Revelation Chapter 12 is another break in the Apocalypse. Before John writes about the remaining plagues in Ch. 16 he explains the primary cause of the violence that is about to break upon the church. The event is a classic conflict of God Vs. Satan. John also describes the persecution the church is about to experience.
Once again, the symbolism is very dense and what John sees is clearly a vision, as John witnesses this event or a wonderous sign in heaven. The purpose of this chapter and the vision explicitly is for John to encourage the churches to remain strong during the inevitable trials and tribulation. From here on the stage is being set for the final confrontation in the chapters to come.
Verses 1 - 6
Vs 1 – 2: John witnesses an event of great significance. In this vision John sees A woman who is clothed with the sun, and has the moon under her feet, and wears a crown of twelve stars. There is much speculation as to who the woman is or what she represents, and it will be simpler to begin with determining who the woman is not… The woman is not Mary the mother of Jesus. She could represent the true messianic community, or more likely the church.
The woman is “clothed in the sun” – The world may despise the true Israel, but from God’s vantage point she is a radiant bride.
“The moon beneath her feet” speaks of dominion.
The woman is pregnant and “she cried out because of her labor pains and the agony of giving birth.” and this shows us that she is the true Israel in her pre-Messianic pain and anticipation.
Vs. 3: This is another significant event, and this time it is a vision of a red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven Crowns. There is no doubt as to who the dragon is as we see him named in vs. 9, He is Satan AKA the Devil. The mention of dragons in the OT is common. Metaphorically he represents Israel’s enemies.
Thus, the red dragon in this chapter could be the archenemy of God and His people. Red symbolizes the lethal personality of Satan, and the seven crowns represent his universal or complete power (Seven is the number of completeness). The crowns represent Satan’s audacious claim of royal power over the Messiah.
Vs 4 - 5: The dragon stands ready before the woman, so when the child is born, he can devour it. He is determined to devour the child, so he waits for his victim to be born. This describes the vicious opposition the Christ child faced in the early years of his life. It stars with King Herod’s desire and plot to destroy the Messiah and climaxes at the crucifixion.
However, the child was born and caught up to heaven. The noteworthy theme is that Satan’s plans were thwarted because of Jesus’ ministry, his death at the cross of Calvary, and concluded by his ascension and exaltation.
Vs 6: The woman flees to the wilderness. Fleeing is something the Israelites have historically resorted to. The Israelites fled from the Egyptians, Elijah fled the pursuit of Jezebel, Mary and Joseph fled to Egypt in response to Herod’s decree. However, the intent of verse 6 is not to so much the church fleeing as a way of God sustaining her. Instead, the wilderness is often symbol of God’s divine provision and fellowship. It was in the wilderness where God spoke to Israel, protected her, and provided for her. Thus, this verse is intended to promise those facing martyrdom that God has prepared a place for spiritual protection for them, and he will empower them to stand fast against the devil.
Verses 7 – 12
Vs 7 – 8: A war arises in heaven between Michael the Archangel and his angels and Satan and his angels. This is an all-out attempt on Satan to regain his position in the presence of God. The end result is Satan is cast down. Apparently up until this time Satan, in some respect has access to heaven. His defeat now forfeits his ability to access heaven. It is noteworthy to mention that it is Michael who wars against Satan and not Jesus. Satan and his angels are cast down to earth
Vs. 9: The great dragon is now identified as the devil and Satan. The word satan was not originally a proper name. Satan is the Adversary, the accuser, and deceiver.
Vs 10: The voice crying from heaven is most likely the collective voices of the twenty-four elders. They proclaim victory!
Vs 11: Satan is defeated by the archangel Michael, but he is also conquered by the faithful believers as well. Their victory lies in the blood of the lamb.
What does heavenly victory look like?
1 Corinthians 15:56, 57
“The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!”
We are told in the Bible that all who believe in Jesus are children of God (1 John 3) so we are victorious, or we have overcome the world. The word “overcome” is derived from the Greek root word nike (ni-Kay) which means victorious. We are victorious in this life because of the blood fo the lamb. The darkness of this world, Satan, and his demons cannot overtake us because we are victorious. The reason we are victorious is because Jesus Christ.
God’s love for us is so great that He has fought and continues to fight the battle for us, and He has declared us victorious. Through Jesus Christ we now have a new life, a life where we are fully alive, thriving and in need of nothing because the Spirit of God dwells in each of us. The old ways; the sinful, dark ungodly ways are gone, and we no longer need to live in the murky waters of the world. We now live in the fresh waters of Jesus Christ; living victoriously over sin, Satan and all his evil beings. We are thriving in the Kingdom of God and sharing the Good News that Jesus and His Kingdom has come. Satan and his minions will try and beat you down but take comfort and security in the understanding that nothing that comes your way can defeat you or hold you down in this life or the life to come because Jesus has defeated death and sin.
So, what does victory look like to Satan? It looks like hell.
Revelation 20:1 – 3, 7 -10 “Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven holding the key to the abyss and a great chain in his hand. He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent who is the devil and Satan,, and bound him for a thousand years. He threw him into the abyss, closed it, and put a seal on it so that he would no longer deceive the nations until the thousand years were completed. After that, he must be released for a short time.
When the thousand years are completed, Satan will be released from his prison and will go out to deceive the nations at the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them for battle. Their number is like the sand of the sea. They came up across the breadth of the earth and surrounded the encampment of the saints, the beloved city. Then fire came down from heaven and consumed them. The devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet are, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.
Victory in Jesus results in eternal condemnation for Satan. Jesus wins and because of Him, so do we.
Vs 12: The heavens rejoice because of the victory of Jesus, but it is also a cause for woe upon the earth and sea. Satan’s time is short between the time of his defeat in heaven and the time for his final judgment. It is during this short time that he will launch an earthly attack on the church and the persecution that is forthcoming.
Jeff has been in full-time ministry for thirty years. He currently serves as Executive Director at Anchor House Ministry at SeaPort Manatee in Palmetto, FL and he is a part-time Campus Pastor at West Bradenton Southside in Bradenton, Florida.
Jeff Has authored A Lent Devotional (A Spiritual Journey to Lent) an Advent Devotional (The Advent of Jesus) and a devotional on the book of James (James: Where Faith and Life Meet). All three are available on Amazon.
He is married to Carrie and they have four children, Micaiah, Gabe, Simon, and Berea.
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