Satan Evicted: Revelation 12

The Woman and the dragon (french illuminated "Book of Revelation")XIV c.

Revelation 12

    The cosmic battle of the ages...



Placement within the Primary Narrative

Some biblical scholars believe that the events within book of Revelation follow a purely chronological sequence – the events occur within the order that they are described within John’s vision. This view is in error as the birth of Jesus Christ is described in Revelation 12:5 long before John ever received his vision. A purely chronological framework simply is not feasible.

However, God is not a God of confusion and any deviation within John’s primary narrative must be justified. In this case, the narrative break is readily apparent and indicates that the events within Chapters 12, 13, and 14 occur outside the primary narrative:

The Open Tabernacle

At the sounding of the seventh trumpet, the heavenly temple of God is opened and the ark of his covenant becomes visible within his temple:

Revelation 11:19: And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in his temple the ark of his testament: and there were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail. (KJV)

The interludes of Chapters 12, 13, and 14 then occur describing (a) the woman, dragon, and war in heaven, (b) the two beasts, (c) the song of the 144,000, and (d) the three angels with three messages

John’s primary narrative then resumes at the beginning of Chapter 15 with the final plagues originating from an open heaven and temple:

Revelation 15:5: And after that I looked, and, behold, the temple of the tabernacle of the testimony in heaven was opened… (KJV)

Transitional Text

The content of the actual text indicates a break within the narrative. In Revelation 12:1, John is distracted from the primary action by a great and wondrous sign in the heaven:

Revelation 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. (KJV)

The primary narrative is once again resumed by a similar distraction calling John’s attention back to the events occurring within the primary narrative:

Revelation 15:1: And I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvellous, seven angels having the seven last plagues; for in them is filled up the wrath of God. (KJV)

Text Content

With Chapter 12, there are several events that chronologically occur long before John was ever shown his vision, namely:

  1. The dragon in Revelation 12:3 has seven diadem crowns whereas later the beast who is empowered by the dragon will have ten diadem crowns (Revelation 13:1). This change, I believe, represents a change in time periods – the addition of three more kingdoms.
  2. The dragon makes his appearance before the woman gives birth to Jesus Christ, around 3 BC (Revelation 12:4).
  3. Jesus Christ is born, completes his earthly ministry, is crucified, is resurrected from the dead, and ascends to heaven which occurs around 30 AD (Revelation 12:5).

Revelation 12:5: And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and [to] his throne. (KJV)

Justification Of The Seven Plagues

Christians tend to view God as a loving God, but his Old Testament qualities remain. God remains a jealous and wrathful God, and the scritpure provides ample justification for and warnings to avoid that wrath.

The sounding of the seventh trumpet calls forth God’s wrath in the form of the seven final vials. However, God will provide several warnings that manking can avoid this horrendous time period: the breaking of the first four seals (Revelation 6:1-7), the three angels with the three messages (Revelation 14:6-13), the rapture of the Christian saints (Revelation 6-12-17), the two witnesses (Revelation 11:1-13), and the sounding of the first six trumpets (Revelation8:7-9:21).

Revelation Chapters 12 and 13 provide justification for the wrath that will begin to be poured upon the earth in Chapter 15. Chapter 12 specifically indicts Satan, the devil, the great accuser and deceiver of mankind while Chapter 13 specifically indicts the Antichrist, false prophet, and those individuals who chose to walk in darkness, deception, and wickedness. (In Chapter 14, the three angels with the three messages provide warning of the wrath to come.)

God places the scene of the woman, the child, and the dragon in Chapter 12 of the Book of Revelation to justify his outpouring of wrath in Chapter 15. I place it at the beginning of my narrative because the primary events took place at the beginning of the current age – they were a part of the transition between the Mosaic Age and the Church Age. They also reflect the long term struggle between the forces of good (God, Jesus Christ, and Christians) against the forces of evil (Satan, the Antichrist, and the children of deception).

Prominent Actors within the Scene

The scene presented in Revelation 12:1-7 introduce five prominent actors, individuals who participate in or become targets of the actions within the chapter. Thus, our first job is to identify each of these actors:

The Woman Clothed with the Sun

Revelation 12:1-2: a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars. And she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered.

The woman represents Old Testament, national Israel who ceased to exist as a unified, identifiable entity in 70 AD following the siege of Jerusalem and destruction of the second Temple. Although her people have been scattered (hidden) throughout the nations, God will regather a remnant during the transition between the current and next age.

ALLUSION: Joseph’s dream in Genesis 37:9. In this dream, Joseph dreamed that the sun, the moon, and eleven stars bowed low to him. Upon telling his dream to his father Jacob (37:10), his father responded, “Will your mother and I and your brothers actually come and bow to the ground before you?” The moon represents Rachel, Jacob’s wife; the sun represents Jacob, Israel, and the eleven stars represent the eleven patriarchs of the tribes of Israel with Joseph composing the twelfth.

ALTERNATIVE VIEWS

Among the differing eschatological systems, the woman is believed to represent someone other than the nation of Israel. While each viewpoint demonstrates some merit, their overall arguments are flawed:

  1. THE WOMAN REPRESENTS THE CHURCH: Some scholars assert that the woman represents the Church, both the Old and New Testament saints. They believe that there is one body of believer – Israel in the Old Testament with an incorporation of Jews and Gentiles into a single body within the New Testament. However, this correlation is flawed:
    1. The woman is introduced as being in labor with the male child, Jesus Christ. It is the Old Testament that describes the travails of Israel as a nation, and it is those travails that will eventually lead to the birth of the Messiah. This introduction, paints the woman with the traits of the Old Testament… the Christian saints are not mentioned until verse 17, the last verse in this particular chapter.
    2. It was Jesus Christ who gave birth to the Church, and the Church that is the bride of Christ. It is hardly fitting that a child gives birth to its mother and then turns around and marries his mother – there would be something of an Oedipus complex.
    3. Finally, after giving birth to the child, the woman flees into the desert and assumes an inactive status – the Church, on the other hand, is an active agent of God throughout the current age.
  2. THE WOMAN REPRESENTS EVE: Some scholars assert that the woman represents Eve, the mother of all mankind. They base their claim on Genesis 3:15:
  3. Genesis 3:15: And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.

    This claim asserts that Revelation 12 represents the struggle between the dragon, the serpent, and Jesus Christ, the “promised” seed of Eve. Once Jesus ascends to heaven, the struggle is between Satan, the god of this world, and Eve’s remnant seed, redeeemed Christian.

    While Eve most certainly is the mother of the “promised” seed, the Messiah, and a prototype of Israel, Eve within biblical literature is not viewed as an entity that embodies a unified group, such as Israel or the Church. What identifiable group was persecuted following ascension of Jesus Christ?

    1. Eve: Probably not. Eve is the mother of all of mankind, but biblical and historical literature does not generally associate her with persecution nor do we see references where she was specifically a target of satanic attacks.
    2. Israel: Yes, they suffered at the hands of the Romans, were scattered among various nations, and suffered periodic persecution by a large variety of groups.
    3. The Church: Yes, they suffered persecution at the hands of the Romans and periodically by other groups under varying conditions. However, we have already disqualified the Church as the woman – Christ gave her birth and she becomes the bride of Christ.
  4. THE WOMAN REPRESENTS THE VIRGIN MARY: Obviously on a literal level, the Virgin Mary gave physical birth to Jesus Christ and should be considered a candidate. However, like Eve, Mary does not represent an embodiment of a unique group, biblical and historical literature does not generally associate her with persecution, nor do we see references where she was specifically a target of satanic attacks.
Why the alternate viewpoints? A plain reading of the chapter seems to clearly indicate that the woman is the nation of Israel, the twelve stars seem to be a dead giveaway. Unfortunately, a plain reading contradicts some established theological constructs and, therefore, must be “spiritualized” until the “interpretation” conforms to established doctrine:
  • For some, such as Reformed Theologians and amillennialism, the nation of Israel was totally dissolved in 70 AD with the siege of Jerusalem and the destruction of the second Jewish Temple. Israel, according to this view, was absorbed into and became indistinguishable from the New Testament Church. Therefore, all allusions to national Israel within both testaments must be spiritualized to representation of the Church.
  • Perhaps Roman Catholic Church adopted the Virgin Mary viewpoint as a means to validate their belief that she is he "Queen of Heaven," "Mother of God," "Mother of the Church," the "Co-Redemptrix," and the "Mediatrix of all graces."1 Or perhaps, this view was adopted to combat the  belief originating during the Reformation that the Roman Catholic Church is the embodiment of the Whore of Babylon (Revelation 17:1-18) and the avenue for the rise of the Antichrist (Revelation 13:1-9).

Should these alternative views be rejected outright? I don’t believe they should. Each has an element of truth and each adds a flavor to our overall understanding. When we close our minds to alternative viewpoints, we stop listening… and that can have dangerous results.

The Male Child of the Woman

Revelation 12:5: she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne.

The male child is Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God the Father, who came in the flesh in order to redeem mankind and the earth from human disobedience. He will return as a conquering king at the end of this age and physically rule the nations from Jerusalem.

The male child is Jesus Christ as indicated by the attributes of ruling all nations with an iron rod:

Revelation 2:27-28: They will rule the nations with an iron rod and smash them like clay pots. They will have the same authority I received from my Father, and I will also give them the morning star! (NLT)

Revelation 19:15: From his mouth came a sharp sword to strike down the nations. He will rule them with an iron rod. He will release the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty, like juice flowing from a winepress. (NLT)

Psalm 2:8-9: Only ask, and I will give you the nations as your inheritance, the whole earth as your possession. You will break them with an iron rod and smash them like clay pots. (NLT)

The second portion of the verse “her child was caught up unto God, and [to] his throne” adds further to the identification of the child as Jesus Christ:

Luke 22:69: But from now on the Son of Man will be seated in the place of power at God’s right hand.” (NLT)

Acts 7:55: But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed steadily into heaven and saw the glory of God, and he saw Jesus standing in the place of honor at God’s right hand.

Jesus Christ has only a secondary role within this scene, and his role as ruler of all nations, “king of kings,” will not be fully realized until his Second Advent (1 Timothy 6:15, Revelation 17:14, Revelation 19:16).

There seems to be little debate among biblical scholars as to the identity of the male child.

THE MALE CHILD REPRESENTS THE CHURCH: There are some who contend that the male child is the Body of Christ, the church, and the “catching up” of the male child represents the rapture of the church.2 Revelation 2:27-28, seems to be somewhat supportive of this view as the Church will also rule the nations with an iron rod. Additionally, the term used for the catching up – harpazó – is similar to that used in 1 Thessalonians 4:17. However, since the Church is the Bride of Christ, representing her as a male child would result in a confusing, mixed metaphor. The use of harpazó in both passages tends to be a simple reflection of Acts 1:9-11 – Christ will return in the same manner he ascended.

A Huge Red Dragon

Revelation 12:3: a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads

Revelation 12:9: that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world

The red dragon represents Satan. A former archangel who sought to lift his throne above God’s and ultimately drew one-third of the heavenly host of angels into rebellion. After his fall, Satan assumed the role of accuser and deceiver of mankind and is the personification of evil.

Verse 9 clearly identifies the dragon as the Devil, otherwise known as Satan, and labels him as the deceiver of the whole world. Verse 10 also describes him as the accuser of our brothers and sisters – the voice providing the description is not identified but is assumed to be Christians whose souls are in heaven.

The dragon is said to have seven heads, seven diadem crowns, and ten horns:

  • The number seven is used throughout the book of Revelation: seven stars, lampstands, churches, angles, seals, trumpets, vials, plagues, thunders, spirits, and crowns. In biblical terms, seven is the number of completion, e.g. the seven days of completion.
  • Ten represents law and restoration: Noah was the tenth generation, the Ten Commandments, ten plagues on Egypt, ten virgins wait for the bridegroom, and the ten kingdoms controlled by the Antichrist.
  • On a symbolic level, the seven heads, seven crowns, and ten horns may represent the dragon’s complete authority over the earth (Luke 4:6, Ephesians 2:2, 2 Corinthians 4:4).
  • Revelation 17:9 indicates that the seven heads are seven mountains and represents seven kings. Daniel’s four headed beast (Daniel 7:7, 24) has ten horns with each representing ten kings. Revelation 17:12 describes the ten horns as ten kings who will receive their kingdoms and share authority with the beast for one hour.
  • There has been much speculation as to the meaning of the seven mountains – everything from the seven hills that surround Rome to the seven hills that surround Jerusalem. The ten horns have received as much attention, everything from ten Roman emperors, to ten Roman Catholic popes, to the European Union, to the United Nations, to a ten nation Muslim confederacy.

The best we can do at this time is to speculate as to the nature and locations of the kings and kingdoms represented by the heads, crowns, and horns… and we are treading on dangerous ground,I believe, if we establish any specific speculation in concrete. All Christians should be familiar with the symbolic nature of the heads, crowns, and horns so that they may properly identify the Antichrist if he aassumes authority during their lifetime.

There is a special distinction between the huge red dragon and the beast from the sea who is granted ruling authority from the dragon. The dragon, Revelation 12:3, has only seven diadem crowns while the beast from the sea has ten, Revelation 13:1. In my view, the difference is the result of a time difference between each appearance. The dragon first appears in Revelation 12 before the birth of Christ in 3 BC; he has seven diadem crowns at that time. The beast from the sea first appears in Revelation 13 at some point yet in the future, after 2011; within that two-thousand year time span, the dragon may have earned three additional diadem crowns. This view, of course, is purely speculative and should be treated as such.

See “Topics for Analysis: Who is Satan” for greater detail on Satan’s traits, origins, and purpose.

The Archangel Michael

Revelation 12:7: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon

Michael is one of the three original archangels who commanded one-third of the heavenly host of angels. Gabriel and Lucifer were the other archangel. Lucifer, known as Satan after his rebellion, commands the angels (one-third) who joined in his rebellion and currently reside either on or under the earth.

Mortal humans have only a very small glimpse of the spiritual world that exists outside our five physical senses, and this is especially true concerning the role and workings of angels. As God is omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent, he most certainly doesn’t need angels to inform him of what events are occurring nor would he need an angel to perform a specific task – he could simply will it into existence. Yet, we see angels reporting to God about conditions here on earth (Job 1:6-7), carrying messages to mankind (Luke 1:30), struggling with earthly forces (Daniel 10:20), and performing chores about the earth (1 Chronicles 21:15).

I know that when I was in a horrific motor vehicle accident several years ago, an angel released my seatbelt preventing me from being crushed when the engine block breached the cab of my truck. I believe that angels look over and protect us. But, I also know virtually everything written about angels is speculative and based of sources outside of the Bible. Considering that Satan was once a beautiful covering angel, we should be very cautious when considering the topic:

2 Corinthians 11:14: But I am not surprised! Even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. (NLT)

There are only a few, specific scriptural references to Michael the archangel:

Jude 1:9: But even Michael, one of the mightiest of the angels, did not dare accuse the devil of blasphemy, but simply said, "The Lord rebuke you!" (This took place when Michael was arguing with the devil about Moses' body.) (NLT)

Revelation 12:7: Then there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon and his angels. (NLT)

Daniel 10:13: But for twenty-one days the spirit prince of the kingdom of Persia blocked my way. Then Michael, one of the archangels, came to help me, and I left him there with the spirit prince of the kingdom of Persia. (NLT)

Daniel 10:21: Meanwhile, I will tell you what is written in the Book of Truth. (No one helps me against these spirit princes except Michael, your spirit prince. (NLT)

Daniel 12:1: “At that time shall arise Michael, the great prince who has charge of your people. And there shall be a time of trouble, such as never has been since there was a nation till that time. But at that time your people shall be delivered, everyone whose name shall be found written in the book. (NLT)

According to rabbinic Jewish tradition, Michael performs the role of a protector and advocate of Israel:

One of the archangels one of the chief princes (Dan. x. 13), who is also represented as the tutelary prince of Israel (ib. x. 21, xii. 1). The signification of the name (= "Who islike El"?) was recognized by the Talmudists…

Michael is specially designated in early Jewish writings and very frequently in the Book of Enoch as "the prince of Israel," and in later Jewish writings, particularly in cabalistic works, as "the advocate of the Jews."3

Regardless of the exact nature and role of Michael, archangels, and angels in general, they have sufficient strength to succeed in their task of forcing Satan out of heaven.

Jesus Christ’s Role as Michael the Archangel

Some scholars claim that the archangel Michael is the warrior side of Jesus Christ:

from "Who Is Michael the Archangel?"4
Jehovah's Witnesses Official Web Site

Archangel. God’s Word refers to Michael “the archangel.” (Jude 9) This term means “chief angel.” Notice that Michael is called the archangel. This suggests that there is only one such angel. In fact, the term “archangel” occurs in the Bible only in the singular, never in the plural. Moreover, Jesus is linked with the office of archangel. Regarding the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ, 1 Thessalonians 4:16 states: “The Lord himself will descend from heaven with a commanding call, with an archangel’s voice.” Thus the voice of Jesus is described as being that of an archangel. This scripture therefore suggests that Jesus himself is the archangel Michael.

Army Leader. The Bible states that “Michael and his angels battled with the dragon . . . and its angels.” (Revelation 12:7) Thus, Michael is the Leader of an army of faithful angels. Revelation also describes Jesus as the Leader of an army of faithful angels. (Revelation 19:14-16) And the apostle Paul specifically mentions “the Lord Jesus” and “his powerful angels.” (2 Thessalonians 1:7; Matthew 16:27; 24:31; 1 Peter 3:22) So the Bible speaks of both Michael and “his angels” and Jesus and “his angels.” (Matthew 13:41) Since God’s Word nowhere indicates that there are two armies of faithful angels in heaven—one headed by Michael and one headed by Jesus—it is logical to conclude that Michael is none other than Jesus Christ in his heavenly role.

This view is more widespread than I originally imagined as it is found in several Bible commentaries such as Exposition of the Entire Bible by John Gill, the Geneva Study Bible, 1560, and Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Bible.

While interesting, this theory is problematic.

  1. Daniel 10:13 states, “Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me…” indicating that there is more than one “chief prince” or archangel. Even if the word “one” means “first” as some scholars assert, this would place Michael as chief among many. This tends to lower Jesus Christ from sovereign God to the chief angel (messenger) – an unacceptable view in my opinion.
  2. If you ever served in the military, the sounds within 1 Thessalonians 4:16 present no confusion:
  3. 1 Thessalonians 4:16: For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. (NIV)

    Within a military command, the battalion commanding officer issues a command, “Battalion, charge.” The subordinate company commanders then echo the command, “Company, charge.” The original command would then be followed by a bugle call ensuring all troops clearly hear the command.

    The same command structure is seen in 1 Thessalonians 4:16. Jesus Christ descends from heaven issuing the command, the archangel echoes the command, and then the trumpet call reinforces Christ’s original command. The voice of the archangel need not be the voice of Christ for it to represent his command.

  4. Michael, in Revelation 12:7, is named without any adjoining adjectives of adoration:
  5. Revelation 12:7: Then there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon and his angels. (NIV)

    This is uncharacteristic of the references pertaining to Jesus Christ within the primary narrative:

    Revelation 5:5: Then one of the elders said to me, "Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals." (NIV)

    Revelation 5:6: Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing in the centre of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. He had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. (NIV)

    Revelation 19:11: I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war. (NIV)

    Additionally, the name “Jesus” is used fourteen times within the book of Revelation; Michael is used once. I see no indications that the names are interchangeable. If Jesus Christ and Michael the archangel were one in the same, I would imagine that Michael’s name would be more prevalent not only in the book of Revelation but throughout the New Testament.

Within any hierarchical structure be it military, business, or government, subordinates act in the name and on the behalf of their superior. Such, I believe, is the case with Michael and Jesus Christ – they share attributes, but Michael is a subordinate to the “Commander in Chief”  –  Jesus Christ.

Michael is a created archangel, a messenger of God, and the protector of the nation of Israel. He, along with Gabriel and formerly Lucifer, are (were) “commanders” of one-third of the heavenly host of angels. All three, until Lucifer’s fall, were “covering” angels who “stood in the presence of God” (Ezekiel 28:14, Ezekiel 28:16, Luke 1:19). Jesus Christ is not an angel, not even the chief among angels; this is laid out clearly in Hebrews, Chapters 1 and 2.

In fact, I’m sure that Satan takes great pleasure when humans place Christ and Satan on the same level… I’m sure that is a key element in his grand strategy – minimize the stature of Jesus Christ’s stature and increase his own… this is part of the great deception.

The Remnant of the Woman’s Seed

Revelation 12:17: the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.

The remnant seed represents the redeemed Christian during the entire Church age. An apostasy of the faithful, a falling away, will occur at the end of this age and the remnant of overcoming Christians will be subject to the persecution of Satan and his evil legions.

The term “remnant” is generally associated with Israel and the few who will be regathered at the end of the age (Revelation 7:1-8):

Micah 2:12: I will surely gather all of you, O Jacob; I will surely bring together the remnant of Israel. I will bring them together like sheep in a pen, like a flock in its pasture; the place will throng with people. (NIV)

However, this verse specifically mentions those who hold to “the testimony of Jesus Christ.” Why refer to Christians as a remnant? The focus of the passage is on the woman, her travails, her persecution, and her flight into the wilderness. The remnant is what is left behind after she flees. This is consistent with the word remnant: loipos: the rest, the remaining, the others.5 Unlike when used with Israel, the term remnant does not necessarily infer a small portion of the original… The “remnant of her seed” specifically refers to redeemed Christians.

Is labeling Christians the seed of Israel consistent with biblical scripture? Yes.

Galatians 3:29: And if ye [be] Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise. (KJV)

Romans 9:8: In other words, it is not the natural children who are God's children, but it is the children of the promise who are regarded as Abraham's offspring. (NIV)

Does Satan make war on the Christian believers? Yes.

Ephesians 6:11: Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. (KJV)

1 Peter 5:8: Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: (KJV)

Some believe that “keep the commandments of God” implies that the remnant has a Jewish in nature; however, within the book of Revelation, the phrase specifically targets the Christian listener:

Revelation 14:12: Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus. (KJV)

Revelation 22:14: Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. (KJV)

Several commentaries, e.g. Barnes' Notes on the Bible, Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible, and Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary, assert that the woman is the Christian Church; therefore, they tend to struggle to explain the remnant of her seed. Most assert that the remnant indicates the scattered church or the individually persecuted Christian; however, such designations seem rather arbitrary and inconsistent with the narrative.

Individual Events within the Scene

Many premillennialism scholars assert that the primary events within this passage occur at the end of this age during the great tribulation. Such a view, unfortunately, tends to ignore a plain reading and “spiritualizes” the passage ultimately missing the primary message… Satan role as man’s accuser before the throne of God ended with the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Might the passage serve a dual role, one describing the events after the resurrection and another describing the events at the end of this age? Possibly. The passage describes the woman fleeing into the wilderness twice, once for 1,260 days and once for three and one-half years. Repetition within a literary work is frequently used for emphasis, e.g. “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.” However, I don’t believe that is the case here, and it particular use in this passage deserves a closer examination.

The Woman in Labor About To Give Birth

Revelation 12:2: And she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered. (KJV)

The woman’s labor pains represent both the long and short-term troubles of the nation of Israel prior to the first arrival of Jesus Christ. It is the long-term travails that demonstrate a need for a Savior, the Messiah. The short-term travails results in the rejection and sacrifice of the Savior, Jesus Christ. Israel, after its regathering during the transition from the current to the next age, will once again suffer the travails of child birth as it struggles against Satan and his legions prior to the Second Advent of Jesus Christ.

Israel experienced a number of travails prior to the birth of the Messiah, Jesus Christ. The following chart reflects a few of Israel’s troubles:

from “The Revelation of Jesus Christ: Introduction to Chapter 12”6
Labor & Pain Story Satanic Strategy God’s Counter Verses
Cain & Abel Cain kills Abel Stop righteous seed Birth of Seth

Genesis 4,5

Fallen angels & Mankind Fallen angels corrupt mankind Corrupt men constantly violent Destroy mankind except Noah & family Genesis 6:1-13
One language, one people All of man united as one people Corrupt mankind by universal government Scatter man, diverse language, calling of Abraham Genesis 10,11,12
Abraham & Sarah Sarah offers Hagar as substitute Cause Sarah to not trust God. Create rival to God’s promise. Birth of Isaac, Send Hagar and Ishmael away Genesis 21,22
Dinah & Shecem Residents of Shecem try to assimilate Jacob family after Dinah is raped. Jacob’s son kill people in the city. Corrupt Israel through assimilation and prevent Messiah birth. Surrounding cities destroy Jacob for killing men of Shechem God allows Jacob and family to escape and protects them from surrounding people  Genesis 34
Moses & Pharaoh Destroy all male Hebrew children in Egypt Assimilate Israel into Egypt. Moses raised to deliver Israel. Plagues on Egypt. Exodus 1-12
Queen Esther Destroy all Jews in Persian Kingdom Destroy Jews, prevent birth of Messiah Queen Esther is a Jew and the Queen of Persia intercedes. Israel enemies destroyed Esther 1-10
Kill male children in Bethlehem King Herod kills all the children in Bethlehem 2 years and younger Kill Messiah as a child Mary, Joseph warned in a dream go to Egypt till Herod dies. Matthew 2

The chart does not include many other troubles including the stiff-nakedness of Israel during their exodus from Egypt, the personal tragedies of King Saul and David, the rejection of God resulting in the destruction of the Israel by Assyria, and the carrying off of the Judah into the Babylonian Captivity. During the time of Christ’s earthly ministry, Israel was suffering a form of spiritual apostasy (a departure from the faith) – probably much like the described of the Sardis Church:

Revelation 3:1-3: I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your deeds complete in the sight of my God. Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; obey it, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you. (NIV)

Matthew, Chapter 23, describes the many attributes of the apostasy of the Jewish authority during Jesus Christ’s earthly ministry:

Matthew 23:23-24: “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel. (NIV)

Will a similar apostasy occur among the Christian Church at the end of the current age? Yes.

2 Thessalonians 2:3: Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction. (NASB)

1 Timothy 4:1: But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons. (NASB)

In fact, the Olivet Discourse, a dual occurrence prophecy, uses similar wording, labor pains, to describe the transition from the Mosaic Age to the Church Age and then from the Church Age to the Millennial Reign:

Matthew 24:7-8: For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes. But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs. (NASB)

Mark 13:8: For nation will rise up against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be earthquakes in various places; there will also be famines. These things are merely the beginning of birth pangs. (NASB)

How then should we apply this passage? When we consider the history of Israel, we wonder how God’s chosen people could repeatedly and consistently turn away from God. But, we seldom consider that the Christian Church suffers from a similar plight. In ancient Israel, God dwelt among his people within an earthly tabernacle, but Christians have something far greater – the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Yet, the tragedy of Israel tends to pale in comparison with the atrocities committed in the name of Christ.

During the last transition between ages, Israel suffered for her sins by having her temple destroyed, her country dissolved, and her people scattered throughout the nations:

from “Oh Jerusalem,Thou that Killeth the Prophets7
by Darrell G. Young

By 70 A.D., Jerusalem and Judea were left desolate, most of the people either killed or being held in captivity, or had become refugees fleeing to remote lands. All that remained in Israel was the defiant little garrison atop the mount at Masada, a fortress complex south of the Dead Sea, which was built by Herod the Great. Thus when the Temple was destroyed in A.D. 70 the period of the second exile began. (Diaspora) The Jewish people were soon to be scattered throughout the earth. For the next 1900 years the Jews would have no authority in the land God gave to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

I suspect that during the next transition between ages, from the current Church Age to the Millennial Reign, the world will experience a similar “travailing in birth” and that the Christian Church will not go unscathed. Yet, like Israel, the woman within this passage, God will not permit an absolute and total annihilation of those who remain faithful to the testimony of Jesus Christ:

Revelation 13:7: It was also given to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them, and authority over every tribe and people and tongue and nation was given to him. (NASB)

Revelation 14:12: Here is the perseverance of the saints who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus. (NASB)

Revelation 3:10-11: Because you have kept the word of My perseverance, I also will keep you from the hour of testing, that hour which is about to come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth. I am coming quickly; hold fast what you have, so that no one will take your crown. (NASB)

The Dragon Swept 1/3 of the Stars from the Sky

Revelation 12:4: And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth

The stars represent one-third of the heavenly host of angels who joined Lucifer in his rebellion against God. This event occurred before the creation of Adam and Eve. The fallen angels who sinned with mankind prior to the Great Flood currently reside in the abyss symbolically located within the bowels of earth. The other fallen angels currently reside on earth in the form of demons.

Symbolism: Stars of Heaven

Although stars within biblical scripture have a variety of meanings, the context of this passage indicates that the stars represent angels:

Revelation 12:7: And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels.

Matthew 25:41: "Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. (NIV)

Judges 5:19-20: The kings came and fought, then fought the kings of Canaan in Taanach by the waters of Megiddo; they took no gain of money. They fought from heaven; the stars in their courses fought against Sisera.

Revelation 1:16, 20: In his right hand he held seven stars, and out of his mouth came a sharp double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance… The mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand and of the seven golden lampstands is this: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.

Stars can also represent things other than angels, e.g. a cataclysmic upheaval within the human social, cultural, religious, and political realm; the morning star is used to represent Satan and then Jesus Christ; and they can also represent saints.

Cataclysmic Events: A cataclysmic event results in a change within a situation in a sudden, violent, and unpleasant way, e.g. a volcanic eruption, major earthquake, or a hurricane. Biblical prophecy assert that the second coming of Jesus Christ will be accompanied by a great cataclysm, e.g. earthquakes, the sun and moon going dark, and the stars falling from the sky.

Matthew 24:29: Immediately after the distress of those days “the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.” (NIV) (Isaiah 13:10; 34:4)

Revelation 6:12-14: I watched as he opened the sixth seal. There was a great earthquake. The sun turned black like sackcloth made of goat hair, the whole moon turned blood red, and the stars in the sky fell to earth, as late figs drop from a fig tree when shaken by a strong wind. The sky receded like a scroll, rolling up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place. (NIV)

Are these descriptions literal or are they figuratively? Will stars physically fall from the sky? Revelation 11:13 seems to be very specific that such cataclysmic events can result in physical destruction:

Revelation 11:12-13: Then they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, "Come up here." And they went up to heaven in a cloud, while their enemies looked on. At that very hour there was a severe earthquake and a tenth of the city collapsed. Seven thousand people were killed in the earthquake, and the survivors were terrified and gave glory to the God of heaven. (NIV)

Cataclysmic events can represent sudden and massive social, cultural and political changes, e.g. the Reformation, the Great Awakening, and the Great Depression. Such cataclysms can cause such upheaval that the “natural” order is overturned. In 70 AD, Israel suffered such a cataclysm when the Romans dismantled its nation identity. The old “stars” – the Jewish religious, cultural, and political authorities “fell from the sky.” This cataclysm was predicted in the Olivet Discourse and serves as a biblical type of Christ’s second coming.8

We see biblical prophecies applied in similar fashions in God’s judgment on Edom (Isaiah 34:4-5), Egypt (Ezekiel 32:7-8), and Babylon (Isaiah 13:9-10). Stars can represent existing social, cultural, religious, and political order. Stars falling from the sky can represent a great upheaval in that order… creating a great and lasting change.

The Morning Star: In the Vulgate and King James versions of the Bible, the king of Babylon (figuratively Satan) is referred to as Lucifer, the morning star, in Isaiah:

Isaiah 14:12: How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! (KJV)

Isaiah 14:12: How you have fallen from heaven, O morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations! (NIV)

Those who remain faithful and overcome adversity are promised the morning star:

Revelation 2:26-28: To him who overcomes and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations—He will rule them with an iron scepter; he will dash them to pieces like pottery’— just as I have received authority from my Father. I will also give him the morning star. (NIV)

Who or what is the morning star? In the book of Revelation, Jesus Christ refers to himself as the morning star:

Revelation 22:16: I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star. (KJV)

The “morning star” is the planet Venus and is the third brightest object of the sky following the sun and the moon. Within biblical texts, the morning star may best be interpreted as enlightenment through the Word of God:

2 Peter 1:19: And we have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. (NIV)

What does this have to do with Satan (Isaiah 14:12)? Some say that Isaiah 14:12 pertains only to the king of Babylon and has nothing to do with Satan. Others claim that Satan was the original “light bearer” and the third brightest light in all of creation following the God the Father and Jesus Christ. The answer is widely disputed and depends of broad speculation.

Earthly Saints: Daniel 8:10 presents a passage that seems similar to Revelation 12:4 in that the Antichrist will also draw down stars from the heavens and cast them to the earth. In this case, however, the stars are earthly saints as interpreted in Daniel 8:24:

Daniel 8:10-13: It grew until it reached the host of the heavens, and it threw some of the starry host down to the earth and trampled on them. It set itself up to be as great as the Prince of the host; it took away the daily sacrifice from him, and the place of his sanctuary was brought low. Because of rebellion, the host [of the saints] and the daily sacrifice were given over to it. It prospered in everything it did, and truth was thrown to the ground. (NIV)

host: tsaba: army, war, warfare9                     stars: kokab: a star10

Daniel 8:23-24: In the latter part of their reign, when rebels have become completely wicked, a stern-faced king, a master of intrigue, will arise. He will become very strong, but not by his own power. He will cause astounding devastation and will succeed in whatever he does. He will destroy the mighty men and the holy people. (NIV)

Is the relationship between Revelation 12:4 and Daniel 8:10 strong enough to indicate that Revelation 12:4 serves as a dual role prophecy? Might the passage represent both the heavenly host of angels who joined Satan in rebelling against God as well as those saints martyred at the hands of the Antichrist? Possibly, although the parallel is probably not strong enough to make a firm assertion.

Daniel 7:21: As I watched, this horn was waging war against the saints and defeating them. (NIV)

Revelation 12:17: Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to make war against the rest of her offspring--those who obey God's commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus. (NIV)

Revelation 13:7: He was given power to make war against the saints and to conquer them. And he was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation. (NIV)

Fallen Angels

The Bible provides little in the way of clear, definitive scripture pertaining to fallen angels and demons. Many of the detailed articles on angels and demons rely of extra-biblical books such as the book of Enoch or Jubilees. As these are non-canonical resources, we must use great caution in including them in any theological belief system. For interesting, but unvalidated, views on angels and demons consider reading:

  1. “Survey of Bible Doctrine: Angels, Satan, Demons,” by Sid Litke.11
  2. “FALLEN ANGELS AND DEMONS,” by Bryan T. Huie.12
  3. “SATAN—THE DEVIL, AND DEMONS— THE FALLEN ANGEL,” by Rick Reinckens.13

On a simplified level, there are two basic classifications of fallen angels and demons:

Those angels who colluded inappropriately with humans and are currently bound in the abyss:

Genesis 6:2, 4: The sons of God saw the beautiful women and took any they wanted as their wives… In those days, and for some time after, giant Nephilites lived on the earth, for whenever the sons of God had intercourse with women, they gave birth to children who became the heroes and famous warriors of ancient times. (NLT)

Jude 1:6: And I remind you of the angels who did not stay within the limits of authority God gave them but left the place where they belonged. God has kept them securely chained in prisons of darkness, waiting for the great day of judgment. (NLT)

2 Peter 2:4: For God did not spare even the angels who sinned. He threw them into hell, in gloomy pits of darkness, where they are being held until the day of judgment. (NLT)

Those angels, I believe, will be released at the fifth trumpet in order to torture those who are not among the 144,000 sealed with the seal of God (Revelation 9:1-11).

Revelation 9:1-3: Then the fifth angel blew his trumpet, and I saw a star that had fallen to earth from the sky, and he was given the key to the shaft of the bottomless pit. When he opened it… locusts came from the smoke and descended on the earth, and they were given power to sting like scorpions. (NLT)

Those fallen angels (demons) who are free to traverse the earth and plague mankind:

Matthew 8:29: They began screaming at him, "Why are you interfering with us, Son of God? Have you come here to torture us before God's appointed time?" (NLT)

Mark 5:9: Then Jesus demanded, "What is your name?" And he replied, "My name is Legion, because there are many of us inside this man." (NLT)

Luke 8:30-31: Jesus demanded, "What is your name?" "Legion," he replied, for he was filled with many demons. The demons kept begging Jesus not to send them into the bottomless pit. (NLT)

Matthew 25:41: "Then the King will turn to those on the left and say, 'Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his demons. [angels] (NLT)

These fallen angels, the legions of Satan, are preventing human souls from being redeemed:

Ephesians 6:12: For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. (NLT)

1 Timothy 4:1: Now the Holy Spirit tells us clearly that in the last times some will turn away from the true faith; they will follow deceptive spirits and teachings that come from demons. (NLT)

2 Corinthians 11:15: So it is no wonder that his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. In the end they will get the punishment their wicked deeds deserve. (NLT)

Why did these angels rebel against God? Simple response – because that was part of God’s plan. Complex response – pride, power lust, and/or envy.

The Waiting To Devour the Child When It Is Born

Revelation 12:4: the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born.

This event specifically represents Satan’s use of King Herod who attempted to destroy the infant Jesus during the Massacre of the Innocents.

Some scholars list a long litany of strategies that Satan employed to prevent the Messiah from ever being born. While interesting, I believe that those correlations go beyond the passage. A plain reading tends to point to King Herod’s fear that Jesus’ birth as the king of the Jews represented a threat to Herod’s throne:

Matthew 2:1-4: Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the reign of King Herod. About that time some wise men from eastern lands arrived in Jerusalem, asking, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star as it rose, and we have come to worship him.” King Herod was deeply disturbed when he heard this, as was everyone in Jerusalem. He called a meeting of the leading priests and teachers of religious law and asked, “Where is the Messiah supposed to be born?” (NLT)

In an attempt to safeguard his throne, Herod had all the male children less than two years of age killed:

Matthew 2:16: Herod was furious when he realized that the wise men had outwitted him. He sent soldiers to kill all the boys in and around Bethlehem who were two years old and under, based on the wise men’s report of the star’s first appearance. (NLT)

Jesus escaped this incident of infanticide by escaping to Egypt:

Matthew 2:13-15: After the wise men were gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up! Flee to Egypt with the child and his mother,” the angel said. “Stay there until I tell you to return, because Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.” That night Joseph left for Egypt with the child and Mary, his mother, and they stayed there until Herod’s death. This fulfilled what the Lord had spoken through the prophet: “I called my Son out of Egypt.

The Birth of the Male Child

Revelation 12:5: And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and [to] his throne.

The male child is Jesus Christ who is destined to rule the world from David’s throne physically located in Jerusalem. Jesus Christ’s first coming was not to establish an earthly, messianic kingdom but to preach the Gospel, to reject Satan’s temptation, to live a obedient, holy life as a human being, to suffer at the hands of mankind, to assume the penalty of death for mankind’s disobedience, and to overcome death through his resurrection. Christ, after his ascension, did not assume David’s throne but rather took the position at the right hand of God.

Rule All Nations with a Rod of Iron

Jesus Christ was born to inherit the throne of King David:

Luke 1:30-33: But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.” (NIV)

Matthew 2:1-2: After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.” (NIV)

Through his rejection of Satan’s temptation, earthly ministry, redeeming sacrifice, and victorious resurrection and ascension, Christ has earned all authority (exousia: power, authority, weight, especially: moral authority, influence14) in heaven and earth:

Matthew 28:18-20: Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (NIV)

Revelation 3:21: To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne. (NIV)

Jesus Christ’s current role is High Priest:

Hebrews 2:17: For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. (NIV)

Hebrews 7:23-24: Now there have been many of those priests, since death prevented them from continuing in office; but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. (NIV)

Hebrews 9:15: For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance—now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant. (NIV)

Jesus Christ currently resides at the right hand of God the Father:

Mark 16:19: After the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, he was taken up into heaven and he sat at the right hand of God. (NIV)

1 Peter 3:21-22: …It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at God’s right hand—with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him. (NIV)

Acts 7:55-56: But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God."Look," he said, "I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God." (NIV)

Is Jesus Christ currently reigning on King David’s throne in heaven? No, although Jesus Christ has been anointed to David’s throne (de jure – by right according to the law), but he has not yet physically assumed David’s throne (de facto – in fact, whether with a legal right or not). See “Topics for Analysis: David’s Throne and Christ’s Reign?” for a more thorough analysis.

The Harpazó of Jesus Christ

The term “caught up,” harpazó: to snatch away, is the same word used in 1 Thessalonians 4:17, the Rapture of the Church. Some assert that since this harpazó takes place before the dragon pursues the woman, it supports a pretribulation Rapture. This view, however, fails to fully consider the context of the harpazó of Jesus Christ.

The term harpazó implies force and is found in numerous New Testament scriptures:

harpazó: to seize, catch up, snatch away, obtain by robbery.15

726 harpázō – properly, seize by force; snatch up, suddenly and decisively – like someone seizing bounty (spoil, a prize); to take by an open display of force.16

John 6:15: Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself. (NIV)

Matthew 11:12: From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it. (NIV)

John 10:12: He who is a hired hand, and not a shepherd, who is not the owner of the sheep, sees the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. (NASB)

In the case of Revelation 12:5, Satan’s apparent, absolute victory over Jesus Christ was snatched (by force) away from him by Christ’s unexpected resurrection and ascension:

Christ was betrayed by a Satan possessed Judas (John 13:27), endured a mock trial before the Sanhedrin (Matthew 26:59), rejected by his own people (27:25), mocked and scourged (27:28-31), crucified (27:35), separated from God (27:46), and finally, suffered death (27:50). Satan certainly believed at this point that he had won the victory.

If the phrase harpazó in Revelation 12:5 parallels the Rapture, then the Church will also first suffer an apparent, absolute defeat by Satan, such as the apostasy (2 Thessalonians 2:3) and the conquering of the saints (Revelation 13:7). After that defeat seems absolute, then the time will be cut short (Matthew 24:22) and the Church will be raptured (1 Thessalonians 4:17).

Rather than supporting a pretribulation Rapture, Revelation 12:5 seems to be more supportive of a mid-, pre-wrath, or post-tribulation Rapture.

The Woman Flees into the Wilderness for 1,260 Days

Revelation 12:6: And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days.

Revelation 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 for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent.

The primary event of this prophecy took place in two primary installments: (1) a spiritual flight immediately following the resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ in c. 33 AD and (2) a physical flight following the destruction of the second temple in 70 AD when the nation of Israel was dissolved as a national, political, cultural, and religious identity and scattered (diaspora) among various Gentile nations. Although humans view Jews as individuals within a specific religious sect, God readily identifies the “true” Jew including their specific tribal root, e.g. Dan, Judah, etc.

As a secondary event, this event is tied to the “time of the end” through the parallel use of 1,260 days and three and one-half years. This parallelism indicates the scene serves a dual role with that secondary role being discussed within other relevant sections of this study.

FLED: pheugó: to flee, escape, shun.17

WILDERNESS: erémos: properly, an uncultivated, unpopulated place; a desolate (deserted) area; (figuratively) a barren, solitary place that also provides needed quiet.18

ALLUSION: Possibly to Matthew 2:13 where Joseph fled into Egypt with Mary and the infant Jesus to escape King Herod’s Massacre of the Innocent:

Matthew 2:13: After the wise men were gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. "Get up! Flee to Egypt with the child and his mother," the angel said. "Stay there until I tell you to return, because Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.” (NLT)

ALLUSION: Possibly to the temptation of Jesus after his fasting in the wilderness:

Luke 4:1-2: Then Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan River. He was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, where he was tempted by the devil for forty days. Jesus ate nothing all that time and became very hungry.

Mark 1:12-13: The Spirit then compelled Jesus to go into the wilderness, where he was tempted by Satan for forty days. He was out among the wild animals, and angels took care of him.

ALLUSION: Possibly to Leviticus 26:14-17 and Luke 21:21-22 in response to their rejection of Jesus Christ as the Messiah:

Leviticus 26:14-17: However, if you do not listen to me or obey all these commands, and if you break my covenant by rejecting my decrees, treating my regulations with contempt, and refusing to obey my commands, I will punish you. I will bring sudden terrors upon you—wasting diseases and burning fevers that will cause your eyes to fail and your life to ebb away. You will plant your crops in vain because your enemies will eat them. I will turn against you, and you will be defeated by your enemies. Those who hate you will rule over you, and you will run even when no one is chasing you! (NLT)

Luke 21:21-22: Then those in Judea must flee to the hills. Those in Jerusalem must get out, and those out in the country should not return to the city. For those will be days of God's vengeance, and the prophetic words of the Scriptures will be fulfilled.

ALLUSION: Possibly to Israel’s wondering in the wilderness after leaving Egypt:

Numbers 14:33-34: “And your children will be like shepherds, wandering in the wilderness for forty years. In this way, they will pay for your faithlessness, until the last of you lies dead in the wilderness. Because your men explored the land for forty days, you must wander in the wilderness for forty years—a year for each day, suffering the consequences of your sins. Then you will discover what it is like to have me for an enemy.” (NLT)

The wilderness tends to be indicative of the need for one or more of four things:

  1. Protection from enemies such as Pharaoh, King Herod, and the dragon.
  2. Punishment for apostasy, failure to remain faithful to the spirit of God’s covenant.
  3. Cleansing from cultural, spiritual, and political pollutants.
  4. Divine nourishment, dependence upon God for sustenance.

The first occurrence of the woman fleeing is placed immediately after the ascension of Jesus Christ and immediately prior to the battle in heaven between Michael and Satan. This placement indicates that the first fleeing seems associated with the Jewish rejection of Jesus Christ as the Messiah and invokes Leviticus 26:14-17. Israel found themselves in a spiritual wilderness deserving divine punishment as well as a need for cleansing from the wicked and adulterous generation of hypocrites, fools, blind guides, snakes, and vipers (Matthew 12:39, 23:13-36).

The second occurrence of the woman fleeing is placed immediately after the battle in heaven between Michael and Satan. This placement seems to indicate that the second fleeing is associated with the siege of Jerusalem and destruction of the second temple in 70 AD and results in the dissolution of the national, political body of Israel. The Jews, a people without a nation, are scattered throughout the Gentile nations and, thus, experience a political wilderness.

Revelation 12:6 and 12:14 both mention nourishing the woman for 1,260 days (3 ½ years) and seems to be more of a protective nature than punishment. However, this is consistent with Israel’s trek in the wilderness following their exodus from Egypt:

Exodus 16:35: So the people of Israel ate manna for forty years until they arrived at the land where they would settle. They ate manna until they came to the border of the land of Canaan.

Hebrews 3:8-11: …don’t harden your hearts as Israel did when they rebelled, when they tested me in the wilderness. There your ancestors tested and tried my patience, even though they saw my miracles for forty years. So I was angry with them, and I said, ‘Their hearts always turn away from me. They refuse to do what I tell them.’ So in my anger I took an oath: ‘They will never enter my place of rest.’

As in their 40 year trek in the wilderness, Israel is currently being divinely sustained in the wilderness for 1,260 prophetic days:

  1. The term 1,260 days is best viewed, within the primary context, as a very long but specific period of time. Attempts to interpret the term as years, one year for each day, although scriptural sound (Numbers 14:34, Ezekiel 4:4-6, Daniel 9:24-27) seems rather fruitless. The specific time period tends to have more relevance to the “time of the end” as it parallel other prophetic events found in Revelation 11:2-3, 13:5, Daniel 7:25, and 12:7. Like the Olivet Discourse, this scene serves a dual role, describing events that occur within in the near-term as well as those in the distant future.
  2. The wilderness is best viewed, within the primary context, as the scattering of the people of Israel among the Gentile nations. Some biblical scholars assert that it is impossible to regather members of the twelve tribes of Israel because ten tribes were “lost” in 720 BC when Assyria destroyed the Northern Kingdom (Israel) with the remaining tribes from the Southern Kingdom (Judah) losing their tribal identity through dispersion and proselytization. This view, however, ignores the God’s omniscience – their identity may be hid from us but not from God.
  3. National Israel was dissolved nearly two-thousand years ago yet Jews have been able to retain much of their distinct religious and cultural identity despite their scattering and numerous attempts at extermination. Today, there are some 13.42 million Jews worldwide.

Does the establishment of the nation of Israel in 1948 indicate that the regathering has begun? Possibly, but without a tabernacle or temple, their biblical relevance is difficult to determine. This scene provides no clues of a regathering and the topic will be discussed elsewhere.

The Battle between Satan and Michael

Revelation 12:7-9: And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels. And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.

Jesus Christ’s earthly ministry – his resistance to Satan’s temptation, his spotless, obedient life as a human being, his mocking and scourging at the hands of Roman soldiers, his physical suffering upon the cross, his separation from God upon the cross, and his sacrificial death upon – removed the “blight” upon mankind. Satan no longer had justification to stand before the throne of God as man’s accuser, and he was thrown out of heaven to earth. This event took place immediately after the crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ.

WAR IN HEAVEN: The commentaries on this verse are quite interesting ranging from Satan’s forces consisting of two Roman legions to the struggle between good and evil in the sky. The meaning is far simpler and was foreshadowed when the seventy-two disciples returned and reported that even the demons obeyed them:

Luke 10:18: “Yes,” he told them, “I saw Satan fall from heaven like lightning!” (NLT)

NEITHER WAS THEIR PLACE FOUND ANY MORE IN HEAVEN: Within the Old Testament, Satan went before the throne of God to accuse mankind (Job 1:6, Job 2:1, Zechariah 3:1, Psalm 109:6, Revelation 12:10).

Job 1:6: One day the members of the heavenly court came to present themselves before the LORD, and the Accuser, Satan, came with them. (NLT)

Zechariah 3:1: Then the angel showed me Jeshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD. The Accuser, Satan, was there at the angel's right hand, making accusations against Jeshua. (NLT)

The accusation? Disobedience… that human beings are incapable of being obedient to God’s will.

Romans 5:18: “When Adam sinned, sin entered the world. Adam's sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned.” (NLT)

However, Christ’s earthly ministry corrected that ill:

  1. Jesus did not succumb to Satan’s temptation in the wilderness.
  2. Jesus led a spotless, obedient life of service to God the Father.
  3. Jesus was scourged and humiliated at the hands of Roman soldiers.
  4. Jesus the pains of physical suffering upon the cross.
  5. Jesus experienced spiritual death when he took the sins of the world on his shoulders and he experienced a separation from God the Father.
  6. Jesus then died on the cross as a sacrificial lamb.

Matthew 27:46: At about three o'clock, Jesus called out with a loud voice, "Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?" which means "My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?" (NLT)

The “blight” on mankind was lifted and Satan’s accusations before the throne were no longer valid:

Romans 5:19: Because one person disobeyed God, many became sinners. But because one other person obeyed God, many will be made righteous. (NLT)

Satan’s presence in heaven no longer served a purpose so he was evicted from heaven. He was thrown to the earth, and there he remains the “god of this world” to those who continue in disobedience to God.

John 12:31-32: The time for judging this world has come, when Satan, the ruler of this world, will be cast out. And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself. (NLT)

MICHAEL AND HIS ANGELS: Some believe that Michael, the archangel, is the warrior side of Jesus Christ – that they are one in the same. However, this belief is a deception from the devil:

Satan is a created being. Jesus Christ is God.
Satan is a fallen angel. Jesus is the son of God.
Satan did not exist before the creation. Jesus Christ is the Alpha and Omega.
Satan attempted to place his throne above God. Jesus Christ humbled himself before the Father.
   

Satan would like nothing better than for mankind to believe that he is the equivalent of Jesus Christ and possesses the power and ability to resist all of creation. Assuming that only Jesus Christ has the ability to expel Satan from heaven gives far too much credit to Satan. He is merely a created angel and it is beneath Christ’s station directly deal with this “minor” task.

We should, however, be careful not to underestimate Satan’s authority or capabilities:

2 Corinthians 4:4: The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. (NIV)

Jude 1:9: But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not dare to bring a slanderous accusation against him, but said, "The Lord rebuke you!" (NIV)

If we assume that there were originally three archangels, Michael, Gabriel (Luke 1:19), and Satan (Lucifer – Isaiah 14:12) and if we assume that each commanded one-third of the heavenly host of angels (Revelation 12:4), then the cosmic battle of Revelation 12:7-9 involved two-thirds of all angels (Michael’s one-third and Satan’s one-third). This was quit a struggle. However, the importance of the event was not sufficient to require the direct intervention of God the Father or Jesus Christ the Son.

This was a battle between angels and demonstrates the established hierarchy within creation – Satan is a created being; his authority and capabilities are sharply limited.

TIMING: There is disagreement among scholars as when this war in heaven actually occurred:

  1. Some believe that it occurred when Satan and his subordinates first rebelled against God. While logical, this placement seems unlikely as Satan is portrayed as the accuser before God’s throne (Job 1:6) and these appearances seem to contradict “neither was their place found any more in heaven.” In the Old Testament, Satan played a role before the throne of God; that role was no longer applicable following Christ’s earthly ministry.
  2. Additionally, placement after Jesus Christ’s ascension within the scene tends to indicate that the war occurred sometime after that event.

  3. Others believe that it will occur at some point in the future as part of God’s judgment during the “time of the end.” This view seems somewhat viable because although the world has already been judged (John 12:31) that judgment has been deferred… much like a criminal’s prison sentence may be deferred pending successful completion of a probation period.
  4. Placement after the first mention of the woman’s fleeing into the wilderness for 1,260 days may also indicate that the war takes place sometime after the completion of those 1,260 prophetic days.

    Revelation 12:12 also seems to bolster this view. The verse indicates that Satan knows his time is short and tends to contradict placing the war immediately following Christ’s ascension – nearly 2,000 years can hardly be defined as a “little time.” Additionally, the events of the “time of the end” – the works of the Antichrist and false prophet – seem to be the personification of Satan’s “great wrath.”

I tend to believe that this war in heaven took place long in the past, immediately following Jesus Christ’s ascension. Narrative placement, immediately following the description of Jesus Christ’s ascension, indicates that Satan’s role as accuser of the brethren has been rendered moot. This view is further bolstered by verse 12:10 which seems to indicates that redemption follows the casting down:

Revelation 12:10: … Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down… (KJV)

While Revelation 12:12 clearly indicates that Satan only has a short time remaining, we need to remember that only God the Father knows the time of the end (Mark 13:32, Matthew 24:36) and a sense of imminence in an inherent theme within the book of Revelation (1:3, 22:6). I’m sure Satan has prepped many an Antichrist and false prophet over the millennia in preparation for the time that God removes his restraints (2 Thessalonians 2:7).


1 “Woman of the Apocalypse,” Wikipedia, Sep. 23, 2011. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Woman_of_the_Apocalypse> Nov. 25, 2011.

2 Michael J. Svigel, “The Timing of the Rapture in Revelation 12:5: A Sequel (Part 1),” RetroChristianity, June 8, 2007. <http://svigel.blogspot.com/2007/06/timing-of-rapture-in-revelation-125_08.html> Nov. 25, 2011.

3 Joseph Jacobs, M. Seligsohn, Mary W. Montgomery, "MICHAEL," JewishEncyclopedia.com, 2011. <http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/10779-michael#1833> Nov. 25, 2011.

4 “Who Is Michael the Archangel?” Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, 2009. <http://www.watchtower.org/e/bh/appendix_11.htm#fnt1> Nov. 25, 2011.

5 “loipos,” Strong’s Concordance, Biblos.com, 2011. <http://concordances.org/greek/3062.htm> Nov. 28, 2011.

6 “The Revelation of Jesus Christ: Introduction to Chapter 12,” Truthnet.org. ND. <http://www.truthnet.org/christianity/revelation/revelation12/> Nov. 25, 2011.

7 Darrell G. Young, “Oh Jerusalem, Thou that Killeth the Prophets,” Focus on Jerusalem, Vol. 68, Issue I, Feb. 2004 <http://focusonjerusalem.com/thefallofjerusalem.html> Nov. 29, 2011.

8 See Topics for Analysis: Olivet Discourse: The Rapture?

9 “tsaba,” Strong’s Concordance: Biblios.com. ND. <http://concordances.org/hebrew/6635.htm> Dec. 1, 2011.

10 “kokab,” Strong’s Concordance: Biblios.com. ND. <http://concordances.org/hebrew/3555.htm> Dec. 1, 2011.

11 Sid Litke, “Survey of Bible Doctrine: Angels, Satan, Demons,” bible.org. ND. ” <http://bible.org/seriespage/survey-bible-doctrine-angels-satan-demons> Dec. 3, 2011

12 Bryan T. Huie, “FALLEN ANGELS AND DEMONS,” Here a little, there a little. Oct. 5, 2011. <http://www.herealittletherealittle.net/index.cfm?page_name=Demons> Dec. 4, 2010.

13 Rick Reinckens, “SATAN—THE DEVIL, AND DEMONS— THE FALLEN ANGEL,” God On The Net, 2011. <http://www.godonthe.net/evidence/satan.htm> Dec. 3, 2011.

14 “exousia,” Strong’s Concordance: Biblos.com. ND. <http://concordances.org/greek/1849.htm> Dec. 4, 2011.

15 “harpazó,” Strong’s Concordance: Biblos.com. ND. <http://concordances.org/greek/726.htm> Dec. 5, 2011.

16 “726 harpázō,” HELPS Word Study: Helps Ministries, 2011 <http://concordances.org/greek/726.htm> Dec. 5, 2011.

17 “5343. Pheugó,” Strong’s Concordance: Biblos.com. ND. < http://concordances.org/greek/5343.htm> Dec. 7, 2011

18 "2048 érēmos,” HELPSWord Studies, Helps Ministries, 2011. <http://concordances.org/greek/2048.htm> Nov. 15, 2011


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