The Woman and the Dragon

Bible Study – Revelation 12:1-17

The primary focus of this Bible study is to confirm the identity of the Woman of Revelation chapter 12.

Rev 11:19Then God’s temple in heaven was opened, and within his temple was seen the ark of his covenant. And there came flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, an earthquake and a great hailstorm.

The ark of his covenant, being the Ten Commandments and Mosaic Law, is the Old Covenant which unfaithful Israel broke.

Rev 12:1 A great and wondrous sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head.

The woman proclaims God’s New Covenant which is permanent and unbreakable.  Furthermore the woman herself cannot be separated from Israel. This New Covenant follows the Old Covenant and is fulfilled in Jesus of Nazareth (Gen 37:9-11, Isa 42:6, Isa 49:8, Isa 59:16, Isa 59:20-21, Isa 61:8, Jer 3:14-18, Jer 31:31-37, 1 Cor 11:25, 2 Co 3:6, Heb 8:7-13).

God’s physical covenant with the moon and the sun is associated with his unbreakable promise that Israel would always remain God’s chosen nation (Jer 31:35-37) and that God would one day raise up a descendant of David to rule over his chosen people Israel (Jer 33:24-26).

The crown of twelve stars symbolizes Israel (Ge 37:9).  The number twelve is closely associated with Israel throughout scripture for example: Jacobs twelve sons (Ge 35:23, Ac 7:8), the twelve tribes of Israel (Ge 49:28), and the twelve apostles of the Lamb (Mt 10:2, Rev 21:14).

Rev 12:2 She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth.

This is a poignant description of the incarnation of Jesus Christ in the fullness of time.  I am reminded of how Jesus although equal with God took on the nature of a servant being made in human likeness (Phil 2:5-11) in the fullness of time as represented by the genealogy of Messiah (Mt 1:1-2:12).

Rev 12:3 Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on his heads. 

Rev 12:4 His tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth. The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that he might devour her child the moment it was born.

The red dragon is the devil who led one-third of the angels to rebel against God.  The devil tried to kill Messiah.  Remember Rachel weeping with her children after the massacre in Bethlehem (Jer 31:15, Mt 2:18).

Rev 12:5 She gave birth to a son, a male child, who will rule all the nations with an iron scepter. And her child was snatched up to God and to his throne. 

This is an unmistakable description of Jesus Christ.  The Jewish genealogy of the male child identifies him as the rightful King, the son of David, the son of Abraham (Mt 1:1-25).  Jacob prophesied that one from the tribe of Judah would someday rule the nations with a scepter (Ge 49:10-12).  Other references to iron scepter demonstrate that this scepter belongs only to Jesus (Ps 2:6-9, Rev 2:27, Rev 19:15-16).  Following his human birth, priestly ministry, death by crucifixion, burial, and resurrection,  Jesus was snatched up to God and to his throne when he ascended into heaven in the sight of his followers (Mk 16:19-20, Lk 24:50-43, Act 1:9-11).

Rev 12:6 The woman fled into the desert to a place prepared for her by God, where she might be taken care of for 1,260 days.

The desert is a place of safety and refuge for the nation Israel during the Great tribulation.  This resonates with the Exodus theme of God leading his people through the wilderness.  See the 144,000 sealed Hebrews according to their tribes (Rev 7:1-8).

Rev 12:7 And there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. 

Please note that Michael is the guardian Angel of Israel (Da 12:21).  The unseen war in heaven takes place sometime after the resurrection of Jesus and prior to the opening of the seven seals.

Rev 12:8 But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. 

Rev 12:9 The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.

Rev 12:10 Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: “Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down.

 This description identifies Satan as the dragon and vanquished enemy of God.  The fallen angels or demons are thrown to earth along with Satan.  This casting out of Satan takes place by the authority of the risen Christ.

Rev 12:11 They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death

Christians living on the earth also overcame Satan just as Jesus did and are not afraid to die in their proclamation of Christ as Lord and King.

Rev 12:12 Therefore rejoice, you heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has gone down to you! He is filled with fury, because he knows that his time is short.”

Rev 12:13 When the dragon saw that he had been hurled to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child.

Satan’s priority for revenge against the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is to attack Israel in a vain attempt to subvert the eternal purpose of God.

Rev 12:14 The woman was given the two wings of a great eagle, so that she might fly to the place prepared for her in the desert, where she would be taken care of for a time, times and half a time, out of the serpent’s reach. 

The 1260 days of safety allotted to Israel (Rev 12:6) are reiterated again as time,times and half a time or 3 1/2 years (Rev 12:14).  The beast of the sea is also allotted an equivalent 42 months to rule (Rev 13:5).  These three time frames follow the middle of the ‘seven’ mentioned in Daniel (Da 9:27).  The Lord God had declared that Israel the nation will remain until Jesus returns again.

Rev 12:15 Then from his mouth the serpent spewed water like a river, to overtake the woman and sweep her away with the torrent. 

Rev 12:16 But the earth helped the woman by opening its mouth and swallowing the river that the dragon had spewed out of his mouth.

In recent memory the world witnessed the horrible Jewish Holocaust (1941 – 1945) when over 6 million Jews were murdered by Adolf Hitler.  However the earth swallowed up Hitler and the German army and the Jewish people survived.

Rev 12:17 Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to make war against the rest of her offspring—those who obey God’s commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus.

To see Satan’s rage against Israel today we only need to hear quotes from Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad saying there is no place for Israel in a future Middle East.  However Satan has already been defeated and although he makes violent threats against the woman she remains protected.   God the ruler over the kings of the earth has already declared that “The descendants of Israel will never cease to be a nation before me” (Jer 31:36).

The offspring of the woman are fully associated with God’s chosen people (Eph 3:6, Ro 15:12, Rev 22:16).   The foundation of Christianity is Judaism and the foundation of Judaism is the Word of God.  Just as the unseen dragon wages a futile war against Israel he also turns his rage against all Christians who have put their hope in the Jewish Messiah.

During the Great Tribulation Christians remain faithful to Jesus and:

  • Obey God’s commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus (Rev 12:17)
  • Refuse to worship the beast and refuse the mark of the beast (Rev 13:15, 14:9-12)
  • Experience captivity (Rev 13:10)
  • Are hungry, thirsty, and exposed to the elements (Rev 7:16)
  • Patiently endure and remain faithful to Jesus (Rev 13:10, 14:12)
  • Are killed by the sword or beheaded (Rev 6:11, 13:10, 20:4)
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