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The Woman And The Dragon (ch. 12:1-17)

 

In chapters 12 through 14 we're still stepping back from the narrative of judgments that take place on the earth.  We're still in the heavenly realm.  This section of Revelation basically gives us an over view of sin and the devil.  It helps us understand how sin came into the world.   

 

In chapter 12 we are also introduced to some new important characters.  John tells us in verse 1 that what we see in these chapters is ďa great and wondrous signĒ.  I don't think we should understand the word "sign" to be symbols in this verse.  Think of them as road signs along the side of a highway.  Signs aren't necessarily symbols.  They merely point to something down the road.  They merely tell us something that lies ahead that we have not yet seen.  As a matter of fact, these signs are clarified for us in the text.  So, we don't have to try to figure out what is being talked about, as some have done over the years.   

In verse 1 we are introduced to a woman. This woman is clothed with the sun, has the moon under her feet, and has twelve stars on her head.

 

Some view this woman as the church.  The church is often referred to in the feminine form in the Bible.  Catholics often say that this woman is Mary.  Mary Baker Edie also claimed to be this woman.  I don't believe any of these are this woman.

 

Most Prophetic Futurists, including me, view this woman as the Jews, 
or as Israel. Israel is often represented by some kind of woman in the 
Old Testament.  This woman has a baby, and if she should be seen as the church, then we have a problem.  The church is never seen having a baby in the Bible.

 

In Genesis 37:9 Joseph has a dream.  In the dream he sees the sun and the moon and eleven stars bowing to him.  It is clear in the dream that the eleven stars are his eleven brothers.  Joseph himself would be star number twelve.  For this reason I think we can safely say that the woman here in Revelation twelve is Israel.  Israel in Joseph's dream is symbolized as twelve stars.    

 

As a side note, many Bible teachers believe that the twelve stars of the Zodiac might come into play here.   

All of the ancient religions, and also modern day astrology, have taken the signs of the Zodiac and have paganized them.  The stars of the Zodiac were probably one way in which God spoke to those in the world prior to the flood of Noah's day.  This might be what the Apostle Paul spoke about in Romans 1:18 and following when Paul states that God is clearly seen in what he has created.  

 

The way this woman was dressed also might suggest that the meaning of astronomy, not astrology, might well have originated with God, but has long since been paganized by man.

 

In verse 2 we see this woman give birth to a son.  The baby who is born is Jesus, or so most Prophetic Futurists believe.  Jesus came from the Jewish race.  I think this is clear if we view this woman as Israel.

 

John notes that the woman gave birth in great pain.  The whole birth and life of Jesus was a great pain to the Jews.  What Jesus said and did caused them great grief because they did not see Him as their Messiah.  Also, when Jesus was born, the nation of Israel herself was in great pain.  They werenít living as they should and they were in bondage to Rome because of their disobedience to God. 

 

In verse 3 we see another sign and this time it is a red dragon.  The dragon has seven heads, seven crowns, and ten horns.  We will see later that this dragon is the devil.  There is no question about that.  I won't comment on the seven heads, seven crowns, and ten horns.  Many see these in relation to the anti-Christ that we will see later.

 

Many view the description of the devil here as symbolic of who he is.  Let me suggest that this might not be symbolic.  Humans live in a far different world than those angelic beings who live in the heavenlies.  I don't believe it's beyond common sense that heavenly beings might look weird and wild to us fallen humans here on earth.  One of our problems is that we too often tend to view heavenly things from an earthly perspective, and that shouldn't be the case.  The earthly realm is so far removed from the heavenly realm that there is no way in which we should view heavenly things in terms of the fallen and sinful earthly realm.  That being said, I'm not ruling out that the devil is being portrayed as a dragon here.  We do know that he is an angel of light and that the Old Testament views him as being an impressive looking being, nothing like he is seen here.  What is seen here might well be picture language.  Remember, this is a sign.             

 

In verse 4 we see the dragonís tale swept one third of the stars, or, angels, from the sky.  They were flung to the earth.  Some Prophetic Futurists view this event when satan took one third of Godís angels with him to be on his side.  They say this took place prior to the creation of Adam and Eve.  Those who believe in a pre-Adamic race that was judged by God between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:2 believe this was the time these fallen angels were flung to the earth.  Others believe these angels will be flung to the earth in the future, when the events of Revelation take place.  I believe because of the use of the past tenses, as in the NIV's uses of the word "swept" to be in the past, not in the future.            

 

Throughout the Old Testament angels are often seen as stars.  That's why we see the stars here as angels.  Also, the context itself tells us that these stars aren't the stars in the sky.  

 

This verse also says the dragon stood before the woman when
the baby was born to kill the new born son.  Satan used Herod the king to attempt to kill Jesus at birth.  Herod had all the baby boys in Bethlehem
killed who were under the age of two years old.  Satan also tried to kill the son, meaning Jesus, many other times during his earthly life.  It appears from this verse that satan himself was present that glorious day when Jesus was born.  .  I can just picture satan waiting in the wings as Jesus was born, ready to pounce on Him.  

 

I should make some comment on the time line as seen in this part of the vision because the way it is presented is that all these things took place at the same time.  This would mean that the fallen angels were flung to the earth at the birth of Jesus, but that isn't so.  We should realize that when it comes to Jewish writing during this period of time timelines and sequential order was not a high priority in their writing.  The stating of events is the important thing, not when they happened.                     

 

We have seen two signs here.  One was the woman.  So, we see things about her.  The other sign is the devil.  So, we learn some things about him.  When it comes to sequence, or timelines, there is none.  We simply have the description of two signs.  Within each sign, there is, however, and element of time.

 

In verse 5 we see that the new born child was a male and that Heíd rule the world with a scepter of iron.  The scepter is an instrument of discipline and protection, as well as power and authority.  A shepherd would normally have a scepter, or rod, of wood, but this ruler would have a scepter of iron. The point should be made at this point that Jesus will rule the earth for a thousand years with a scepter of iron as we will see in Revelation 20.

 

As a side note to this verse, if Jesus has to rule the earth with a scepter of iron during His thousand year rule, then there is clearly the possibility of those that He rules for them to disobey Him.  I won't elaborate on that here since I've done that elsewhere. 

 

I remind you again of the timelines of this chapter.  This is  an intermission in the events of the judgments.  It conveys some relevant past history and brings us up to the present time of the tribulation period.   Satanís fall from Godís grace and the birth of Jesus is in the past, yet in verse 5 we see that the woman gave birth to a son ďwho will rule the nations with a scepter of iron.  Notice the future tense; because Jesus at this moment in time is not ruling the nations with a scepter of iron, but as I've just said, He will at His return, thus the events of this chapter are a history lesson taking place over a vast period of time.

 

Also in verse 5 we see that the son was snatched up to Heaven.  If this is indeed Jesus, then it would be clear that this snatching refers to the ascension of Jesus.  I think that is pretty obvious.  After being taken from the earth, the Son sat on His throne.  Jesus now sits on His throne beside the throne of His Father. 

 

Verse 6 tells us that the woman fled into the wilderness where she was taken care of for 1260 days.  This tells us that this woman is not Mary because she didnít flee into a wilderness for 1260 days.  The same is true of the church.

 

Some view the woman fleeing as Israel in the dispersion after the fall of Jerusalem by Rome.  The problem with this view point is that Israel did not flee for only 1260 days.  You would have to take this number as being symbolic which I don't.  I believe these 1260 days to be literal days.  This would be the last half oft the tribulation period, as many Prophetic Futurists believe.  So, because of this we have to understand that there is a laps of time between verses 5 and 6.  Verse 5 speaks of Jesusí ascension.  Verse 6 speaks of Israel in the tribulation period.  Many Prophetic Futurists see this laps of time being what they call the church age, that is, from the giving of the Spirit in Acts 2 to the rapture of the church.       

 

There is a place southeast of Jerusalem called Petra where some business men are actually preparing a place for Israel when it comes time for them to flee to the desert.  Iím not saying this is where Israelis will go. I'm only mentioning that some are actually getting prepared for such an event.

 

Many Prophetic Futurist suggest that the remnant of Israel that will be saved flee to Bozrah, about twenty five miles south east of the southern end of the Dead Sea , in present day Jordon.  They say this because of Isaiah 63:1.  It states that Jesus (that's who they feel Isaiah 63:1 is speaking of) comes from Bozrah with blood stained clothes.  Many people think Jesus will first return to the earth to the Mount of Olives , but that may or may not be true.  He might well go to Bozrah first to meet the remnant of Israel .  Zechariah 13:8 tells us that two thirds of Israel will be killed in the Great Tribulation, while one third will be saved.  That's the remnant that the apostle Paul speaks about in Romans 11:25 to 27 who might have fled to Bozrah.  

 

At this point in time Daniel 11:41 might come into play.  It says that Edom , Moab , and Ammon, will not fall to the one who Prophetic Futurists believe to be the anti-Christ.  Those three identities are present day Jordon who has a long standing treaty with Israel.  They're the only true Arab friend of Israel today.  If this understanding of Daniel 11:41 is correct, then those Israelis who flee from Israel flee to their friends in Jordon.

 

In verses 7 to 10 we see a war taking place in Heaven between Michael and his angels and the dragon and his angels.  According to many Greek scholars, the Greek text states that Michael starts this war, not the devil.  This makes sense to me since the book of Revelation is all about God initiating things, not the devil.           

 

Another thing we should note is that Michael is the one who protects Israel , as stated in Daniel 12:1.  This is clearly seen in this verse.

 

The dragon lost the war and was subsequently flung to the earth.  We need to note that this war took place in Heaven not on earth.  This is important because to this point in time satan has access to Heaven and is constantly accusing Christians before God, but from this point on, he and those angels with him is thrown out of heaven onto the earth, causing more havoc and trouble than ever before. This is yet another reason why the last half of the tribulation period is worse than the first half.  This is another reason why some feel the Great Tribulation is the last half of the last seven years of this age.  Whatever you believe about that, the last three and a half years is the worst time in human history. If you think things are bad or evil now, wait until satan and his demonic force is thrown down to earth. 

 

When thinking of a time line here, we should note that this heavenly war takes place just prior to the Great Tribulation, that is, that last half of the last seven years.  When satan is casts down to the ground the Great Tribulation will be in full force because he is the one behind the trials coming to the earth.  In reality, it is God who is using the devil to bring judgment to the earth.  I'm distinguishing here the Great Tribulation as being the last three and a half years while the Tribulation consists of all seven years.  People use different terminology on this point.

 

In verse 9 we see clearly that the dragon is satan. We see that he leads the whole world astray.  At this point in human history, the devil will lead more people and nations astray than ever before. 

 

Again, Prophetic Futurists see this battle in Daniel 12:1.  They also claim this battle takes place at the mid point of the tribulation period as I've mentioned before. You might ask, ďIs this a literal physical battle, or some kind of other battleĒ.   It's a literal and physical battle among the angels in heaven, that is to say, as physical as you can get in a spiritual setting. 

 

Another thing we should know is that the anti-Christ is alive on earth, but once satan is thrown out of his heavenly position and onto the earth, he enters the anti-Christ.  Again, this takes place at the middle point in the seven year tribulation.  

 

A less understood and less known view of 2 Thessalonians 2:6 and 7 states that it is not the Holy Spirit that restrains or holds the anti-Christ back from coming on to the world scene in great power.  It is the Abyss, the place where satan lives, that holds the anti-Christ back.  Once satan is cast out of the heavenlies, as seen in this chapter, he will enter satan.      

 

In verse 10 we hear a voice saying that salvation, power, and the Kingdom of God have now come.  We should note that at this exact moment in time when these words are uttered the Kingdom of God has not yet come to earth, but, since those in heaven exist outside of human time domain, for all purposes, it might as well be on earth.  We're talking about time in general here, not time in specifics.  It's like you're in the last minute of a hockey game and your team is winning ten to nothing.  The game is over even though there is a minute left on the clock.  This is what is going on here.

 

When verse 10 says that salvation has now come, we're talking first about the salvation and deliverance predicted for Israel throughout the Old Testament.  Since salvation comes to Israel, it will also come for Christians.  This tells us the salvation is a process that takes place over time.  Salvation is often spoken of in terms of being in the past, being in the present, and being in the future.  It's seen in the future here. 

 

The last half of verse 10 speaks of satan being hurled down to the earth.  He will no longer be in going in and out of heaven accusing us before God as he has being doing throughout the ages.  We should know that at this moment in time as I write these words the devil is accusing us Christians of our sins before God.  He is pointing out the sins we commit on a daily basis, but God ignores his accusations.  God knows we still sin and if we need to be disciplined, He will discipline us, not because of anything the devil says to Him, but because that is His will.     

 

In verse 11 we see the pronoun "they".  "They" refers to those who will have been martyred or survived the tribulation.  Remember, in Revelation 12 we have stepped by from the events of the tribulation.  The text is predicting the days to come.  These believers will have overcome the anti-Christ by the blood of the lamb, the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives even unto death.  These are the three key issues that help any Christian overcome anything in his life, whether now or in the tribulation period.  The blood of Jesus has provided forgiveness and the subsequent giving of the Holy Spirit to us.  Our testimony confirms this and makes us even more convinced of this truth.  Then, if we donít love our own lives, we wonít try to save our lives.  Weíll live for Jesus no matter what it takes.  Without this last point, we cannot overcome satan or the flesh.

 

In verse 12 the voice says rejoice you heavens. It doesn't say "those who live in the heavens".  It's basically telling all created things in the heavens, or, in the universe to rejoice over the fact that satan has now been thrown out of heaven and onto the earth.  The end is almost here.  This is a major event that the whole universe rejoices over.  That being said, there is more to this verse and that is those who dwell in the heavens, that's heavens plural, not singular, are to rejoice.  I'd suggest that this means there is more than one heaven, or at least, many levels in heaven.  It tells me that there are angelic beings who live in many different heavens     

 

The heavens may be rejoicing but not so those on earth.  Satan is now very angry and is ready to demonstrate his anger in every conceivable way possible to those who dwell on the earth.  The text actually says that the devil knows his time is now coming to an end.  He will do as much harm as possible in this short period of time, which is three and a half years.  At this point we should know that the devil is well aware of Biblical prophecy.  He knows that it is about over for him. 

 

In verses 13 through 16 satan pursues and tries to destroy
the woman, that is Israel. Why does satan attack Israel now,
and even throughout history?  Itís because Israel has had a place in 
Godís plan of history. Satan is still mad at Israel because she gave birth to Jesus.  Even though Israel may not be followers of Jesus at this point,
although some individual Jews will be followers of Jesus, satan will never give up hating Israel.  Satan knows that Israel is key to this time in human history and he wants to thwart the plan of God concerning Israel.

 

God protects Israel during this time of tribulation for a time and time and a half a time, or three and a half years, or 1260 days.

 

We note that the devil attempts to attack Israelis but they flee into the desert.  I spoke about this earlier in the chapter.  In Daniel 11:41 Prophetic Futurists see Israelis fleeing their country and going to the territory held by Edom, Moab, and Ammon, which is present day Jordon.  Jordon has had a long standing treaty with Israel and is really Israel's only real Arab friend.  It appears that at this point in the tribulation period she takes in Israeli refugees and protects them.  

 

Verse 14 states that the woman; that's Israel , will be given two wings to fly into the desert beyond the anti-Christ's reach.  It's interesting to note that Israel fled into the desert when escaping Egypt in Moses' day and now Israel flees into the desert to escape the anti-Christ.  These Israelis who flee into the desert I believe are the remnant of Israelis who recognize the Jesus is their Lord.  

 

Verse 14 says that these Israelis fly out into the desert on two wings.  Might this be an airplane?

 

Jesus spoke of this flight into the desert in Mathew 24:15 to 28. 

 

In verse 15 we see satan spewing a torrent, a river out of his mouth against Israel as she flees.  There is much debate what this torrent of water is.  Many Prophetic Futurists believe this torrent to be an army of men and their equipment but I'm not sure of that.  

 

Since I've attempted to take Revelation as literally as possible,
I believe that there is a good chance that this is a real river, especially
since verse 16 states that the earth will swallow up the river.  Satan 
will have much power in these days.  So, I believe he could be able to cause some ecological disasters like a flood, possibly from an earthquake.  I've mentioned Israel fleeing from Egypt in the days of Moses.  Just as Israelis left Egypt for the desert they go into the desert here.  Just as the sea swallowed up the Egyptian army, so the earth will swallow up the flood caused by satan here.      

 

In verse 17 we see that the dragon, or satan, could not attack Israel so he sends his army to make war with the rest of her offspring.  It's somewhat debatable who this offspring is.  Some believe the offspring are Jews and some say the offspring are Christians.  At the moment, this is how I see this verse.  Satan has tried to crush Israel for centuries and has failed.  Now, one last time he will try to crush the believing remnant of Israel, but of course he can't because they are protected in the desert.     

 

One thing to note here is satan's intention to fight and to kill off the Jews.  He knows they are God's people and if he can kill them off, this will thwart God's plan to have Jesus come to Jerusalem as King of the Jews to rule the world, which is, His ultimate plan for Israel , and part of the reason for the cross.  Satan loses this battle and will end up in the Lake of Fire as we will see later.

 

Revelation 13:1 ends this section in the NIV Bible.  It simply says that the dragon, or satan, stood on the shores of the sea.  I would suggest this is the Mediterranean Sea.  I take this sea to be a literal sea and if that is the case, the Mediterranean Sea is the logical sea.

 

The reason why satan is standing on the shore of the sea is because we will see there is a beast that comes out of the sea that he gives power and authority to.  Satan is just waiting for the beast's appearance on earth, which we will see is the anti-Christ.  

 

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