This chapter is one filled with symbolic imagery that if read without the Holy Spirit only leaves us with questions or confusion. To be understood, we have to interpret it through the Holy Spirit. 1 Corinthians 2:9-13 tell us,
“But, as it is written,
“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard,
nor the heart of man imagined,
what God has prepared for those who love him”--
10 these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. 11 For who knows a person's thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. 13 And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.”
Verses 1-6 begin the chapter,
“And a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. 2 She was pregnant and was crying out in birth pains and the agony of giving birth. 3 And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads seven diadems. 4 His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven and cast them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she bore her child he might devour it. 5 She gave birth to a male child, one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron, but her child was caught up to God and to his throne, 6 and the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, in which she is to be nourished for 1,260 days.”
Who is this woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars? Let’s look into God’s word for the answer. Genesis 37:9-10 is one of Joseph’s prophetic dreams and Jacob’s correct interpretation of it.
“Then he dreamed another dream and told it to his brothers and said, “Behold, I have dreamed another dream. Behold, the sun, the moon, and eleven stars were bowing down to me.” 10 But when he told it to his father and to his brothers, his father rebuked him and said to him, “What is this dream that you have dreamed? Shall I and your mother and your brothers indeed come to bow ourselves to the ground before you?”
This woman represents Israel, God’s chosen people, His children. She was pregnant. Pregnancy is filled with expectation of the birth, the completion of the pregnancy and the promise of new life realized. Israel had been promised a savior. They waited expectantly for the promise to be fulfilled and when Mary gave birth to Jesus in Bethlehem the City of David, that promise and the prophecy were delivered. The son that the woman, Israel gave birth to is Jesus. He is described several times in scripture as the one who will rule all the nations. He is also associated with an iron scepter or rod, which represents sovereign rule (Revelation 2:27, Psalm 2:9).
Jesus is described beautifully in Revelation 19:11-16 as He comes to claim His Bride (those of us who believe, follow, and worship Him).
“Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war.12 His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. 13 He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God.14 And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. 15 From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. 16 On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.”
Verse 15 of that passage makes it clear that the male child, the descendent of Judah (who is also linked to the scepter in Genesis 49:10) the son of Israel is Jesus our Messiah. He is the long awaited savior, the perfect satisfaction of the law and the prophets.
Satan knew that Jesus was bad news for his purposes. He wants to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10). He is prowling around like a lion looking to devour Christ and His followers (1 Peter 5:8). He does not want the Kingdom of Heaven to prevail because that will end his reign. So he kept an eye open for the signs and when he saw that the savior came into the world, he sought to devour Him. Just as through Pharaoh he tried to stop Israel from being delivered from Egypt to their Promised Land (Exodus 1:22), he tried through Herod to stop the Christ from delivering the world to The Kingdom of God by killing all the male children (Matthew 2:16). Satan worked hard to have Jesus killed. He once again used the governing authorities, the religious leaders and the rulers of Rome and Jerusalem to crucify Jesus (1 Corinthians 2:8). But Jesus laid down His life willingly. John 10:17-18 says it,
“For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.”
Jesus gave up His life on the cross, but on the third day He took it up again! He defeated Satan’s plan and was and is and will be the Savior and Deliverer of mankind. Then He ascended to Heaven and Satan couldn’t hurt Him. The dragon is Satan and John states this in verse 9. Verses 7-9 read,
“Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels fought back, 8 but he was defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. 9 And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.”
Satan couldn’t hurt Jesus so turned to Israel and to the church. He seeks to destroy us through any means. But God prepared Israel. He protects us and keeps us safe. God’s angels fight Satan’s army on our account. Satan has dominion of the earth. His minions work with him full time to deceive the world and keep as many as possible from being delivered by Jesus.
Believer, you and I are not helpless or inactive in this war. Jesus didn’t deliver us so that we could sit in a pew and idly watch the world follow their prince to Hell. Verses 10-12 describe our role.
“And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. 11 And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death. 12 Therefore, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!”
Satan accuses us, but we know he is the deceiver. We do not believe him. We know Satan and his demons are conquered. How are they conquered? They are overpowered and defeated by the forgiving blood of Jesus and the word of our testimony, because we love Jesus more than our lives, more than the world our possessions, jobs, and families. It is in our deliberate living out our testimony and salvation, willing to give up everything for Christ that Satan loses. He loses the blind hordes who follow him when their eyes are opened to the Truth. We are very active members of God’s army. Salvation does not give us a ticket to sit down and observe, it empowers us to exalt Jesus and show the world the deliverance they so desperately need and that God wants so much for them. Philippians 2:9-13 says it this way,
“Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”
Satan sees his inevitable defeat but realizing that he cannot beat Jesus he seeks to conquer and crush us instead. Verses 13-16 describe Satan’s change from trying to destroy Israel and therefore Jesus to trying to destroy Jesus’ Bride the church.
“And when the dragon saw that he had been thrown down to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child.14 But the woman was given the two wings of the great eagle so that she might fly from the serpent into the wilderness, to the place where she is to be nourished for a time, and times, and half a time.15 The serpent poured water like a river out of his mouth after the woman, to sweep her away with a flood. 16 But the earth came to the help of the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed the river that the dragon had poured from his mouth.”
The woman who represented Israel transformed. She was given two wings of the great eagle in order to flee the serpent Satan. Those wings are God Himself carrying Israel to safety. They are the complete and triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, delivering Israel as Jesus, nurturing her as The Spirit, and protecting her as The Father. Exodus 19:4-6 says,
“You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles' wings and brought you to myself. 5 Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine; 6 and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. These are the words that you shall speak to the people of Israel.”
This transformation of the woman also eludes to Believers grafted into the nation of Israel saved by the LORD. Note the description in Exodus 19:6 as a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. Compare that to 1 Peter 2:9 as Peter tells believers who we are.
“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.”
The timeline is multifaceted are so many events in the Bible. There are two periods of 1,260 days in this chapter. In one aspect they represent the history of Israel’s birth to Jesus birth and then from Jesus first coming as Savior to His second coming as Faithful and True Ruler and Judge of all nations with the iron rod in His hand. But is also refers to the seven years of tribulation the first 3 ½ years in which people are warned and called described n Revelation chapter 1-11 and the second 3 ½ years in which the enmity of Satan against God’s people is blatant, the war is fought openly and those who listened to the call are kept and protected by God as described in Revelation chapters 13-18.
Satan tries to be like God by copying Him. He deceives through his pale mirroring of God. Jesus is the Lion of Judah and the devil prowls like a lion (1 Peter 5:8). Jesus is the King of kings (1 Timothy 6:15) and Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6) and Satan is the prince of the power of the air (Ephesians 2:2). God is the Holy Spirit at work in His Children (Titus 3:5). Satan is the spirit at work in the sons of disobedience (Ephesians 2:2). In these verses in Revelation Satan pours water from his mouth like a river. The river coming from his mouth like a weapon is not the River of Life coming from Jesus described in Revelation 22:1. He wants it to be a river of death to destroy God’s people. But the devil’s weapons are futile against God! How can anything God created destroy Him, His plan, or His children? Isaiah 54:16-17 reads,
“Behold, I have created the smith
who blows the fire of coals
and produces a weapon for its purpose.
I have also created the ravager to destroy;
17 no weapon that is fashioned against you shall succeed,
and you shall refute every tongue that rises against you in judgment.
This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord
and their vindication from me, declares the Lord.”
God created the earth and the imagery of verse 16 in this chapter shows Him using His creation to defeat Satan. Satan spews a river but God swallows it up and makes it useless to swallow up His children. Verse 17 reads,
“Then the dragon became furious with the woman and went off to make war on the rest of her offspring, on those who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus. And he stood on the sand of the sea.”
Like a spoiled child Satan’s anger turns to fury. In his rage he makes war on Israel and the church, God’s olive trees and lampstands. In chapter 13 we read what will happen as the second half of the seven years begins with Satan standing with his foot on the shore of the sea in order to fight with every ounce of his rage in his final temper tantrum.
Believer, be encouraged. Satan hates you, but his hate is nothing compared to God’s love. Satan’s fury cannot stand up to God’s wrath. You are an active participant in this ongoing war and you are on the winning side. You are protected and the brat prince’s weapons are nothing against the armor of Christ.