There are a couple of things that one needs to understand in studying the book of Revelation. First, it was written from the perspective of the spirit world. What do we mean by that? Simply that this book, like no other book of the Bible with the exception of Ezekiel and Daniel and a few of the other Old Testament prophets, pulls back the veil, as it were, and shows us things that originate in and are orchestrated by Heaven that in turn manifest in the earth realm. Secondly, it was written mostly in the vernacular of the Old Testament. This is really illustrated in no clearer fashion than in the chapter we are considering at present. Chapter 12 begins with a most unusual sign. John sees, a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars. Joseph saw this same “woman” in his dream related in Genesis 37. The “woman” in this case then is National Israel, the sun, moon, and twelve stars represent Israel. Jacob interpreted it thus when Joseph related the dream to him, and it is exactly how we should interpret it.
John tells us, And she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered. This “child” had a sworn, mortal enemy even prior to birth. This enemy was literally, “hell bent” on the destruction of the child just as soon as it was born. I’ll have more on that shortly. John writes, And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads. The other day I saw an artist’s depiction of what John may have seen here. It was hideously terrifying. We said last time that this “dragon” is Satan, and he is clearly identified as such in verse 9. We will say more to say on that verse shortly. We stated last time that this dragon is the power behind the “Beast” system that we will be introduced to in the next chapter. The “seven heads” are the seven world empires who have and will come against Israel and the Jewish people. The seven again are, Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, Rome, and the seventh will be, I submit to you some sort of global government that is even now forming. The “Beast” system will be the eighth empire that will reign under the direct leadership of the Beast himself for a period of three and one-half years, the second half of the Great Tribulation. John tells us in 17:12 that the ten-nation confederacy receive power for “one hour” with the beast. This will be a revival of the old Roman Empire, or at the very least a return to the Empirical form of government.
The “ten horns” represents a yet future ten-nation confederacy that will arise in the old Roman Empire territory. We learn this from the prophecy of Daniel. [See Dan.7:7] To be more exact, the “ten horns” represent the kings who will rule under Antichrist [See 17:12]. We see a shifting of the crowns from the heads of the dragon to the beast’s horns in 13:1. This pictures a shift of power from the consecutive world empires to the ten kings under the final Antichrist system. John goes on to say,
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 which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born. [Rev. 12:4 KJV] This is still referring to the dragon, or Satan. In this short statement that John gives us by divine revelation, we are given a glimpse of that which occurred in eternity past when Lucifer originally fell from Heaven. We read of this original fall in Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28. John here gives us details that the prophets don’t reveal. Namely, the reciprocal effect of Lucifer’s rebellion. “Stars” here speaks of angels. How do we know that? In chapter 1 the risen Christ is seen holding “Seven stars” in His right hand. In verse 20 we are told these “seven stars” are the “angels” of the seven churches. “Angels” is the Greek word, angelos, which is best translated as, “messengers.” The “angels” or messengers in chapter 1 are earthly messengers (pastors), whereas the “angels” of chapter 12 were heavenly messengers. In both cases the symbol of “stars” refers to angels. Herein lies a bit of the difficulty in understanding the book of Revelation. In some cases the same symbol can be interpreted differently. For example, in chapters 1 – 3, “stars” refer to angels, or in this case earthly messengers or pastors. On the other hand, in chapters 6 and 8, “stars” refer to literal planetary bodies affected during the Great Tribulation. How does one tell the difference and thus arrive at a correct interpretation? Simply by observing the context in which the symbol appears. Interestingly, “stars” also refer to the Twelve Tribes, or National Israel here in chapter 12. Again, context is key.
We learn an important lesson here that we must not miss. The lesson concerns sin. It has been said that sin will take us farther than we want to go, keep us longer than we want to stay, and cost us more than we want to pay. That is very true. However, sin never affects just you. Sin always affects others as well. Ezekiel 28:15 tells us that iniquity was found in Lucifer. How did it get there? We aren’t told, however it seems obvious that Lucifer’s sin was pride. He concocted a plan to overthrow God and take His throne. He decided to “divorce” himself from God and become god himself. In his coup it appears that a third of the angelic host threw in their lot with Lucifer, hence the tail of the dragon dragging with it a third of the “stars” of heaven. A third of the angelic host cast their lot in with Lucifer at his fall. They were cast to the earth along with their defeated leader. We aren’t told exactly how many angels a third is, but it is vast. Revelation 5:11 says that the number of angels around God’s Throne numbered, ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands. Since one third of the angels fell, and Revelation 9:16 reveals that two-hundred million demons will be released from captivity near the Euphrates River, there must be at least four hundred million holy angels.
The second part of verse 4 says of the “Dragon”, and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born. We said earlier that the dragon is the sworn mortal enemy of the woman’s (Israel) child (Christ). Why would the dragon want to kill this child as soon as he was born? To understand this hatred the dragon has for the child, we need to look back to the very first prophecy of the Bible, found in Genesis 3:15, And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel. [Gen. 3:15 KJV] This was the first prophetic statement concerning a coming Redeemer, who would not only save fallen mankind, but also utterly and completely defeat the serpent. We must understand that Lucifer (Satan) is a created being. As much as he wanted to be God, he is not. He does not have the attributes of God, such as omniscience. He knows some things, but not all things. This prophecy told him that the “seed” of the woman would be his undoing. The problem was, at the time he didn’t know whom exactly this seed would be, or when He would come. There is some evidence that when Cain was born Eve thought that he was the “seed”. He of course was not, as the true “seed” would come some 6,000 years later. It became the hope of every Jewish girl that she would be the one chosen to bear the Messiah.
This vision of John of the Great Red Dragon and his intent to kill the woman’s child as soon as it was born gives us some insight into why Pharaoh ordered all of the male Hebrew babies to be killed. It lets us know why there were many innocent little babies when the Jewish people got off into idolatry that were passed through the fire in offering to Molech. It also explains why Herod, after conferring with the Magi ordered all male children from two years and under killed in the days of his reign. It also explains, if I may say it, why since the legalization of abortion on demand through the Supreme Court decision known as Roe vs. Wade that over 50 million innocent babies have been wholesale slaughtered in this Country. Yes, lurking behind the scenes is the “dragon!” The Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ, born in the fulness of the Father’s time did indeed “crush” the head of the serpent on the Cross, and yet the serpent, the dragon, still hates the “seed!” The “Dragon” failed to kill the “child” [See 12:5] so we shall see he turns his hatred toward the “woman.”
And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days. [Rev. 12:6 KJV] During the most intense time of the Great tribulation, the final three and a half years, the “Dragon” will turn his wrath to the woman who brought forth the man-child. In other words since he couldn’t destroy Christ, he will set out to do so to National Israel. Make no mistake friend, Satan hates Israel and the Jewish people. Because of the intense attack the “Dragon” will level against the Jews, the Lord will supernaturally protect them. He has a place prepared for them. We don’t know exactly where that place is. Some teachers have dogmatically declared that the rock city of Petra is the place. They say this because of its design you couldn’t really effectively launch any kind of ground assault or drive in tanks or other armaments. The problem with this however is that most likely today an air assault would be ordered, with bombs dropped down. Petra would really be the last place you would want to be in such a scenario. We simply aren’t told the place, although one has been prepared and will be utilized at that time.
John continues, And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven.[Verses 7, 8] War, in Heaven? That sounds very strange, doesn’t it? This would be a great place to get an understanding of the fact that the Bible sets forth three heavens. The word translated, heaven is the Greek word, ouranos. It appears 282 times in the KJV and really should be translated as sky in most cases, although it can be translated by extension to refer to refer to Heaven, the abode of God. It is the generic word, if you will, for Heaven. It can refer to the atmosphere directly above the earth, it can refer as well to the starry heavens, or again to the abode of God. Context again determines interpretation. This final epic battle between between Michael and the holy angels and Lucifer and his wicked band of fallen angels will occur in the atmospheric heavens. Why do I say that? Because Satan is identified in Ephesians 2:2 as, “The Prince of the power of the air”. “Air” there is the Greek word, aer, referring to the lower, denser air as distinguished from the higher rarer air. [Thayer] It represents the atmospheric heavens, or the area approximately 6,000 feet above the surface of the earth. This is also where the Church and the resurrected dead in Christ will rise to meet the Lord at the rapture. Satan controls this region presently, but following his defeat at the hands of Michael and his angels will no longer do so. At that time, he will be cast down finally to the earth. The inhabitants of the earth will not see this battle. They will not see Satan and his angels cast down to the earth, but the affects of this will most definitely impact the earth and those who dwell here at that time, and greatly so.
Notice verse 9, And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. This reveals us to us a great deal concerning Satan, letting us know exactly who he is. 1) He is, the great dragon because of his propensity to kill, steal, and destroy. 2) He is the old serpent, because in his first appearance in the garden he chose to work through a serpent. 3) He is Satan in the Old Testament, written in Hebrew, and 4) In the New Testament he is referred to primarily as the Devil. Satan refers to his role as the believer’s adversary, and Devil speaks of his role as the accuser of the brethren although originally the two words were identical in meaning.
John continues beginning with verse 10, And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death. Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time. [Rev. 12:10 – 12 KJV] The casting down of Satan to the Earth, and the cleansing of heaven of his presence causes a great swell of praise in heaven. This will be sudden, unrehearsed, and joyous. The identity of who says this is not given, however they are not angels. Why? Simply because angels could not refer to the dwellers on the earth as “brethren” as this crowd does. It would seem to me that they are the redeemed saints in Heaven. This declaration of the heavenly chorus lets us know that in the end Christ, not Satan will rule this world. Think of the implications of the statement, for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. This implies that either Satan, or one of his fallen angels is before the Throne of God accusing the Brethren constantly. The really sad part of this is that at times at least, his accusations are based on truth. Most of us have failed God many, many times. However the accusations gain no ground against the child of God because we are covered by the precious blood of Christ. [See 1 John 1:7]
We dare not casually read over the words, And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death. This is not only for the white robe wearers of 6:11 who cry with a loud voice, but actually for every believer. None of us can overcome Satan and his cohorts by our own human strength, or by some merit of our own. Our victory is, 1) By the blood of the Lamb – For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. [1 John 5:4 KJV] Our what in what? Our faith in whom? Certainly not faith in ourselves, or “faith in faith”. No, it is our faith in Christ and His finished work on the Cross that enables us to walk in victory. 2) By the word of our testimony – What we say about the blood, and what it means to us. 3) And they loved not their lives unto the death – Once we understand the sacrifice of Christ, the awful price He paid to purchase every aspect of our redemption, we can even lay down our lives for the sake of the gospel if called to do so.
When Satan and his angels are cast down to the earth, he will have great wrath. “Great” is, megas. He will have mega wrath, if you will. “Wrath” is, thumus which is passion (as if breathing hard). He will come down to the earth with fierce indignation. His wrath will be directed to the, “inhabitants of the earth and sea”, but his primary target will be Israel, the “woman” who brought forth the man-child (Christ). [See verse 13]
Israel will be given supernatural protection at this 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. Some see the phrase, “Wings of a great eagle” to refer to some airlift that will take Israel to her prepared place of safety, which many say again is the rock hewn city of Petra. I don’t know if this will be airplanes or not, but this phrase speaks of the same grace that delivered the children of Israel from Egypt. [See Ex. 19:4]
And the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood. And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed up the flood which the dragon cast out of his mouth. And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.[Rev. 12:15 – 17 KJV]
If the wilderness is literal, and I believe it is, then the “water” here could be as well. God supernaturally delivered Israel from water twice during the wilderness wanderings. Once at the beginning at the Red Sea, and at the end at the waters of the Jordan River. In the Old Testament the invasion of armies is also described often as, “an overflowing flood” [Jer. 46:7, 8; 47:2; Isa. 8:7, 8]. Whether this is a literal flood, or some sort of verbal attack from the Antichrist while riding the wave of popular opinion, one thing is certain, the people of God will be supernaturally protected. There will be a great earthquake causing the earth to open up and “swallow” this attack whether literal or figurative. In his wrath the “dragon” will step up his attacks on the Jewish people. This will be during the final three and one half years of the Great Tribulation.
We met the power source, if you will, working behind the scenes in the unseen realm within the “Beast” system. Next time we will be introduced to the infamous “Beast” himself, as well as his religious leader, the false prophet. This section promises to be most interesting. Please plan to join us!