Chapter 12 is another break in the Apocalypse. Before John writes about the remaining plagues in Ch. 16 he turns to explain the primary cause of the violence that is about to break upon the church. This is the classic conflict between God and Satan which reports of the persecution the church is about to experience. The symbolism is heavy, and John is encouraging the believers to hold fast in the coming tribulation.
The stage is set for the final confrontation in the chapters to come.
Verses 1 - 6
Vs 1 – 2: A woman clothed with the sun, the moon under her feet, and a crown of twelve stars. We will start with determining who the woman is not… She is not Mary the mother of Jesus. She represents the true messianic community, or it would not be a long stretch to understand he as the church.
“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 crown of twelve stars” represents royalty.
The woman is about to give birth to a child and “crying out in birth pangs” and this shows us that she is the true Israel in her pre-Messianic pain and anticipation.
Vs. 3: Another sign, this time it is 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. Mention of dragons in the OT was common. They often referred metaphorically to Israel’s enemies. Thus, the red dragon in this chapter would be insinuated as the archenemy of God and His people. Red symbolizes the lethal personality of Satan. The seven crowns represent his universal power (7 is the number of completeness). The crowns are 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.
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 ministry for well over two decades. He currently serves as Campus Pastor at West Bradenton Baptist Southside Campus in Bradenton, Florida.
Jeff Has authored an Advent Devotional (The Advent of Jesus) and a devotional on the book of James (James: Where Faith and Life Meet). Both are available on Amazon.
He is married to Carrie and they have four children, Micaiah, Gabe, Simon, and Berea.
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