REVELATION CHAPTER 12
In Chapters 11 through 14 of the Book of Revelation, John returns to the events he discussed in the first ten Chapters of Revelation and fleshes these events out in greater detail. In Chapter 12, John revisits several key events of Daniel's 70th Week, and discusses those events in the context of the historic spiritual battle between the forces of good and the forces of evil. Throughout history, Satan, the Red Dragon, has abused mankind, and specifically the Woman, or the nation Israel, in an attempt to kill the Messiah. During the End Times, this persecution will intensify, and Satan will become laser-focused in his final persecution of the Woman and her final offspring, the Church.
THE WOMAN ISRAEL GIVES BIRTH TO A SPECIAL CHILD
In the first few verses of Revelation Chapter 12, John provides us with some background information on the spiritual battle that has been raging from the time Satan was cast out of Heaven up until Daniel's 70th Week. Specifically, John explains that God chose Israel to be the mother to his son, Jesus Christ, who would eventually defeat the forces of darkness. Satan, well-aware of this plan, used the kingdoms of Earth to attempt to attempt destroy Israel and Jesus Christ prior to His ascension to Heaven. Daniel's 70th Week represents the final and ultimate battle for mankind - Satan will use Antichrist, as the leader of the final kingdom of Earth, to try to destroy Christ’s kingdom.
1A great and wondrous sign appeared in heaven: (This sign or vision comes from Joseph’s dream. See Gen 37:9) a woman (symbolizing the nation Israel) clothed with the sun (the sun refers to Jacob, Joseph’s father), with the moon under her feet (the moon refers to Joseph's mother Rachael) and a crown of twelve stars on her head (the twelve stars represent the twelve sons of Jacob, Joseph, and his brothers, whose descendants became the twelve tribes of Israel.) 2She (Israel) was pregnant (with the Messiah) and cried out in pain (Israel's persecution) as she was about to give birth. (God choose Israel to be the mother of the Messiah, as prophesied in Genesis 3:15. Jesus the Messiah, the true instrument of blessing for the entire world, fulfills God's promise that all the nations of the Earth will be blessed through the nation Israel. See Genesis 12:1. However, because of Israel's critical role in birthing the Messiah, who will ultimately defeat Satan, tremendous persecution by Satanic forces is continually upon Israel; anti-Semitism is rooted in Satan's hatred of the nation of Jesus Christ. Also note that Israel is the mother of the Church, which Satan will attempt to destroy during Daniel's 70th Week. See Rev 12:17, 13:9-10)
THE GREAT RED DRAGON SEEKS TO DESTROY THE CHILD
3Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon (symbolizing Satan. The color red denotes the blood Satan has spilled in his pursuit of evil and destruction. Remember, Satan was a murderer from the very beginning; Satan destroyed Adam and Eve and has never had any regard for human life or truth. See John 8:44. During the End Times, an incredible amount of the saints' blood will be shed during the Great Tribulation. Indeed, Satan is symbolized as a monstrous dragon throughout the Book of Revelation. See Rev 12:9, 20:2) with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on his heads. (This is a graphic picture of the beastly nature of Satan. The seven heads represent the seven kingdoms Satan has used throughout history to attempt to destroy the Jewish nation/people. We will pursue this subject in more detail later - See Rev. 13:1, 17:3 - but briefly, the seven kingdoms in which Satan has exercised a great degree of power are: Egypt; Assyria; Babylon; Medo-Persia; Greece (Syria); Rome; and possibly Nazi Germany. The ultimate goal of each of these seven empires was to use their crowns - their power and influence - to either severely persecute or destroy the Jewish people. However, as we shall see, the most horrible of all of Satan's kingdoms is yet to come. The ten horns symbolize the ten future kings that will align with Antichrist at the beginning of Daniel's 70th week to form Satan's final beastly empire. See Dan 7:7, 24)
4 His (the red dragon's) tail swept a third of the stars (angels - See Rev 1) out of the sky and flung them to the earth.
A long time ago, before human history, Satan - an angel created by God - became envious of God's power and attempted to overthrow Him. Satan led one-third of the angels in Heaven against God, who expelled Satan and his angels from heaven to earth. These angels are now demons. See Isa 14:12-17, Ezekiel 28:12-14. Apparently Satan’s fall from heaven has occurred in stages. Satan’s initial judgment was his expulsion from the position of God’s anointed cherub before His throne. But although Satan was cast from God’s government in heaven (See Luke 10:18) he is still allowed access to God (See Job 1:6-12; Zech. 3:1-2) and he accuses the brethren day and night. In the middle of Daniel’s 70th week, Satan will be cast from heaven by the Archangel Michael and will restricted to the Earth (See Rev 12:7-13); in the Millennium he will be in the bottomless pit (See Rev 20:1-3), and after his brief release at the end of the Millennium (Rev. 20:7-9), he will be cast into the lake of fire forever (See Rev 20:10).
The dragon (Satan) stood in front of the woman (Israel) who was about to give birth, so that he might devour her child the moment it was born. (Satan clearly intended to destroy the Lord Jesus as soon as He was born - and at His most vulnerable time - in order to prevent God's ultimate prophecy from being fulfilled. This explains why, throughout history, Satan has schemed to either prevent the Messiah from being born or to kill the promised seed.)
THE BIRTH OF THE MALE CHILD WHO WILL RULE THE NATIONS
5She (the woman Israel) gave birth to a son, a male child (Jesus), who will rule all the nations with an iron scepter. (All nations will eventually bow down and submit to this child and He will dethrone and replace the Dragon as ruler of the Earth. This prophecy is found throughout the Bible. See Isaiah 9:6 "unto us a child is born ... and the government shall be upon His shoulders" Ps 2:9, Phil. 2:9-11, Rev 19:15)
And her child was snatched up to God (John fast-forwards to Christ's victorious ascension to Heaven. Remember, this is merely background information - John is catching us up on the intense spiritual battle between Christ and the Dragon that has been raging up to the time of the events of the Book of Revelation) and to his throne (where He reigns today).
THE WOMAN ISRAEL (THE 144,000) FLEES
John now jumps ahead to the time of Daniel's 70th Week. John again discusses the sealing of the 144,000, but this time in the context of the historic battle between God and Satan over the nation Israel.
6The woman (Israel. During Daniel's 70th Week, the nation Israel will be represented by the 144,000. These are the first-fruits of Israel who will be supernaturally protected from the Wrath of God. See Rev 7:1-8, 14:1-4) fled into the desert to a place prepared for her by God (She will flee into the desert for protection), where she might be taken care of for 1,260 days. (During the second half of Daniel's 70th Week - the 3 1/2 years of Antichrist's rule as King of the Earth - Satan, with a dragon-like fury, will once again attack the nation Israel in a final attempt to destroy God's people. Recall, although the woman (the 144,000) will resist the 7-year covenant Antichrist offers at the beginning of Daniel's 70th Week, it will not be until the Abomination of Desolation that Antichrist reveals his true agenda of destroying God's people, and specifically, the Jews. At this point, the 144,000 will flee into the wilderness - some have suggested Edom - the area of the rock city of Petra in modern day Jordan - where they will be supernaturally sealed from the Great Tribulation. Edom is suggested because at the end of Daniel’s 70th week, Jesus will lead the 144,000 from Edom back to Mt. Zion in Jerusalem in order to reclaim and deliver the city. See Isaiah 63:1, Daniel 11:41. Rev 14:1)
MICHAEL THE ARCHANGEL WARS WITH THE DRAGON
At the same time that chaos is erupting here on Earth, an angelic war in being waged in Heaven. Satan will lose this war, and be cast back to Earth, an event that triggers the Great Tribulation, or the time of Satan's Wrath.
7 And there was war in heaven. (This angelic war will occur at the mid-point of Daniel’s 70th week. See Daniel 12:1-3.) Michael and his angels fought against the dragon and the dragon and his angels fought back. (Satan and his army of fallen angels - the 1/3rd of angels who rebelled against God that John discusses above in verse four - literally attempt a final storm of heaven to unseat the Lord Jesus)
The angel Michael is Israel’s special guardian and protector. Michael is an extremely powerful and high-ranking angel, and is mentioned in the Bible as one of the chief princes of Heaven. See Daniel 10:13. The name Michael means, “Who is like God?” Michael has made several appearances on Earth throughout Biblical history. Michael came to Earth to help Daniel better understand the spiritual battle against demonic forces and, more specifically, what would happen to the nation Israel during the End Times. See Daniel 10:12-14, 21. In Jude 9 we are informed that Michael is the only angel designated an archangel in Scripture. Michael is also likely the restrainer of evil that the Apostle Paul refers to in 2 Thess 2:6-7.
Michael's importance during the End Times is profound. Michael was the restrainer of evil in the Old Testament, and continues to serve as the special protector of Israel. Michael will protect Israel through the first half of Daniel's 70th Week. However, when the Abomination of Desolation occurs, and Satan is once again cast from Heaven, Michael will be taken out of the way; he will cease from hindering Satan and the Antichrist for a short period of 3 ½ years. During this time of the Great Tribulation, Antichrist will rule the entire Earth and will be allowed to pour out his unrestrained wrath upon the nation Israel and the Church.
8 But he (Satan) was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. (Michael wins this heavenly battle. Satan and his army loose forever their access to Heaven. However, Satan is not totally defeated, and once confined to Earth, he uses all his remaining strength to pour out his dragon-like fury against Israel and the Church) 9The great dragon (Gk. = Crafty) was hurled down- that ancient serpent (Gk. = Subtle) called the devil (Gk. = Accuser), or Satan (Gk. = Adversary. See 1 Peter 5:8), who leads the whole world astray (Satan is full of lies and he deceives everyone). He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him. (This is bad news for the inhabitants of the earth. Satan is now cast out of heaven permanently and he is furious knowing that his days are numbered, having only 3 ½ years left. This even triggers the Great Tribulation, or "Satan's Wrath." In principle, he knows his ultimate defeat is inevitable, and, like a cornered animal, he will be at his most dangerous.)
HOW TO OVERCOME THE PERSECUTION OF SATAN
John then tells the Church - who, along with the 144,000, will be the target of Satan's wrath during the Great Tribulation - how it can overcome Satan's attacks. By way of example, John explains how the saints in Heaven overcome Satan's lies, and urges the Church to follow their example. Specifically, we find strength in: (1) the Blood of Christ; (2) our Personal Testimony; and (3) our assurance of Life Everlasting.
10 And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, "Now the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come, for the accuser (Satan) of our brethren (believers) has been thrown down (out of Heaven), who accuses them before our God day and night. (Until this event takes place, Satan has access to Heaven and accuses the saints as he did in the case of Job and Jeshua, the high priest. See Job 1:6-12, Zech 3:1-2. The casting of Satan to earth marks the beginning of the most awful period in human history, The Great Tribulation.)
11"And they (those who Satan accuses) overcame him (this verse is especially important, because it explains how the saints of any age, and particularly those in the Last Days, can effectively stand against and neutralize the Devil) because of the blood of the Lamb (First, we overcome Satan through the blood of Jesus Christ; there is no condemnation to those who live in Christ. See Rom 8:1. The shed blood of Christ is the only means of victory over Satan. Just as Satan accuses believers, Jesus defends them!) and because of the word of their testimony (Second, we overcome Satan by having a personal testimony and sharing it with others. Victory over Satan is not a physical victory, but rather a spiritual one - we must hold tight to our own conviction that we are children of God and we have salvation in Him.), and they did not love their life even to death. (Third, we overcome Satan through our knowledge that life on Earth is fleeting; it is life in Heaven that is eternal. Only with this perspective can we surrender our lives and suffer martyrdom. In Daniel’s 70th week, Satan will martyr hundreds of thousands of believers who remain true to their faith, but we can rest assured in the knowledge that “He who endures to the end, (to the point of death), will be saved. See Mt 24:13.)
12"For this reason, (because Satan has been forever cast out of Heaven) rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them. (the angels rejoice in Satan's ultimate defeat) Woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has come down to you (although the angels rejoice, we on Earth should anticipate a time of great hardship; Satan has been cast to the Earth, and the Great Tribulation to follow will be a time of persecution and martyrdom), having great wrath, (Satan is intensely angry at his defeat in Heaven, and all hell literally breaks loose as he energizes Antichrist in a last-ditch effort to overthrow God’s kingdom and destroy His people - Israel and the Church. During the Great Tribulation, two-thirds of the people in the land of Israel will perish. Homes will be plundered, woman raped, and hundreds of thousands taken into captivity. See Zech 13:8, 14:2. The Church will also be the focus of his wrath as he declares war upon the saints. See Rev 13:7-10. Satan knows he has a limited time (3 1/2 years) to rage against mankind.) knowing that he has only a short time. (3 ½ years of his final rage before he is chained and confined.)
SATAN PURSUES THE WOMAN ISRAEL
Immediately after the Abomination of Desolation, the 144,000 will flee Jerusalem and journey to Edom, where they will be supernaturally protected by God from the Great Tribulation and the Day of the Lord. John describes Satan's attempts to destroy the 144,000 - the woman Israel - as they flee to Edom.
13When the dragon saw that he had been hurled to the earth, (Satan lands on earth at the midpoint of Daniel’s 70th week. At this point, Satan will possess Antichrist, his "Man of Sin," and Antichrist will openly reveal his beast-like nature. Antichrist is acting as a mortal surrogate for Satan, and we can thus understand the Abomination of Desolation as Satan literally declaring himself King and God of the Earth) he pursued the woman (The most intense effects of the Antichrist’s reign will be felt by the Jews living around Jerusalem. See Mt 24:16. Satan will hunt down the 144,000, the remnant of God-fearing Jews who refuse to worship Antichrist. This will be the last and worst wave of anti-Semitism in the world.) who had given birth to the male child (Jesus the Messiah). 14The woman (the 144,000) was given the two wings of a great eagle (Israel will be carried to safety; they will flee Jerusalem into the wilderness under God’s divine protection. Note that the deliverance of the 144,000 will be supernatural - much like the Jews of old were protected by a pillar of fire as they walked out of Egypt. See Exodus 14:24, Neh 9:12), so that she might fly to the place prepared for her in the desert (Israel flees to Edom), where she would be taken care of for a time (one year), times (two years) and half a time (1/2 year), (This totals 3 ½ years. See Dan 7:25, Rev 11:2, 3 13:5) out of the serpent's (Satan the dragon is now identified with serpent - the form he took in the Garden of Eden. The serpent will be crushed by the “the Woman’s Seed” and Satan’s defeat in this spiritual battle is certain. See Gen 3:15, Rev 12:5) reach. 15Then from his mouth the serpent spewed water like a river, to overtake the woman and sweep her away with the torrent. (Satan will launch an all-out attack on the 144,000, as they flee to Edom. The flood mentioned here most likely refers to a flood of troops Satan will send to destroy the 144,000. See Numbers 16). 16But the earth helped the woman by opening its mouth and swallowing the river that the dragon had spewed out of his mouth. (Antichrist will send an army after her but God will supernaturally protect Israel, perhaps by causing an earthquake that will swallow up Antichrist's troops.)
It is important to remember that, although the 144,000 will be protected, millions of Jews will perish during Daniel's 70th Week. Zech 13:8 reminds us that 2/3rds of Israel's population will die during the End Times. Therefore, the 144,000 will be the forerunners - the "first fruits" - of a remnant of the nation Israel that survives the Day of the Lord, and marches with Jesus to Jerusalem at the End of Daniel's 70th Week.
SATAN ATTACKS THE CHURCH
17Then the dragon was enraged at the woman (Israel) and went off to make war against the rest of her offspring (the Woman Israel has two offspring; Jesus and the Church. See Gal 3:7, 29. Satan is unsuccessful in his attempts to destroy the 144,000, and will thus turn his fury from the 144,000 and concentrate his ravenous attack upon the Church. These verses clearly teach the Church will endure the Great Tribulation. Why does God allow this attack upon His Bride? As He has throughout the history of the Church, God allows persecution and suffering in our lives in order to purify believers and make the Church stronger. One of the major themes in the Revelation is to warn the Church to be prepared and “overcome” this final time of horror and devastation so that His Bride will be presented blameless before Him. Several times we are warned to “hold fast” until He comes. See Rev 2:13, 2:25, 3:3, 3:11.) - those who obey God's commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus. (The Church is described as those who obey God’s commandments and remain true to the testimony of Jesus. While true believers in the Church will refuse to worship the beast, and will not accept his mark, this verse teaches that Christians must be ready spiritually and our obedience to God’s commandments and our personal testimony in Jesus Christ will provide a great source of strength against the attacks of the enemy. See Rev 13:7-10, Dan 11:31-35, Mt 24;15-22. However, there is a grave danger that many in the Church are not ready to endure this terrible Satanic War, because they believe the Church is raptured prior to the Great Tribulation.)