What do the names dragon, serpent, beast, accuser & deceiver all have in common? They are all names given to mankind’s greatest enemy – Satan.
Satan, often simply called ‘the Devil’ used to be known as Lucifer, which means ‘light bearer’ (Isaiah 14:12). According to Ezekiel 28, he was once a stunningly beautiful super-angel, possibly even the highest ranking angel of all. He had the privilege of being in charge of the worship in Heaven, and literally had musical instruments built into his body (Ezek 28:13). He had unrestricted access before the throne of God. So how (you might be thinking) could this ‘anointed cherubim’ end up becoming the embodiment of evil and the most deadly enemy man has ever faced?
The answer is simple. Pride (1 Tim 3:6).
We read in the book of Job that when God made the heavens and the earth all the angels sang for joy (Job 38:7). If all means all, Lucifer must have been among them, and in all probability was actually the one leading the praise to God! As the angels looked on, the Earth and Universe God was creating must has seemed truly breathtaking! As God caused the Light to shine on Day 1, separated the land and the sea on Day 2, and then caused trees, plants, vegetation and fruit to appear all over the earth on Day 3, the excitement must have been building among the angels, wondering what God was going to do next, and what was it all for? As God flung galaxies out into space on Day 4, and then caused living creatures to appear in the oceans and birds to fly in the sky on Day 5.
Then on Day 6 God created lions, elephants, dinosaurs, squirrels, sloths, bears, penguins and so much more! God’s new creation was indeed very good! You can almost hear the angels whispering among themselves, “This is amazing! I wonder who it is for? Who will be given the job of ruling over all of this wonderful creation?” No doubt some eyes had started to look toward Lucifer; after all, he was already God’s right-hand-angel! Lucifer himself had also started to wonder! “To whom would the king delight to do honour more than to myself?” (Esther 6:6).
But then, with what was probably the biggest metaphorical bombshell in all eternity, God creates Man! But the real wonder was not man was fearfully and wonderfully made, but that God created him in His own image! There was not a creature in the heavens or the earth that could compare! But (if you are following…) this led to one inescapable conclusion… Lucifer was no longer the pinnacle of God’s creation, and it quickly became clear that this stunning new world that God had just spent the last 5 days creating, was to be given to Man!!
At that moment, something happened that seemed utterly impossible; it was something so catastrophic that it would later require an unimaginable price to be paid to remedy the situation, and even then would leave a tragic scar on the whole of eternity. Lucifer – the light bearer – rebelled against God!
Isaiah 14:12-15 records that Lucifer, already overflowing with envy and hatred for the Man who had been created in God’s image, said in his heart “I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the [angels] of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High” (Isaiah 14:13-14).
Lucifer had not been created ‘like the Most High’, but Adam had. So if he had not been given it, he would take it by force! He would take the wonderful earth he thought he rightfully deserved, destroying this Man in the process! Then he would be exulted and the other angels would worship him! Lucifer’s nature now changed in an instant, his name effectively changing to Satan, which means ‘opponent’, for now he had become – not God’s opponent – but Man’s.
However, just as with the account of Mordecai and Haman in the book of Esther (which is a dramatic re telling of this very situation), the very blow that Satan would strike against man would ultimately prove to be his own undoing.
“And Haman told Zeresh his wife and all his friends every thing that had befallen him. Then said his wise men and Zeresh his wife unto him, If Mordecai be of the seed of the Jews, before whom thou hast begun to fall, thou shalt not prevail against him, but shalt surely fall before him” (Esther 6:13).
As we will see in our study of Revelation ch 12, Satan took one third of the angels with him when he rebelled against God, and for the last 6000 years of human history he has been hell-bent on one thing: the destruction of man by whatever means possible. But the man he was most intent on destroying was not the first Adam, but the Second Adam – Jesus Christ. For from Genesis 3:15, where God pronounces his judgment falling the Fall, Satan knew he had begun to fall, and that he shalt not prevail against him, but shalt surely fall before him. In essence, the whole account of the Old Testament is the story of how God engineered and ensured the safe arrival of the Second Adam – the Seed of the Woman, and how Satan – the Dragon – desperately tried to prevent it!
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:
The word ‘wonder’ is the Greek word ‘semeion’ meaning ‘sign’ – it occurs 7 times in Revelation although in the English it is translated as three times as ‘wonder’ (12:1 / 12:3 / 13:13), three as ‘miracle’ (13:14 / 16:14 / 19:20), and once as ‘sign’ (15:1).
In the opening of the book we read that Jesus ‘sent and signified’ this Revelation, i.e. rendered it into signs (Rev 1:1). Our challenge is to now see what this sign is pointing to – because that’s what signs do!
The first thing to observe is that we have a woman and that she is clothed. The clothing is not the woman, but she is under the covering of the clothing.
The first mention of clothing is found in Genesis 3:21, where God clothed Adam and Eve with the skins of animals. These animals became the first ‘innocent blood sacrifice’ in the Bible. But from Genesis 4 onward we see that God was establishing a sacrificial system long before the Law of Moses, where by the slaying of an innocent animal, the blood would atone for sin as a temporary measure until the Seed of the woman would finally come, and in so doing pay once and for all for sin.
Adam, it would appear knew this, and there are strong suggestions that the original Mazzaroth (what we know today as the Zodiac) was named by Adam as a way of telling the Gospel story that could then be passed down through the generations – Starting with Virgo (the virgin) with child, and ending up with the Lion (Leo) conquering all. Unfortunately the Mazzaroth was corrupted by the Babylonians and has since become something that is used to draw people away from God rather than lead them to Him.
Anyway, clothing (animal skins) as well as giving physical protection, were to be this symbolic reminder of the temporary protection/covering (from the consequences of sin) until the Seed of the woman, the Messiah, came.
In Genesis 3:20 Eve is describes as the mother of all living – this was prophetic because it was not until chapter 4 that she conceived and gave birth. But more than just the natural, there is the hint of the supernatural, for through Eve came the Messiah who said:
“I am that bread of life. Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever:” (John 6:48-51).
In this sense, Eve has indeed become the mother of all those who would live as a result of her Seed. But even this expression, the Seed of the Woman, is provocative, because biologically the seed comes from the man. So in this there is the hint of the virgin birth
Who is this woman? From all that follows it is clear that the woman is, if you will, the ‘mystical’ Eve, (the line that started with Eve and came down through the generations) from which the Messiah came.
…a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars:
In Genesis 37:9-11 we read: “And he [Joseph] dreamed yet another dream, and told it his brethren, and said, Behold, I have dreamed a dream more; and, behold, the sun and the moon and the eleven stars made obeisance to me. And he told it to his father, and to his brethren: and his father rebuked him, and said unto him, What is this dream that thou hast dreamed? Shall I and thy mother and thy brethren indeed come to bow down ourselves to thee to the earth? And his brethren envied him; but his father observed the saying”.
As we have already noted, in the 404 verses in Revelation, there are over 800 allusions to the Old Testament. If John didn’t immediately make the connection, we certainly should, for the imagery used in Revelation 12:1 is straight from the above verse from Genesis 37. From this we can deduce that the sun is Jacob, the moon is Leah (as Rachel was dead by this time), and the stars were the brothers of Joseph. Thus the sun, moon and stars are representative of the nation of Israel. God ‘clothed’ the seed of the woman with the nation of Israel to protect it until the time appointed for the Messiah to be born.
And she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered.
The Old Testament is the story of this Woman ‘travailing in birth’ waiting for the Child to come. Right from the start, Satan was ‘hell bent’ on stopping this Child coming and tried everything possible to prevent it. Understanding this simple fact sheds light on so much of what might otherwise be confusing. We need to understand all the battles and struggles in the Old Testament in this context.
God promised Abraham that the Seed would be one of his descendants, and through him, all the world would be blessed. To make this possible God promised to Abraham the land of Canaan – that we now know as Israel – but the promise was for Israel to have from the Mediterranean to the Euphrates, from the border of Egypt to Syria. This was to be a permanent possession. The promise was unconditional and therefore cannot be forfeited.
Satan now not only had a people group to target, but a land also. This is the beginning of Anti Semitism – the hatred of the Jews. It is Satanic in origin and has just one purpose; to attempt to thwart God’s plan.
- Cain killing Able: This was Satan’s 1st attempt after the fall to destroy the Seed of the Woman. In all probability, Satan at that time may well have thought Abel was the Seed.
- The Nephelim and Giants of Gen 6: This was a Satanic plan to corrupt the human race, so that there would be no pure Adamic stock remaining. It was to cleanse the earth from this ‘infection’ that God sent the flood, but saved Noah and his family, who were the only ones left ‘perfect in their generations’ (i.e. genetically pure). When we know this truth, we see the Flood as an act of mercy, not the knee-jerk reaction of a tyrannical God.
- The 2nd wave of Nephelim: Notice how this ‘invasion’ only centered around Israel? This was because of the promise to Shem (and the later covenant with Abraham). Satan now knew the Seed would be one of Shem’s descendants, so focused his attention on that geographical region.
- Nimrod trying to establish a One World Government at Babel (Babylon): Not only would this would give Satan control of the world systems & therefore individuals, his real intention was to get mankind to unite against the Seed (ironically their only Saviour!). Satan failed with this first attempt, but will succeed the second time around – only to then be defeated by Jesus.
- False Religion: Babel failed as a world Government so Satan set about corrupting the truth about the promised Seed and introduced false religions – many of which have retained the worship of mother and child (simply a distortion of Eve and her Seed). These soon began to engulf the world. But now God called Abraham out of this idolatry; and through his family there would be a protective environment, kept separate from the world, from which the Seed could one day come.
- Ishmael’s contempt for Isaac: Their descendants have carried on a family feud until this day
- Attempts on Jacob’s Life: Jacob feared for his life with Esau, then later Laban.
- Slavery in Egypt: Satan used the Egyptians to crush Israel
- The killing of the male babies in Egypt: This was another deliberate attempt to stop the Seed of the Woman coming.
- The Wars of Israel: Critics love to attack Israel for their conquest of Canaan, yet the inhabitants were the remnants of the Nephelim. Had Israel had been destroyed, the Saviour could not have come!
- Many more attacks: Satan did not give up, and still hasn’t. The numerous attempts to wipe out the Royal line (1 Samuel 19:10 / 2 Kings 11:2), the blood curse on Jeconiah (Jer 22:30), the Babylonian conquest, the hostility towards Nehemiah’s attempts to rebuild Jerusalem following the Exile, and many more.
All of this was the labour pains the ‘Woman’ (and because the Woman was clothed with Israel, Israel too) had to go through in order to bring the Child to birth.
But Satan’s attempts did not stop after Jesus was born, for we see this carried on in the New Testament with the killing of the babies at Bethlehem, the plot of the Jews to kill Jesus and eventually the betrayal by Judas and the crucifixion. This time Satan thought he had finally won.
What a difference three days can make!
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.
This ‘great red dragon’ is identified in verse 9 as none other than Satan. Seven symbolises ‘complete’. Ten appears in reference to man’s government in the Bible and horns are a symbol of power. Thus Satan has, for now, complete control of the governments of this world (this has been the case since the fall when he deceived Adam & Even and ‘stole’ their position as ruler of this world).
“In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not,” (2 Cor 4:4).
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.
The stars in this verse are a reference to angels. Whether through Satan’s coercion or simply their own pride, we find that a third of the angels rebelled with Satan. Satan has one third, but he is outnumbered two to one! Satan had waited (and no doubt feared) throughout the Old Testament period for the moment the Child was to be born. If he could not prevent the birth of the Seed, he wanted to ‘devour’ Him as soon as He was born, and this is seen dramatically in the attempt (as mentioned above) to kill of the babies of Bethlehem.
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.
The Woman, now in the protection of the nation of Israel, gave birth to the Messiah and despite Satan’s best efforts at Calvary, three days later his worst nightmare came true; and in fact by orchestrating Jesus’ death Satan became a murderer, and under God’s law stated back in Genesis 9:6, he had now forfeited his own life. Jesus was untouchable and returned to Heaven. Jesus will rule all nations with a rod of iron. (See Psalm 2:8-9)
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.
We now jump forward in time as becomes clear by the reference to the 1260 days.
Note: This is not unusual in scripture as the Church Age is often omitted from prophecies. For example in Daniel 9:24-27 we have the prophecy of the 70 weeks for which the clock stops on Palm Sunday and does not restart until the ‘confirming of the covenant’ at the beginning of the Tribulation. Jesus also gives us an example of this in Luke 4:18-20 where He took the scroll of Isaiah and read “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord……….. The passage that Jesus was reading was Isaiah 61:2; however in Isaiah, where Jesus stopped there is a comer, in other words Jesus didn’t finish the sentence, that is why we read: “And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him”. The verse in Isaiah actually goes on to say “……and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn”. Jesus didn’t complete the verse because that portion of the prophecy will not be fulfilled until the Church has been raptured. The prophecy did not take into account the Church Age because the Church was ‘hidden’ in the Old Testament. (See Matt 13:35). There are actually 24 of these ‘gaps’ in the Bible as listed by Dr Chuck Missler in his book Cosmic Codes (Interestingly, in Revelation ch 4-5 we have the number 24 used to identify the Elders who are representative of the Church).
With the Church Age omitted from the record for the sake of this prophecy, the Child is caught up to God’s throne and the Tribulation begins. At the 31/2 year point (which is where we have reached in chapter 10), we now see the following events unfold and Israel, following Jesus’ advice (recorded in Matt 24), flees into the wilderness – probably to Petra / Bozrah, in Jordan (Old Testament Edom) which we are told will not come under the control of Antichrist (Dan 11:41).
This will fulfill Jacob’s prophetic utterance to Esau in Genesis 33:14. On that occasion Jacob (returning to Israel from his time with uncle Laban) promised Esau that he would join him in Edom. To this day that promise had not been fulfilled, but it will be at this time when Israel flee from Antichrist and go to one of the only places in the world that Antichrist will have no jurisdiction (see Daniel 11:41)
Jesus gave this warning to Israel, which will come to fruition at this time: “When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:) Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains: Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house: Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes. And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days! But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day: For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened.” (Matt 24:15-22)
As we have seen in the preceding chapters, we have been building up to the crescendo that marks the end of the beginning of sorrows, and now will be ushered in the Great Tribulation. Israel will now also be moved out of the way as God brings unimaginable judgment on this world.
And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels,
Michael is an Archangel and possibly the only one. He is always seen as the protector of Israel. (cf. Daniel 12:1). Satan may well have been of this rank prior to his fall. It is hard to imagine what the battle between these two super-angels will be like, but we should remember that the Devil’s angels are outnumbered two to one.
And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven.
In Job we see that Satan has access to the throne of God, but now his access to God is revoked; not least because he has now lost his claim to the earth and therefore has no reason to ‘report’ to God anymore.
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.
Jesus spoke prophetically Luke 10:18 “And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven.” This is good news in Heaven, but as we see in a moment, bad news for the earth.
It is worth noting that Satan’s method has always been to deceive. The next time that you are tempted, remember that Satan is trying to deceive you; what he is offering you maybe ‘good’, but unless it is in God’s way and God’s timing it will only cause you heartache and sorrow. God really wants the best for you; Satan only wants to destroy you – you are his enemy. Remember that his name (Satan) means ‘opponent’, and as we have already mentioned, he is not God’s opponent but yours!
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 kingdom has come. Jesus has become the rightful and lawful ruler of planet earth!
Even now Satan accuses us before the throne; it appears to be his favourite weapon against us. We stumble and fall when we start to believe the accusations. However we have been purchased by the blood of the Lamb, the old has gone the new has come, sin no longer has any power over us – He that is in us is greater than he that is in the world! God has removed our sin as far as the east is from the west! (1 Pet 5:8 / 1 Cor 6:20 / 2 Cor 5:17 / Rom 6:14 / 1 John 4:4 / Psalm 103:12)
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.
The blood of our Passover Lamb is the only thing that has saved us – nothing we can do can add to it, it is complete. (Heb 9:28 / Eph 2:8)
All Christians have the same testimony; we were on our way to hell, Jesus saved us, now we are going to heaven – the rest is just details.
It has been said that it is harder to live for Christ than to die for Him. If we are called to die for Him, we find the resolve to stand for what we know is true. But to live for Him, day after day when no one seems to be watching, and no one seems to care; to remain loyal when we don’t have to – that’s the real challenge.
We need to learn this secret of the burning heart. Suddenly Jesus appears to us, the fires are kindled, we have wonderful visions; then we have to learn to keep the secret of the burning heart that will go through anything. It is the dull, bald, dreary, commonplace day, with commonplace duties and people that kills the burning heart unless we have learned the secret of abiding in Jesus. – Oswald Chambers (My Utmost For His Highest)
Paul spoke concerning the things of this life, even the good things, not necessarily sinful things, but all that came between him and his Saviour regardless of how small, he had chosen to put aside.
“All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify.” (1 Cor 10:23)
“But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,” (Phil 3:7-8)
Is our testimony right now one of abandoning all to Jesus, living each (ordinary) moment for Him alone; not loving our own lives but dying to self so we can live for Him? As we read this is there anything in our lives that has come between us and our Saviour? If so, stop reading this, get on your knees, repent and ask His forgiveness. If we hold onto sin He cannot hear us (Psalm 66:18), but if we confess our sin He is faithful and just to forgive us our sin and cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). There is no-thing in Heaven or Earth that is more important than being rightly related to Jesus.
“It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him: If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us:” (2 Tim 2:11-12)
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.
This is, as we have said the 31/2 year point. Satan is now really ‘sore displeased’ having being cast down to earth, and so now indwells Antichrist who at this point really ‘turns nasty’ and establishes himself as the sole ruler of the nations (10 ‘kingdoms’), putting all people in subjection to him. He also begins to abolish all world religion except worship of himself, and blasphemes the God of Heaven and those who dwell there – all of which we will see in chapter 13.
And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man child.
As the old adage goes: ‘you are what you wear’. In this context, the woman who was clothed with Israel is now seen as synonymous with Israel as Satan, through Antichrist, seeks to destroy Israel because they still have a part to play in God’s plan. One prerequisite of the Second Coming is that Israel repent and realise that Jesus is their Messiah, petitioning Him to return and help then in the ‘time of Jacob’s trouble’ (Jeremiah 30:7).
“I will go and return to my place, till they acknowledge their offence, and seek my face: in their affliction they will seek me early. Come, and let us return unto the LORD: for he hath torn, and he will heal us; he hath smitten, and he will bind us up. After two days will he revive us: in the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight.” (Hosea 5:15-6:2)
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.
Some have conjectured that this reference to a ‘great eagle’ could be the USA who air lift Israel to safety – possibly. But it is more likely a reference to the speed of her departure and God’s assistance. However she gets there, God sustains her for three and a half years.
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.
Is this a literal flood or some sort of military pursuit, also sometimes referred to as a flood?
Either way the earth opens up – possibly due to the fault line that runs through the Jordan valley – and the ‘flood’ is swallowed up by the earth.
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.
Who are these? They cannot be Israel, for she is now being protected by God in the wilderness. Neither can this be the Church; because she is in Heaven; and besides, Jesus said that the gates of hell would not prevail against the Church (Matt 17:18). These must therefore be those who have been converted during the tribulation as a result of the preaching of the two witnesses (Rev 11:3-12), and/or the 144,000 Jewish evangelists (Rev 7:3-8). These will therefore be the ones who come out of Great Tribulation (Rev 7:9-17) and will join those who have already been slain for their witness and testimony (Rev 6:9-11 – the 5th Seal). They will be given white robes to wear and will be the ones who are ‘called to the marriage supper of the Lamb’ (Rev 19:6-9)
To be continued…