Short Season

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

Stopwatch - Photo by Agê Barros on Unsplash
When Satan was expelled from heaven, a “
great voice” warned that the “Dragon” was enraged, knowing that he had only a “short season” to inflict harm on the saints. He attempted to vent his rage by persecuting the “woman” who produced the messianic “son,” but was thwarted from doing so. Then, he launched his “war” against her “seed,” those who had the “testimony of Jesus.” - [Photo by Agê Barros on Unsplash].

The Greek term rendered “season” is kairos, a common noun for “season, occasion, opportune time.” Without context, it is ill-defined and refers to a period of unknown duration. “Short” translates oligos, which means “puny, small, brief, short.”

So, to what “season” does the passage refer? The term appeared first in the opening passage of the book. All those who heeded the “words of the prophecy” were pronounced “blessed…for the SEASON is at hand.” Here, the noun has the Greek definite article or “the,” which indicates a known “season.” The clause alludes to a passage from of Daniel concerning the coming “SEASON of tribulation,” when Michael would fight for the saints – “And at that season 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 of the consummation” – (Daniel 12:1-4, Revelation 1:1-3).

The same passage from Daniel is applied several times in Revelation. For example, in it, 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, now 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 by Daniel was “at hand” in John’s time, the “season” that included “tribulation” for the people of God.

The reference to “Michael” links the verse from Daniel to the expulsion of the “Dragon” from heaven by “Michael and his armies.” The “short season” during which Satan was released to persecute the “seed of the woman” is the “season of tribulation” predicted in Daniel. And according to Revelation, it 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 martyred brethren was gathered. However long that “short time” is, during it, faithful believers suffer persecution and martyrdom - (Revelation 6:9-11).

The same scenario is outlined in the imprisonment of Satan in the “Abyss,” a passage that includes several verbal parallels to the vision of his expulsion:
  • (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 parallels are deliberate. The same set of events is presented but from different perspectives.

When Satan was imprisoned, an “angel descended from heaven” to collar Satan because he was no longer “in heaven,” having been “cast down into the earth.” In this symbolic 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 him powerless. 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 all the nations.”

Why the “Dragon” could not “deceive the nations” becomes clear at the end of the “thousand years” when he was released to deceive and gather them for his final attempt to destroy the “saints.” Their total annihilation was only stopped by the direct intervention of heaven - (Revelation 20:7-9).

Hourglass Hands - Photo by Paula Guerreiro on Unsplash
Photo by Paula Guerreiro on Unsplash

The same “
short time” occurs again in the vision of the “Great Harlot, Babylon” when the “beast” ascended from the “Abyss,” but only for a “short time” – “And when he comes, he must continue for a brief season - {oligon kairon}” - (Revelation 17:8-10).

The “beast” will “ascend” one last time to wreak havoc against the saints, but only for the designated “brief season,” and afterward, he will be destroyed. His “ascent” was described 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,” it is the same period as the “twelve hundred and sixty days” and the “forty-two months” during which the “sanctuary” and “holy city” are “trampled by the nations,” and the “two witness” give their “testimony” before the nations, following which they were killed by the “beast from the Abyss.” Whether “forty-two months” is literal or symbolical is a separate question.

The book of Revelation does not spare Christians from persecution, suffering, and even martyrdom. The letters to the seven churches demonstrate occasional if not frequent assaults against the saints by deceivers, social pressure, and persecuting authorities. But the harm Satan can inflict on the church is restricted. He may launch his attacks only when allowed to do so by the “Lamb” (“it was given to him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them”).

But the final period will come, the “short season,” when the Devil will be released to “deceive the nations” and gather them for his last effort to annihilate the church. Only the direct intervention of the “Lamb” and “his armies” will prevent that.




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