[This is an excerpt from my book, Mankind’s Final 7 Years Before Christ Returns: A verse-by-verse explanation of the book of Revelation]
12 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:
At this point, John has once again stepped backwards in the sequence of events, this time to further show how it relates to the servants of God.
The Greek word for “wonder” literally means a “sign”. John did not see a literal woman, he saw a sign which symbolized something else. We should be careful to note that among all the visions John receives, this one stands out as a “great” sign.
Though not directly stated, the woman clearly symbolizes the nation of Israel. In Genesis 37:5-10, Jacob (renamed Israel) is symbolized by the sun, his wife Rachael is symbolized by the moon, and Jacob’s twelve sons are symbolized by the twelve stars.
2 And she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered.
From the scripture that follows, we will see that the child is clearly Jesus, who was brought forth by the nation of Israel. Some believe that the woman is the church, but that cannot be. The church did not bring forth Jesus, but rather, Jesus brought forth the church.
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.
Verse 9 specifically identifies this dragon as Satan (see also- Revelation 20:2). This dragon should not be confused with the beast from the sea in Revelation 13:1, or the scarlet beast in Revelation 17:3. Those two beasts symbolize the global government that is formed by, and empowered by, Satan.
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.
Commentators almost universally agree that this verse is referring to Satan’s rebellion against God, when a third of the angels rebelled with him (Luke 10:17-18; Isaiah 14:12; Jude 1:6).
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.
Notice that there is a difference between the time he is brought forth, and the time he rules the nations.
To rule all nations with a rod of iron refers to the millennial reign of Jesus. A shepherd carried a rod and a staff (PS 23:4). The staff was for control. The rod was the shepherd’s weapon of defense, so a rod of iron would signify safety from all dangers. (See also- Revelation 19:15; 2:26-27)
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.
I believe this is referring to the second half of Daniel’s 70th week. God will provide a safe haven for many God-fearing Jews who seek His guidance and protection. (See also- Daniel 12:1)
7 And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels,
We should be careful to note that there is a difference between the time Satan and his angels rebelled, and the time they were cast out of heaven. Verse 4 shows that the rebellion occurred sometime before the birth of Jesus. The following verses show that they were cast out sometime after the birth of Jesus.
There are many views as to when Satan was, or will be, cast out of heaven. One view is that this war occurred at the resurrection of Jesus (see- John 12:30-33). Another view is that this is an end-time event. (See also- Ezekiel 28:13-17; 2 Peter 2:4)
8 And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven.
9 And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
Devil is his Greek name, and means “slanderer” (see- John 8:44-47). Satan is his Hebrew name, and means “adversary” (see- 1 Peter 5:8). He is also called a dragon, which refers to his monstrous character, and a serpent, which refers to his deceitfulness (see- 2 Thessalonians 2:9-11; 2 Corinthians 4:4)
10 And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.
The voice could be that of an angel, or it could be the voice of one of the 24 elders. Notice he says the accuser of our brethren, not our accuser.
This verse says the kingdom of God has come. At the blowing of the seventh trumpet (Revelation 11:15), it is announced that “The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord”.
11 And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.
They overcame Satan by the blood of Jesus. When we become Christians, Satan’s ability to separate us from the love of God is defeated (Romans 8:33-39; Hebrews 2:14-15). (See also- Revelation 20:4; 15;2)
12 Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.
13 And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man child.
The following verses, in this chapter, show that Israel will ultimately be protected from Satan. How long, and to what degree, she is persecuted in the beginning, is not stated. Matthew 24:15-22 says the persecution will be unequaled in history or the future (see also- Jeremiah 30:4-7; Daniel 12).
14 And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent.
If we look at other verses in the Bible, such as Exodus 19:4, which speak of Israel being delivered from harm on eagles wings, we will understand that this is simply stating that God will personally take them to safety. The “time, and times, and half a time” appears to be the same period of time as the “thousand two hundred and threescore days” mentioned in verse 6.
I believe that this is what Jesus was referring to when He said, “let those in Judea flee to the mountains” concerning the abomination of desolation (Matthew 24:15-16; Mark 13:14; Luke 21:20-21). God-fearing Jews, who heed His warnings, will escape the Great Tribulation. It should be understood, however, that many Jews will not heed God’s warnings, or follow His guidance. (See also- Daniel 7:25; 12:7)
15 And the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood.
16 And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed up the flood which the dragon cast out of his mouth.
The flood represents Satan’s overwhelming evil toward Israel. Satan cannot literally spew a flood from his mouth. He cannot create things, but can only manipulate them. Also, Exodus 15 speaks of the earth swallowing the Egyptians which pursued the Israelites. Therefore, I believe this symbolically means that Satan will lead an extremely large army against Israel, which will be divinely destroyed by God. In Luke 21:20, Jesus, speaking of this time period, says that Israel will be surrounded by armies. (See also Isaiah 59:19; 8:5-8)
17 And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.
Satan will initially focus his wrath towards Israel, but God will remove the faithful Jews to safety. Satan will then turn his focus on the followers of Jesus Christ throughout the 3 ½ year tribulation period. Non-believing Jews, who do not flee to safety, will also be subject to the wrath of Satan. This will be around the time of the fifth seal (Revelation 6:9).