A great 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. She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth. Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on its heads. Its tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth. The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that it might devour her child the moment he was born. She gave birth to a son, a male child, who “will rule all the nations with an iron scepter.” And her child was snatched up to God and to his throne. The woman fled into the wilderness to a place prepared for her by God, where she might be taken care of for 1,260 days.
Then war broke out in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.
Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say:
“Now have come the salvation and the power
and the kingdom of our God,
and the authority of his Messiah.
For the accuser of our brothers and sisters,
who accuses them before our God day and night,
has been hurled down.
They triumphed over him
by the blood of the Lamb
and by the word of their testimony;
they did not love their lives so much
as to shrink from death.
Therefore rejoice, you heavens
and you who dwell in them!
But woe to the earth and the sea,
because the devil has gone down to you!
He is filled with fury,
because he knows that his time is short.”
When the dragon saw that he had been hurled to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child. The woman was given the two wings of a great eagle, so that she might fly to the place prepared for her in the wilderness, where she would be taken care of for a time, times and half a time, out of the serpent’s reach. Then from his mouth the serpent spewed water like a river, to overtake the woman and sweep her away with the torrent. But the earth helped the woman by opening its mouth and swallowing the river that the dragon had spewed out of his mouth. Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to wage war against the rest of her offspring —those who keep God’s commands and hold fast their testimony about Jesus.
As chapter twelve begins, we are introduced to three characters who are very important in understanding the end-times narrative. We are now informed about the woman, the child, and the dragon. From the information that John provides, we identify these characters as Israel, Christ, and Satan. As human history lunges toward the end of time as we know it, the spiritual realm is also catapulting toward an expected end and a new beginning. In this chapter, we are reminded of Israel’s role as God’s chosen people and God’s promise that through them He would bring forth the promised serpent-crusher from Genesis 3:15. The battle that began in the Garden of Eden is about to end, just as God promised.
While Christ is preparing to establish His earthly kingdom, we will see that Satan continues to work to establish his kingdom. This epic battle has been fought since Satan first appeared In Genesis 3 and sought to supplant God’s kingdom with his own. Throughout history, Satan has fought hard to keep this prophecy from coming true. Even during the Great Tribulation, he will rally the forces of evil for the epic conclusion known as the Battle of Armageddon.
This text also reveals the spiritual battle that has been going on long before God created mankind. During the Great Tribulation, this spiritual battle will be fought here on earth. Satan and his demonic partners will no longer be granted access to heaven and will be “hurled to the earth” where he will seek to lead the whole world astray and establish his own kingdom. His hatred for God’s people has been obvious from the beginning. We are reminded that Satan tried to kill Christ shortly after His birth (Matt. 2:1-16). Even Jesus’ temptations in the wilderness were Satan’s attempt to thwart God’s plan of salvation for mankind.
During the Great Tribulation, Satan will intensify his violence against God’s people (the Jews) and seek to destroy them. We see from the text that God will protect His people from Satan’s attempt to eradicate them from the earth. As the end draws near, Satan realizes that his time is short and he will take out his fury on all of God’s creation, especially Israel. God will protect the Jewish remnant and those who “hold firmly to the testimony about Jesus.” As Bob pointed out in a recent message on Revelation, as God’s judgments against an unbelieving world progressively intensify during this time period, so will Satan’s attacks against anything that is considered godly or holy.
In his book entitled, A Whole Composition of the Bible, G. Campbell Morgan writes, “In this whole description there is a vivid unveiling of the nature and malice of the devil contending in the heavens to the last in terrible mental conflict with all the hosts of light; then, when finally cast out from the heavenly places, turning with renewed fury and force on those who have been associated with Christ. Amid these terrible scenes, we are never allowed to lose sight of the might and majesty of God.”
Questions to Ponder
How does the information from this chapter help you to fill in the gaps in the Bible’s larger story? Why do so many people find it hard to believe in the spiritual realm? How does it make you feel to realize that the end has already been written for Satan and his allies? Do you keep the commands of God and hold firmly to the testimony about Jesus?
- Praise the Lord for His power, majesty, and glory.
- Thank the Lord that we overcome by the blood of the Lamb and word of our testimony.
- Pray for those in your sphere of influence – pray for their salvation.
- Pray for strength and protection in the areas of your life where the enemy is attacking.
Victorious Warrior, Mighty God, Prince of Peace, I praise You for Your strength. God, I ask that You would teach all of us Your ways, guide us into Your truth, and teach us; for You are God, our Savior, and our hope is in You all day long. Help us to remain grounded in You and Your Word. I ask in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.