Revelation Chapter Twelve Part II

The Great Red Dragon and the Woman

The Great Red Dragon and the Woman Clothed with the Sun

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.”

 

 

This is Jesus, the Christ:

And she brought forth a man child:

Luke 2:7 “And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.”

who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron:

Revelation 19:15 “And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron:”

and her child was caught up unto God:

Mark 16:19 “So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God.”

Acts 1:9-11 “And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. {10} And while they looked stedfastly1 toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; {11} Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven and to his throne.

Dan 7:13-14  I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of Man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him.  (14)  And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.

Isa 9:6-7  For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.  (7)  Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.

Revelation 3:21 “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.”

Revelation 5:6-7 “And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth. {7} And he came and took the book out of the right hand of him that sat upon the throne” [emphasis added to the above eight quotes].

See also Micah 5:3-5

The birth of Christ happened in the past. In Revelation 4:4, Jesus commands John to “Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter.” That means that everything happening in Revelation, from that point forward, would be in John’s future. This sign is a figure of the birth of Christ, His work on Earth, and His ascension. Since He is currently at the right hand of the Father in heaven, this is also a picture of the Church, which Paul termed the ‘Israel of God’ (Gal 6:16), which is made up of Jewish and Gentile believers in Christ. Paul also said that this Israel of God was a new creation in Christ Jesus (Gal 6:15).

When Jesus ascended into heaven, he gave us a commission: “Ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” That commission was to carry on the work the He started during his walk on Earth. We are his ambassadors. He is seen in us, Christians, “Christ followers” or “little Christs” (little meaning inferior to Him); we are his imagers on earth. Since Christ is no longer physically present on earth, John is referring to the true Israel of God (made up of Jewish and Gentile Christians) in these verses.

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.”

Verse five ends with the Messiah ascending into heaven. This event is recorded in Acts 1:9-11 above. So beginning in this verse we are taken to the time when Satan will be finally cast to earth in great wrath by the archangel Michael. Verse 13 is our proof for this statement. So the woman, who represents the true Israel of God, will flee into the wilderness at that time just as God’s people did in 67 AD, when they fled to Pella in Perea, which is in modern Jordan.

Let us review a few verses about fleeing into the wilderness:

Genesis 16:7-8 “And the angel of the LORD found her by a fountain of water in the wilderness, by the fountain in the way to Shur. {8} And he said, Hagar, Sarai’s maid, whence camest thou? and whither wilt thou go? And she said, I flee from the face of my mistress Sarai.”

Hagar fled from Sarah into the wilderness to find peace from her mistress Sarah, who mistreated her. The Angel of the LORD told her to return to Sarah and that He would “multiply thy seed exceedingly, that it shall not be numbered for multitude” (Gen 16:10). He then told her that her child would be a son and to name him Ishmael. In this case, God sent Hagar back out of the wilderness and into her conflicts with Sarah while promising good for Hagar in the long run.

Genesis 37:22 “And Reuben said unto them, Shed no blood, but cast him into this pit that is in the wilderness, and lay no hand upon him; that he might rid him out of their hands, to deliver him to his father again.”

This scripture deals with Joseph, and that makes it important, because this woman is also symbolically Israel, and his twelve sons.

Joseph’s brothers wanted to kill him but Reuben intervened and they put Joseph in a pit in the wilderness, sparing His life. Joseph was saved in the wilderness and went on to become the Grand Vizier of Egypt second only to Pharaoh. However, even though God protected him from death in the wilderness pit, Joseph went through much tribulation in his journey to becoming the second in command in Egypt. Read about his troubles in Genesis chapters 37 through 50.

 Exodus 13:18 “But God led the people about, through the way of the wilderness of the Red sea: and the children of Israel went up harnessed out of the land of Egypt.”

God led the Israelites (whom the woman represents) into the wilderness in order to free them from bondage under Pharaoh. While they were in the wilderness, He protected them as we see from this passage:

Deuteronomy 29:5-6 “And I have led you forty years in the wilderness: your clothes are not waxen old upon you, and thy shoe is not waxen old upon thy foot. {6} Ye have not eaten bread, neither have ye drunk wine or strong drink: that ye might know that I am the LORD your God.”

In addition to these, God protected them from their enemies and fought for them against their enemies. They were protected forty years. The wilderness has many times been a place of refuge. For example, Jesus went into the wilderness to pray and fortify himself. He went there for refuge from the crowds that followed Him everywhere seeking to see His miracles. The wilderness is basically wild country. Forests, mountains, deserts, and the like can be wildernesses. Any area that is untouched by men is a wilderness.

Breaking the word down, we have wilder and ness. Wilder is from the Old English wild deor which means wild beast and ness is a combining form meaning the state of being. So wilderness is a place in a wild state of being; a place where things grow wild or naturally. The point of this discourse is that a wilderness can be any place in a wild or natural state. And a wilderness is quite often a place of refuge.

A wilderness can also be “multitudinous and confusing collection of events, places, states of being, happenings, etc.” (Funk and Wagnalls Collegiate Dictionary) For example, “we were lost in the wilderness of this city” or “we were lost in a wilderness of humanity” or “we were lost in a wilderness of places.” This place in the wilderness where the woman fled was prepared by God for her protection from the dragon. This was a refuge for her. Let us look into the past to see if we can find similar events.

In time past, Satan had rebelled and was cast out of Heaven (Luk 10:18). Though he still has access to the presence of God (Job 1:7 & 2:1), his rebellion continues throughout history. Satan has tried to keep Christ from being born throughout the history of Israel (see the comments on Rev 12:4 in Revelation Part I). He had rebelled and was angry that God would provide a way for the salvation of men, which he tried to prevent.

In the fullness of time, the Christ-child was born in Bethlehem. He lived for thirty years. Afterward, He served 3½ years and then died on the Cross. After three days in the grave, God raised Him from the dead. Forty days after that (Act 1:3-4), He ascended to Heaven; He was caught up to God and now sits at His right hand on His throne.

Then the woman fled into the wilderness where she was protected for a time, times, and a half time, or 3½ years. God had prepared this wilderness for her. The crucifixion and events immediately following took place from c. 30 AD – 70 AD. After the crucifixion and after Stephen’s death, true Israel fled into the wilderness that God had prepared for her protection (Act 8:1-4).

In 70 AD, the Romans, under General Titus, destroyed Jerusalem and all the inhabitants fled. The Jews rebelled in 66 and Titus destroyed Jerusalem in 70 AD. Vespasian entered Galilee in late 66 AD until the month of Elul (September). The first battle took place between Vespasian and Josephus at Jotapata on the 21st of Iyyar (April) of 67. Jerusalem fell (resistance ended) to Vespasian’s son, Titus, on September 26, 70 AD.

So the actual fighting in Judea took from April of 67 until the end of September 70, which is three and one-half years, three years and six months; a time, times and an half (Dan 12:7), a thousand two hundred and threescore days (Rev 11:3, 12:6), or forty and two months (Rev 13:5). The Jews then had to flee Judea. This was the dispersion of the Jews or the Diaspora of the Jews.

Remember that Jesus told the church to flee from Judea to the mountains when they saw Jerusalem surrounded by armies and the Abomination of Desolation that would stand in the Holy place. The armies surrounded Jerusalem in 67 AD and the Abomination of Desolation occurred when Jerusalem fell to the Romans in 70 AD. When the church saw the surrounding armies and the ensigns depicting the false gods, they would have seen the Abomination of Desolation at that time. It is likely they fled in 67 AD.

Jospehus Wars 6:6:1, “And now the Romans, upon the flight of the seditious into the city [Jerusalem], and upon the burning of the holy house itself, and of all the buildings lying round about it, brought their ensigns to the temple and set them over against its eastern gate; and there did they offer sacrifices to them, and there did they make Titus Imperator, with the greatest acclamations of joy.” The Eastern Gate leads directly into the Temple precincts and Holy Place.

They sacrificed to the ensigns, (the staff and flags that were carried by the guidon leading the legions, also known as standards) of their legions in the Holy Place. The ensigns had depictions of their gods on the flags and the staff ornaments were figurines of those gods (Jupiter, Mars, Zeus, etc.). One of the most sacred sacrifices the Romans used was the suovetaurilia, which was the sacrifice of a pig, a sheep, and a bull to the god Mars. It is likely that this sacrifice was used in the Holy Place because Mars was the god of war.

The ensign of Legion Ten (Legio X Fretensis or Tenth legion of the Strait) in Titus’ army was represented by a bull and a wild pig or boar. The boar was depicted on the ensign of this legion. X Fretensis was one of the legions of Titus during the Jewish-Roman war in 63-70 AD.

Just as Antiochus erected a statue of Zeus inside the temple and sacrificed a pig on the altar in 167 B. C., so the Romans did the same in 70 AD. I addition to the likely suovetaurilia sacrifice of a pig in the Holy Place, the Tenth Legion also sacrificed to the depiction of the pig on their ensign. This was the abomination Jesus referred to in Mat 24:15, Mar 14:13, and Luk 21:20-21.

According to Eusebius2 and Epiphanius3, the church fled as emigrants to Pella (modern Tabaquat Fahil, Jordan) in Perea where they were protected for the remainder of the war, until Masada fell, which lasted 3.5 more years, for a total of seven years.

When God finally punished Israel because of her sins and idolatry, he had the Assyrians come and take away the all inhabitants of the Northern Kingdom and most of the inhabitants of the Southern Kingdom and relocate them to Assyrian territory between 738 and 722 BC (modern dating). After that those Israelites were supposedly lost to history. This was the dispersion or Diaspora of Israel. It was later that the Babylonians (c. 597 BC) came and took the inhabitants of Jerusalem to Babylon where they were known as “Jews”. They returned to the land of Judea seventy years later and remained there until 70 AD.

God protect Israel from Satan by making them invisible to him. He dispersed them among the nations where they would be less readily recognized. The Jews fared less well than the ten tribes. They have more readily recognized by the world (and Satan). The northern ten tribes are supposedly lost. But God knows who they are and He will bring them out from among the nations in His time when they will be His people and He will be their God.

Ezekiel tells us in Eze 37:15-21, that God will reunite all twelve Tribes and return them to their own land, and that is occurring at this present time in the modern state of Israel.

They will ultimately be saved by Christ as multitudes have been throughout history. The wilderness that God prepared for the Israelites and their protection from Satan is the world. By dispersing them, those that remain known (the Jews) are far less apt to totally be destroyed, guaranteeing their protection from annihilation.

We note in these historical facts that God protected his people several times throughout history by dispersing them to the wildernesses of unfamiliar places to protect them from Satan. There are other similar situations not mentioned here such as Jacob fleeing to Haran to avoid Esau, Mary and Joseph fleeing to Egypt with the baby Jesus, etc. The flight of Christians to Pella where they were protected for three and one-half years, is the most direct historical reference to the prophecy in our verse. We have looked at the historical fulfillment of the woman and the dragon. There is also a future fulfillment (Ecc 1:9-11).

The tribes of Israel are God’s people. Let us be reminded that God’s people are also those who are saved by the blood of Jesus the Christ. So both saved Jews and saved Gentiles are God’s people. (See notes on Chapters 7:2; 11:2). Let us observe this principle in the context of the next few verses.

Revelation 12:7-8 “And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, {8} And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven.”

Again, we have a similar passage to this one in Daniel 8:10. We must take the context of this verse into account. The verse reads, “And it [the goat, which represents Alexander the Great] waxed great, even to the host of heaven; and it cast down some of the host and of the stars to the ground, and stamped upon them.” The context tells us that Alexander the Great conquered most of the known world by the time he died in 323 BC. Daniel 8:8 tells us about Alexander’s victories. He was known as the goat in Daniel’s prophecy. It also tells of his death when four of his generals (notable ones) divided the kingdom Alexander left.

From the four kingdoms came a little horn, which most scholars believe to be Antiochus IV Epiphanes (this writer has extensively studied this history and agrees). Antiochus conquered much of the kingdom from the generals’ successors and eventually invaded Israel and killed the many of the priesthood and other leaders (the host and stars of heaven) when he took over. In Daniel 8:9, Israel is known in as the Pleasant Land or Beautiful Land, depending on the translation.

Thus in Daniel 8:10, the little horn became great in power and overcame the power of the host of heaven. The host of heaven, in this context, represents the priests and leaders of Israel. The text tells us he “cast down some of the host and of the stars to the ground, and stamped upon them.” This is a metaphor for the leaders and priests on Israel that Antiochus killed. Read the history of those exploits in 1 Maccabees 1:20-28 NRSV and 2 Maccabees 5:11-17 NRSV.

We see from the prophecy in Daniel, that stars and the host of heaven can have several meanings. Stars and the host of heaven can be literal or symbolic, depending on the context. We see the term used literally in 1 Kin 22:19, 2 Chron 18:18, Neh 9:6, etc. It is use metaphorically in Deu 17:3, 2 Kin 17:16, 2 Chron 33:5, etc. It sometimes represents stars, and it sometimes represents pagan gods. It also tells us of all the literal heavenly hosts in the presence of Yahweh God Almighty, which includes angels (Dan 7:10), cherubim (Eze 10:1), seraphim (Isa 6:2), elders (Rev 4:4), souls (Rev 6:9, 11), saints (Rev 18:24), council (congregation in the KJV) (Psa 82:1); etc.

The dragon is Satan (Rev 12:9 & 20:2). Now, we know from scripture that in this age, the world age, Satan has direct access to God. He is the “prince of the powers of the air” in Ephesians 2:2, the “spiritual wickedness in high places” in Ephesians 6:12, and the “prince of the kingdom of Persia” of Daniel 10:13. Satan presented himself to the LORD in heaven in Job 1:7 & 2:1. Jesus call Satan, “the ruler of this world” (John 12:31, 14:30, 16:11). According to the Apostle Paul, “Satan is the god of this world,” in 2 Cor 4:4.

There are several other references to Satan’s position at present. He is allowed in Heaven at present, but there is coming a time when he will war against Michael and will be defeated and permanently cast out of heaven onto the earth, never again having access to God in Heaven like he has in the past. This verse tells of that event. See also John 12:31, 14:30, 16:11; Rev 12:9-10. There is also a reference to this act in Rev 20:1-3.

Do not forget that John does not always write things in chronological order. He begins a subject, then moves to another subject before he later returns to the earlier subject and gives us more details about that subject. We will see more about the dragon being cast to the earth in later verses when John recapitulates this subject.

We see that Satan was cast out of heaven from various passages:

In time past Satan rebelled against Yehovah. He was judged at that time and sentenced to death. However, while awaiting the execution of that sentence, he is still allowed in heaven. He roams about the earth seeking whom he may devour (1 Pet 5:8).

After his rebellion, God told Satan, “Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.” (Isaiah 14:15) And, “therefore I will cast thee as profane out of the mountain of God: and I will destroy thee” (Ezekiel 28:16). Note that God said “thou shalt” and “I will”. Those are both future tense phrases. God did not cast him out of heaven at that time because he still has access to God as our accuser. There is coming a time when God will permanently cast him out of Heaven. That time is spoken of in this verse.

Revelation 12:9 “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.”

This is a picture of the casting out Satan and his angels.

He took his angels (those angels that fought with him in Rev 12:7) with him in his fall. Many believe these are one-third of all the angels. Note that the Bible does not specifically state, “a third of the angels fell from heaven.”

Revelation 12:7 tells us that the Dragon’s angels fought with the Archangel Michael, and 12:9 tells us that the Dragon, who is Satan, was cast onto the earth with those angels. When we combine these two verses with Rev 12:4 some theologians understand that John was explaining his statement about the Dragon’s tail sweeping down a third of the stars of heaven. We see in Rev 1:20 that stars sometimes represent angels and many believe that is the case in this verse. Since these are not actual stars, some accept that they symbolically represent Satan’s angels, which are more commonly known as demons (See also notes on Revelation 9:1).

While some see this as the actual case, others, this author included, see this differently. As shown above, using Daniel 8:10, we have allowed the Scripture to interpret the Scripture. In Daniel, the stars represent some of God’s people as well. We have shown that Satan is extremely angry when thrown out of Heaven that he decided to go after God’s people, just as Antiochus Epiphanes did in the times between the Testaments. Antiochus Epiphanes, “God Manifest,” claimed to be God and is a type of Antichrist. In that case, this reference would account for Satan, in his wrath, trampling over a third of God’s people.

Even so, many throughout history believed that one-third of the angels fell with Satan; yet there is no indication of that in the Scriptures. Therefore, let us not make such conjectures; let us stick with what the Scriptures actually reveal in the canon of the Bible. We do not know how many angels were genuinely involved in this; any number we choose is simply speculation.

Jesus tells us more about this fall in Luke 10:18: “And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven” Isaiah gives us a further picture of Satan’s fall to earth in 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!” Ezekiel reflects this same event: Ezekiel 28:16 “I will cast thee as profane out of the mountain of God” Isaiah and Ezekiel both give us a full account of this rebellion in Isa 14:12-20 and Eze 28:2-10.

These verses tell of a time in the remote past when Helel ben Shachar (הילל
בן־שׁחר), translated Lucifer by the Vulgate and most English translations, and which literally means “O shining one, son of the dawn,” and which is also Satan, was cast profane out of heaven. However, Job, the oldest book in the Bible tells us that Satan, the enemy, still has access to Heaven (Job 1:6; 2:1). Thus even though Satan was cast out, he still has access to God in Heaven. In the future he will be cast down to the earth and no longer have access to Heaven and can no longer accuse the brethren before God (Rev 12:10).

This makes Satan very wroth. The most important thing about this verse is that it identifies the dragon. Can you imagine the terrible wonders of those days when Satan and all of his demonic host are present on earth?

Jesus Christ is our refuge. The following verses reveal that fact:

Jesus will be our place of refuge in the Tribulation.

 

Do you know Jesus Christ as your Savior? He is going to return to the world soon. Are you ready? When He does if you do not know Him as your Savior, you will join all those who do not know Him in “Outer Darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Mat 22:13-14).

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Mark Oaks,  August 24, 2020

Footnotes:

  1. “stedfastly” is the KJV spelling.
  2. Eusebius, Church History 3, 5, 3
  3. Epiphanius, Panarion 29,7,7-8; 30, 2,7; “On Weights and Measures 15”
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