Revelation 12

Background of Potential Source for the Imagery of the vision 1.  Genesis 37:9-11, Te sun, moon, and eleven stars are part of Joseph's vision and refer to his father, his mother and his 11 brothers.  But, the woman and the child are not even in Joseph's dream. 2.  Mythology - in the ancient world the story line of the vision is typical.  Someone who is not the true ruler is trying to take the throne by killing the rightful heir who is a child.  If allowed to be born and grow the child will destroy the usurper.  The child is taken and hidden until he is old enough to rule and kill his enemy to claim the throne. a.  This occurred in Greek mythology when Apollo's mother was pursued by the dragon Python who was trying to kill her and the unborn Apollo.  Apollo then killed Python four days after his birth. b.  The red dragon, Set, pursued Isis, the pregnant mother of Horus in Egypt.  Horus grows up to kill the red dragon. 3.  In the Roman world at this time Domitian's 10 year old son had died around 83 AD.  Domitian immediately proclaimed the boy had become a god and his mother, Domitia, the mother of god.  Coins reveal this thinking: a)  one coin shows Domitia (the mother) on the divine throne with the scepter and diadem of the queen of heaven.  The inscription says, "Mother of the Divine Caesar."  She was the mother of the gods. b)  Another coin shows the dead child in the heavens playing with seven stars (which are the 7 known planets) showing him to control the world. 4)  Old Testament often refers to: a)  the birth of the Messiah  Genesis 3; Isaiah 9:6-7; Micah 5:2 b)  the community of people that would produce the Messiah and their sufferings Isaiah 26:17; 66:7 c)  Israel is often portrayed as a woman Isaiah 54:1-6; Jeremiah 3:20; Ezekiel 16:8-14; Hosea 2:19-20 John does not copy any of these stories but the imagery is clear when you consider mythology, current events, OT imagery and OT prophecy. Who is the woman? The woman may manifest in time and history at different periods as an actual woman (such as Mary), but this woman in the image is symbolic.   The dragon is clearly identified as Satan in verse 12:9. There is a reference to the "rest of her offspring".  This combined with the fact that Satan is after this woman indicates she is not a single person.  She is an idea or a promise.   If the woman is the nation of Israel then the "male child" is the Messiah, the 12 stars are the  twelve tribes. What does it mean when the dragon continues to pursue the woman after the birth of the Messiah. If the woman is the believing community of people of all time she would represent in historical order the line of Seth, Israel, the church, and then tribulation saints. The woman is the promise in Gen. 3. The woman is the word of God that has been spoken into the earth. Israel was not persecuted because they were Israel. They where persecuted because they where the bears of the word. In the parable of the sower Jesus said persecution comes because of the word. Persecution does not come because you are Israel. The sun indicates the glory and brilliance of the God she believes in. The moon under her feet indicates permanence. (Ps. 72:5; 89:37)   Crown of 12 stars shows her place with God's elect She is seen as safe and permanent in the plan of God though weak and fragile on the earth. 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. Her crown is the "stephanos" or the victors crown The woman (what or whoever she may be) is also a "great sign"   John's use of the word "sign" ("semeion") refers to a miraculous event that points to some deeper spiritual significance. 12:2  She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth. Emphasis is on the pain. This is seen when the word "birth" is used in the Greek epexegetically to explain the pain. This refers to the promise that has been in the earth from the beginning and the suffering that comes from it. The word for "birth"  is "tikto" and refers to "to bear a child; to give birth." The same word is used in: Hebrews 6:7: "Land that drinks in the rain often falling on it and that produces ("TIKTO") a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed receives the blessing of  God." James 1:15: "Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth ("TIKTO") to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth ("TIKTO") to death."   12:3  Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on his heads. The crowns here are "diadama" or "diadems" which is a royal crown.  The royal crown symbolized political authority and denotes sovereignty. "seven heads and ten horns" are the same as what belongs to the beast in Rev.17:7: "which has the seven heads and ten horns."   Rev. 17:9, "This  calls for a mind with wisdom.  The seven heads are seven hills on which the woman sits.  They are also seven kings. Five have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come; but when he does come, he must remain for a little while." Rev. 17:12   "The ten horns you saw are ten kings who have not yet received a kingdom, but who for one hour will receive authority as kings along with the beast.  They have one purpose and will give their power and authority to the beast."   The seven heads are Satan’s seven world empires that ruled the earth: Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, Rome and the Antichrist’s The seven crowns where on these seven heads. They were diadems. Crowns of ruling and authority. They were originally on the seven empires. In Revelation 13:1 it says: “I saw a beast coming out of the sea. He had ten horns and seven heads, with ten crowns on his horns, and on each head a blasphemous name.” The beast is the anti-christ. The ten horns are the 10 nations from Daniel that are subdued and used by the anti-christ. The beast his the historical backing of Satan’s kingdom but also the contemporary authority of the ten nations ruling for Satan. 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. Stars, as in Daniel 8:10, 24, would refer to the saints of God who where trampled by Satan. Daniel 8:10, "It (the little horn) 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." Daniel 8:24, "He will destroy the mighty men and the holy people." 12:5  She gave birth to a son, a male child, who will rule all the nations with an iron scepter.  And her child was snatched up to God and to his throne. "snatched" is the word "harpazo" which means "to seize, to snatch, to take away" It is the same word as is used in 1 Thess. concerning the rapture. The child came, accomplished his purpose (but it was not yet to rule all the nations with an iron scepter), and was snatched up to his throne. Psalms 2:9, "Who will rule all the nations with an iron scepter." There is a possibility that the "child" represents both "Jesus, the Messiah" and the "community of believers" who form his body. Notice Daniel 7:13, 14,   "In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man,. . . .He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of evey langage worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away. . ." Compare the above with Daniel 7:27, "The the sovereignty, power and greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven will be handed over to the saints, the people of the Most High.  His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all rulers will worship and obey him." 12:6  The woman fled into the desert to a place prepared for her by God, where she might be taken care of for 1,260 days. Who and when does this happen: a)  The escape of the Christian/Jewish community to Pella in 66 Ad before the Roman invasion b)  The preservation of the Jewish people during the tribulation c)  The hiding of the church in the world during the church age. 12:7  And there was war in heaven.  Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back.   This is the second part of the vision and it has two parts: a)  the battle in heaven b) the hymn of victory This records a battle in heaven.  It would appear that Michael won the battle but these verses need to be interpreted with the light we receive from the following hymn about the events.   This is similar to understanding Deborah's battle in Judges after reading the song she sang with Barak. After considering the hymn we find some important details: 1)  the battle was won in heaven due to the blood of the Lamb 2)  the victory included the redeemed giving their testimony So this cosmic, heavenly battle has been won by Christ: 2 Tim.1:10 1 John 3:8 Satan’s kingdom is on the earth and the earth’s atmosphere. Satan is the “god of this world” (2 Cor.4:4) Satan is the “prince of the power of the air (Eph.2:2) Satan controls the demonic powers called “spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Eph.6:12) Why was there a war all of a sudden that resulted in Satan being cast out? The only thing that has changed is the church has been raptured. The raptured believers will pass through the domain of Satan and they will take their bodies with them. 1) 1 Thes. 4:16-17 says , we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.” (We will meet in the midst of Satan’s domain.) 2) The same verse says, “The Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel. . .” (The archangel is Michael who has been recorded as contending for the body of Moses when Satan refused to allow God to bury it in Jude 9) The Greek grammar clearly indicates that the dragon or Satan will start this battle. The Greek could be translated, “Michael and his angels had to fight the dragon.” Only the final blow to Satan which results in his expulsion to the earth remains 12:8  But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. Lost their place to who? To the believers. The body of Christ. Those who will rule and reign with him. Those who are said to judge angels. 12:9  The great dragon was hurled down - that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan,  who leads the whole world astray.   Heaven has been cleansed, but the earth has been defiled This is Satan’s second and final expulsion from heaven. 12:9  He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him. 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.' The loud voice is not identified, but the context would seem to suggest it is the redeemed men in heaven. The salvation spoken of here is not salvation from sin, since that salvation has already come. This is the salvation of deliverance. This is the coming of the completed work of salvation: spirit, soul and body Three things are said to have come: 1) salvation 2) power—the word “dunamis”; God is going to manifest his own strength. 3) the kingdom (millennial reign of Christ) 12:10  "For the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down. In the statement “accuser of our brothers” would indicate the one that is speaking is the redeemed in heaven referring to their brothers on the earth, the tribulation saints. Those rejoicing in heaven are human since they refer to their brothers on the earth. These are the redeemed and resurrected (raptured) saints from earth. "Now have come the salvation" refers to the deliverance of the earth and all of creation from its bondange to sin. See Romans 8:18-24 "Accuser of our brethren" a)  the redeemed in heaven can no longer be accused b)  Satan will attempt to accuse those living on the earth. c)  Satan had access to God to accuse people: Job 1:11 Zechariah 3:1 1 Peter 5:8 d)  Satan no longer has a possition in heaven by which he can accuse the brethren on the earth At this time Satan will have lost: a)  The kosmos system of his power in the air b)  His position and authority in heaven before God c)  Satan's only method now is to pursue and destroy on the earth Satan will try to destroy the believers on the earth. Their victory over him at this time will be by: 1)  The blood of the lamb 2 Cor.10:3-5 - warfare is not in the flesh. Destroy thoughts that come against the knowledge of God 1 John 4:4 - greater is he who is you than he that is in the world. Rev. 7:14 - washed robes in blood of lamb 1 Pet. 1:18-19 - redeemed with blood of Christ Romans 4:7-8 - lawless deeds have been forgiven Romans 8:1 - no condemnation in Christ )  Word of their testimony In the face of persecution from Satan they held on to their faith.  They knew the truth and where convinced of it.  They could hold their testimony due to their knowledge and confidence in the truth. Their faith saved them but also empowered them 12:11  They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; The raptured saints overcame Satan by two things: 1) The blood of the Lamb had purchased them from sin. They were redeemed from the slave market of sin. No accusation could come against them. 2) The word of their testimony—Satan’s original accusations against God where silenced by the completed work of salvation in the lives of men. 12:11  They did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death. They do not love (agape) their lives (psyche, or “souls”) Does this refer to those longed for Christ return at the rapture? They did not love their lives but where looking for the Lord. 12:12  Therefore rejoice, you heavens and you who dwell in them!! Again, a reference to those redeemed in heaven. They who now dwell in heaven rejoice. 12:12  But woe to the earth and the sea,  because the devil has gone down to you! 12:12  He is filled with fury, because he knows that his time is short. “his time” is only 3 1/2 years left of the tribulation. “fury” , or wrath, is “thumos” and is violent outburst of rage. This is not a controlled anger but an emotional outbreak. Satan is now on the earth with limited powers. He is no longer seated as the prince of the power of the air. His kingdom has fallen. 12:13  When the dragon saw that he head been hurled to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child. The woman is said to flee to the desert for 1,260 days in verse 12:6. Now we know why she had to flee. At the half way point of the tribulation Satan is hurled to the earth. "pursued" is the word "dioko" and means "to pursue, to chase, to hunt."  It is used with hostile purposes in mind.   Jesus referred to this time of the tribulation in Matt. 24:15-22 Matthew 25:31-40 refers to the Gentiles who help the Jews during this time. 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. Wings of a great eagle is an OT imagery of the Egyptian deliverance.   This is divine intervention. How it occurs is yet unknown. It will be God’s power, it will be a miraculous intervention and it will probably have some form of natural manifestation. This is what happened when the natural east wind blew the waters to part the Red Sea. "You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles' wings, and brought you to Myself."  (Exodus 19:4)   “In a desert land he found him, in a barren and howling waste. He shielded him and cared for him; he guarded him as the apple of his eye, like an eagle that stirs up its nest and hovers over its young, that spreads its wings to catch them and carries them on its pinions. The LORD alone led him; no foreign god was with him.” (Deuteronomy 32:10-12) This is the flight of Matt. 24:16 Some believe this place of safety is Petra. “Taken care of” seems to mention supernatural provision like Israel had with the manna for 40 years, or Elijah had when he ate the cakes. God will intervene here like he did in the Egyptian deliverance. This is the manifestation of the worthless shepherd of Zechariah 11:15-17 that Israel has accepted. It appears from Zechariah 13:7-9 that 2/3 of Israel will be destroyed but this persecution will result in their return to the Lord during this time in the refiners fire. The reference to times, time and half a time is paralleled in Daniel 7:25 and 12:7. 12:15 Then from his mouth the serpent spewed water like a river, to overtake the woman and sweep her away with the torrent. “Serpant” is now the Greek word “ophis” and is used in reference to Satan in Rev. 12:9, 14-15; 20:2. “Dragon” is the Greek word “drakon” and is used only in Revelation. It is used 13 times, but 8 of those is in this chapter. The “water like a river” could be: a natural flood. Then the earth would open up and drain the water. This would require that Israel all flee in the same direction Symbolic. The flood is Satan’s efforts to destroy all the Jews on the earth. Then divine intervention would make the attack of no effect. OT imagery of trouble is generally called a flood 2 Sam. 22:17; Job 27:20; Psalm 18:16; 32:6; 69:1-2 Moses refered to Pharaoh’s army in Exodus 15:12: “You stretched out Your right hand, the earth swallowed them.” Also, Korah, Dathan, and Abiram’s destruction in Numbers 16:28-33 One interpretation that combines symbolism and literalism is if one of the earthquakes opened the earth to consume the forces of the anti-christ. This defeats Satan’s second assault on these people 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. 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. Some interpret the woman as the natural nation of Israel and her offspring the believing Jews. Others say the woman is believing Israel and her offspring are the Gentiles. Still some say the woman is Israel in the land and her offspring is Israel in the world. The woman could be the 144,000 and their converts the rest of her offspring or vice versa. The commandments of Jesus is the New Testament doctrine. Those who hold to his testimony are not those who proclaim his name but hold to and claim the same truth that he claimed. This is the third attack: 1st—head on attack in the wilderness 2nd—the flood that was stopped 3rd—the offspring 13:1 And the dragon stood on the shore of the sea. Some manuscripts read “he stood” referring to the dragon. Other manuscripts read “I stood” referring to John The difference is one letter at the end of the verb “stood”. The Greek word is “estaqh” which means “He stood” and is found in the older manuscripts used in the NIV. The Greek word “estaqhn” which means “I stood” is used in the Textus Receptus for the KJ translation. Support for the Textus Receptus resides in the fact that it is more likely that a letter was dropped than added. Support for the modern text is the older manuscripts and seems to fit well with the context since John himself has not been mention for quite a while and the subject of the preceding verses is the dragon. “Shore of the sea” is literally “the sand of the sea.” Satan is now no longer in the heavens and is forced to rebuild his kosmos on the earth from the bottom up. He begins with a world leader at the time. 13:1 And I saw a beast coming out of the sea. He had ten horns and seven heads, with ten crowns on his horns, and on each head a blasphemous name. 13:2 The beast I saw resembled a leopard, but had feet like those of a bear and a mouth like that of a lion. The dragon gave the beast his power and his throne and great authority.