SUMMARY OF CHAPTER 12
John also gives an account of Satan attempting to kill the newly born Jesus as well as the Holy Family’s flee to Egypt for three and a half years until the death of Herod. We also see here Satan and the demons being cast out of Heaven, which actually took place at the Crucifixion.
This chapter, as well as most apocalyptic writings, are not arranged in chronological order, but are visions of past, present, and future events scattered throughout, and some events are intermingled together, which takes careful discernment to understand what point in time is being meant.
3 And another portent appeared in heaven; behold, a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems upon his heads. 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 bear a child, that he might devour her child when she brought it forth;
St. John sees Satan, who he refers to as the red dragon (see Rev. 20:2; 12:9), and he also sees Satan’s fall from Heaven as well as the fallen angels that came with him. This fall from Heaven did not happen at the same time as what is taking place here with Satan standing before Mary waiting to devour her child, but John is only mentioning their fall that took place at the Cross thirty some years after the birth of Jesus, and then John goes on the show that Satan attempted to kill the infant Jesus at birth.
The symbolism of the seven heads, ten horns, and seven diadems can be clarified somewhat by the Daniel 7, that the 10 heads symbolize seven kingdoms and ten horns would be ten kings, all under the subjection of the Devil. The diadems are symbolic of a royal sign.
This seven heads and ten horns is also mentioned in Rev. 17 concerning the Antichrist during the Great Tribulation, and there are some parallels between this chapter and chapter 17. As many interpreters vary greatly in their understanding on these passages, it is possible to understand part of this chapter reflecting the time of the Great Tribulation. Obviously the Woman mentioned here in chapter 12 is not the harlot mentioned in chapter 17. Perhaps the Dragon here brings his demons to earth for the Great Tribulation where he will have full power to rule on earth for 3 and a half years.
5 she brought forth 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 to be nourished for one thousand two hundred and sixty days.
Mary gives birth to the Lord Jesus, and John mentions that He will rule all the nations with a rod of iron, which is reference to Him being Judge of the living and the dead. The fact the Christ was caught up to God and to his throne is reference to the time when He was to ascend into Heaven (see Acts 1:9-11). Mary is seen here some time after the birth of Christ fleeing into the wilderness, which is reference to the time when the Holy Family fled to Egypt from Herod for three and a half years (see Matt. 2:13-18) until Herod died.
7 Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, 8 but they were 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.
This war took place at the crucifixion, and the Devil and the demons were thrown out of Heaven. Before they got kicked out of Heaven they were still able to have access to Heaven as we see in the book of Job (1:6-7). But after the Crucifixion they were permanently thrown out, which resulted in a war between the good angels and the bad angels. Even though Satan is said to have fallen from Heaven prior to the Crucifixion (Luke 10:18), that is Satan truly fell, but only in the sense of falling within the angelic ranks, but the Crucifixion brought about a literal removal from Heaven.
10 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 brethren 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 Rejoice then, O heaven and you that dwell therein! 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!”
We see here the angels in Heaven celebrating the defeat over Satan by the shed blood of Jesus Christ. But they also warn because the “adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking some one to devour (1Pet. 5:8).” His time is short compared to eternity.
13 And when the dragon saw that he had been thrown down to the earth, he pursued the woman who had borne the male child.
The Devil knew that the Incarnation of the Lord was the beginning of his doom, and his place in Heaven was taken away from him, though more completely at the Crucifixion.
14 But the woman was given the two wings of the great eagle 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.
The two wings could be reference to the angel that appeared to Joseph in a dream and instructed him to take Jesus and Mary and flee to Egypt (see Matt. 2:13). The time, times and a half a time is reference to the one thousand two hundred and sixty days in verse 6.
If this passage is reference to the Church, then this could reflect that the Church will be “nourished” for 3 and a half years of the Great Tribulation.
15 The serpent poured water like a river out of his mouth after the woman, to sweep her away with the flood. 16 But the earth came to the help of the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed the river which the dragon had poured from his mouth.
The water pouring forth after the woman is symbolic of the massive effort by the Devil to attack the woman and the child Jesus. The Devil used Herod and sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under (Matt. 2:16).” The earth opened its mouth and swallowed the river means that those who suffered the great loss from the slaying of the children took that trial instead of Mary and Jesus, “Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah: 18 “A voice was heard in Ramah, wailing and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be consoled, because they were no more (Matt. 2:17-18).”
17 Then the dragon was angry with the woman, and went off to make war on the rest of her offspring, on those who keep the commandments of God and bear testimony to Jesus. And he stood on the sand of the sea.
Mary is seen here as the Mother of anyone who is a follower of Jesus Christ. Jesus gave us his Mother when he said while on the cross to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother! (John 19:26-27)” The last 2000 years Satan has continued to wage war against Mary’s offspring.