JOHN WALVOORD’S COMMENTARY ON REVELATION 12

Woman-Pregnant

THE CONFLICT IN HEAVEN AND ON EARTH

Revelation 12 is a parenthetical section of the book of Revelation, which actually only ends at 14:20. Within this section seven primary characters are introduced: (1) the woman, representing Israel, (2) the dragon, representing Satan, (3) a male child, referring to Christ, (4) Michael, representing the angels, (5) Israel, the remnant of the woman’s seed, (6) the beast out of the sea, the world dictator, and (7) the beast out of the earth, the false prophet and religious leader of the world. Around these main characters swirls the tremendously moving scene of the great tribulation. Chapter 12 is the most symbolic chapter in the Bible’s most symbolic book.

THE WOMAN CLOTHED WITH THE SUN: ISRAEL (12:1–2)

12:1–2 “And a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. She was pregnant and was crying out in birth pains and the agony of giving birth.”

The first of the seven personages to be introduced in this section is the woman who is described as a great sign in heaven, clearly indicated to be someone of regal splendor. The word “sign” signifies a symbol of important truth rather than merely a wonder. Subsequently, six other signs are mentioned (12:3; 13:13–14; 15:1; 16:14; 19:20). This sign in verse 1 is distinguished by being called “great.” Though the sign is seen in heaven, it apparently portrays a reality on the earth, for the woman pictured is afterward persecuted by Satan in the great tribulation. The woman is pregnant and due to give birth to a son.

Many explanations have been offered for the identity of this woman.

She does not represent Christ, nor the church in general because the church did not give birth to Christ. On the contrary, Christ gave birth to the church. Since the woman’s child is obviously Christ, some have suggested this is Mary—an implausible identification given that this woman is persecuted in the last half of the tribulation. The Roman Catholic Church insists this is Mary, but the church also teaches that Mary gave birth to Christ without pain, a teaching that is contradicted by Revelation 12.

Rather, the woman is Israel as the matrix from which Christ came. By contrast, other representative women mentioned in Revelation are Jezebel (2:20), representative of false religion as a system; the harlot (17:1–7, 15–18), the apostate church of the future; and the bride, the Lamb’s wife (19:7), the church joined to Christ in glory.

The identification of the woman of Revelation 12 as Israel is consistent with Old Testament teaching. There Israel is frequently presented as the wife of Yahweh, often in her character as being unfaithful to her husband (cf. Hosea’s prophecy). Here is the godly remnant of Israel standing true to God in the time of the great tribulation.

The regal description of the woman is an allusion to Genesis 37:9–11, where these heavenly bodies represent Jacob and Rachel, thereby identifying the woman with the fulfillment of the Abrahamic covenant.

In the same context, the stars represent the patriarchs, the sons of Jacob. The symbolism may extend beyond this to represent in some sense the glory of Israel and her ultimate triumph over her enemies. This identification of the woman as Israel also seems to be supported by the evidence from this chapter. Israel is obviously the source from which have come many of the blessings of God, including the Bible, Christ, and the apostles. According to Isaiah 9:6, Israel is the source of the Messiah.

As noted above, the persecution of the woman coincides with the persecution of Israel. The woman as the nation of Israel is seen in the pain of childbirth, awaiting delivery of her child. Frequently in Scripture, Israel is pictured in the tribulation time as going through great trial and affliction. Though historically the nation gave birth to Christ through the Virgin Mary, the implication of verse 2 is that the references are to the sufferings of Israel as a nation rather than to the historic birth of Christ. It may refer to the sufferings of the nation in general over its entire history. If strictly interpreted, it may signify the pain of Israel at the time of the first coming of Christ as borne out by verses 3 and 4.

THE GREAT RED DRAGON: SATAN (12:3–4)

12:3–4 “And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads seven diadems. His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven and cast them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she bore her child he might devour it.”

The second sign appearing in heaven is a great dragon. From the similar description given in 13:1 and the parallel reference in Daniel 7:7–8, 24, it is clear that the revived Roman Empire is in view. Satan, however, is also called the dragon later in 12:9, and it is clear that the dragon is both the empire and the representation of satanic power. The color red may indicate his murderous characteristics (cf. John 8:44).

The seven heads and ten horns refer to the original ten kingdoms of Daniel 7:7–8, of which three were subdued by the little horn who is to be identified with the world ruler of the great tribulation who reigns over the revived Roman Empire.

The tail of the dragon is declared to draw a third part of the stars of heaven and cast them to the earth. This seems to refer to the gathering under his power of those who oppose him politically, and also involves his temporary subjugation of a large portion of the earth.

The dragon is seen awaiting the birth of the child with the intent to destroy it as soon as it is born. The allusion here is unmistakably to the circumstances surrounding the birth of Christ in Bethlehem (the dragon referring to the Roman Empire at that time as dominated by Satan) and the attempts of Herod to destroy the baby Jesus (cf. Matt 2:13–15). It is significant that Herod as an Edomite was a descendant of Esau and of the people who were the traditional enemies of Jacob and his descendants. Whether motivated by his family antipathy to the Jews or by political consideration because he did not want competition in his office as king, Herod nevertheless fulfilled historically this reference to the destruction of children in Bethlehem.

THE CHILD: CHRIST (12:5–6)

12:5–6 “She gave birth to a male child, one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron, but her child was caught up to God and to his throne, and the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, in which she is to be nourished for 1,260 days.”

The woman identified as Israel gives birth to a child who is destined to rule all nations with an iron rod (a reference to the Messiah from Ps. 2:9), but who for the time being is caught up to God’s throne. A similar expression is found in Revelation 19:15, where it is stated of Christ, “He will rule them with a rod of iron,” to be distinguished from His rule over Israel, which is of more benevolent character (cf. Luke 1:32–33).

While many Bible expositors have agreed that the woman is Israel, there has been considerable difference of opinion on the identity of the child. Some have argued that this is the New Testament church destined to reign with Christ and that the act of being caught up to God is the rapture. But the church is not the “child” of Israel, nor is the church’s mission to rule the nations. In addition, the child is clearly identified as a male, while the church is referred to in the feminine as the bride of Christ (cf. Rev. 19:6–8).

Though the pregnant woman is to be identified with Israel collectively rather than with the Virgin Mary specifically, the interpretation that the child is Christ Himself is far preferable. His catching up to God and to His throne seems to represent His ascension. An alternative view is that the “catching up” refers to the flight to Egypt after Jesus’ birth to protect Him from Herod (cf. Matt. 2:13–15). But that incident does not satisfy the conditions of Revelation 12:5, where the catching up is to the throne of God in heaven.

The Greek verb for “caught up” in verse 5 is a form of the word harpazō. This word is sometimes used to mean “to seize” or “to catch up,” as a wild beast would its prey, as in John 10:12 where the wolf “snatches them and scatters them.” The same word is used for the rapture of the church in 1 Thessalonians 4:17 where the church is caught up to heaven, and is likewise used of Paul being caught up to paradise (2 Cor. 12:2, 4), and of the Spirit of God catching up Philip (Acts 8:39).

If the identification of the twenty-four elders is properly to be regarded as the church in heaven, it would seem to mix metaphors to have the church represented as a male child, especially when the church is regarded in chapter 19 as the wife and bride. There is no good reason for not identifying the man-child as Christ and interpreting the drama of verse 5 as describing His ascension, as noted above. The fact that He is caught up not only to God but to “his throne” is another indication that Christ is intended.

In verse 6, the attention is directed back to the child’s mother, Israel. Here she is seen in the time of great tribulation fleeing into the wilderness to a place prepared by God where for 1,260 days she is cared for (again, the exact length of three-and-a-half years). There is obviously a tremendous time lapse between verses 5 and 6, but this is not an uncommon occurrence in prophecy; the first and second comings of Christ are frequently spoken of in the same sentence. Since Israel is comparatively tranquil and safe in the first three-and-a-half years of Daniel’s seventieth week (Dan. 9:27), the reference must be to the preservation of a portion of the nation Israel through the great tribulation to await the second coming of Christ.

SATAN CAST OUT OF HEAVEN BY MICHAEL (12:7–9)

12:7–9 “Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels fought back, but he was defeated and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.”

Though the conflict of the end of the age is primarily on earth, there will also be war in heaven. Michael and his angels (that is, the holy angels) fight against Satan and the evil angels associated with him, with the result that Satan and his hordes are thrown out of heaven. The description of Satan in verse 9 is significant as all of his important titles are given: “the dragon,” a term that also applies to the empire that he dominates in the end time; “that ancient serpent,” a reference to the Garden of Eden and the temptation of Eve; “devil,” which means “defamer” or “slanderer,” the master accuser of believers; and Satan, meaning “adversary.” This name is mentioned fourteen times in the book of Job, and occasionally elsewhere (1 Chron. 21:1; Ps. 109:6; Zech. 3:1–2). Given Satan’s all-out opposition to God, it is fitting that the Greek construction of verse 7 indicates that the dragon will start this war.

The concept that there is a spiritual warfare in the very presence of God in heaven has been resisted by some expositors, preferring to regard this war as being fought in the atmospheric or the starry heaven rather than in the very presence of God. The event here prophesied was predicted by Daniel the prophet in Daniel 12:1, where it is recorded that Michael shall “arise” as the one “who has charge of your people.” This event marks the beginning of the great tribulation described in Daniel 12:1. It is undoubtedly the same event as in Revelation 12.

It may seem strange to some that Satan should have access to the very throne of God. Yet this is precisely the picture of Job 1, where Satan along with other angels presents himself before God and accuses Job of fearing God because of God’s goodness to him. Thus early in biblical revelation, Satan is cast in the role of “the accuser of our brothers,” the title given him in Revelation 12:10.

From this point in Revelation, therefore, Satan and his hosts are excluded from the third heaven, the presence of God, although their temporary dominion over the second heaven (outer space) and the first heaven (the sky) continues. Satan’s defeat in heaven, however, is the occasion for him to be cast down to earth and explains the particular virulence of the great tribulation time. Note that even as Satan accuses believers before God day and night prior to his being thrown out of heaven, so the four living creatures of 4:8 do not stop day or night to ascribe holiness to the Lord.

This is another place where we must let the words and events of Scripture speak for themselves and take them at their face value unless compelled to do otherwise. Satan, the deceiver of the whole world (literally, “the inhabited earth”), is now limited in the sphere of his operation. A major step is taken in his ultimate defeat. Believers in this present dispensation, who are now the objects of satanic attack and misrepresentation, can rest assured of the ultimate downfall of Satan and the end of his ability to afflict the people of God. Though the events of this chapter deal in general with the end of the age, it is clear that they do not come chronologically after the seventh trumpet. Rather, the fall of Satan may be predated to the time of the seals in chapter 6, or even before the first seal. His fall begins the great tribulation.

ANNOUNCEMENT OF SATAN’S WRATH AND THE SAINTS’ ULTIMATE VICTORY (12:10–12)

12:10–12 “And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death. Therefore, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!”

The loud voice making this important announcement is not identified and probably cannot be with certainty. Some have ascribed this voice to God Himself, others to the angels, the twenty-four elders, or the martyred saints in heaven mentioned in 6:10, because they also cry with a loud voice. Support for the latter view is given in that in the same verse the loud voice mentions “the accuser of our brothers.” This would seem to eliminate angels and indicate believers in heaven. The “loud voice” may very well be the shout of triumph of the tribulation saints longing for and anticipating their ultimate victory.

The salvation mentioned here is not salvation from the guilt of sin but salvation in the sense of deliverance and completion of the divine program. The reference to strength implies that now God is going to strengthen His own and manifest His own power. The kingdom being announced is the millennial kingdom when Christ will reign on the earth. Coupled with this is the power or authority of Christ. The expression “his Christ,” also used in 11:15, parallels “his anointed” in Psalm 2:2, a reference to God’s Messiah against whom the kings of the earth rebel but under whose authority they are certain to come.

The victory of the saints in that hour is revealed in verse 11 through the use of three strong spiritual weapons. Satan’s accusations are nullified by the blood of the Lamb that renders the believer pure and makes possible his spiritual victory. The word of the believers’ testimony opposes the deceiving work of Satan in that the preaching of the gospel is the power of God unto salvation. The believers also exhibit total commitment to their task in which many of them die as martyrs. The word for “loved” is a form of the familiar Greek word agapē, which describes the love of God. Though these believers do not foolishly seek a martyr’s death, they do not regard their lives as more precious than their witness for Christ. They follow the instruction given to the church in Smyrna (2:10) of being faithful unto death, as well as the example of the Savior, who laid down His life for the sheep (John 10:11, 15; cf.  Matt. 16:25).

The voice from heaven continues, exhorting those in the heavens to rejoice because of this great victory. At the same time, the voice pronounces a solemn woe upon the inhabitants of the earth and of the sea. The awfulness of the hour ahead is attributed to the fact that the devil has been thrown down to earth and is about to unleash his wrath on the earth’s inhabitants.

The short time Satan has, refers to the great tribulation after which he will be bound for the duration of the millennial kingdom. Though many of the judgments of God inflicted on the earth during the great tribulation originate in divine power rather than satanic influence, the afflictions of the inhabitants of the earth spring largely from the activities of Satan, resulting in the martyrdom of countless saints and in widespread human suffering of every kind.

THE PERSECUTION OF ISRAEL IN THE GREAT TRIBULATION (12:13–16)

12:13–16 “And when the dragon saw that he had been thrown down to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child. But the woman was given the two wings of the great eagle so that she might fly from the serpent into the wilderness, to the place where she is to be nourished for a time, and times, and half a time. The serpent poured water like a river out of his mouth after the woman, to sweep her away with a flood. But the earth came to the help of the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed the river that the dragon had poured from his mouth.”

Satan immediately turns his anger toward Israel. This apparently is the beginning of the great tribulation of which Christ warned Israel in Matthew 24:15–22. This had its foreshadowing in Herod’s slaughter of the infants following the birth of Christ (Matt. 2:16). It seems here to refer specifically to the great tribulation that is yet future. The persecution of Israel is a part of the satanic program to thwart and hinder the work of God. As far as Israel is concerned, this had its beginning in the miraculous intervention of God required to bring about the birth of Isaac and fulfill this portion of the promise to Abraham.

Satan used other means thereafter to persecute the descendants of Jacob, including the effort in the time of Esther to blot them out completely.

Israel is hated by Satan not because of any of its own characteristics, but because she is the chosen of God and essential to the overall purpose of God for time and eternity.

The divine intervention of God thwarts this attempt at satanic persecution. The figure of the “two wings of the great eagle” seems to be derived from Exodus 19:4, Deuteronomy 32:11–12, and similar passages where God uses the strength of an eagle to illustrate His faithfulness in caring for Israel. The same flight is indicated in Matthew 24:16, where Christ warns those in Judea to flee to the mountains.

Some have felt that the reference here is to some specific place such as the rock city of Petra, in the southern part of modern Jordan, as the end-time city of refuge for the Jewish people where at least a portion of Israel might be safe from her persecutors. Fruchtenbaum makes a strong case for Petra, pointing to clues in Matthew 24:16; Revelation 12:6, 14; Isaiah 33:13–16; Micah 2:12; and Daniel 11:41. Benware links this time of tribulation with Jesus’ judgment of the sheep and goats in Matthew 25, which relates to the Gentiles’ treatment of Israel as the nation undergoes this persecution.

Verse 14 implies that there is some supernatural care of Israel during this period such as that which Elijah experienced by the brook Cherith (cf. 1 Kings 17:5), or that which Israel experienced during the forty years she lived on the manna in the wilderness. Whether natural or supernatural means are used, it is clear that God does preserve a godly remnant, though according to Zechariah 13:8, two-thirds of Israel in the land will perish.

The time element of Israel’s suffering is described as “a time, and times, and half a time.” This again seems to be a reference to the three-and-a-half years of tribulation. A parallel reference is found in Daniel 7:25 and 12:7 referring to the same period of great tribulation. The dragon is here called a serpent (cf. Matt. 10:16; John 3:14 where the word is used in other contexts; Rev. 12:9, 14–15; 20:2 where “serpent” is used in connection with the devil).

The flood sent by Satan to destroy Israel and God’s supernatural protection have been the subject of various interpretations. This may be a literal flood, but the contour of the Holy Land and the fact that Israel’s people would probably not all flee in the same direction combine to make such a literal, physical interpretation improbable.

It is more plausible to understand this symbolically. The flood is the total effort of Satan to exterminate Israel, and the resistance of earth is the natural difficulty in executing such a massive program. The terrain of the Middle East provides countless places of refuge for a fleeing people. Though the exact meaning of these two verses cannot be determined with certainty, the implication is that Satan strives with all his power to persecute and exterminate the people of Israel. By divine intervention, both natural and supernatural means are used to thwart the enemy’s program and carry a remnant of Israel safely through their time of great tribulation.

THE PERSECUTION OF THE GODLY REMNANT OF ISRAEL (12:17)

12:17 “Then the dragon became furious with the woman and went off to make war on the rest of her offspring, on those who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus. And he stood on the sand of the sea.”

The godly remnant of Israel is identified by their faith in Christ, “all those who name the name of Jesus Christ.” While the program of Satan is against the Jewish race as such, anti-Semitism as a whole will reach its peak against Jewish believers during this period. There is a double antagonism against those in Israel who turn to Christ as their Messiah and Savior in those critical days and maintain a faithful witness.

Undoubtedly, many of them will suffer a martyr’s death, but others will survive the period, including the 144,000 sealed in chapter 7.

In some versions of the Bible such as the New International Version (NIV) and the New American Standard Bible (NASB), the phrase translated here as “and he stood on the sand of the sea” is part of Revelation 13:1, although in the Greek text it is listed as Revelation 12:17. The English Standard Version (ESV) better reflects the Greek text, which suggests that the dragon is the subject of the verb “stood,” rather than John and also ties the dragon more closely to his origin in the sea. The reading “I stood,” meaning John, is found in the majority of the Greek manuscripts, but the reading “he stood,” meaning the dragon, is attested by the better manuscripts.

Taken as a whole, chapter 12 is a fitting introduction to the important revelations given in chapter 13. Here are the principal actors of the great tribulation with the historic background that provides so much essential information. Israel, Satan, Christ, the archangel, and the godly remnant figure largely in the closing scenes of the age. Next, the two principal human actors are then introduced: the beast out of the sea and the beast out of the earth, the human instruments that Satan will use to direct his program during the great tribulation.

(Source: John F Walvoord – Revelation)

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UNDERSTANDING REVELATION 12

As from early 2017, many Christians and especially scholars and watchmen of end time prophecies, were very excited about an arrangement of celestial bodies that was going to occur on 23 September 2017. Many even took their excitement as far as predicting that the rapture of the Church would have taken place on that date. According to various Internet sources, the heavens themselves would have been a tableau of Revelation 12:1-2. What very few actually knew, was the fact that this very same sky scene has also been seen at 4 other occasion during the past 1 000 years, in 1827, 1483, 1293, and 1056.

“Now a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a garland of twelve stars. Then being with child, she cried out in labor and in pain to give birth.”

On 23 September 2017 the sun was in the zodiac constellation Virgo — “a woman clothed with the sun.” The moon was at the feet of Virgo — “with the moon under her feet.” The ‘nine’ stars of the zodiac constellation Leo, plus three planets (Mercury, Venus, and Mars), were at the head of Virgo — “on her head a crown of 12 stars”. The planet Jupiter was in the center of Virgo, and, as the weeks pass after September 23, Jupiter would have exited Virgo to the east, past her feet, so to speak.

The simplest way to understand Revelation 12-14 is to see them built around the six main characters. There are a woman, a dragon, a male child, the archangel Michael, the beast from the sea and the beast from the earth. The saved remnant may be considered as a seventh.

The first four of these characters are described in Revelation 12 and the latter two in Revelation 13-14.

The first fall of Lucifer

As a name for the devil, the more common meaning in English, “Lucifer” is the rendering of the Hebrew word הֵילֵל in Isaiah 14:12 given in the King James Version. This Bible version took the word from the Latin Vulgate, which translated הֵילֵל by the Latin word lucifer (uncapitilized), meaning “the morning star,” “the planet Venus”, or, as an adjective, “light-bringing”.

The story of Lucifer’s first fall is described in two key Old Testament chapters, namely Ezekiel 28 and Isaiah 14.

The first ten verses of Ezekiel 28 deals with the prince of Tyre (who was condemned for claiming to be a god though he was just a man). The historic ruler, or prince of Tyre was probably a tool of Satan, and even indwelt by him.

Then the discussion moves from the prince to the king of Tyre, starting in verse 11 and on through verse 19. Lucifer now becomes the focus of discussion.

Ezekiel 28:12b-15 describes Lucifer before the fall.
“You were the seal of perfection, Full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. You were in Eden, the garden of God; Every precious stone was your covering: The sardius, topaz, and diamond, Beryl, onyx, and jasper, Sapphire, turquoise, and emerald with gold. The workmanship of your timbrels and pipes Was prepared for you on the day you were created. “You were the anointed cherub who covers; I established you; You were on the holy mountain of God; You walked back and forth in the midst of fiery stones. You were perfect in your ways from the day you were created, Till iniquity was found in you.”

It tells us that he was a created being and left the creative hand of God in a perfect state. He remained perfect in his ways until iniquity was found in him.

In Ezekiel 28:17 we see how the sin of self-generated pride corrupted him and contributed to his fall, “Your heart became proud on account of your beauty, and you corrupted your wisdom because of your splendor.” Lucifer apparently became so impressed with his own beauty, intelligence, power, and position that he began to desire for himself the honour and glory that belonged to God alone.

Apparently, this represents the actual beginning of sin in the universe, preceding the fall of the human Adam by an indeterminate time. Sin originated in the free will of Lucifer in which he chose to rebel against the Creator.

He was rightfully judged by God, “I threw you to the earth” (Ezekiel 28:18). However, other Scripture clearly indicate that Satan maintained this access even after his fall (Job 1:6-12 and Zechariah 3:1-2). But, Ezekiel 28:18 indicates that Satan was absolutely and completely cast out of God’s heavenly government and his place of authority (Luke 10:18).

Isaiah 14:12-17 is another Old Testament passage that may refer to the fall of Lucifer, although some scholars see no reference whatsoever to Lucifer in this passage. It is argued that the being mentioned in this verse is referred to as a man (Isaiah 14:16) and compared with other kings on the earth (Isaiah 14:18).

Isaiah 14:12 nevertheless says, “How you have fallen from heaven.” The description of this being is also beyond humanness and hence, could not refer to a mere mortal man.

There is a third view that seems preferable to both these views. This view sees Isaiah 14:12-17 as having a dual reference. It may be that Isaiah 14:4-11 deals with an actual king of Babylon. Then, in Isaiah 14:12-17, we find a dual reference that includes not only the king of Babylon but a typological description of Lucifer as well.

The Woman, the Child, and the Dragon

“And a great sign appeared in heaven, a woman clothed with the sun, and a moon under her feet and on her head a crown of twelve stars. And she was with child and she cried out being in labor and in pain to give birth. And another sign appeared in heaven and behold a great red dragon having seven heads and ten horns and on his heads were seven diadems. And his tail swept away a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth so that when she gave birth he might devour her child. And she gave birth to a son, a male child, who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron and her child was caught up to God and to His throne. And the woman fled into the wilderness where she had a place prepared by God so that there she might be nourished for one thousand, two hundred and sixty days.” (Revelation 12:1-6)

Since the fall of Lucifer, the “son of the morning,” he became Satan the devil and the archenemy of God. There has been a constant war going on throughout the universe between Satan and his demons and God and His angels. The earth has become the featured center for most of the battles.

When Satan fell, he dragged a third of the angels into the warfare with him and he deceived Adam and Eve, dragging the human race into the war as well. This war against God will finally culminate in the end of time when Jesus Christ defeats him and his demons once and for all and casts them in to the pit.

The conflict reaches its climax in the time of the Great Tribulation. Satan will amass his greatest efforts against God, against Christ and against believers. There will be war and tribulation all over the universe like never before, nor will ever be thereafter.

Revelation 12:1-5 take us back to the beginning, back to Eden and even before that in heaven. It contains a very brief comment on the fall of Satan and the effect thereof on man in the fall of man.

Satan hates God and does everything he possibly can to thwart God’s purposes. First, he attempted to destroy the paradise of heaven and led a mutiny against God among the angels. Then he attempted to destroy the paradise of earth and led a mutiny against God among men. One of his greatest desires is also to destroy God’s plan for the eternal rule and reign of Jesus Christ.

The woman

In Revelation 12:1 we meet a woman, “And a great sign appeared in heaven, a woman clothed with the sun and the moon under her feet and on her head a crown of twelve stars and she was with child and she cried out being in labor and in pain to give birth.”

This is the first of seven signs mentioned in the last half of the book of Revelation. A sign means something is occurring that points to something else. When we see a sign in prophetic literature, it is something symbolic of a reality. So when we see a woman appearing in heaven, the woman is not to illustrate a literal woman, but is symbolic of some other reality.

First of all, it is important to note that there are four symbolic women in Revelation.
– The first one is in Revelation 2:20. She is given the name Jezebel and she symbolizes sinful, wicked paganism. She is representative of those who teach people to commit adultery.
– The second woman is the one in the sign in heaven in Revelation 12.
– The third woman is found in Revelation 17. She is a scarlet woman, a whore or a harlot and she represents the apostate church.
– The fourth woman is called the wife of the Lamb, and she represents the church in Revelation 19:7.

This second woman in Revelation 12:1 represents Israel. Israel is frequently depicted as the wife of God throughout the Old Testament. Although she is a disloyal, unfaithful and adulterous wife, in the end God will bring her back to faithfulness.

Some have suggested that the woman here in Revelation 12 represents the church, but nowhere in the Bible is the church ever referred to as a woman of a wife, and especially not one giving birth. When the church is spoken of in feminine terms, it is always being called a bride. The church does not become a wife until the marriage supper of the Lamb in Revelation 19. 2 Corinthians 11:2 says, the church is a bride waiting for the marriage.

The seventieth week of Daniel in Daniel 9 relates to Israel and God has made an irrevocable promise to Israel to give them a kingdom. We read about Israel’s salvation in Zechariah 12-14 and in Romans 11. God’s plans through all of redemptive history have at their very heart the nation Israel.

Satan hates Israel and the Jews most of all nations. If he could have managed to destroy Israel, he would have wiped out God’s entire plan.

The woman is clothed with the sun and the moon under her feet and on her head a crown of twelve stars. Genesis 37:9 has an almost identical description. The passage deals with the life of Joseph. He was in some ways the beginning of the nation of Israel. Although the covenant was initially given to Abraham, Jacob’s name was changed to Israel and his son Joseph was one of the first real offsprings of Israel.

We read about one of Joseph’s dreams as from Genesis 37:9 , “Now he had another dream and related it to his brothers and said, `Lo, I have had still another dream and behold the sun and the moon and the eleven stars were bowing down to me.’ And he related it to his father and to his brothers and his father rebuked him and said to him, `What is this dream that you have had? Shall I and your mother and your brothers actually come to bow ourselves down before you to the ground?’ And his brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept this saying in mind.”

Later on Joseph became a leader in the land of Egypt and eventually his entire family bowed to him. The sun represents Jacob, the moon represents Rachel, and the eleven stars bowing down represent his eleven brothers.

The sign in Revelation 12 may vary a little bit but has much the same imagery. Now we see twelve stars, but the twelfth back in Genesis 37 was Joseph himself. The twelve stars now crown the head of the woman. The sun and the moon is under her feet.

The fact that the woman is clothed with the sun speaks of the glory, brilliance and dignity of a redeemed Israel that is going to be lifted up and exalted in the end. The moon under her feet could also refer to nothing more than exaltation, or could relate to Israel’s covenant relationship, since the moon was so central in the cycle of their worship. They worshiped in their yearly cycle through a series of new moons and feasts, festivals and Sabbaths were associated with them.

The crown of twelve stars on her head is a kind of garland or a crown associated with suffering and struggle. The twelve stars refer to the twelve tribes of Israel.

Israel, the woman, was prefigured in the life of Joseph. Joseph and Israel were sold to Gentiles, enslaved in captivity, buried among the nations, yet prominent, preserved, delivered, saved, given authority and given a kingdom.

Revelation 12:2 says, “Then being with child, she cried out in labor and in pain to give birth.” Israel is now depicted as a woman about to give birth and she is in pain. This is a very familiar imagery in the Old Testament, as seen in Isaiah 26, 54 and 66, Hosea 13 and Micah 4 and 5.

The pain can be associated with Israel’s suffering for centuries and their longing for their Messiah. They long for the “Child” that would eventually come and destroy Satan and his allies and would bring the promised kingdom.

The dragon

We meet the dragon in Revelation 12:3-4, “And another sign appeared in heaven and behold a great red dragon having seven heads and ten horns and on his head were seven diadems. And his tail swept away a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth and the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth so that when she gave birth he might devour her child.”

Satan is not a real dragon but a fallen angel and a spirit being. He is called a dragon thirteen times in the book of Revelation. The term dragon fits into the category of the Hebrew language where you get the word Leviathan, sea monster, a massive creature more awesome than a snake or a serpent. In ancient times a dragon was associated with the sea.

His red colour represents him as fierce, cruel, vicious, and deadly, but it also speaks of bloodshed. The dragon is identified as Satan as seen in Revelation 12:9, “And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan.”

The description of the dragon says he has seven heads and ten horns and on his seven heads are seven diadems or royal crowns.

We will learn more about this description, later on in Revelation 17:9 where it says, “The seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman sits, and they are seven kings, five have fallen, one is and the other has not yet come and when he comes he must remain a little while, and the beast which was and is not is himself also an eighth and is one of the seven and goes to destruction.”

In short, the seven kings represent seven worldly kingdoms, all the way to the end. Satan reigns over all of them. We also find the ten horns in Revelation 17:12, “The ten horns which you saw are ten kings.” Horns represent strength and power. Daniel 7 describes the final form of world rule in an imagery of ten kings. Daniel 7:24 says, “As for the ten horns, out of this kingdom ten kings will arise.” Satan is thus represented as dominating the world.

Daniel 8:24 also talks about the final form Satan’s rule will take on, “Destroying to an extraordinary degree, and he will destroy mighty men and the holy people.” He has always been after God’s people. First of all Israel, and certainly in the end time the church as well.

Satan stole, killed and destroyed right from the beginning. 1 John 3:12 reminds us of Cain who killed Abel when he says, “Not as Cain who was of the evil one, and slew his brother.” In Genesis 6, he sent his demons in some bizarre cohabitation with women to produce an unredeemable race that God then had to drown in the Flood.

Satan tried to take Israel captive and to eliminate ten tribes. Though the captives from the north never returned, representatives from all ten tribes had filtered into the south and so all twelve tribes are still intact. He tried to destroy the Jews through pagan kings and God used judges to deliver them. The dragon tried to get Saul to murder David and end all messianic hope through the line of David and he could not succeed. Haman became Satan’s tool to attempt genocide, but the nation was saved by Esther and Haman was executed on his own gallows.

His desire was always to exterminate the woman, the line of Messiah in one way or another. He was never successful but Israel went through much pain because of his efforts.

Revelation 12:4 says that his tail swept away a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. It symbolizes third of the angels, which amounts to millions of them. He also uses these demonic angels, as well as his earthly agents, the ungodly from the nations, against Israel.

Revelation 12:4 continues by saying, “The dragon stood before the woman just waiting, who was about to give birth so that when she gave birth he might devour her child.” He had all these efforts to try to wipe out the line, but could not succeed, so then he wanted to destroy the child, Jesus Christ.

Herod was the agent of Satan trying to wipe out the Messiah, before He could accomplish His work. In Matthew 2:13 we read, “Herod’s going to search for the child to destroy Him. So they took the child and His mother by night and departed for Egypt and there was a place there for them to remain until Herod died. When Herod saw that he had been tricked by the Magi, he became enraged and sent and slew all the male children in Bethlehem, all its environs from two years old and under according to the time which he had ascertained from the Magi.”

In modern days, the woman was and is still being attacked, even after the child is born. One of the worst events was when Hitler massacred almost six million Jews during the Holocaust. Today, Muslim Arabs would do anything to wipe the Jews from the face of the earth.

The male child

“She gave birth to a son, a male child who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron and her child was caught up to God and to His throne.” (Revelation 12:5)

This refers to the birth of the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of God. In Isaiah 7:14 we find a prophecy about the birth, “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.” Jesus was a Jew, the Son of Abraham, from the tribe of Judah, and a descendant of David.

This child will rule all the nations with a rod of iron, as we also see in Psalm 2. This will come to pass in Revelation 19, when Christ returns.

In the last part of Revelation 12:5 it says, “Her child was caught up to God and to His throne.” This of course refers to the ascension of Christ. Satan could not stop Him from being born or from accomplishing redemption. Christ is therefore exalted to the right hand of the Father as our perfect Saviour. Neither would Satan be able to stop the Millennial Kingdom of Christ. Sadly, many Christians such as the Amillennials are denying this kingdom, thereby almost exalting Satan.

From eternity past to the Great Tribulation

From Revelation 12:1-5 to Revelation 12:6, we move from eternity past and the fall of Satan all the way to the end of the Tribulation. It says, “Then the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, that they should feed her there one thousand two hundred and sixty days.”

“Now when the dragon saw that he had been cast to the earth, he persecuted the woman who gave birth to the male Child. But the woman was given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness to her place, where she is nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent. So the serpent spewed water out of his mouth like a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away by the flood. But the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed up the flood which the dragon had spewed out of his mouth. And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.” (Revelation 12:13-17)

Satan will be going after the woman during the time of the Tribulation, but God is going to hide her. This is exactly what was spoken of by Jesus in Matthew 24:21, “Therefore when you see the ‘abomination of desolation,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place” (whoever reads, let him understand), “then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let him who is on the housetop not go down to take anything out of his house. And let him who is in the field not go back to get his clothes. But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! And pray that your flight may not be in winter or on the Sabbath. For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be.”

Many from Israel will be fleeing out of the land when the Antichrist desecrates the Holy of Holies, sets himself up as God and starts the slaughter against the Jews. The “wilderness” always used to be Moab, Ammon and Edom, just east over the Jordan River, across the Dead Sea, as indicated in Daniel 11, Isaiah 16 and Isaiah 26.

Most scholars believe that the Jews will be hiding in a place the prophet Isaiah called Sela or Petra. It is the city of the dead in Edom, that can only be entered through an opening fit for one individual at a time. Inside you find a massive city carved out of the rock walls.

God will nourish them and it is probably here where many Jews would be saved right up until the end. Revelation 12:14 says, “ But the woman was given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness to her place, where she is nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent. ”

This indicates that there might be some special flights taking them way off to where they will hide.

Satan Thrown Out of Heaven … again

“And there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels waging war with the dragon and the dragon and his angels waged war. And they were not strong enough and there was no longer a place found for them in heaven. And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan who deceives the whole world, he was thrown down to the earth and his angels were thrown down with him. And I heard a loud voice in heaven saying, `Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down who accuses them before our God day and night. And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even to death. For this reason rejoice, O heavens, and you who dwell in them. Woe to the earth and the sea because the devil has come down to you having great wrath knowing that he has only a short time.’” (Revelation 12:7-12)

Even until today, Satan has never been in hell and he is not some kind of ruler or “king” of hell as many Christians might think. Subsequent to the tribulation, Revelation 20 tells us that he will be bound in the bottomless pit for a thousand years, after which he will be released for a short while and then be thrown into the lake of fire without any judgement hearing. As a matter of fact, he is going to be the lowest being in hell and be assigned the most horrible punishment of any creature ever made.

It may come as a surprise to many Christians, but currently, Satan still spends most of his time, in heaven. Revelation 12:10 says that he is there day and night, accusing Christians before the throne of God about their unworthiness. He knows perfectly well how to interpret the Bible because he was the covering cherub, Lucifer, before his fall. He is there to tell God of our sins and failures, trying to convince God that He ought to let us go to hell. He wants to capture us for his own dominion of darkness. Ultimately, he wants to show God that he can destroy salvation and takes us out of God’s hands.

Furthermore, he and his demons are continuously waging war against Michael and the holy angels. Satan has been identified as the prince of the power of the air and the god of this world, engaged in controlling world systems of religion and government.

He wants to bring about the unification of the whole world under his rulership and prevent Christ from coming back to establish His kingdom, both millennially on the earth and eternally in the new heavens and the new earth.

This battle continues on a supernatural level between the angels and on the earth on all moral, ideological, theological, and philosophical levels. This war is going to reach its climax in the Tribulation, after the church has been raptured.

In Revelation 12:9 the great dragon and his demonic angels are thrown down from heaven to earth for a second time. The arrival of Satan and all of his fallen minions are going to cause absolute destruction the earth.

Satan is actually already a defeated foe as he was destroyed at the cross and through the resurrection of Christ. The fact of his defeat occurred at the cross, the actual execution or sentencing is yet to happen. Romans 16:20 says, “The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.”

Even though he was defeated at the cross, he is still alive, 1 Peter 5:8 tells us to be sober and vigilant because the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. 1 John 5:18:19 says the whole world lies in his lap.

The Archangel Michael

War in heaven is playing off in Revelation 12:7-9. “And there was war in heaven, Michael and his angels waging war with the dragon and the dragon and his angels waged war and they were not strong enough and there was no longer a place found for them in heaven. So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.”

Revelation 12:7 happens right at the beginning of the tribulation. However, this war started with the first fall of Lucifer, it has been going on throughout the ages and still continues into the Tribulation. That is why Satan is also known as the prince of the power of the air. Ephesians 6:12 calls his demon hordes spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenlies.

Hebrews 1:14 says the angels are sent to be ministers of the people of God. Satan wants to thwart the angelic ministry. Also when God dispatched holy angels to assist Israel in the Old Testament, he interfered. We also see how the work of the angels is attacked in the modern day churches as part of Satan’s plan to develop a false one-world religion. In Matthew 13, Jesus said, “When anyone hears the word of the kingdom, and does not understand it, then the wicked one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart.”

The grammar and the structure of the Greek lends to the conclusion that Satan started the event in Revelation 12:7. John MacArthur makes this very interesting point that this event might have be triggered by the Rapture of the Church. The Rapture takes place prior to the seven-year Tribulation and in Revelation, the church is represented in heaven by the twenty-four elders. They are taken from earth in the twinkling of an eye and go through the domain of the air, passing through the kingdom of darkness. Satan and his demons could just as well be aroused to hinder the believers from reaching into heaven.

Michael is always associated with war and conflict. He is not a messenger angel but a warrior. A good example is in Daniel 10, where the angel who was stuck for twenty-one days from delivering his message, is assisted by Michael to overcome the demon that controlled the prince of Persia. He assisted because he wanted to send this other angel on the way to Daniel. He was concerned about God’s people Israel of whom Daniel represents.

According to Daniel 12 Michael will be standing guard over the Jews during the time of the Tribulation. Daniel 12:1 says, “At that time Michael the great prince who stands guard over the sons of your people will arise.”

In Jude 9 we read, “ Yet Michael the archangel, in contending with the devil, when he disputed about the body of Moses, dared not bring against him a reviling accusation, but said, “The Lord rebuke you!” Now remember that Moses was never allowed to enter the promised land. He could only look at it from where he was standing in Moab, where he also died. Apparently he died alone and God then sent Michael because the devil wanted Moses’ body.

In Jude 9, Michael is called the archangel. Interesting to note that in 1 Thessalonians 4:16 it is said that during the rapture, “The Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with a voice the archangel.” It is therefore not impossible that Michael would be confronting Satan and his demons if they try to thwart the Rapture. This could then trigger the war in heaven in Revelation 12. Matthew 25:41 also mentions that Satan and his angels were waging war.

Michael and the holy angels win the battle, and Satan and all of his hosts are casted out of heaven down to earth. Revelation 12:8 says, “No longer was any place found for them in heaven.” This is the end of the time of Satan as prince of the power of the air.

In Revelation 12:10 we read, “I heard a loud voice in heaven saying, `Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come for the accuser of our brethren has been cast down, who accuses them before our God day and night.”
Periodically throughout the book of Revelation heaven there is praising because of what is happening. This time they are praising because Satan is thrown out. Michael and his holy angels in the power of God are triumphant. Satan can no longer accuse the redeemed before the throne of God because he no longer has access.

“And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death. 12 Therefore rejoice, O heavens, and you who dwell in them! Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and the sea! For the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has a short time.” (Revelation 12:11-12)

They do not only rejoice over what happened in heaven, but also over what is happening on earth. When Satan tries to destroy and slaughter all of the believers as well as the nation of Israel, he is defeated. They overcame Satan because of the blood of the Lamb. Their sins were covered and no accusation would stand against the suffering saints of the Great Tribulation or against any believer in any age.

Secondly, they were faithful and devoted to Christ even in a world engulfed by demons and cursed by God, and their testimony never wavered. This is the idea of an ongoing testimony.

The Tribulation saints did not love their life even to death. In Matthew 24:13 Jesus said that those that are enduring to the end will be saved.

Revelation 12:12 ends with a warning because Satan has come down with great wrath knowing that he has only a short time left to steal, kill and destroy.