Revelation 12

Revelation 12

The Woman and the Dragon

12 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. 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. 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.

Satan Thrown Down to Earth

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. 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!”

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. 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.


Revelation 12 Commentary

by Brad Boyles

The Woman

It is out of Israel that the Messiah will come, therefore, it makes sense that the woman would represent not only Israel but also the Messianic community. We can marry these two ideas because in verse 17, the woman also represents the church age. As for Israel, there are many passages in the OT that back up this interpretation.

“As the pregnant woman approaches the time to give birth, She writhes and cries out in her labor pains, Thus were we before You, O LORD.”

Isaiah 26:17 NASB 

“Writhe and labor to give birth, Daughter of Zion, Like a woman in childbirth; For now, you will go out of the city, Dwell in the field, And go to Babylon. There you will be rescued; There the LORD will redeem you From the hand of your enemies.”

Micah 4:10 NASB 

The Great Red Dragon

There is no speculating the identity of the dragon. John refers to him specifically as Satan. The multi-headed description is symbolism that would have been recognized by the readers of John’s time. The Psalms speak of the many heads of Leviathan which was also used to describe Israel’s enemies.

“You crushed the heads of Leviathan; You gave him as food for the creatures of the wilderness.”

Psalms 74:14 NASB

“In that day the LORD will punish Leviathan the fleeing serpent, With His fierce and great and mighty sword, Even Leviathan the twisted serpent; And He will kill the dragon who lives in the sea.”

Isaiah 27:1 NASB 

The description here also references the fourth beast of Daniel 7. Both are described as having ten horns.

“After this I kept looking in the night visions, and behold, a fourth beast, dreadful and terrifying and extremely strong; and it had large iron teeth. It devoured and crushed and trampled down the remainder with its feet; and it was different from all the beasts that were before it, and it had ten horns.”

Daniel 7:7 NASB 

The Male Child

The child symbolizes Jesus and John goes directly from his birth and rescue to his ascension. The point of this being that the plan of Satan to overcome God’s Son was destroyed by Christ’s ministry, sacrifice, and resurrection. Jesus was snatched up by God to His throne.

The Confrontation

Picking up in verse 7, it is Michael, not Jesus, who wars against Satan. Michael plays a significant role in kingdom matters, especially in Daniel 12.

“”Now at that time Michael, the great prince who stands guard over the sons of your people, will arise. And there will be a time of distress such as never occurred since there was a nation until that time; and at that time your people, everyone who is found written in the book, will be rescued.”

Daniel 12:1 NASB 

He also contends with Satan over the body of Moses in Jude. Here, Satan loses his battle with Michael and is sent away with no longer a place in Heaven. Until this time, apparently, Satan still had some kind of place in Heaven. Jesus describes this scene with a vision in the book of Luke.

“And He said to them, “I was watching Satan fall from heaven like lightning.”

Luke 10:18 NASB 

Satan Thrown Down

All throughout history, Satan is described as a liar, a deceiver, and an accuser. It is no coincidence that Revelation 12 moves from describing him as an accuser, to the praise and worship of Jesus Christ, and finally, to the victory we have as believers through the blood of the lamb and the words of our testimony. Revelation 12:11 is one of my favorites verses in all of Scripture.

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.

Revelation 12:11 ESV

Satan is overcome by Michael and his angels but also overcome by the faithful believers who put their trust in the slain lamb. But John adds a curious detail that would have resonated with the early church. “..and they did not love their life even when faced with death.”

Now that Satan is thrown down his furious rage turns to the woman (the church). If you remember the story of Saul (Paul), he was suddenly and powerfully approached by Jesus Christ on the road to Damascus. Jesus asked him, “Why are you persecuting me?” Paul had no idea. Paul thought he was simply persecuting Christians. This is a great truth that brings unbelievable encouragement.

When Satan turns his attention against the church, Jesus stands between us with absolute authority. Christ is inseparable from his faithful sons and daughters. Though Satan tries everything in his power to destroy the church, Jesus promises that even the gates of Hell will not overcome. This is a promise that spoke clearly to the early church and it should encourage us today as well!

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