12:15,16 A FLOOD AFTER THE WOMAN
“And the serpent cast water out of his mouth like a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away by the flood” (Revelation 12:15). The flood of water that Satan spewed forth to destroy the church symbolizes a flood of hostile people. In Revelation 17:15, an angel explained to John that “the waters which you saw…are peoples, multitudes, nations, and tongues.”
Satan has conflicting goals; on the one hand, by destroying people through wars and epidemics of disease he can snuff out people’s lives before they have a chance to repent, or at least cause grief to God by destroying His creation. This seems to have been his primary plan through most of human history. On the other hand, he can effectively use populations that are under his control to persecute a minority that is trying to remain faithful to God, and in such cases, the more subjects he has, the better. As the Protestant Reformation gathered momentum and spread in Europe, there also began the most dramatic increase of human population in history. This put pressure on God’s true followers, making it more and more difficult for them to find “wilderness” places where they could avoid being the targets of persecution.
“But the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened its mouth, and swallowed up the flood which the dragon cast out of his mouth” (Revelation 12:16). Wars and persecution threatened to exterminate those who resisted the papal authority, but with the discovery of the New World there was a mass movement of population, including those seeking religious freedom. The American principles of separation of church and state and religious liberty had a strong influence on the European countries as well, and by the end of the 1,260 years (late 18th century) most of the persecution of Christians by the “Christian” church had come to an end.
 For example, in the 14th century the bubonic plaque killed more than 25% of the European population.
 The world population increased very slowly for most of human history, but it doubled between 1650 and 1850, and the doubling time has been decreasing ever since.