Rev 12:1-6 KJV
(1) And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars:
(2) And she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered.
(3) And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads.
(4) And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born.
(5) And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne.
(6) And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days.
Following the sounding of trumpet seven, in preparation for the completion of God’s wrath upon lost mankind and the kingdoms of the world, John’s attention is now turned to another amazing symbolic vision.
To help us better understand the contents of the seventh trumpet, the Lord gives to John a vision that will explain, in great detail, the history of the world’s kingdoms. This will keep the wrath of trumpet seven in the context of world history and the great wrongs that have been committed by the world’s kingdoms.
A short outline of chapter 12 includes:
1. The Woman and The Child (12:1-6)
2. Michael’s Defeat Of The Dragon (12:7-12)
3. The Persecution and Flight Of The Woman (12:13-17)
THE EXPOSITORY STUDY:
Rev 12:1-6 KJV
(1) And there appeared a great wonder in heaven;
John now sees a “great wonder” in the sky (not the heaven of God… note Satan seen in heaven also (vs 3).
In other words, he sees a very “important symbol or sign”. Just as prior sections of Revelation, what John is about to see will be a series of symbols that will reveal many truths to us about the kingdoms of this world and their opposition to Christ, defeat, and abuse of Christ’s people throughout history.
a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars:
- a woman – symbolizes submission, life giver, intimate union (wife), nourisher (mother), beauty
- clothed in the sun – symbolizes shining with reflection of God’s glory, truth, wisdom
- moon under her feet – symbolizes blessings given to people of God (Isa 30:26)
- upon her head a crown– position of honor, reward,
- twelve stars – God’s people in OT/NT (tribes of Israel, apostles), honored position, smaller lights (compared to sun)
The Bible uses women to represent the following:
- National Israel – Jer 3:6-10
- Spiritual Israel (All believers) – Isa 54:1, Roms 7:1-4
- Local Churches – Eph 5:23
Who does this woman represent? Probably, she represents SPIRITUAL Israel. IN other words, the line of believers through which Christ came to the earth. She includes believers from both OT/NT times (Isa 50:1, 54:1, 66:7-9; Hos 2:1). She is glorifying to the Lord and united intimately with Him. She is the recipient of many of the blessings of God. She is pictured as the mother of our Lord and all believers… Gal 4:26 KJV – “But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all.”
It is possible she presents PHYSICAL ISRAEL but this is unlikely based upon what is said about her in later verses of this chapter. (see v 2, 5-6). There will see that the teaching includes truths concerning believers before the establishment of physical Israel as well as believers during NT times. This would seem to clearly represent SPIRITUAL not physical Israel.
(2) And she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered.
The woman has in her womb the Christ child. Christ came through a line of men of faith, who trusted in the Lord as the people of God. She is in great pain anticipating the coming of her Messiah to the earth. She is actually suffering birth pains that increase in intensity and frequency as the birth of the Messiah draws near.
This is describing the saints that lived prior to the coming Messiah (From Adam through the OT prophets) that, by faith, eagerly and painfully waited for the Messiah to be born. Her birth pains describe the affliction, opposition from the wicked and chastening from the Lord, which grew worse over time, until they suffered 400 years of silence from God immediately prior to His birth.
(3) And there appeared another wonder in heaven;
Along with the woman being seen, John also sees another of the same type of symbol in the sky. Please note however, the symbol for God’s people was described as “great”, placing it above this new sign John is seeing.
and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads. (4) And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth:
- a great (exceeding large) red (fire-colored) dragon – snake in garden of Eden, dangerous, deceptive, destructive
- seven heads – 7 world kingdoms (Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, MedoPersia, Greece, Rome, Divided Roman Empire)
- ten horns (on seventh head) – Divided Roman empire, following NT times varied nations in control (Germany Russia USA England France China Japan etc etc etc)
- seven crowns (1 on each head) – 7 kingdoms of world
- tail drew 1/3 part of stars of heaven cast them to earth – Satan bringing other fallen angels with him when he was cast out of heaven. (Dan 8:10, Job 38:7, 2 Pet 2:4, Jude 6)
This serpent represents Satan using the world’s kingdoms to oppose Christ and His workings among men (Job 7:12,
Psa 74:14, 89:10, Ezek 32:2). Please note the many similarities between Satan and the Beast of the Sea seen in Rev 13:1…
“And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy.”
We will see this beast represents the 7 world empires that have existed, and will continue to exist, throughout the history of the world until Christ’s second coming. On the other hand. Satan is pictured very similarly because he is the ruler of the kingdoms of this world (2 Cor 4:4).
and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born.
John now sees the serpent stand in the presence of the woman during her time of labor. He wanted to consume the child as it was born. This symbolizes Satan great opposition to Christ and his continual attempts to stop Christ from perfectly glorifying His Father and saving His people from their sins.
This same principle can also be seen with Caesar’s attempt to kill the true Messiah at His birth (Matt 2:16).
Throughout history Satan uses the kingdoms of the world to oppose Christ and His people (John 15:20). He attempts to stop them from glorifying the Father and completing the work He has given to them.
This is the same enmity and active opposition that exists throughout history between Satan & his seed (unbelievers and world kingdoms) versus the seed of the woman (Christ) & believers throughout the ages (her seed). This enmity was prophesied in Gen 3:15, as God places a curse upon Satan…
“And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.”
(5) And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron:
Christ is born into the world through the line of people of faith (Gals 4:26-27, Isa 9:6-7, 66:5-14, Isa 54:1; Micah 5:2-3). This line includes both Jew and Gentiles in the Old Testament and the first few years of the New Testament including Mary, His physical mother (Gals 3:16-18).
That child was given the authority to rule (lead as a shepherd) all nations with a rod of iron (authority that cannot be broken nor weakened). Christ is said to rule with a rod of iron in Psa 2:9, Rev 19:15. Likewise He is described as a shepherd (1 Ptr 2:25, 5:4; Heb 13:20).
and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne.
Satan could not defeat Christ. On the contrary, Christ glorified His Father with His life, and accomplished His work on the cross. He then was resurrected from the tomb and ascended to the Father’s right hand (Acts 1:6-9, 7:55). Christ’s ascension to the Father’s right hand is proof that His work was completed and His Father rewarded Him for His faithfulness (Eph 1:19-23, Phil 2:5-11).
By telling us the child was caught up to the throne of God is a short-cut way of saying that He successfully completed His work, Satan failed in his desires to stop Him, and He rules over all (including Satan Himself) at the Father’s right hand.
Also notice that Christ’s birth and ascension were the first and last events that took place during His first coming. These are given as a summary of His entire life on earth.
(6) And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God,
Following Christ’s ascension, spiritual Israel (Jewish and Gentile believers) are not defeated by Satan, but “flee” (escape) his opposition as they are protected by God. Where does spiritual Israel go for protection? A special place prepared for her by God in the wilderness.
Throughout Revelation a “wilderness” pictures a place of opposition for the Christian (Rev 12:6, 14; 17:3). This is the world in which we live following Christ’s ascension. It is a place of testing, temptation, and conflict (Mat 4:1, Heb 3:8).
But within the wilderness of this world, the Lord gives believers a special place of rest, peace and security. It is described as “the secret place of the Most High”… “under the shadow of His wings”… We can flee to Christ as “our refuge and fortress” in the midst of the wilderness in which we live (Psa 91:1-16).
This is where the people of God dwell safely as we continue on our journey through the wilderness on our way to a “better place” (Hebs 11:13-16).
that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days.
During the times of the world kingdoms actively opposing the worship of God (2260 days), the Lord will feed us in His “secret place”. It is when we approach Him in a spirit of humility and repentance, that He will give us grace. It is when we are the closest to Him, that we learn more about Him. It is when we have our eyes upon Him, that we find strength and wisdom to continue on our journey.
“But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.” (Jas 4:6-10)
In our text, we find many truths of Christ displayed for us. He is seen as the One that came physically into this world and successfully fulfilled His Father’s will which included the salvation of His people. In doing so, He successfully overcame the opposition of Satan and brought him to permanent defeat.
However, we also see Him as the Shepherd of His people. Throughout the history of the world, He has led, fed and protected His people from Satan and the world’s kingdoms. It is though His people that He works upon the earth, giving them the truths of His Word, and using them to honor and glorify Himself.
Finally, we also see Him as the One that sits upon the throne of the Most High God ruling over the world as the “King of Kings” and “Lord of Lords”.
THE PRACTICAL APPLICATION (SUMMARY)
As we can see from our lesson, the history of God’s spiritual nation is filled with God’s grace and divine supplies. From before the coming of the Messiah, through the days in which we are living, we can see how the Lord has sustained and protected His people.
One of the most important ways we are blessed, is by Him giving to us a special place of protection and enabling while serving Him with our lives. The key to enjoying this grace, is to understand our need to humbly, with repentant hearts, always remain close to our Lord, under the shadow of His wings. This grace can be enjoyed by dealing with sin that enters our life, keeping us in close communion with Him. This communion will allow us to learn from His Word, keep our eyes upon Him and remember the wonderful eternity that awaits us.
May the Lord bless us as we seek to see Jesus in the pages of the book of Revelation.
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