Revelation: The Dragon Makes War

June 19, 2011

As we enter chapter 12, we have a change of scene as well as a change of timeframe. From the beginning of the apocalyptic timeline in Revelation 4 and 5, we saw the Lamb who had been slain, who was raised again and who opened the seven seals. We positively identified the Lamb as Jesus Christ, and noted that he had already been crucified and raised from the dead. But now, in chapter 12, we read of the birth of a male child who would “rule with an iron scepter” (vs 5). This is a quote from the Messianic prophecy in Psalm 2:9, removing all doubt that this child is the Christ. In chapter 5, he had been slain and raised to life. In chapter 12, he is just being born. So chapter 12 starts with a flashback to the birth of Jesus.

Rev 12:1 A great and wondrous sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head.
Rev 12:2 She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth.

Who is the woman? She gave birth to the Messiah, and is also attributed with other offspring, “those who obey God’s commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus.” (vs 17) We know that Jesus was a Jew, descended from Judah (Heb 7:4), descended from Abraham (Matt 1). We also know that the Christian church was brought into the world as spiritual descendents of Abraham (Rom 4:17). So the woman represents the chosen people of God, through whom God brought Jesus into the world, and through whom God established the church.

Rev 12:3 Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on his heads.
Rev 12:4 His tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth. The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that he might devour her child the moment it was born.

A dragon threatens the woman and her child! Just a few verses later we learn who this dragon is:

Rev 12:9 The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him

First Satan attempted to destroy Christ directly, while Christ was on earth. But Christ was raised from the dead! So Satan was hurled down to the earth:

Rev 12:10 Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: “Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down.
Rev 12:11 They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.
Rev 12:12 Therefore rejoice, you heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has gone down to you! He is filled with fury, because he knows that his time is short.”
Rev 12:13 When the dragon saw that he had been hurled to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child.
Rev 12:14 The woman was given the two wings of a great eagle, so that she might fly to the place prepared for her in the desert, where she would be taken care of for a time, times and half a time, out of the serpent’s reach.
Rev 12:15 Then from his mouth the serpent spewed water like a river, to overtake the woman and sweep her away with the torrent.
Rev 12:16 But the earth helped the woman by opening its mouth and swallowing the river that the dragon had spewed out of his mouth.
Rev 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.

So in chapter 12 we have the background for the war between Satan and the church, following the resurrection of the Christ.

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