And a great sign was seen in heaven: a woman arrayed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars; and she was with child; and she crieth out, travailing in birth, and in pain to be delivered. And there was seen another sign in heaven: and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his head seven diadems. And his tail draweth the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon standeth before the woman that is about to be delivered, that when she is delivered he may devour her child. And she was delivered of a son, a man child, who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and unto his throne. And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that there they may nourish her a thousand two hundred and threescore days. And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels going forth to war with the dragon; and the dragon warred and his angels; and they prevailed not, neither was their place found any more in heaven. And the great dragon was cast down, the old serpent, he that is called the Devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world; he was cast down to the earth, and his angels were cast down with him. And I heard a great voice in heaven saying, Now is come the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, who accuseth them before our God day and night. And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb, and because of the word of their testimony; and they loved not their life even unto death. Therefore rejoice, O heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe for the earth and for the sea: because the devil is gone down unto you, having great wrath, knowing that he hath but a short time. Revelation 12:1–12
Read More Than Conquerors, pp. 162–171
A. INTRODUCTION TO REVELATION, Chapters 12–22
Suppose that in telling the story of Job you should in· elude in your narrative only such facts as these; he lost all his goods and children in one day, was afterward stricken with a gruesome disease, received bad advice from his wife, was forsaken by his relatives and companions in the hour of direst need, was visited by “friends” who turned out to be “wretched comforters,” but in the end became healthy and prosperous once more, his faith in God having never failed him, what important fact would you have omitted?
Or suppose that in telling the story of Peter’s base denial and subsequent genuine sorrow and complete restoration you would bring out only such incidents as were heard and seen, what significant truth would you have left out?
In both cases you would have overlooked one of the main lessons, namely, that, without in any way canceling the responsibility of human actors, back of the events that occur in the visible realm there is always the intense struggle in the invisible realm, namely, the war between God and Satan concerning the soul of Job and the soul of Peter. Read Job 1:6–12; 2:1–7; Luke 22:31, 32.
So it is also here in Revelation. Last year when we studied chapters 1–11 we saw the surface-events: witness-bearing, persecution, warning woes. Now we are introduced to the underlying struggle in the invisible realm. In this gigantic combat we see on the one side Christ, on the other side the dragon (that is, Satan). But Satan, though invisible, has allies that are not invisible. The entire Satanic group is here introduced as follows (and be sure to note the order!):
a. the dragon himself (12;3)
b. the two beasts (13:1; 13,11)
c. the harlot Babylon (14:8)
d. those who have “the mark of the beast” (14:9)
Their downfall is described well-nigh in reverse order:
a. downfall of those who have the mark of the beast (16:2; but, also 19:17, 18; 20:15; 21:5; 22:15,19)
h. downfall of the harlot Babylon (18:1–19:10)
c. downfall of the two beasts (19:20)
d. downfall of the dragon (20:2,3, 10)
B. THE WOMAN AND HER CHILD, verses 1 and 2
We have returned once more to the very beginning of the new dispensation. The woman is the Church, glorious as the sun, exercising dominion like one who has the enemies under his feet, crowned with victory. That Christ, according to His human nature, is “the seed of the woman,” is a familiar thought (Gen. 3:15; Luke 2:7; Rom. 9:5; Gal. 4:4). Now the woman is here pictured as about to bring forth the child (Christ).
C. WAR BETWEEN THE WOMAN AND THE DRAGON verses 3–6
We have here a vivid, symbolic account of the successful birth, the ascension, and the coronation of our Lord. Satan, even though using King Herod “the Great” (?) as one of his agents, was unable to prevent the fulfillment of God’s plan regarding the Christ. It is also com forting to know that the woman (the Church, remember) enjoys God’s protecting care and nourishment throughout her stay in “the wilderness.”
D. WAR BETWEEN MICHAEL AND THE DRAGON verses 7–12
The expulsion of the dragon from heaven was accomplished through “the blood of the Lamb.” By means of the shedding of that blood Satan’s accusations against God’s children have lost even the semblance of justification. Is it not wonderful that according to verses 10–12 heaven is very interested in our redemption? These verses also show us Christ’s ascension from heaven’s point of view. What a tremendous welcome he received!
As to the dragon, because he knows that onCalvary he lost the decisive battle, and that this is “the beginning of the end” for him, he is filled with fury. Yes, it is exactly because he and his minions rule aware of the fact that they are already in principle defeated that they are creating all this tumult and trouble on earth. They know that “their time is short.” Has it ever occurred to you that even the devil’s foaming rage is, from that point of view, a source of comfort for the children of God?
1. Show from history of the old dispensation that Satan has tried again and again to prevent the birth of Christ.
2. Explain “His tail draweth the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth” (verse 4); also “who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron” (verse 5).
3. In connection with verse 6 discuss the practical question: By what kind of food is the Church on earth nourished? Also, what is poisonous food? How can we obtain the former and counteract the latter?
4. In connection with verse 7, why was it Michael, rather than some other angel, who attacked the dragon?
5. What does verse 11 imply with respect to those who, though “religious” refuse to believe in “the blood of the Lamb”?
6. Why is the woman’s stay in the wilderness called residence of 1260 days?
7. In connection with verse 10, would you say, then, that today Satan is no longer “the accuser of the brethren”?