In chapter twelve John sees a vision that includes a woman and a dragon. This vision captures the battle between God's promises and Satan's opposition from the beginning to its final conflict.
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. John's use of the word "sign," semeion, refers to a miraculous event that points to some deeper spiritual significance.
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 were originally on these seven heads. They were diadems. These are crowns of ruling power and authority.
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 has the historical backing of Satan’s kingdom but also the contemporary authority of the ten nations ruling for Satan.
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 Thessalonians concerning the rapture. The child came, accomplished his purpose, but it was not yet time to rule all the nations with an iron scepter, so he was snatched up to his throne. The "child" is Jesus, the Messiah, who is described in the Old Testament:
"Who will rule all the nations with an iron scepter." - Psalms 2:9
"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 every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away. . ." - Daniel 7:13, 14,
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 144,000 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 second half of the vision is recorded in two parts:
a) the battle in heaven
b) the hymn of victory
Michael won the battle but the verses of that record the hymn shed light on some important details:
- the battle was won in heaven due to the blood of the Lamb
- the victory included the redeemed giving their testimony
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)
The Greek grammar clearly indicates that the dragon or Satan will start this battle, and so the Greek could be translated, “Michael and his angels had to fight the dragon.”
12:8 But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven.
This was the final blow to Satan which resulted in his expulsion to the earth. Now the battle on the earth will intensify.