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Revelation 12: Who Are the Woman, Child and Dragon?

Posted in Tattoo on Jun 01, 2018

The book of Revelation is a vision from Jesus Christ, given to Him by God the Father, which reveals what is going to happen before His return to establish the Kingdom of God on earth. This fascinating book is primarily written in a chronological style with occasional breaks for overviews of specific subjects. Revelation 12 is one of these overviews, providing a history stretching from the time before humans existed until the time just before Christs return as King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

Revelation 12 begins with the statement: Now a great sign appeared in heaven (verse 1). The word sign comes from the Greek word semeion, meaning a sign, mark, token an unusual occurrence, transcending the common course of nature (Thayers Greek Definitions). The first great sign is a vision of a woman who gave birth to a child (verse 1).

Then in verse 3 we read, And another sign [semeion] appeared in heaven. We thus understand that these three symbolsa woman, a child and a dragonrepresent things beyond the ordinary events of nature. As we are going to see, these three figures symbolize three major spiritual forces that have been at work for several thousand years.

In order to understand this chapter, we now need to understand the symbols. What do the woman, the child and the dragon represent?

The womandescribed as being clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a garland of twelve stars (verse 1)represents Old Testament Israel. In the Old Testament, God referred to His people as a woman whom He had dressed in honor and splendor (Ezekiel 16). The garland with 12 stars may be symbolic of the 12 tribes of Israel (Genesis 37:9-10).

Throughout Revelation 12 we note that the woman is repeatedly protected by God (verses 6, 14-16), especially as the time approaches for the kingdom of our God to be established on earth (verse 10).

In the New Testament, Gods Church is symbolized as a woman; and its members are likened to virgins (Matthew 25:1-13; Revelation 14:4; Revelation 19:7). The New Testament Church is called the Israel of God (Galatians 6:16) and likened to Jerusalem above, which is called the mother of us all (Galatians 4:26, also see Hebrews 12:22-23). Members of the Church are described as a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His [Gods] own special people (1 Peter 2:9).

When Christ returns to earth, He is going to marry the Church, which is called His wife in Revelation 19:7. Based on these passages, it is clear that the woman in Revelation 12 represents Gods people. Incidentally, it is also interesting to note that the imagery of a dishonorable womanone called the great harlotis used inRevelation 17:1 to depict a false church that deceives many.

The woman (Gods chosen nation of Israel) is described as giving birth to a male Child who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron (Revelation 12:5). Indeed, Christ was born into this nation. The verse continues, And her Child was caught up to God and His throne. The language here makes it clear that Jesus is the Child.

Jesus is the One who is prophesied to strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron (Revelation 19:15). He is also the One who, after His resurrection, was taken up in a cloud to heaven (Acts 1:9-11).

The third symbol of Revelation 12a great, fiery red dragon (verse 3)is described as having drawn a third of the stars of heaven and standing before the woman who was ready to give birth, to devour her Child as soon as it was born (verse 4). A few verses later, this dragon is clearly identified as Satan: So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world (verse 9).

As for the dragon drawing a third of the stars of heaven, this reference apparently represents Satan leading a third of the angels in a rebellion against God. Other passages show stars represent angels (Revelation 1:20).

The Bible also explains that Satan had been involved in a rebellion against God in which he attempted to exalt his throne above the stars of God and be like the Most High (Isaiah 14:13-14). Satan then began his work as that serpent of old [the one who tempted Eve in the Garden of Eden], called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world (Revelation 12:9, emphasis added throughout). For a more extensive explanation of Satans rebellion, see God vs. Satan.

If God has ministers of righteousness, Satan also has his servantsphysical ministers (themselves deceived and helping deceive others) and spirit beings who pass themselves off asrighteousbut incitehuman beings to sin (2 Corinthians 11:15; Ephesians 6:12). Jude further describes thefallen angels or demons as angels who did not keep their proper domain and who are now reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day (Jude 1:6).

Revelation 12:3-17 is a concise history of Satans efforts to thwart Gods plan to bring many humans to glory as part of His eternal family. Satans actions included convincing a third of the angels to follow him in his attempt to make himself like God, attempting to have Christ killed as a child (Matthew 2:13-18), working to deceive the entire world and persecuting Gods people. Lets now consider in greater detail Satans attempts to derail Gods plan.

In Revelation 12:4 we read that the dragon stood before the woman who was ready to give birth, to devour her Child as soon as it was born. This appears to be a historical reference to King Herods effort to destroy Jesus as a young child by ordering the deaths of all male children from two years old and under who lived in and around Bethlehem (Matthew 2:13-18). But an angel had warned Joseph to flee to Egypt with his wife and Jesus to keep the Child from being destroyed (verse 13).

Even though Satans attempt to destroy Jesus when He was a child failed, the devil did not give up. Prior to the beginning of Jesus ministry, Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil (Matthew 4:1). During this temptation, Satan tried to get Jesus to violate Gods law and worship him instead of God. The devil offered Jesus all the kingdoms of the world and their glory (verse 8) if Jesus would worship him. But Jesus did not do so.

When Jesus ministry was fulfilled and it was time for Him to give His life as payment for humanitys sins, Satan was there once again. On this occasion, Satan was the one who put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simons son, to betray Him (John 13:2). Although Satan was clearly involved in the crucifixion of Jesus, this was actually part of Gods plan for the redemption of mankind.

AsGenesis 3:15 had predicted, there would be ongoing enmity between the serpent (Satan) and the woman (Gods people) and the Seed (Jesus) who would come from the woman. Furthermore, this passage indicated that Satan would have limited success in being able to bruise Christs heel by influencing the man who would betray Jesus and that Jesus would bruise Satans head by resisting his temptations and qualifying to replace him as the ruler of this world.

So why did Satan expend so much effort in his attempts to destroy Jesus? Because if there had not been a perfect Savior to pay the penalty for humanitys sins, Gods plan would have been thwarted. Without a Savior, humans could not be forgiven of their sins nor could they live forever in Gods eternal family.

In addition to his efforts to destroy Jesus, Satan has a long history of persecuting Gods people, especially members of Gods Church, represented by the woman in the latter portions of Revelation 12. Although there was fierce persecution from the earliest days of the New Testament Church, God allowed the woman to flee into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, that they should feed her there one thousand two hundred and sixty days (verse 6).

This verse indicates that the true Church was protected by God for 1,260 years (seeNumbers 14:34 and Ezekiel 4:6, showing that a day can represent a year). During this timewhich may have continued through the Middle Agesthe Church was protected from its enemies, including the Roman Empire and false Christianity.

The next two verses then explain that war broke out in heaven between Satan and his angels and Michael and his angels. As a result of this war, John, in vision, saw that a place for Satan and his angels was not found for them in heaven any longer and they were cast to the earth (Revelation 12:7-9). This battle is different from Satans original rebellion, which is described in verse 4 and which occurred long before the birth of Christ.

The setting for this battle, described in verses 7-9, and its significance is then announced by a loud voice in heaven (verses 10-12). This battle is an indicator that the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have [or will soon] come (verse 10). Prior to this event, Satan has had access to Gods presence to accuse His people (Job 1:6-7; Job 2:1-2). Now he and his angels no longer have this access and are cast down to the earth.

Realizing the significance of this event, Satan now has great wrath, because he knows that he has a short time (Revelation 12:12) before Christ returns to establish the Kingdom of God on earth. He then directs his rage toward Gods people, the ones who are the continuation of the woman who gave birth to the male Child (verse 13).

God, however, will not allow Satan to destroy His people. Jesus had promised that the gates of Hades [the grave] would not prevail against it (Matthew 16:18). To protect His people, the woman is given two wings of a great eagle, meaning she is safely taken into her place, where she will be protected for a time, and times and half a time [apparently 3 years], from the presence of the serpent (Revelation 12:14).

Even though Satan will spew water out of his mouth like a flood, to try to get at the woman, he will not be successful (verses 15-16). In this passage, the concept of a flood likely represents armies (see Isaiah 59:19; Jeremiah 46:7-8).

Satan then goes to make war with the rest of her [the womans] offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ (Revelation 12:17). From this passage we note that while some members of Gods true Church will be protected from Satans wrath during these end times prior to Christs return, others will not. Those not in the place of protection will need to prove their allegiance to God the Father and Christ in the face of Satans intense persecution.

Whether you realize it or not, Satan also hates you and will do everything possible to keep you from loving and obeying your Creator. His anger is not just against Jesus and the Church. Why is he angry at you? Apparently, because he realizes that humans were created by God with the potential to be higher than he was (Hebrews 2:6-8).

Because of his sick, twisted and unsound thinking, Satan has taken on the role of being an adversary against those seeking to love and obey their Father in heaven. Writing to the people of God, Peter cautioned, Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8).

In communicating with the brethren in Corinth, Paul described the true gospel as being veiled or hidden because of Satan, the god of this age, who had blinded the minds of unbelievers (2 Corinthians 4:3-4). The good news is that this veil is taken away in Christ (2 Corinthians 3:14).

To learn more about your Savior and His expectations of you, we highly recommend the Change section of this website.

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Revelation 12: Who Are the Woman, Child and Dragon?

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