Short Season

OVERVIEW - The Devil will be granted a final “short season” to persecute the saints of the Lamb - Revelation 12:7-12

Hourglass - Photo by Aron Visuals on Unsplash
When Satan is expelled from heaven, a “great voice” warns the “earth and the sea” that the Devil has arrived and is enraged, because he knows he has only a “short season” remaining to inflict harm on the people of God. First, he attempts to vent his rage by persecuting the “woman” who gave birth to the messianic “son,” but he is thwarted from destroying her. Next, 
enraged further, he launches his “war” to destroy the “remnant of her seed” - Those who have the “testimony of Jesus.” - [Photo by Aron Visuals on Unsplash].
  • (Revelation 12:12) – Woe for the earth and for the sea: because the devil is cast down to you, having great wrath, knowing that he has but a brief season  - {oligon kairon}.
The Greek term rendered “season” is kairos, a common noun with the meaning “season, occasion, opportune time.” Without context, it is ill-defined and refers to a period of unknown duration, however long or short. “Brief” translates oligos, meaning “puny, small, brief, short.”

To what does this “season” refer? The term appears first in the opening passage of the book:
  • (Revelation 1:1-3) – “The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants what things must come to pass soon…Blessed is he that reads and they that hear the words of the prophecy, and keep the things that are written in it, for the season is at hand {kairos}. – (Also, Revelation 22:10).
The passage labels it “the season,” using the Greek definite article to indicate a known or expected “season.” The clause alludes to a passage from the book of Daniel concerning a future “season of tribulation”:
  • (Daniel 12:1-4) – And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince who stands for the children of your people; and there shall be a season {kairos} of tribulation, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that season {kairos} your people will be delivered, everyone who shall be found written in the book…shut up the words and seal the book, even to the season {kairos} of the consummation.
This same passage is applied several times in Revelation. For example, the reference to “everyone whose name is found written in the book” becomes those whose names are “written in the Lamb’s book of life” – (Revelation 13:8, 21:27).

Unlike Daniel, in Revelation, the “sealed scroll” is unsealed, having been opened by the “slain Lamb.” What was “sealed” in ancient times was revealed by Jesus, for the “season” prophesied in Daniel was “at hand” in the first century, a “season” that included “tribulation” and persecution for the people of God.

The reference to “Michael” links the verse from Daniel to the vision of the “woman clothed with the sun” and the expulsion of the Devil from heaven - by “Michael and his armies.” The “short season” during which Satan is released to persecute the “seed of the woman” is the “season of tribulation” predicted in the book of Daniel. According to Revelation, this is also the period when Satan is loosed to “deceive the nations” – (Revelation 12:7-12, 20:3).

This “short season” was alluded to when the “Lamb” opened the “fifth seal” to reveal the souls of martyrs “underneath the altar.” When they petitioned God for vindication, they were told they must “rest yet for a short time {chronon mikron}” until the full number of their brethren “who should be killed even as they should be fulfilled.” However long this “short time” is, during it, faithful believers suffer persecution and martyrdom - (Revelation 6:9-11).

The same scenario is outlined in the vision of the imprisonment of Satan in the “Abyss,” a passage that includes several verbal parallels to the vision of his expulsion from heaven:
  • (Revelation 20:1-3) – “And I saw an angel descending from heaven, having the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, the old serpent, which is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, and cast him into the abyss, and shut it, and sealed it over him, that he should deceive the nations no more until the thousand years should be finished: after this he must be loosed for a short time {mikron chronon}.
  • (Revelation 12:7-9) – “And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels going forth to war with the dragon; and the dragon warred and his angels;  and they prevailed not, neither was their place found any more in heaven And the great dragon was cast down, the old serpent, he that is called the Devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole habitable earth; he was cast down into the earth, and his angels were cast down with him.
In the Greek text, “short time” translates the same two Greek words as the “short time” in the “fifth seal.” The verbal and conceptual parallels with the expulsion of Satan are deliberate. The same set of events is presented, but with additional details.

Grand Central Clock - Photo by Bryce Barker on Unsplash
Photo by Bryce Barker on Unsplash

When Satan was imprisoned, an “
angel descended from heaven” because the Devil was no longer there, having been “cast down into the earth.” In this symbolical world, the “earth” corresponds to the “Abyss.” Though imprisoned, Satan was “down but not out.” He was prevented from “deceiving the whole habitable earth,” but only “until” the time of his release.

His “imprisonment” did not leave Satan powerless. During this period, he still persecuted the saints, as indicated by the description of those who reigned during the “thousand years,” a group that included the souls of them that had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus.” Satan was only prevented from “deceiving the nation.”

Why the Devil was forbidden to “deceive the nations” becomes clear at the end of the “thousand years” and the time of his release, when he deceived the nations into a final assault to destroy the “saints” on the earth. Their total annihilation was only stopped by direct intervention from heaven. Afterwards, Satan was cast into the “lake of fire.”
  • (Revelation 20:7-9) – “And when the thousand years are finished, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, and shall come forth to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to the war: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea.  And they went up over the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down out of heaven, and devoured them.
The same “short time” is found in the vision of the “Great Whore, Babylon” when the “beast” ascended from the “Abyss,” but only for a “short time”:
  • (Revelation 17:8-10) – “The beast that you saw was, and is not; and is about to ascend from the abyss, and to go into perdition. And the inhabitants of the earth shall wonder, they whose name has not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast, how that he was, and is not, and shall come.  Here is the mind that has wisdom. The seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sits; and they are seven kings; the five are fallen, the one is, the other is not yet come; and when he comeshe must continue a brief space - {oligon kairon}.
The “beast ascends from the Abyss” one last time to wreak havoc, but only for the designated “brief space,” afterwards, he is destroyed. His “ascent” was seen previously when the “beast ascended from the Abyss to make war against the two witnesses.” Likewise, the “beast ascended from the sea…to wage war against the saints, and to kill them” - (Revelation 11:7, 13:1-7).

Thus, several themes recur with each mention of the coming “short season” – The release of Satan/Beast from the “Abyss,” the deception of the nations, and a final assault against the “saints.” Prior to this “short season,” Satan is active on the earth but unable to “deceive all the nations.” He persecutes the church but is prevented from annihilating it.
As for the duration of the “short season,” the book nowhere indicates how long (or short) it is. The relevant point is that it will end, but paradoxically so. Satan’s final attempt to destroy the church results in his own final destruction in the “lake of fire.”
The book of Revelation does not spare Christians from persecution, suffering, and even violent death. The letters to the seven churches demonstrate occasional if not frequent assaults against the saints by deceivers, social pressure, and even persecuting authorities. However, the harm Satan can inflict on the church is limited. He may launch his attacks only when allowed by the “Lamb” (“it was given to him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them”). The church at Smyrna, for example, already had experienced “tribulation.”

But a final period will come, a “short season,” when the Devil will be released to “deceive the nations” and gather them for a final assault to destroy the church. Only the direct intervention of the “Lamb” and “his armies” will prevent the annihilation of his people.




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