Going into Exile at (Mystery) Bozrah.
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A devotional/exhortational essay
by Gavin Finley MD
Revelation 12 is a passage that in two mirror statements using two units of time, 1260 days and “time, times, and half a time”, (or 3.5 years), speaks of the exile of the woman. We also see that the woman is in travail or tribulation and the Seed of the woman who is inside her and described as “the man-child” is about to be delivered. During the last 3.5 years of this age the woman is in exile in a place that is called “the desert” or “the wilderness”. Throughout Holy Scripture from its first mention in Genesis where we read that “The Seed of the woman”, that is, Christ, will “crush the head of the serpent”, the woman is a representation of the covenant people of God. The woman is the people in whom the Seed, ie. Christ, has found a home and resides. These are the people who are the called, the chosen, and the faithful from both sides of Calvary. These are the people who are “in Christ” we read about in 1Cor. 15 and are resurrected at Christ’s coming. These are the saints of all time from the patriarchs right up until the end of the age. These are those who have been saved by grace through their faith in the atoning blood of Israel’s promised Sacrifice Lamb.
So here in Revelation 12 we hear mention of a “desert,” a place of refuge, feeding, and protection away from the wrath of the dragon. Some say the mention of a desert is a figure of speech, like a politician “going into the wilderness”. Roman Catholics and others say the woman in Rev 12 is the Virgin Mary, the physical mother of the man Jesus. Mary went with her husband Joseph taking the babe into exile in Egypt for a season, this is true. But quite clearly this does not exhaust the meaning and message of the prophecy. Some believe the prophecy is symbolic of rough periods in our lives and so motivational speakers who have gone on to make business in the pulpits grab the prophecy, extract it from its Apocalyptic context, and then go on to make it a message for personal application alone. They dissect the end-time message from the text and then throw it away before crafting their motivational speech. In this they have grieved the Holy Spirit, the author of the text they have so glibly dismembered. But that doesn’t seem to matter to them. And why is this? It is because the people want this sort of a sermon. They want a superficial “me first” “upbeat” message on Sundays before they take off to the lunch buffet. And when they turn on Christian television the middle of the road Christians want “Christianity Lite”. Motivational preachers make a lot of hay as they pump up the masses using this line of preaching. We are talking here of hundreds of billions of dollars per year.
So who is the woman of Revelation chapter 12 and why is she flying off into exile in this “desert of the nations”. If we are to do a word search through the Scriptures we are left with one conclusion. As we trace “the woman” through the Bible we see that she is the embodiment of all the Chosen for whom the Savior died. They are the saints, the saved and set-apart ones from both sides of Calvary. The twelve stars are another special key. They represent the twelve tribes of Israel. And the man-child who is to be fully born, the body delivered and not only the head, is Christ. So we have Christ the Head who is our Savior, Lord, and Ishi and Christ His Body, the Body of Christ, His Elect and His Chosen. This sequence of head being born first, (as in raised from the dead), and then His Body “born in a day” from Zion at the second Coming of Christ is clearly laid out for us in the sequence of resurrections we see 1Cor. 15. First to be born is Christ our Head. He is the Firstfruits from the dead and we saw Him resurrected 2,000 years ago. Then at the close of the age at the last day Christ His body will be Resurrected and Raptured at the end of the age.
The devil’s purpose is to shut down the end-time witness of the saints to the victory of Christ. He seeks to to pursue and destroy them. Why, because the victory of Christ over powers of darkness must be witnessed by the covenant family of Abraham before it can be executed here on earth. Jesus triumphed over death at Gethsemane, then at Calvary, and then in His subsequent resurrection from the grave. And because of the witness of that victory by His body, even the Bride of Christ, the dragon pursues the woman. The dragon has failed in phase 1. He failed to stop Christ the Head by unleashing death upon Him. Now He is determined to stop the witness of Christ’s Body. The dragon knows full well that this end-time witness at the 5th seal will trigger the 6th seal return of Christ and that this witness will be his doom. So that is why the dragon pursues the woman and why she is in travail. He seeks to pursue her and to destroy her. He will unleash death upon her if she gets in his face. But in Revelation 12 we read that the earth comes to the aid of the woman. The waters of evil are soaked up by the vast expanses of the earth. And so the flood of waters spewed out by the dragon does not reach her.
“The woman” of Holy Scripture includes the Elect from the nation Israel, (and yes, this includes Mary, the mother of Christ Himself), and all those in His Congregation who are blessed with the great promises of redemption and glorification. “The woman” is a company of people going all the way back to the days of the patriarchs and extending right through to the last tribulation saint at the end of age. All these people down through time and showcased in Hebrews 11 have been subjected to attack by the dragon. Now, as we come to the climax of the age, the plot thickens. And as we see in Revelation 12 Satan is intent upon the complete destruction of every single last witness to the victory of Christ, our coming Messiah. And why? It is because He is the Lion of Judah, the One who will sit and Judge angels, nations, and men from His throne, the Throne of David.
Remember that our coming Messiah is from the royal Jewish House of Judah. Who can forget the slaughter of the Jews in WWII? And why is it that Christianity is the most persecuted religion in the world today? They too have had an ongoing holocaust in the tens of millions so far. It is estimated that upwards of 50 million Bible believing saints died at the hands of harlot religion during the past 700 years. This prophecy in Revelation 12 tells this ancient and ongoing story and answers the questions as to why this is happening. Satan will keep chasing God’s covenant people and attempting to destroy them. He will continue to do this right through to the end of the 70th Week of Daniel. But when Christ comes again He will destroy the wicked and cast down the principalities and powers, those angelic rulers of this present evil age. Then He will deliver His saints, glorifying them at the Resurrection-Rapture. When Jesus comes again it will be curtains for the wicked. Those reject the 666 economic system, those who make the hard choices to go with Christ come what may, will find themselves entering into a serendipity. There in the desert of the nations they will be given protection by God. Messiah will return as the Lord of Hosts, the Lord of the armies of heaven. When He breaks through He will wrap up this great war between good and evil.“The woman was given the two wings of a great eagle, so that she might fly to the place prepared for her in the desert, where she would be taken care of for a time, times and half a time, out of the serpent’s reach.” (Revelation 12:14).The Bible contains other prophecies that tell about this “desert.”
The book of Ezekiel 20:33–38 we see the phrase “desert of nations”.“As surely as I live,” declares the Sovereign LORD, “I will rule over you with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm and with outpoured wrath. I will bring you from the nations and gather you from the countries where you have been scattered – with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm and with outpoured wrath. I will bring you into the desert of the nations and there, face to face, I will execute judgment upon you. As I judged your fathers in the desert of the land of Egypt, so I will judge you,” declares the Sovereign LORD. “I will take note of you as you pass under my rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant. I will purge you of those who revolt and rebel against me. Although I will bring them out of the land where they are living, yet they will not enter the land of Israel . Then you will know that I am the LORD.”These prophecies are as clear as crystal. They relate to a latter day re-gathering of the Elect. There is o doubt about this. It certainly did not yet happen in the past. This is a prophecy of a future time when God gathers all His covenant people from all corners of the globe. This does not necessarily mean that all those who will be taken into God’s protection are pure and sinless born-again spirit filled totally committed Christian believers as they come. The evidence indicates that these people for any number of reasons, good and bad will refuse to take the mark of the Beast. And we know this marking for commerce begins with the the Antichrist has been in his beast mode at the mid 70th Week abomination of desolation. So their rejection of 666 indicates that these people, saints among the strangers, wheat among the tares, had promise. This decision to pull up stakes and leave their homeland and its security had been a wrenching one. The God of Israel takes them into this “desert of the nations” to sort them out. He draws them into exile not only to nurture and to feed them the Bread of Life but also to purify or refine them. Indeed, as we read in Malachi God Himself is the Refiner.
Is there a deliverance story here? There certainly is! The woman is given the wings of a great eagle. And there, off in exile in the desert of the nations, she is kept safe from the wrath of the Antichrist. This is a magnificent story full of wonder, excitement, and glory. So why is it that our Bible commentators and churchmen refuse to face up to their God, report this great deliverance from the pulpits, and bring this much needed encouragement to God’s covenant people? With morale in the Western Church in a veritable free-fall do they not need this information. Are we not in great need of encouragement for witness and assurance of God’s care for our families and little ones?
Another prophecy from Isaiah 11:10–14 refers to God's rest. But this time it comes in association with the Root of Jesse, again, a reference to Jesus Christ. We also see this Hebrew reference to the Root of Jesse being “a banner for the peoples”. God intends to draw them to a place of rest that has been prepared for them. Since this passage refers to a second global re-gathering this may be the Millennial regathering which we know occurs at the final restoration of the Commonwealth and Congregation of Israel at the very end of the age. So God may draw His covenant people to Himself in two phases, one during the Great Tribulation and another climactic re-gathering at the very end of the age. Here is that Scripture from Isaiah 11:10-14..“In that day the Root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples; the nations will rally to him, and his place of rest will be glorious. In that day the Lord will reach out his hand a second time to reclaim the remnant that is left of his people from Assyria, from Lower Egypt , from Upper Egypt , from Cush, from Elam, from Babylonia, from Hamath and from the islands of the sea. He will raise a banner for the nations and gather the exiles of Israel; he will assemble the scattered people of Judah from the four quarters of the earth. Ephraim ’s jealousy will vanish, and Judah’s enemies will be cut off; Ephraim will not be jealous of Judah, nor Judah hostile toward Ephraim. They will swoop down on the slopes of Philistia to the west; together they will plunder the people to the east. They will lay hands on Edom and Moab, and the Ammonites will be subject to them.Wilderness testings, sometimes for long periods of time, have been typical events for God’s servants and often seen in the Biblical record. Moses spent 40 years on the backside of the desert. Israel spent 40 years in the desert before going into the Promised Land. The prophet Elijah spent 40 days fasting before going on into ministry. Jesus Christ went to the desert or wilderness prior to the start of His ministry. See Matt 4:1. So did the Apostle Paul. See Gal 1:17. Trials and testings are Biblical and a typical process that the saints undergo before they enter into God’s ministry. God will set up this epic latter day “camp-meeting” and the saints will live in tents or tabernacles. This final big event will eclipse all the previous camp-meetings. It will cleanse all men of Lucifer’s sin of narcissism and self-worship. For three and a half years they will learn ways of the Lord. During this time of trial and testing they will be refined. God will prepare them spiritually for their role of rule and ministry under Messiah as they enter into His Millennial service.
The prophet Daniel wrote about this time of testing in Daniel 11:35.Some of the wise will stumble, so that they may be refined, purified and made spotless until the time of the end, for it will still come at the appointed time.King David also experienced times of trial and testing. David’s first exile was occasioned by the deadly persecution of King Saul. Later under a similar threat from his son Absalom, King David had to vacate is throne in Jerusalem and fly away to seek sanctuary in the wilderness. Both these men wanted to murder him. In the Psalms David spoke of this desert experience. Notice that the word "rest" is also associated with "desert"."My heart is in anguish within me; the terrors of death assail me.The Desert of Nations will be a place of purification of the Elect. This company of people will stay out there for 1,260 days (forty–two months or three and one–half years). The Bible is quite clear about this fact. They will be safe from the serpent’s reach. But will they not have Edomites amongst them, wild people. Will godless people be their guards? Did not Jacob have to wrestle with the Angel of the Lord and then go out to meet his old enemy and his brother Esau before going on into the promised Land? Is not this mystery place of Bozrah, referred to in Micah 2:12 a city under the sovereignty of Edom?
Fear and trembling have beset me; horror has overwhelmed me. I said, “Oh, that I had the wings of a dove!
I would flee far away and stay in the desert.
So God’s covenant people will be called out from the countries for cleansing, to learn God’s ways by His Holy Scriptures, and to come to know Him by His Holy Spirit. They will go on to serve a great purpose God has prepared for them to accomplish. Yes, they will be in exile, taken into the wilderness, and probably living in very basic fashion. But as Andre’ Sakharov and Alexander Solzhenitsyn have attested, wonderful things happen to those of noble character when they spend time in such places of incarceration. Sakharov even called the Gulag his “alma mater”. In the wilderness places great truths are hammered home and personal character under God is forged. And there, before the Refiner’s fire, the slag is skimmed off. And as the heat increases the silver or gold is refined. In the classic illustration the observers gather around the refiner as he turns up the heat on the crucible and refines the gold. They ask him,“How do you know when the gold is pure and the refining complete?”He turns to them and answers.I know that the refining is complete when I can look own into the crucible,After the three–and–a–half years or forty–two months in the wilderness the saints will be purified. Jacob, the shyster, the trickster, the heel, the supplanter, will be no more. The old man will have passed away to be replaced by the New Man. Jacob will have been transformed to become Israel, one who has wrestled with God and prevailed. Jacob the usurper will have changed to become Israel, a noble person and a “prince with God”.
And there in the reflection I can see my face in the gold.”
This desert spoken of by the prophets is indeed no ordinary desert. It will be a place of rest and refuge for God’s chosen people to be sure. But as a sorting out area for 666 rejecters and wild people it will also be a place where the rebels will be culled out. And who will do this? Probably they will be taken down by the more disciplined elements among the Edomites, the children of godless Esau. From the name Bozrah, it seems the latter day children of Esau will own the place before the Second Coming. Messiah will come as the Breaker, and break the sheep of God’s pasture out of their sheepfold in the great end-time
Where is this “Desert of the Nations” or this wilderness of the latter days? Desert and wilderness are used interchangeably or have similar meaning in the Bible. It is neither heaven nor the Promised Land. So where is it? Quite clearly, those who enter into this great end-time adventure and divine romance of the latter days will be making some interesting discoveries. And so we can be sure that when the time for their flight comes they will find out.