7 And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels,

8 And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven.

9 And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, who deceives the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.

 

PART 2

 

*** And there was war in Heaven ***: Based on Revelation 12:7-9, we can understand that when the child was taken up to Heaven, the dragon and his angels followed Him to the Heavenly court. He did not want to let Jesus take away his earthly dominion without any resistance.

The Bible tells us that when Jesus arrived in Heaven, He sat on the throne with the Father (Revelation 5:7; Revelation 3:21), and the Heavenly chorus "sang a new song, saying, You are worthy to take the scroll, and to open the seals thereof: for you were slain, and have redeemed us to God by your blood out of every tribe, and tongue, and people, and nation; And have made us unto our God a kingdom and priests: and we shall reign on the earth. And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the living creatures and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands; Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing." (Revelation 5:9-12). Note that they were celebrating Jesus’ victory. We can see how that victory also meant rulership over the Earth (Revelation 5:10,12).

Then, war broke out in Heaven once again. The first time, it ended with Lucifer and his angels being cast down, and their first attack on humanity (see study #81). In his mind, there was still a chance for his plans for universal domination to work. This time, however, the "ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands" of beings praising Christ's accomplishments were immune to the dragon's lies and were ready to defend the Truth. They had just witnessed Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. His death revealed not only the loving character of God but also the destructive character of the enemy. Satan’s false arguments had been exposed.

*** Michael and His angels fight the dragon and his angels ***: This war is a spiritual war. Revelation 12:11 describes the weapons that allow people to overcome God's enemy: "the blood of the Lamb", and "the word of their testimony". Note that this fight happens not only between Michael and Satan but also between the angels on both sides. The angels who believe and follow Satan fought the angels who believe and follow the One who is like God, Michael. This war was about worship, about who they were going to believe in. It's the same kind of battle we saw between the serpent and Eve, and between Satan and Jesus in the desert (Matthew 4:1-11). Satan challenged the truth. The way to fight back is to use the Word of God, just as Jesus did. Three times He fought back with "it is written” (Matthew 4:4,7,10). The fact that the Heavenly beings were all worshiping God so intensely when Christ ascended to Heaven (they were worshiping with a loud voice - Revelation 5:12), made it clear that Satan's lies would not deceive anyone else in Heaven. "And [Satan and his angel] prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven." (Revelation 12:8).

*** Satan and his angels are cast down ***: Revelation 12:9 identifies the dragon in different ways: serpent, devil, and Satan. 'Serpent' is a reference to the first battle fought on Earth when Eve decided to believe the lies against God (Genesis 3:1-6). 'Devil' means slanderer. 'Satan' means adversary. When Lucifer deceived one-third of the angels through his slanderous accusations against God, he became God's enemy and was cast out of Heaven for the first time (Isaiah 14:12; Luke 10:18). The type of activities the dragon is involved in are clearly stated in the verse: he "deceives the whole world” (Revelation 12:9). Satan is the mind behind all of the deceitful actions of his agents (Revelation 13:11-17; Revelation 18:2-3; Revelation 19:20; Revelation 20:10).

Satan lost his dominion over the Earth, and that power was transferred to Jesus (see study #81). Remember what the celestial chorus was singing when Jesus sat on the throne? They were singing: "and we shall reign on the earth" and "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing" (Revelation 5:10,12).

How do we know that the casting down of Satan mentioned in Revelation 12:9 happens after Christ's ascension to God's throne? The answer comes in the song the heavenly chorus started to sing after Satan was cast down. We read this song in Revelation 12:10-12. The key phrases in this section are: "Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ" and that the people overcame the dragon "by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony". The blood of the Lamb is clearly referring to Christ's death. His followers are able to overcome the serpent because the Messiah resurrected and ascended to Heaven.

*** Overview ***: We are in the middle of a spiritual battle. This battle is more critical than any other physical war we may see happening among the different nations. The book of Revelation is concerned with the matters related to our eternal life. Too often we become distracted with superficial interpretations that seek to assign material explanations to the apocalyptic contents of this book. As Paul said, “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds;) Casting down arguments, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:3-5). The war is fought against the false arguments Satan wants to deceive us with. His arguments sound good, and even true but what he actually wants is to turn our attention away from God’s message. Even though this is a serious situation, we do not need to be afraid because Jesus has already provided a way for us to overcome it. Through Christ’s sacrifice, the blood He shed in our place, and through the Word of His testimony, we can also cast the dragon out, and give the dominion of our lives to Jesus. The first step to victory is to believe: to believe in the power of the Lamb who was slain, not on our own strength. The battle the enemy is waging against God’s people is the fight of our worship. Like the angels in Heaven, we must continue to praise God with all our soul. Whenever we find ourselves in the middle of a battle, and the bullets of temptations are flying all around us, we must remember the words of Jesus: "Begone, Satan: for it is written, You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve.” (Matthew 4:10).

5 And she brought forth a male child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne.

6 And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and three score days.

 

PART 3

 

*** Background ***: The woman was in labor. She was about to give birth and the dragon was standing in front of her, waiting for the child to be born. The dragon wanted to destroy the child. (Revelation 12:1-4). As we saw in the previous two studies, the pregnant woman is the Israel church. It was from that nation that the Messiah would be born. The dragon is Satan, waiting for the Messiah to be born. He wanted to place his attack as soon as possible.

*** The child was born ***: As prophesied, a male child was indeed born. There are many prophecies in the Bible concerning the birth of Christ such as the ones we see in Micah 5:2-4; Isaiah 7:14. "And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots. But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked." (Isaiah 11:1-4). Isaiah 9:6 says: "For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace." Jesus is the male child Revelation 12:5 is referring to. Christ is the fulfillment of the first prophecy about the messiah written in Genesis 3:15 (see study #78).

*** He would rule the nations with a rod of iron ***: In order to understand this verse, we need to look at a few verses in the Bible. There are three important elements in this section of Revelation 12:5: "the male child", "the nations", and the “rod of iron". Let's read Psalm 2:7-12:

"I will declare the decree: the LORD has said unto me, You are my Son; this day have I begotten you. Ask of me, and I shall give you the nations for your inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron; you shall dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel. Be wise now therefore, O you kings: be instructed, you judges of the earth. Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him."

- The male child: All the verses we are studying point to Jesus as the male child. The Bible leaves no doubt about the interpretation of this first element.

- The nations: In this text of Psalm2:7-12, we see the same three elements of Revelation 12:5: the son, the nations, and the rod of iron. In this Psalm, we learn that the Son will break the nations unless they repent and decide to serve the Lord (Psalm 2:11). Now we know that 'the nations' are those people who do not yet serve God.

- The rod of iron: The rod is the instrument Christ would use to break the nations, so they could see clearly the decision they have to make: to trust Him or not (Psalm 2:12). Revelation 19:15 tells us what is this rod of iron that He uses on the nations: "And out of his mouth goes forth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God." The Rod of iron is the sharp sword that comes out of Jesus' mouth. Remember John's description of the glorified Christ in Revelation 1:16? And how Jesus introduced Himself to the church of Pergamum in Revelation 2:12? Jesus has a sharp sword that comes out of His mouth. He uses it to smite the nations and bring them to repentance. This sword is the Word of God, which is now contained in the Bible. Hebrews 4:12 says: "For the word of God is living, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart." (See studies #9, #17 and #18).

*** The child was caught up unto a God ***: At a first glance, it seems that the child was born and was immediately caught up to God as a baby. But when we look closely to Revelation 12:5, we start to see the progression of events. The Messiah was born into the Jewish nation. He then spread His Truth during His ministry, calling people to repentance. Finally, he died and resurrected. He went back to Heaven and was caught up to the Father and His throne. In Revelation 4 and 5 (studies #28-36), we see Christ’s arrival in Heaven, as the Lamb who was slain. He was worthy to sit down on the throne, at the right side of the Father. The expression "caught up unto God" reminds us of another expression we see in Daniel 9:26, where the "Messiah [would be] be cut off, but not for himself". This verse in Daniel is talking about the time when Christ would die, sealing the fate of sin forever.

*** What happened to the woman after she gave birth ***: Revelation 12:6 says: "And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she had a place prepared by God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and three score days." It is clear that after giving birth the woman ran away from the dragon. But what does that mean? As we've mentioned many times before, in Bible analogies, 'woman' is always a reference to the church. The pregnant woman was a reference to the Israel church. Christ was born from the line of David, from the tribe of Juda (Mateus 1:1-2). The woman after she gave birth still continues to be a symbol for God's church. But keep in mind that she became a symbol for the church of a different time period from the one when she was pregnant. We saw that the son had returned to Heaven by the time the woman ran away from the dragon. At that point, God's church was not made up of Israelites alone. Anyone who accepts Jesus becomes part of God's family. "For you are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ's, then are you Abraham's descendants, and heirs according to the promise." (Galatians 3:26-29). Revelation 12:6 is not a reference to the original Israel church. After Christ's death, anyone who accepts Him as Savior can be included. The woman after giving birth is a symbol for the worldwide Church. This Church is formed by those who remain faithful to the iron rod message of Jesus.

- She fled to the wilderness: The dragon was now persecuting the woman in such intensity that she needed to run away into the wilderness. The Christian church had to run away just like the ancient Israelites had to flee from Egipt into the wilderness (Exodus 13:17; Exodus 16:21). And just as God had provided a land for the Israelites, He had also prepared a place for the woman. This period of hardship would last for 1260 days (Revelation 12:6). Once again, we see this prophetic time period. We saw this period in Revelation 11:2-3 when the faithful people of God (represented by the two witnesses prophesying in sackcloth) suffered oppression in the hand of those who do not follow God's Truth (see studies #16, #20, #68, #71 and #72). Revelation 12:14 makes it clear that this period of 1260 prophetic days (or 3.5 prophetic years, which equals to 1260 literal years) is identical to the expression "time, times, and half a time": "And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent". Daniel 7:25 also talks about this, when he mentions a power that would "wear out the saints of the most High" for "a time, times and half a time". (See also Daniel 12:7).

All of these references to 1260 years seem to point to the same period of time. The focus of this passage in Revelation is not on the exact length of time the Church would suffer, but that God would protect His faithful people from spiritual death. This period corresponds to the Dark Ages, a time when Christians suffered terribly. We know that this period was to end before the Second Coming of Jesus. This is because after this initial persecution, he would go on to persecute "the remnant of her offspring" (Revelation 12:17).

*** Overview ***: The emphasis of Revelation 12:5 seems to be in the fact that the Messiah completed His mission. The dragon was powerless and unable to devour the Son in any point of Christ's life on Earth. The dragon was ready to devour, and yet, the Son came and went flawlessly. After Jesus's death and resurrection, the identity of the faithful church changed. It was no longer a matter of being genetically linked to Abraham. The connection now was done through Christ's blood. Anyone who truly accepts Him becomes part of the Church. After giving birth, the woman became a symbol for the Christian Church. Christians suffered terrible persecution during the Dark Ages, a period that lasted about 1200 years. This time of suffering parallels the 3.5 years Christ suffered during His ministry on Earth. God, in His infinite love and mercy, cared for His people during that difficult time, by sustaining and nourishing them spiritually. Like Jesus, they may have suffered and faced death. Jesus warned us about the persecution we would suffer for following His Word: "But they will treat you like this on account of My name, because they do not know the One who sent Me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin. Now, however, they have no excuse for their sin. Whoever hates Me hates My Father as well. If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin; but now they have seen and hated both Me and My Father. But this is to fulfill what is written in their Law: ‘They hated Me without reason.’ When the Advocate comes, whom I will send you from the Father—the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father—He will testify about Me. And you also must testify, because you have been with Me from the beginning.” (John 15:21-27, Berean Study Bible). We must keep on testifying and live according to God's instructions. We must trust that God will continue to nourish us here on Earth while He is preparing a place for us in Heaven. Jesus said: "These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world". (John 16:33, New American Standard Bible).

3 And there appeared another sign in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads.

4 And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman who was ready to be delivered, to devour her child as soon as it was born.

 

PART 2

 

*** The second sign: a great red dragon ***: The description of second sign follows the same pattern as the first sign (study #78). John sees a symbol; he describes the symbol and the situation in which the symbol is found. The second symbol is a great red dragon. This is not the first time in the Bible where a terrible beast is the symbol of an enemy of God’s people. We find two sea monsters in the Old Testament, Leviathan, and Rahab. These two beasts are a symbol used to refer to the Pharaoh from the time of the ancient Israel (Leviathan: Psalm 74:14; Isaiah 27:1; Rahab: Psalm 89:10; Isaiah 30:7; Isaiah 51:9). There are also other references to monsters used as symbols for Babylon (Jeremiah 51:34), and Pharaoh (Ezekiel 29:3; Ezekiel 32:2). The color red was often used as the color of bloodshed (2 Kings 3:22-23; Nahum 2:3); and of sin (Isaiah 1:18). This color is also associated with the beast (Revelation 17:3); a prostitute dressed in scarlet “having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication”, and “the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus" (Revelation 17:4,6). Not all mentions to the color red, however, are linked to sin and evil symbols. Numbers 19:2 tells us that God commanded the Israelites to bring a “red heifer without spot, wherein is no blemish, and upon which never came a yoke”. They were to bring it to the priest, so he could offer it as a sacrifice to God. And so, red was also associated with sacrifice. In Revelation 6:4, we had a red horse, coming from Haven, going to the Earth, representing the opportunity people have to present themselves to God, redeemed by the blood of Jesus (see study #39). The symbol used in Revelation 12:3, however, does not seem to indicate that the color red is being used as a symbol for redemption because it is a reference to the dragon. The meaning seems to fit more with bloodshed, sin, and abomination. Why this conclusion? Because the Bible is very clear about who the dragon is: “that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, who deceives the whole world” (Revelation 12:9).

*** What the dragon looks like ***: Besides being the color red, the dragon has a very strange appearance. It has “seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads.” We have here more symbols explaining another symbol. So, let's break it down in order to understand this text.

- Seven heads and ten horns: This expression is drawn from the book of Daniel. Daniel received a vision about the kingdoms of the Earth that would follow after the demise of the Roman Empire (Daniel 7:7-8). The Angel explained to Daniel that “the ten horns out of this kingdom are ten kings that shall arise” (Daniel 7:24-25). With the fading away of the Roman Empire around the year 476 AD, ten tribes emerged in Europe, taking over what was once a united Roman territory. These tribes were: Ostrogoths, Visigoths, Franks, Vandals, Alemannians, Suevi, Anglo-Saxons, Heruli, Lombards, and Burgundians. Just as Daniel’s prophecy predicted (Daniel 7:8; Daniel 7:24), seven of these still remain to this day but three were destroyed. The remaining tribes evolved into some of the European countries we have in modern times. The Franks became the French, the Alemannians became the Germans, the Anglo-Saxons became the English, the Lombards became the Italians, Suevi became the Portuguese, the Visigoths became the Spanish, and The Burgundians became the Swiss. The three extinct tribes are the Heruli, Vandals, and Ostrogoths. In Revelation 12:3, the dragon has seven heads and ten horns. There are more horns than heads. The ten horns are likely a reference to the ten horns seen originally in Daniel 7:7, before three of them were destroyed. The seven remaining heads seem to be a reference to the seven remaining European powers. Revelation is linking those European tribes to the red dragon, indicating that satanic activities were taking place in that area. It is important to distinguish the satanic activities from the citizens of those countries. In no way is the Bible calling the citizens of a particular country evil. The book of Revelation deals with systems, ruling powers which exist in an organized fashion. Revelation is not a book about anyone specific human being.

- Seven crowns upon his head: The word used for crown here is the word diadems, diadēmata in Greek. This crown is very different than the crown of victory (stephanos) the pregnant woman had in Revelation 12:1. The diadem is a royal crown, like the many crowns on Jesus’ head in Revelation 19:12-16. Satan, the dragon, is portraying himself as the one worthy to wear the royal crown. Satan's objective, from the beginning, was to “ascend above the heights of the clouds” and to “be like the most High” (Isaiah 14:14). The dragon positioned himself behind the powers of Earth, as an authority figure with the objective of oppressing God’s people throughout history.

*** The situation ***: Revelation 12:4 describes the situation the dragon is found. Later in this chapter, the text will expand more on the first portion of the verse, where it says: “And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth”. The events described in the first half of Revelation 12:4 led to the scene described in the second half: “and the dragon stood before the woman who was ready to be delivered, to devour her child as soon as it was born.

- And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven: Going back to the study of the trumpets (#57, #58, and #59), we saw how the army of locusts had poisonous tails that attack people on a spiritual level. The Bible says: “the prophet that teaches lies, he is the tail”, and he will be cut off from among the people of God (Isaiah 9:14,15). The dragon’s lies deceived one-third of the stars of Heaven. Stars is used in Revelation as a symbol for messengers (Revelation 1:20), in this case, heavenly messengers: angels. In the study of the trumpets, we saw the satanic army ready to attack and torture those who do not have the seal of God (Revelation 9:4, study #58). The locust attack described in Revelation 9 is inflicted on those who reject the pure Gospel (Christian Era). In Revelation 12, that army is ready to attack the son of the woman, as soon as he is born. The events described in the first verses of Revelation 12 happen before the locust attack on the wicked, before and during the first coming of the Messiah. The fall of Lucifer and his angels from Heaven led to his first attack on humans, at the Garden of Eden. Lucifer, who became Satan, deceived Eve and convinced her to eat the forbidden fruit (Genesis 3). The judgments contained in the first 4 trumpets are always aimed at just one-third of the Earth (Revelation 8:7-13), never over all the planet. When the ancient Israel turned to paganism and disobedience, God used His prophets to deliver a message about God’s judgments that would fall over them. Those judgments were to affect one-third of the nation (Ezekiel 5:11-12; Zechariah 13:8-9). The expression one-third is used to refer to a group of beings that oppose God’s Truth and side with Satan's false teachings. In other words, the first half of Revelation 12:4 says that Satan’s lies deceived a considerable portion of the heavenly angels, but not the entire angelic population. Satan and the angels who sided with him were cast down to Earth (Revelation 12:9). They no longer wished to follow Heaven’s way of life.

- The dragon was ready to devour the child: After Adam and Eve sinned, God gave them the first promise of a Savior, who would smash the head of the serpent, forever solving the sin problem that had entered the earth. Since then, Satan had been awaiting the coming of the Messiah. He was unhappy with his situation. He no longer held his position in Heaven and he had embarked on a mission to deceive God’s precious creation, who had been fashioned after God’s own image: humans. Since Eden, he had lived with the knowledge that God would send someone who would be able to inflict a deadly injury to his existence. The head of sin would be permanently crushed by the seed of the woman (Genesis 3:15, see study #78 for details on this promise). Satan’s ideals to be like God consumed him in such a way that led him to stand before the woman, God's church, ready to attack her. Israel was about to give birth to the Messiah (see study #78 for details). The second portion of the verse gives us the idea that Satan was eagerly waiting for that moment to happen. He was preparing an attack. He was ready to devour. He had a plan to defeat the Messiah.

*** Overview ***: Lucifer’s rebellion against God led to the spreading of great lies in Heaven. Lucifer managed to deceive a significant number of angels and convinced them to join his cause. Lucifer became the dragon, the old serpent, the father of lies (Revelation 12:9). He went on to cast his lies over the humans. He waited for the moment when God would send a Savior to Earth. The Redeemer would be born as a baby. A newborn seemed to be an easy target. So Satan positioned himself to attack. He wanted to destroy the Messiah before the Messiah could smash his head once and for all. Satan infiltrated the earthly powers of the time with his lies and deceptive ways, in order to achieve his goal. But he failed to realize that God had already foretold how successful Satan’s plan of attack would turn out to be: the Messiah would win and fatally crush the serpent. No matter how hard the dragon works on his plans of attack, his end has already been revealed to the Universe: Satan will be destroyed forever (Revelation 20:10). God will heal all the scars caused by sin. “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.” (Revelation 21:4). Christ will reign for all eternity (Revelation 11:15). Amen.

1  And there appeared a great sign in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars:

2  And she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered.

 

PART 1 - The woman

 

*** Background ***: The first half of the book of Revelation deals with the events from Christ’s resurrection to the time of the His Second Coming. Over the past 73 lessons, we have been covering the first 11 chapters of the book. The Bible presents the history of the world from different angles. It focuses on the spiritual point of view of History. We are now going to start the second half of Revelation. Chapters 12 to 22 will show us what was contained in the little scroll of Revelation 10 (see studies #66 to #69 for details). The contents of the little scroll zoom in on what will happen during the end times. Revelation 11:18 gives us the summary of what is to come in the second half of the book of Revelation: “And the nations were angry, and your wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that you should give reward unto your servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear your name, small and great; and should destroy them who destroy the earth." As Dr. Stefanovic pointed out in his commentary, there are 5 main topics in Revelation 11:18 that introduce what will be discussed in Revelation 12 to 22:5:

1) The nations were angry; 2) your wrath is come; 3) the time of the dead to be judged; 4) the time to give the reward to God’s servants; 5) the time to destroy those who destroy the earth. Revelation chapters 12 to 14 deal with the first topic “the nations were angry”. This anger is reflected in how Satan and his agents work to oppose God’s people.

*** The first sign: a woman ***: Both the first and second halves of Revelation start out by including a word that is key for the interpretation of the book. In Revelation 12:1, we see the Greek word sēmeion, which is the noun related to the verb sémainó (used in Revelation 1:1). The noun sēmeion means a sign or a mark. It is a symbol. We first saw the verb form of this word in Revelation 1:1: “The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to show unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John”. The translated word used is signified. This word is a very important clue as to how we should understand all the imagery that is contained within the message. The information is being passed along in a symbolic language. The term here refers to extraordinary events being described in chapter 12.

John starts chapter 12 by stating that he was seeing an unusual and impactful scene: an exceptional woman. Many Christians may think that this woman is Mary, the mother of Jesus, but as we will see in this study, the woman is the symbol for something else, in the same manner as the dragon is a symbol for Satan (Revelation 12:3). As we’ve discussed several times throughout our studies so far, in Bible analogies, the term woman is used as a symbol for the Old or New Testament church (Jeremiah 6:2; Isaiah 51:16; Isaiah 54:5-6; Ezekiel 16:8-14; Hosea 2:14-23; Amos 5:2; Jeremiah 3:20; Hosea 1:2; Hosea 2:2-13; Ezekiel 16:15-19; Ezekiel 16:32; 2 Corinthians 11:2; Ephesians 5:25-32; Revelation 12:1-6; Revelation 19:7-8). When the Bible talks about a faithful woman, it is a reference to the faithful church. Similarly, an unfaithful woman is a reference to an unfaithful church. Isaiah 26:17 compares the ancient Israel to a pregnant woman: “Like a woman with child, that draws near the time of her delivery, is in pain, and cries out in her pangs; so have we been in your sight, O LORD.Micah 4:10 also compares ancient Israel with a travailing woman: “Be in pain, and labor to bring forth, O daughter of Zion, like a woman in travail: for now shall you go forth out of the city, and you shall dwell in the field, and you shall go even to Babylon; there shall you be delivered; there the LORD shall redeem you from the hand of your enemies.” (See also Isaiah 66:7-9; Jeremiah 4:31).

We can’t ignore the fact that this text about the woman of Revelation 12 comes soon after the text about the two witnesses. As we’ve seen in studies #72 to #77, the two witnesses are a symbol for the Bible and the Church. In this way, the woman of Revelation 12 is also linked to the two witnesses, because the two witnesses are the faithful woman actively spreading the Gospel. Just like the two witnesses, the woman of Revelation 12 goes through a period of hardship lasting 1260 days (Revelation 11:3; Revelation 12:6). This is another indication that the woman of Revelation 12 cannot be a real person, such as Mary, because the Bible never mentioned such a period in Mary’s life. Moreover, Revelation 12:17 says that some time later, the dragon went on to fight with the remnant of the woman. This emphasizes the symbolic nature of the term ‘woman’. The two signs in Heaven seen in Revelation 12 follow a pattern: John sees a symbol; he describes the symbol and the situation in which the symbol is found:

 
A sign in Heaven (the symbol)
A woman
A red dragon
Description
Clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars
Having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads
Situation
Pregnant, about to give birth, going through labor pains
His tail drew the third part of the stars of Heaven and did cast them to the earth

 

The 1st century Christians were familiar with the symbolic description of God’s people as the bride of Christ. This concept is also present in the Old and the New Testaments: “For your Maker is your husband; the LORD of hosts is his name; and your Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; The God of the whole earth shall he be called." (Isaiah 54:5); “But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all." (Galatians 4:26). The Church is, at the same time the mother of the Messiah and His bride. Specifically, Revelation 12 refers to Israel. Jesus was born as a jew, from the tribe of Judah. Jesus came to Earth as a human being, in order to save His own people and restore them to the Father.

*** What she was wearing ***: There are three elements about the woman's outfit: what was on her body, under her feet, and on her head. Note that we have the description of what she is wearing from head to toe. She has a complete outfit. The symbols used to describe her outfit (sun, moon, and stars) often appear together in the Bible. One example is Joseph’s dream about his parents and his brothers (Genesis 37:9). Another example is the fourth day of creation (Genesis 1:16). The woman's outfit reflects who she thinks is the source of Truth and Salvation: Jesus Christ.

- Clothed with the sun: The garments the woman was wearing reminds us of the description of Jesus at the mount of the transfiguration, where Elijah and Moses appeared next to Him: “And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his clothing was white as the light.” (Matthew 17:2). Her description also reminds us of Salomon’s bride, who was pure as the sun and as beautiful as the moon (Song of Solomon 6:10). Jesus is the one who provides pure and righteous robes for those who overcome (Revelation 3:5, see also Zachariah 3:4-5). The woman of Revelation 12 is the faithful Israel Church.

- Moon under her feet: The moon does not have its own light, but it does reflect the light of the sun. The woman of Revelation 12, or faithful church, is standing firmly on the moon. The Bible tells us this about the scripture: “Your word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” (Psalm 119:105). Here we have the second aspect of the two witnesses that we saw in Revelation 11:1-14. The woman of Revelation 12 carries the same attributes as the two witnesses did. 2 Corinthians 4:6 says: “For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, has shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." (See also Revelation 1:16).

- Crown of 12 stars on her head: as we’ve seen in previous studies, the number 12 represents the church at any given point in time. In our study #47, we saw that the number 12 is a number that appears both in the Old and New Testaments, and it is always linked to the people of God. The Bible mentions 12 patriarchs from Seth to Noah, then 12 patriarchs from Shem to Jacob, 12 tribes of Israel, 12 spies sent to find the promised land, 12 judges (from Othniel to Samuel), 12 disciples, 12 gates in the New Jerusalem that are named after the 12 tribes, and its 12 foundations which have the names of the 12 apostles. Ephesians 2:20 also mentions that the church is built on the foundation of the 12 apostles and the prophets, with Christ as the cornerstone. The woman of Revelation 12 has on her head a crown of 12 stars. The Greek word for crown used here is stephanos. The stephanos crown is the crown of victory used in Greek times to celebrate athlete winners. The stephanos crown is different than the royal crown. The royal crown is called diadem in Revelation (Revelation 12:3; Revelation 13:1; Revelation 19:12).

*** Her situation ***: The woman was pregnant, about to give birth, already travailing with birthing pains (Revelation 12:2). Looking from the perspective that we are talking about God’s chosen people, represented here by the woman, we can clearly see that she is the fulfillment of the promise God gave Adam and Eve at the Garden of Eden.God turned to the serpent and said: “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” (Genesis 3:15). This verse may seem a little complicated to understand at first, but let’s look closely to what it is saying: “And [God] will put enmity between [the serpent] and the woman, and between [the serpent’s] seed and her seed; [her male child] shall bruise [the serpent’s] head, and [the serpent] shall bruise [the child’s] heel.” This was the first promise of a Savior given to humanity. From that point on, God’s people began to wait for a male child that would smash sin in a deadly way. Out of God’s people, the Messiah would come (Acts 13:23). Revelation 22:16 is the key verse to understand the woman’s pregnancy, and who her child is: “I Jesus have sent my angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star.” Jesus is the offspring of His people, the Church. He is the Lion of the tribe of Judah (Revelation 5:5). At the same time, He is the root of the Church. The Church exists because of Christ.

*** Overview ***: Revelation 12 marks the portion of the book of Revelation the deals specifically with end-times events. It starts by giving the reader a brief background of who the main characters are: God’s people, God’s enemy, and Jesus Christ. The narrative flows from the perspective of God’s people, symbolized by a pregnant woman. This woman was unlike any other. She was dressed in righteous robes and stood firmly on the Word of God. She had the victory crown promised to God’s faithful people. Once again, the Bible and God's people are linked together. We first saw a hint of that link in Revelation 1:3: we will receive a special blessing when we read, hear and keep the words of the prophecy of this book. Out of the Israel Church, came the Messiah. Jesus is Emmanuel which means God with us (Matthew 1:23). Jesus became a man to save us from Sin. All three characters of Revelation 12 are portrayed in John chapter 1:1-18. Jesus is the Light, the Word who became flesh, whom the world rejected. He shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome the Light. His servant (John the Baptist, representing the Church’s mission) was called to preach about this light to the world as a witness to mankind. “[Jesus] came unto His own, and His own received Him not. But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the children of God, even to them that believed on His name”. (John 1:12).

   
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