The first eleven chapters of Revelation are general in nature. Chapters 1-3 are foundational, while 4-11 show us the fight between good and evil.
The second half of the book (12-22) addresses specific issues in the spiritual war. God’s enemy is identified as the Roman Empire. The Lamb and the faithful fight wickedness. And, there is a bitter, bloody battle with a decisive victory going to God.
In chapters twelve to fourteen we learn about the dragon, woman, and the child; the two beasts; and judgment from heaven.
Dragon, Woman, & Child (Rev. 12)
The dragon sought to devour the child born to the woman (Rev. 12:1-6). The woman represents the faithful remnant of God’s people (cf. Mic. 4:9, 10; 5:2, 3). Her clothing represents the various ages found in the Bible. The stars are the Patriarch Age as it was a time of dimness as far as the revelation of God’s plan of salvation. The moon is the Mosaical Age when more information was given in the form of prophecies. The sun represents the Gospel Age when the fullness of the light of God’s plan was revealed to men.
The Child is Christ whom the woman struggled to bear (cf. Isa. 26:17; 66:6-9).
The dragon is identified as Satan in 12:9, who tries to destroy the Child. His fiery red appearance indicates his murderous character. His seven heads shows intelligence, while the ten horns signify great power. The seven crowns are diadems, or royal crowns, that tell us he as a rule; the god of this world (2 Cor. 4:4).
The Child is to “rule the nations,” as was prophesied of Christ (Isa. 11:1-4; Psa. 2:6-9). He was caught up to God and His throne.
Here is the picture so far: Jesus the Christ came from among God’s faithful. His lineage is traced from Adam, Seth, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Judah, David, and so on down to Mary. If was from among the remnant of the faithful that the Lord arose. When His advent came, the devil tried to destroy Him in various ways; death of the children by Herod, temptation in the wilderness, and death on the cross. It was in this final act that Satan thought he accomplished his mission. However, Jesus came out of the grave and ascended back to the Father in heaven. It is in heaven where He now sits at God’s right hand on the throne of David and rules over His kingdom (Acts 2:32-36; Heb. 1:1-4).
The woman, God’s faithful, flees into the wilderness (12:6). This is the idea of the saints, Christians, now God’s people, who must flee the persecution that is brought to bear on them. The wilderness is a place of refuge for God’s people (Ex. 2:15). Israel escaped Egypt and went into the wilderness. David ran from Saul and hid in the wilderness. It is also a place of discipline (Ex. 3:12). The length of time, 1,260 days (42 months or 3 ½ years), indicates severe persecution (Rev. 11:3; 13:5).
God’s forces now fight the dragon (Rev. 12:7-12).
Michael fought with the devil (Rev. 12:7, 8). Satan and his angels they were cast out (Rev. 12:9; cf. Jn. 12:31; 14:30). The devil’s attention then turned to the earth where he deceived the people (cf. Jn. 8:44).
Salvation is now secure (Rev. 12:10, 11). Christ bound the strong man (Isa. 53:10-12; Lk. 11:21, 22). He released those who were in bondage to sin and Satan (Heb. 2:14, 15). He triumphed over principalities and powers in His sacrifice on the cross (Col. 2:14, 15). The devil could not overcome this. The saints did overcome through the blood of the Lamb which caused rejoicing in heaven (Rev. 12:11).
In Revelation 12:13-17, the dragon turns on the woman and her offspring. He attacked the church (12:13). The church, though, was helped by God and was not destroyed (Rev. 12:14; cf. Ex. 19:14; Isa. 40:31). The serpent then let out a torrent of destruction (Rev. 12:15, 16). His frontal, physical assault did not work, so he used other methods of destroying God’s people. He used false religion, lies, and temptations against the saints. The earth swallowed these things. This is the idea that the world, as distinct from the church, absorbed what Satan put out and in a way helped shield the church. Since the church could not be annihilated, the dragon turned on individual Christians, the woman’s offspring (Rev. 12:17).
Steven F. Deaton