Revelation 12 - Outline of Revelation (Book Notes menu page)
Following the sounding of the 7th Trumpet (in 11:15, opening the third "Woe" of 8:12,13), there is an extended parenthetic episode, consisting of several visions (11:15 - 15:4). This parenthetic provides an overview of the conflict, which is behind the scenes of human history and which is central to the judgments of the Day of the Lord. When the parenthetic closes, the narration, describing the divine judgment contained in the third "Woe," resumes (at 15:5,6) with the outpouring of God's wrath in the 7 Bowl (or Vial) judgments, which will bring about the end foretold in 11:15.
The middle chapter of this parenthetic section focuses on the reign of the Antichrist and his false prophet (the two beasts of ch. 13), which is itself a great Woe for those who dwell upon the earth (cp. v.12). Note that two visions of the heavenly Temple, each focusing on the security of God's testimony in heaven, bracket the narrative concerning this terrible time (11:19; 15:5). Though the whole world believes the lie, God's Word remains sure. Those who trust Him will not be disappointed (Psa 119:89).
The first section of the parenthetic introduces 7 Personages:
(1) A Woman in Travail (historical national Israel), v.1,2
(2) A Dragon (Satan), v.3,4
(3) A Male Child (Christ), v.5
(4) Michael (the archangel), v.7-9 (Dan 12:1)
(5) the Woman in Flight (Israel's Remnant in Time of Jacob's Trouble), v.6,14-17
(6) the Beast out of the sea (13:1-10)
(7) the Beast out of the land (13:11-18)
Most of the above are literal persons (natural or supernatural). The nation of Israel is symbolically depicted, as a woman, at two distinct times in her history (personage #1 & #5).
Carefully observe the time markers in the text of ch.12-13.
12:1 And there appeared a great wonder in heaven;
a woman clothed with the sun,
and the moon under her feet,
and upon her head a crown of twelve stars:
a great 'wonder' {lit., sign} in heaven-
The significance of this "personage" is essential for understanding God's prophetic program.
Who is this woman?
  • The R.C.C. identifies her as Mary, the mother of Jesus. (The twelve stars are viewed as symbolic of the twelve apostles and of the church's displacement of the twelve tribes of Israel.)
  • Many protestants say she is the Church. (The twelve stars are viewed as above.)
  • Scripture explains the symbolism and clearly identifies her as Israel.
Note: There are 4 "women" in Revelation.
These are distinct and must not be confused:
  1. Jezebel, a source of error in the Church (2:20).
  2. The Woman clothed with the sun, Israel (ch. 12).
  3. The Woman riding the beast, the great whore,
    the counterfeit church of the Tribulation (17:1-6).
  4. The Bride of Christ (19:7,8).
12:2 And she being with child cried,
travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered.
The child will be identified at v.5.
However, we will see (at v.5) that the birth of the child is not the reason for her travail. Rather, birth pangs & travail describe the experience of Israel during the Tribulation.
Jer 30:6,7; Mat 24:21,22
12:3 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.
another wonder {sign}- whose significance is essential to understanding Revelation.
This Dragon- is clearly identified as the Devil (Satan) in v.9.
...great - he is the god of this world.
The kingdoms are under his control (cp. Mat 4:8,9). {GK= purrhos, fire-like, flame colored} - perhaps reflecting his great anger...
but also reminding us that he is a murderer from the beginning, for he led Adam's race into sin and death (Joh 8:44). His rebellious anger against God is at the root of human bloodshed in wars, crimes, abortions, at the cross, and in the martyrdom of countless saints.
seven heads - remind us that he formerly possessed full wisdom (cp. Eze 28:12).
seven heads and ten horns - The heads & horns speak of kings & kingdoms.
We will discuss these in ch. 13.
7 crowns - on his 7 heads (in ch. 13, there are 10 crowns on the 10 horns).
12:4 And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven,
and did cast them to the earth:
stars of heaven- refer to angels (as elsewhere in Revelation. eg., 1:20).
Satan apparently led a third of the angels in rebellion against God.
(Review 9:1,2 notes. cp. Dan 8:10; Jude 1:6)
and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered,
for to devour her child as soon as it was born.
This child is to be the undoing of Satan.
Therefore, Satan desired to destroy Him. Gen 3:15
the woman- is best seen as Israel here.
Although Mary was the individual woman, who birthed Jesus, many mothers in Israel suffered by the dragon's action against this child. Satan attempted to destroy Jesus through King Herod's slaughter of the innocents (Mat 2:16-18). Christ came into the world, through Israel (Rom 9:5).
12:5 And she brought forth a man {male} child {GK=huios, son},
who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron:
and her child
{GK= teknon, little child, born one} was caught up unto God, and [to] his throne.
The child is Jesus Christ, Messiah of Israel. Note:
-- His dual characterization: a child, a son.
A child: born to Israel, born of a woman, born a man (human), born under the Law.
A Son: The Son of God, The Son of David, who will occupy David's throne.
Isa 7:14; 9:6,7; Rom 9:4,5; Gal 4:4,5
-- His destiny: to rule all nations (this line alludes to Psa 2:8,9).
-- His departure: "Caught up to God" refers to His ascension (cp. Acts 1:9-11).
This should not be confused with the Rapture of the Church.
  • Here, the one caught up is the woman's Son.
  • At the rapture, the one caught up is the Son's Bride.
  • Also, the Church does not occupy the Father's throne. Rather, they will sit with Christ on the throne of His Millennial Kingdom. (cp. "My Father's throne" vs. "My throne," 3:21).
Note that there is no travail mentioned in connection with Christ's birth,
here, or in any passage of scripture on the topic. By the record, it was indeed a "silent night."
cp. Isa 7:14; 9:6 and also: Mat 1:21,25; Luk 1:31; 2:7
Scripture states that the male child would be born before Israel's travail.
(This child is an individual, a literal and physical person, the Messiah.)
     Israel's travail (v.2) will result in the birth of her children (Isa 66:7-10). These children represent the corporate figurative spiritual birth of the nation of Israel. [JBS]
     Her travail stems from her rejection of God and His Messiah, for which cause He "gave them up," temporarily and partially, to destruction until they would return to Him. cp. Mic 5:2,3; Hos 5:15; 6:1-3; 11:1-9
12:6 And the woman fled into the wilderness {uninhabited region [Wuest]},
where she hath a place prepared
{in a state of preparedness [Wuest]} of God,
that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred [and] threescore days.
fled - cp. "Then let them which be in Judea flee unto the mountains." Mat 24:15,16
This is at the time of the abomination of desolation, when the Antichrist occupies the Temple.
[Mountains and wilderness are not mutually exclusive. cp. Acts 7:38; Lam 4:19]
a place prepared - Some say this is the city of Petra. But the location is not identified.
(cp. Hos 2:14,15, where 'Achor' means 'trouble')
feed - God will ensure Israel's physical provision. How? By whom? We are not told.
1260 days - A remnant of Israel will be preseved in this place of refuge,
for the last half of the 7 year Tribulation.
12:7 And there was war in heaven:
Michael and his angels fought against the dragon;
and the dragon fought and his angels,
12:8 And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven.
Michael- the archangel who stands in behalf of Israel (cp. Dan 12:1 & note at Rev 10:1).
As a "prince," Michael has charge over other angels in God's service.
The Dragon- (ie., Satan) has command of the fallen angels (v.4).
war...fought- the language used here implies a single battle (cf. v.17).
no place in heaven- Scripture speaks of three distinct "heavens":
  • The 3rd Heaven- Where God dwells (eg., 2 Cor 12:2).
  • The 2nd heaven- Containing sun, moon, stars (eg., Mat 24:29).
  • The 1st heaven- Containing clouds & birds (eg., Mat 8:20; Rev 19:17).
Many see this as Satan being cast out of the 3rd Heaven. However, ever since Satan sinned, he has not been welcome in Heaven, where God's will is done, and where no liars enter. Mat 6:9,10; Rev 21:27
     The Bible nowhere states that when Satan sinned, he was cast out of heaven. Rather, it appears that he was on earth (in the Garden of Eden) when he sinned. [JBS] This is also implied by: "I will ascend into heaven... above the... clouds..." Eze 28:13-18; Isa 14:12-17
     Since his 'fall' into sin (like that of 'fallen' man), Satan has been excluded from the presence of God (the third heaven). His realm has been confined to the environs of earth including the 1st heaven. He is called the "god of this world" and "the prince of the power of the air." 2Cor 4:4; Eph 2:2; cp. Job 2:2
12:9 And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent,
called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world:
that old serpent - 'old' is GK= archaios, ancient, original, primal.
The very serpent who deceived Adam & Eve. (Gen 3:1,13)
the Devil- GK= diablos, slanderer, accuser. Very similar in meaning to:
Satan - HB= satan, adversary.
  • Although Satan does not dwell in Heaven,
    he does have sufficient access or audience with God to bring accusation against God's people. cp. v.10 (and related note, below); Job 1:6-12; 2:1-7
  • As God allows, the Adversary seeks to destroy or to hinder God's people. 1Pet 5:8,9; Zech 3:1,2
who deceives - cp. Joh 8:44; 2Cor 4:4; 2Joh 1:7
the whole "world" {GK= oikoumene, inhabited earth} -
he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
into the earth- GK= ge, earth as distinquished from sea or heavens (eg., Mat 5:18).
This battle with Michael results in Satan being cast out (of the 1st heaven) into the earth. From that point onward, his activities will be confined to the realm of men (v.12).
     Note: Jesus' statement: "I saw Satan as lightning fall from heaven" (Luk 10:18), occasioned by His disciple's exercise of power over demons, may be understood prophetically, as looking forward to this event.
12:10 And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven,
Now is come salvation,
-- The redemption begun by Christ is about to be brought to completion.
Rom 13:11; 1Pet 1:3-5; 1Joh 3:2
-- In His death and resurrection, Christ defeated Satan. Joh 12:31; 16:11
But Satan's kingdom was allowed to continue for a time.
That period is about to be brought to a close.
and strength {lit., the power, GK= dunamis, mighty ability},
and the kingdom of our God,
(cp. Mat 6:10,13)
and the power
{GK= exousia, authority, jurisdiction} of his Christ:
for the accuser of our brethren is cast down,
which accused them before our God day and night.
accused them 'before' {GK= enopion, lit., in the sight of} our God...
See this word in 14:10, where it is translated "in the presence of..."
This word does not require bodily presence, but refers to God's overseeing authority.
Satan's future torment does not take place in Heaven, but Heaven guarantees that his punishment is executed. Likewise, Satan's accusation of the brethren "before God" does not require his presence in Heaven.
day and night- an idiom meaning "unceasingly" (cp. Satan's torment, 20:10)
Although Satan continually spues out accusations against the saints, the Lord limits his audience before Him (appointing the time and place, and setting the agenda) and restricts his actions toward His own. cp. Job 1:6-12; 2:1-7
our brethren- In ch.12, the persecuted 'brethren' are primarily the believing remnant of Israel (v.6,13-17).
The loud praise from heaven (v.10) is voiced by previously martyred tribulation saints, as they see the Lord moving in answer to their loud prayer for vengeance (6:9-11).
12:11 And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, Col 1:13,14
and by the word of their testimony {GK= marturia, witness};
and they loved not their lives
{GK= psuche, soul} unto the death.
Their witness required a readiness for martyrdom.
Their first love was Christ, for whom they willingly poured out their souls (their conscious personal selves) as He had poured out His soul for them.
(eg., 'life' is 'soul', in: Mat 16:25,26; Joh 10:11,15; Isa 53:12)
12:12 Therefore rejoice, [ye] heavens, and ye that dwell {tabernacle} in them.
Woe to the inhabiters
{permanently settled} of the earth and of the sea!
{because} the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath,
because he knoweth that he hath but a short time
{Gk= kairos, season}.
rejoice... ye that dwell {ie., tabernacle, dwell temporarily} in the heavens...
The saints in heaven, expecting to dwell permanently in the City where Christ will reign, rejoice to see Christ's Kingdom rising, and Satan's realm in rapid decline.
rejoice, ye heavens {plural, includes 1st, 2nd & 3rd heaven} -
The heavenly realms rejoice to be rid of Satan's influence.
woe to the inhabiters of the earth and... sea - The third "Woe" approaches...
  1. The first "Woe" (cp. 8:13; 9:1) involved the oppression of unsaved men
    by demons, released by their king, upon the earth.
  2. The second "Woe" (9:12-f), involved the destructive armies of fallen men.
  3. This third "Woe" (cp. 11:14) involves the oppressive reign of Satan himself
    (indwelling the Antichrist), as king over the citizens of earth.
As Satan's territory has been limited, so has his time been limited.
He knows what the earth dwellers have yet to discover.
12:13 And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth,
he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man [child].
Unable to destroy God's Anointed One, Satan turns his wrath upon Israel (the people through whom Christ came into the world).
12:14 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
{translated 'feed', in v.6}
for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent.
two wings-
  • Some suggest this speaks of evacuation by aircraft,
    perhaps provided by the United States (the eagle). However, this is speculation.
    • If the 'place prepared' (v.6) is the city of Petra, there is no place for aircraft to land.
    • Some see 'the wilderness' as descriptive of another dispersion of Israel into the gentile nations.
  • The Lord identifies Himself as an Eagle, who protects and provides for Israel (Ex 19:4; Deut 32:11,12).
    Israel cannot deliver herself. At the end of the Tribulation, all nations will be gathered against her. Therefore, as in ancient times, God will do for her what she cannot, and what no one else will do.
that she might fly...- This is the 'flight' from Judea which Jesus foretold. Mat 24:15-22
time, times and half a time= 3.5 years (cp. Dan 12:7,11)
12:15 And the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood {lit., river} after the woman,
that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood
{lit., to become riverborne}.
the flood - may be a literal flood of water
(eg., by opening a reservoir into the valley by which Israel flees),
or, it may signify an overwhelming military force. cp. Isa 43:2; 59:19
In either case, Satan's purpose is that they should be carried away to destruction.
12:16 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.
earth opened her mouth -
  • A 'flood' of soldiers may be swallowed by the great earthquake, which is foretold, at Christ's return. Zech 14:1-5
  • A 'flood' of water may be turned into 'pools' to provide refreshment for fleeing Israel (much as the Lord will turn the valley of Achor {trouble} into a door of hope for them). Isa 41:17,18; Hos 2:15,16)
12:17 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.
the remnant {GK= loipoi, the rest, those remaining} -
Being unsuccessful in destroying the Jews who flee from Judea, Satan turns against those living elsewhere (the rest of them). By their description, we see that this remnant of Israel are believers in Jesus as the Christ (the Messiah).
the remnant of her seed- They are physical descendants of Israel, who...
  • keep the commandments of God- ie., they follow and adhere to the Word of God.
    This word for 'commandments' is sometimes used of the OT Law.
    However, it is also applied to the NT scriptures (eg., Mat 28:20; Rev 14:12; 22:13,14).
  • have the testimony {GK=marturia} of Jesus- They bear witness to Jesus as their Messiah,
    because they "have {ie., hold, possess} the testimony of Jesus."
    This testimony includes all that God's Word declares about the Person and Work of the Savior (Joh 5:39; Rev 19:10), and all that Christ Himself has spoken (eg., John 14:6; Rev 1:1-3, 8-9).
make war- the idiom "to make war" suggests an extended campaign rather than an isolated battle.
Since he cannot displace the Lord, Satan is determined to destroy "the apple of His eye" (Deu 32:9,10; Zech 2:8-10).

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