Week - 20 The Ultimate Cosmic Conflict Revelation 12:1-6 Part One
Updated: Dec 15, 2021
Authored by Jerry Marshall What we have before us is a vision, which portrays in dramatic fashion, the ongoing bitter spiritual warfare between the Lord and His people and their avowed enemy who is the Devil. This warfare has been raging since the time of Satan’s rebellion and will continue to the point of his ultimate defeat. This unfolding drama in chapters twelve through fourteen tells us how we got to the point of the confident declaration stated in (Revelation 11:15).
Although the sounding of the seventh trumpet has occurred, the impact of this trumpet judgment is not described in detail until the fifteenth and sixteenth chapters. Chapters twelve through fourteen, serve as a pause, a dramatic portrayal of the cosmic spiritual warfare that was first started in the Garden of Eden and concludes with the ultimate victory over Satan which is described in (Revelation 20:7-10).
(Revelation 12:1-6) describes two incredible signs having four separate, yet related scenes.
I. The Radiant Women (Revelation 12:1-2)
A. Her Attire (1)
1” A great and wondrous sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head.” (NIV)
John’s attention is now captured by what he describes as a “great and wondrous sign, which appears in heaven.” The N.A.S.B. simply translates the opening of this first, as “A great sign appearing in heaven.” “Great sign,” is a translation of two Greek words, megas and semeion. This sign is great either in the sense that it fills the sky (huge- the ultimate big screen television), or it is great in significance of its importance. The latter seems to be the sense here.
The word sign (semeion) describes that which is a symbol that points to a reality. A sign is a visual presentation that is meant to direct one’s attention to a truth, to confirm or affirm one’s calling as a spokesman for the Lord who is declaring His revelation, or in the case of the miracles of Jesus, to affirm His identity as the long-awaited Messiah who is the Savior of the world, which in turn should prompt a response of faith in the truth that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God (John 20:30-31).
This was the first in a series of events called “signs” or “miracles” (12:3; 13:13-14; 15:1; 16:14; 19:20). As signs, they were symbols of something that God was about to reveal and usually contained an element of prophetic warning. Though this sign was seen in heaven, the events which followed obviously occurred on earth.
1Walvoord, John F. ; Zuck, Roy B. ; Dallas Theological Seminary: The Bible Knowledge Commentary : An Exposition of the Scriptures. Wheaton, IL : Victor Books, 1983-c1985, S. 2:957
At the outset, what John beholds is not a literal woman, but rather a symbolic woman who serves as a symbolic mother. There is and has been much debate about the identity of this woman. Some have taught that this symbolic woman is a reference to the Virgin Mary. But this is not referring to a literal woman. She is a symbol, a person of storybook proportions.
Others have identified her as the church, now facing persecution and suffering at the hand of Satan who is described in this chapter as a red dragon. Others even stated that this is John, sort of plagiarizing from pagan mythology, which had many stories of the birth of certain gods from mythical mothers who faced avowed enemies seeking to destroy their offspring.
I believe it’s best to view this woman as God’s chosen people, the nation of Israel from whom the Messiah came and from whom all true believers, all true children of Abraham have their maternal and spiritual connection with the true and living God.
She is viewed in this passage as the one from whom the Messiah comes
(Revelation 12:5). As well as being the mother of the believing community who are being persecuted by Satan, the antichrist, and the false prophet during the time of the Great Tribulation (Revelation 12:17).
In accordance with God’s divine program for Israel, the time period that is dominant in this passion is a part of the seventieth week of Daniel which will in the end, finish transgression, put an end to sin, atone for wickedness, bring in everlasting righteousness and finally, seal up vision, prophecy and to anoint the most Holy (Daniel 9:24-27).
This seventieth week of Daniel - this seven-year period of time, which ends with the Second Coming of the Lord, is for the nation of Israel and not the church. She is described as being clothed with the Sun. No doubt a reference to her radiant glory and dignity because of her exalted status as God’s chosen people.
2 “for you are a people holy to the LORD your God. Out of all the peoples on the face of the earth, the LORD has chosen you to be his treasured possession.”
She is also described as having the moon under her feet, no doubt a symbol of authority. “Clothed with the sun” indicates glory, “the moon under her feet” indicates dominion. She is also described as wearing a crown of twelve stars on her head. The twelve stars are a reference to the twelve tribes of Israel.
B. Her Condition (2)
2 “She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth.” (NIV)
At this point in this spiritual warfare drama, she is described as being with child in the final stages of labor crying out from pain and ready to deliver her offspring.
It is a time of great vulnerability for her.
Although the church is frequently presented in Scripture as the Bride of Christ, it is never presented as a mother with child. And secondly, the Messiah is presented in Scripture as the Head of the church and the Husband of the church but never the child of the church.
Verse two seems to focus in on the significant period of history when from the nation of Israel, the Messiah would be born and enter the world scene (cf. Revelation 12:5).
Israel, often pictured as a mother giving birth (cf. Is. 26:17,18; 54:1; 66:7–12; Hos. 13:13; Mic. 4:10; 5:2,3; Matt. 24:8), had agonized and suffered for centuries, longing for the Messiah to come and destroy Satan, sin, and death, and usher in the kingdom.
II. The Red Dragon (Revelation 12:3-4)
A. His Appearance (3)
3 “Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on his heads.” (NIV)
Here we have the revelation of the antagonist in this unfolding drama in the sky. Identifying this enormous red dragon is a whole lot easier. The Scriptures make it clear that this red dragon is symbolic of Satan himself (Revelation 12:9; 20:2).
In terms of his appearance, the seven heads with seven crowns seem to symbolically speak of the totality of Satan’s rule over the earth during the time of the Great Tribulation. We are given an excellent description of the meaning of the ten horns in (Daniel 7:19-27).
The ten horns refer to ten rulers who will rule under the authority of the Antichrist who is given Satan’s power and authority during the time of the Great Tribulation (Revelation 13:1-2).
B. His Angels (4a)
4a “His tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth.” (NIV)
The majority of Bible scholars understand these stars not to be a reference to the literal stars seen in the heavens but rather to angels who are referred to elsewhere in Scripture as stars such as in (Revelation 9:1-2).
If indeed these stars are angels, then most think that this is a reference to those fallen angels who joined Satan in his rebellion and currently operate throughout the world to do his bidding. They are those angels who are mentioned later in this chapter (Revelation 12:7, 9).
C. His Ambition (4b)
4b “The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that he might devour her child the moment it was born.” (NIV)
It has always been Satan’s ambition to destroy the anticipated coming king who is the
2MacArthur, John Jr: The MacArthur Study Bible. electronic ed. Nashville : Word Pub., 1997, c1997, S. Re 12:2
Messiah and the Savior of the world. Satan gave his best efforts to destroying the people of God and the messianic line. And when he failed, He attempted to kill the Christ soon after his birth by using Herod.
13 “When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.”
16 “When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi.”
At the outset of the earthly ministry of Jesus, Satan tempted Jesus to mistrust His heavenly father and to submit to him. Satan offered the kingdoms of the world to Jesus if only Jesus would worship him. This was the “why wait” temptation strategy.
However, Satan efforts failed (Matthew 4:1-11). Later, Satan used the people of Jesus’ own hometown to “throw him down a cliff” (Luke 4:28-30). However, Jesus spoiled that effort by simply walking away from the crowd unharmed.
Satan used Peter to tempt Jesus not the take the way of the cross for the redemption of souls. Of course, Satan had imagined that his great ambition had been fully realized at the death of Jesus on the cross. However, his seeming victory was in reality, his ultimate defeat (Colossians 2:13-15).
III. The Ruling Child (Revelation 12:5)
A. His Incarnation (5a)
She gave birth to a son, a male child,” (NIV)
In spite of the relentless efforts of Satan to prevent the birth of this male child, who is the Messiah, the women gave birth to a son.
We know from other statements of Scripture that this is the incarnation of Jesus Christ. When the second person of the Trinity left the glory of Heaven, came to this earth as a babe in the manger, eventually going to the cross to suffer and die in our behalf. Then He rose from the dead, and after forty days, He ascended into heaven conquering over sin and death. This same Son of God will return again to establish His millennial kingdom.
This first coming of the Son of God was spoken of prophetically in Scripture
(Isaiah 7:14; 9:6).
From the loins of Israel, a child was born. The Bible emphasizes that Jesus was of Jewish lineage. He is a descendent of Abraham (Matthew 1:1). He is a member of the tribe of Judah. In (Revelation 5:5), He is described as the Lion of the tribe of Judah and the root of David. He is a descendant of David (Romans 1:1-2).
B. His Coronation (5b)
5b “Who will rule all the nations with an iron scepter.” (NIV)
This is looking forward to the eventual millennial rule of Christ, which was prophetically declared and will be fulfilled beginning with the Second Coming of Christ. This was clearly spoken of in (Psalm 2). This passage anticipates what is described in (Revelation 19:11-16).
C. His Exaltation (5c)
5c ‘And her child was snatched up to God and to His throne.” (NIV)
This is referring to the ascension of Jesus Christ. Having died for our sins and resurrecting from the grave, conquering sin and death, Jesus ascended into heaven to be seated at the right hand of the Father until His enemies are made a footstool for His feet.
“Here the incarnation and the entire ministry, passion, death, resurrection, and ascension of Christ are compressed into the words, ‘Snatched up to God.’”
The ascension of Christ is significant because it affirms the acceptance by the Father of Jesus’ work of redemption in our behalf.
3 “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His being, sustaining all things by His powerful word. After He had provided purification for sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.”
Mounce states; “the significant point is that the evil designs of Satan were foiled by the successful completion of Christ’s messianic ministry, which culminates in his ascension and exaltation.”
IV. The Run-Away Women (Revelation 12:6)
A. Her Protection (6a)
6a “The woman fled into the desert to a place prepared for her by God.” (NIV)
Having been unable to destroy the nation of Israel, pollute the messianic bloodline, or to defeat the Messiah, or to impede His work of redemption, the fury of the wrath of Satan is at this time directed toward the women. Therefore, the woman flees to a place in the wilderness which has been prepared by God for her protection. Where this place is has not been revealed in God’s Word.
The deliverance itself took place when the woman fled into the desert to a place prepared for her by God, and she was preserved for 1,260 days, which was three and one-half years or forty-two months of thirty days each. Matthew 24:16, referred to the flight of Israel at the beginning of the Great Tribulation (cf. Mark 13:14). References to both desert and mountains are not a contradiction as both were wilderness areas. In her desert hideout, Israel was cared for perhaps as miraculously as Israel was in her wilderness journey from Egypt to the Promised Land.
The time period was 1,260 days, later described as “a time, times, and half a time” (cf. comments on Rev. 12:14). This action (vv. 5-6) followed what is described in verse 7 as a “war in heaven.”
By this time, the woman is not only the nation of Israel but all who constitute that messianic believing community who are the focus of the attack of Satan, the Antichrist and the false prophet.
In this divinely prepared place, the women will receive spiritual refuge and protection.
B. Her Provisions (6b)
6b “… where she might be taken care of for 1,260 days.”
Provisions will be made for the women during the time of the Great Tribulation. Those last three- and one-half years that culminates with the Battle of Armageddon and the Second Coming of Christ.
Just as the Israelites of old were cared for by God in the barren desert with manna and food and water and safety, so now the messianic believers of the Great Tribulation will be nourished and protected by God in this harsh and dangerous environment.
1. Satan is the avowed enemy of God and His people. He is tenacious in his attacks and diligent in pursuit of his goals. This calls for the same level of resolute commitment on the part of the believer to grow spiritually as our primary means of defense (1 Peter 8-9).
2. Although God does not spare His children from spiritual warfare, He continuously makes provisions and provides protection for those who are His in the warfare (Note Ephesians 6:10-18; 2 Corinthians 10:3-5; 1 Peter 5:8-9).
3Walvoord, John F. ; Zuck, Roy B. ; Dallas Theological Seminary: The Bible Knowledge Commentary : An Exposition of the Scriptures. Wheaton, IL : Victor Books, 1983-c1985, S. 2:958