24 – The Woman, the male Child and the dragon.
What an amazing view we see when we look into God’s Temple in heaven and see the Ark of His covenant, Revelation 11:19. What a great reminder of what our reasons for looking in the book of Revelation are, the promise of a blessing for reading this challenging book. This is also an opportunity to enlarge our picture of our wonderful Father; and the purpose of His Son and the leading of the Holy Spirit. The first five verses of this chapter are a potted version of what happens in Church history from the time of Jesus’ birth until the last days of the Tribulation Period. John writes down for us everything that he sees from his vantage point in Heaven, and what a great opportunity this is to be able to understand the opposition put up by Satan to Jesus. Jesus is our Great High Priest who constantly makes intercession for us before the Father, declaring our faith in Him, and His atonement for our sins, Hebrews 4:14-16.
As we look at these first five verses, the Woman represents Israel, the male Child represents Jesus and Satan is represented by the fiery-red dragon. It is worth stating now that the only loser in this representation is Satan. He is unable even to understand the most basic of instructions written in God’s Word, we all need the Holy Spirit to interpret the Word. Satan has to rely on magicians, soothsayers and astrologers for information, and they are working in the dark anyway, so he has no chance to get his opposition to Jesus and the Church right! Revelation 12:1-5 Amp
These verses link together the God of the Past, the Present and the Future with world events as they are played out in time before Him. He has already given partial pictures of them to His people over the centuries. The first two verses remind us of the life story of Joseph as he was given the dream that he shared with his father before he was sold into slavery by his brothers. “Listen,” he said, “I had another dream, and this time the sun and moon and eleven stars were bowing down to me.” … His brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept the matter in mind.’ Genesis 37:9-11
This time the woman is clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and with a crown-like garland (tiara) of twelve stars on her head. Twelve this time because in the Genesis 37 account of Joseph’s dream, the sun, moon and eleven stars bowed down to him, the twelfth star.
In Revelation 12, we discover that this woman that appears in heaven is pregnant, in the act of giving birth. It is at this point that the story jumps the centuries and we discover that God’s plan all along was to bring Jesus into the earth through a Jewish virgin whom we know as Mary. It has been Satan’s plan all along to destroy the son of a virgin since the curse in the Garden of Eden, Genesis 3:15. Mary was a teenager, one of God’s Chosen People, and was quite willing for God to work out His plan through her. ‘I am the Lord’s servant,’ Mary answered. ‘May your word to me be fulfilled.’ Luke 1:38. She is the only woman in the Bible to be called blessed; she received God’s Word – literally and physically – allowing the Saviour of the World to be brought into the world through her. ‘Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfil His promises to her!’ Luke 1:45. This is a constant challenge to us, to acknowledge His promises and then hold onto them until they are seen in our life.
This woman represents more than Mary as she had the crown of twelve stars and is clothed with the sun and the moon under her feet, but the persecution from the dragon suggests she represents the Christian Church and the Chosen People who all suffered such persecution from the enemy. It is from His people that the Messiah comes and who the dragon is determined to destroy.
The woman is followed by a fiery-red dragon. The dragon represents Satan who has no creative ability. All that he can do is to change, pervert and damage creation. Satan would have us believe that he is someone to be reckoned with – a roaring lion with a voracious appetite. The Bible warns us in 1 Peter to ‘be well balanced (temperate, sober of mind), be vigilant and cautious at all times; for that enemy of yours, the devil, roams around like a lion roaring [in fierce hunger], seeking someone to seize upon and devour. 9 Withstand him; be firm in faith [against his onset–rooted, established, strong, immovable, and determined], knowing that the same (identical) sufferings are appointed to your brotherhood (the whole body of Christians) throughout the world’, 1 Peter 5:7-9. Satan is NOT a roaring lion; he is only LIKE a roaring lion. He is only dangerous when we approach him in our own strength, but when we approach him in the power of the Name of Jesus, firm in the faith of the Lord, Satan cannot overpower us. We need to use the Word against him just like Jesus did in the wilderness, Matthew 4:3-11.
Furthermore, God tells us that no weapon that is forged (or formed) against us shall prosper, and that when Satan accuses us, we shall condemn what he says as a lie. He is the father of lies. Everything that he says to us is a lie, or half lie; so as part of our heritage as a Christian, God has instructed us to condemn what he says to us, Isaiah 54:16-17. We need to think about what we are thinking about, as so much of our thought life is from the accusations of the enemy of our soul and ‘as a man thinks in his heart so is he’. Proverbs 23:7. Expose the accusations! We can never be righteous through what we have done, but God has made us righteous through what Jesus has done in dying in our place, taking upon Himself the punishment for our sin. Receive this robe of righteousness daily.
Now this fiery-red dragon has seven heads and ten horns, and seven kingly crowns (diadems) upon his heads. This description surely reminds us of what we have learned from the Book of Daniel when he dreamed about the Roman Empire far into the future (to him) but very much alive in the times in which we now live, Daniel 7:7-8. At the root of this system under which we live is none other than Satan himself. He has been active over the past two thousand years and now knows his time is short. He is increasing his activity by expressing himself in the various governments choosing to come against Israel and putting laws in place to come against any people who will not bow the knee to their power and authority. He is working for complete control. When Satan led the rebellion in Heaven wishing to usurp the place and authority of God, he was cast out from Heaven, Isaiah 14:12. In Revelation we discover that he was not alone in his rebellion. He took with him one third of the heavenly host – angels that we now know as demons. These demons, like Satan, are created beings, and as angels were created a little lower than man.
As the Woman brought forth the male child, Satan stood before her waiting to devour the Child. This Child is Jesus Who lived on the earth for 33 years, did not sin, obeyed His Father and finally died for us, 1 Corinthians 15:54-56. John’s description starts with His birth and goes straight to His Ascension. Death could not hold Him, and He ascended to the right hand of His Father, Acts 2:32-33. ‘He will rule all the nations with an iron sceptre. And her child was snapped up to God and His throne’. We shall follow Him there because He is the firstborn of many brothers (and sisters!). We too shall rise to be with Him. We shall be with Him forever.
We must remember that Revelation 12 is a chapter of information that is not necessarily sequential.
‘The woman [herself] fled into the desert (wilderness), where she has a retreat prepared [for her] by God, in which she is to be fed and kept safe for 1,260 days (42 months; three and a half years)’. Revelation 12:6.
We have already seen this happening at the mid-point of the Tribulation where the Antichrist sets himself up as God in the Temple in Jerusalem. In order to do this he breaks a seven year peace treaty with Israel, and as a result, we saw that Jesus Himself instructed that when they saw this happening, the Jews were to run for the hills! Matthew 24:15-16.
So we know that Daniel, Jesus and now John are all speaking of the same event that will happen at a specific time – the midpoint of the Tribulation Period, and that Satan, the Antichrist and the Jews will be involved. Satan could not control God or halt Him. John states one more important fact. The Jews who flee to the desert (wild mountains) will be both fed and kept safe. The Jews will be entirely insulated from all that the Antichrist tries to do to them. His plan is to destroy them completely, but God has other plans for His People! Father God always provides for His children even in times of recession! Our governments are not our providers, even our job, or any other source. God will use His sources anywhere and everywhere and we must be attuned to Him as the Holy Spirit leads us to give in so many different ways. Remember King David said ‘I have been young and now am old, yet have I not seen the uncompromisingly righteous forsaken or their seed begging bread’ Psalm 37:25.
Hebrews 13:5 Amp sums up God’s heart on His provision for His children, ‘Let your character or moral disposition be free from love of money [including greed, avarice, lust, and craving for earthly possessions] and be satisfied with your present [circumstances and with what you have]; for He [God] Himself has said, I will not in any way fail you nor give you up nor leave you without support. [I will] not, [I will] not, [I will] not in any degree leave you helpless nor forsake nor let [you] down (relax My hold on you)! [Assuredly not!]’ What a promise for any problems that arise for the children of God in our lives. Even in human loneliness there is God’s fellowship at all times.
Now again remember that this Chapter is informational and not sequential. What a dramatic picture John describes next, Revelation 12:7-9. War did break out in Heaven and Satan was defeated by Michael and his forces and they were cast out of Heaven to earth to await their final condemnation. Imagine war in the most unlikely place, heaven. No wonder God plans a new heaven and a new earth as Satan has polluted both places. Satan is known as the ‘prince of the power of the air’ Ephesians 2:1-2. ‘He leads the whole world astray’ that means his limit is the world and its atmosphere. Some commentators do believe that Satan still has power to come and go before God and accuse believers to Him, like Job, then Satan has not yet been cast down out of heaven, but Jesus states He saw Satan fall, Luke 10:18.
It is interesting to note that when astronauts first returned to earth that they were placed in quarantine until they had undergone tests for sickness and diseases. It did not take doctors long to discover that this was an unnecessary step, as there are no diseases and sicknesses in space. Satan and his unholy mob of demons are well and truly confined to the earth and its atmosphere, and the Church is the vehicle that God will use to prove to them His great power. Make no mistake, Satan has been defeated; his defeat took place at Calvary when he decided to launch a full-on attack on Jesus to destroy Him, he has regretted it ever since, 1 Corinthians 2:7-9. His defeat was absolute, eternal and irrevocable, and he knows that his time is short!
Imagine how John felt when he heard the loud voice in heaven declaring the most awesome victory of Christ and the final destruction of the enemy. Satan would have us believe that he has more access to God than we do, as he is named here as the ‘accuser of our brothers’. But Jesus has made the way for us to go before the throne of God anytime we are more than welcome in His presence, and He is interceding for us day and night. ‘Let us then fearlessly and confidently and boldly draw near to the throne of grace (the throne of God’s unmerited favour to us sinners), that we may receive mercy [for our failures] and find grace to help in good time for every need [appropriate help and well-timed help, coming just when we need it]. Hebrews 4:16.
Satan will attempt to accuse one Believer to another and stir up trouble that way, but we know that we have the power to overcome him even in this, because Believers obey the commandments of God, and they will be recognisable because they have love one for another. Where that love is manifest, Satan has no rights of access. If you or I have something against another Believer, or know that another has something against us we are instructed forgive so ‘our Father Who is in heaven may also forgive you your [own] failings and shortcomings and let them drop’, Mark 11:22-26. If we do this, Satan will be blocked from our lives yet again!
When Satan is hurled down the saints can openly share about how they have overcome Satan by standing on the power of Jesus’ blood, their confession in their testimony, and their courage in facing death in order to bring life to the world. Revelation 12:11-12. Jesus (the Lamb of God) has shed His Blood for us so that we might be free from our sin, past, present and future. It is by faith in the Blood of Jesus that we resist Satan. We need to apply what Jesus has done for us through His Blood day by day, reminding Satan of it and resisting him through it. We should use our testimony of what Jesus has done for us and how He has affected every part of our lives every time we speak to others. In this way, they will see the difference that Jesus is making in our lives day by day and want to know Him. Finally, when all else is done, we need to stand, and if that means that we lose our lives so that others might hear of the amazing love of God for them, then so be it. Paul put it this way and this is such a challenge for our own testimony.
‘I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. 21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. 22 If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labour for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! 23 I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; 24 but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. 25 Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, 26 so that through my being with you again your joy in Christ Jesus will overflow on account of me’. Philippians 1:20-26
Jesus knows that in consigning Satan to the earth that he has placed him in a position where he can destroy those who wish to be destroyed. He also knows that those who wish to follow Jesus will live in victory. We have been given the power that is in the Name of Jesus with which to resist him, and we will! We also have the almighty powerful Holy Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead living in our mortal bodies so we are empowered to choose victory at every temptation, 1 Corinthians 10:13. Shall we draw a ‘line in the sand’ and say to Satan ‘Thus far and no further!’ You will never again have our families, or our friends and relatives, or even our workmates. Enough is enough!’ We need to understand that he is trying to do what he does best all the harder, because he knows that his time is short. Do we understand that his time is as short as it really is? When he accuses us, we should remind him of what Jesus did and what that has guaranteed for our future; then remind Satan of his future!
The flight of the Jews from the presence of the Antichrist and Satan in Israel to the mountain hideout in the desert (several places have been suggested such as Edom, Petra, or the Judean Wilderness) is accomplished entirely successfully and very swiftly, so much so that when the Antichrist realises what is happening, he chases the Jews. When he cannot overtake them by human means, he employs some of his satanic powers to defeat them, but the earth will swallow up the stream of water and the people of God will be protected for the 1,260 days as He has promised, Revelation 12:15. Jesus spoke about this flight when on the Mount of Olives, ‘Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath’, Matthew 24:20.
We need to remember that ‘when the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord will lift up a standard against him and put him to flight’. Isaiah 59:18-20
What a time of terror there is ahead for the Jews, the Holocaust was just a dress rehearsal. There is absolutely no way that God will allow His people to be handed over to His enemy. That we can guarantee in the Blood of Jesus. Equally, there is no way that God will allow those who have trusted in Jesus to be overcome by Satan. Satan’s plan to destroy the whole Jewish race repeatedly will never succeed otherwise God’s Word would not be true. Satan hindered God’s plan in the Garden of Eden so God introduced the Law, (Romans 8:2-3) but because of the weakness of human flesh the plan failed, but God sent His Son to complete the task, and that was completely successful as Satan could not overcome Him.
We can also be victorious throughout the remainder of our life, by standing against the wiles of the devil, ‘ be strong in the Lord [be empowered through your union with Him]; draw your strength from Him [that strength which His boundless might provides]. 11 Put on God’s whole armour [the armour of a heavy-armed soldier which God supplies], that you may be able successfully to stand up against [all] the strategies and the deceits of the devil. 12 For we are not wrestling with flesh and blood [contending only with physical opponents], but against the despotisms, against the powers, against [the master spirits who are] the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spirit forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) sphere. 13 Therefore put on God’s complete armour, that you may be able to resist and stand your ground on the evil day [of danger], and, having done all [the crisis demands], to stand [firmly in your place]. Ephesians 6:10-13
Jesus came in weak flesh but He used the God given power of the Holy Spirit to have victory in every temptation, so He beat Satan on every front. Paul had similar opportunities but declared ‘when I am weak, then am I strong’ 2 Corinthians 12:10. He knew who he was in Jesus Christ and lived by this truth and this is how Jesus expects us to live, through Christ we are more than conquerors, Romans 8:37. Greater is Jesus Who is in us than Satan who is in the world, 1 John 4:4.
The dragon did not get his way with the Jews so in great anger he decides to go off and destroy all those who obey the commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus. This is a direct attack against any who are marked by the Holy Spirit but the outcome is sealed by the Blood of the Lamb Jesus Christ. We must not waver in our choice of following Jesus daily, and we need to look out for any who may be finding the going rough.
24 Revelation 12 –The Woman, male Child and Dragon – Challenge Questions
It is suggested that you answer all the questions in your homework but only do those marked with ‘*’ in your group to save time and give more time to prayer.
1. *Read the Notes and the Bible Verses referred to in them. Highlight the points that ‘speak’ to you and be prepared to share with your group.
2. *Looking at the promises to Mary and the fulfilment in her life and her faith, what do you believe God for at this time and which promises are you holding onto?
3. From the challenges in the notes to ‘think about what you are thinking about’, would you benefit from taking every thought captive to Jesus Christ more often?
4. *Can you suggest some areas of Satan’s work in the world today?
Read Revelation 13:1-10.
5. *Describe the beast that rises out of the sea.
6. What did the Dragon give to the Beast?
7. *What had happened to the Beast? What was the outcome? What was the response from the world?
8. How did the Beast speak? What was his main motivation?
9. *Who did he have authority over and who was exempt? Who was really in control over all this activity?
Read Revelation 13:11-18.
10. *Describe the Beast that came out of the earth. Who does he work with?
11. What power did he have and what was the response of the people?
12. *How do you think we can identify a miracle that is done by Jesus Christ? What is the difference with counterfeits?
13. *Can you suggest any guidelines to prevent us from being deceived at this time?
14. What instructions did the Beast from the earth give that had to be done to honour the first beast?
15. Who was killed and why?
16. *What mark did he order, where and on whom? What did this mark signify?
17. What was the advantage of the mark?