1 A great 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. 2 She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth. 3 Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on its heads. 4 Its 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 it might devour her child the moment he was born. 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. ~ Revelation 12:1-5
We now enter into our study of Revelation 12 which looks at the birth of Christ from the perspective of a long war between the two most powerful spiritual persons in the universe: God and Satan. The eternal God and the much-inferior, rebellious and proud adversary are the two most powerful beings in the universe according to the Bible.
The battle began at the very throne of God when Satan rebelled against God when he was the worship leader of all of heaven’s praise. This battle then descended into the demonic realm when a third of the angels joined in Satan’s rebellion. As a result, the angels became demons, and all of them were cast out of heaven due to their wickedness. Since then, these fallen angels have engaged God and the good angels in spiritual warfare.
The battle then descended to earth in the garden when Satan came in the form of a serpent and approached Adam and Eve and seduced them into joining his rebellion into turning against God and joining the enemies of God. And since then, we have this great war which will culminate at the end of the Millennium.
In v.1 of today's text we read, "A great 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."
Revelation 12 opens with a great sign. A sign is symbolic of something else, it is something that symbolizes a reality. The sign here in v.1 points us to this great war that continues to this day. In this great sign, there are three persons: a woman, a son, and a dragon.
The woman is Israel because of how it describes the war that we have been considering. Israel was exalted and is associated with 12 stars which represents the 12 tribes of Israel. On her head is a crown which is really a wreath that is used to identify the 12 tribes of Israel.
In v.2 we read, "She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth."
This woman is with child and she is experiencing labor pains. This is Israel who for centuries has suffered these terrible pains to try to realize God's promises, to wait for and ultimately realize the coming of the Messiah. They await the fulfillment of all of the promises of God, since the first promise of the seed of the woman in Genesis 3, given about four thousand years before.
In v.3 we read, "Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on its heads."
The second person is an enormous red dragon which is clearly Satan. He is referred to and explained as the dragon in v.9. The scene is of this pregnant woman in the midst of giving birth, screaming out, and then, appears, this daunting and deadly dragon. It’s red, which speaks of blood and fire and all that destroys and is cruel. And this dragon is powerful because it has seven heads and ten horns. And on his heads are seven crowns.
In Revelation 17, we are given God's description of these seven heads. They are kingdoms of this world and they are controlled by the dragon, the serpent of old. He is the one who is responsible for the entrance of evil into this fallen world.
The ten horns represent a ten-nation confederacy in the world that will be ruled by the Antichrist. So, this symbol of Satan is seen as the world ruler of all of human history, not only of the past but even of the final ten-nation confederacy that will mark the final world empire of the Antichrist. He will be the ruler of all of it.
In v.4 we read, "Its 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 it might devour her child the moment he was born."
This indicates that not only is he the ruler of the evil system, but Satan is not alone. When he was kicked out of heaven, a third of the angels also rebelled and joined him in the mutiny. Not just him, as powerful as he is, but a third of the angels have now become demons. And they aid and abet him in his enterprise here on earth.
Satan has always done everything he could to destroy Israel. This is amazing evidence of God’s sovereign power. The fact that Israel perpetuates proves not only His existence but also His sovereignty. And so, Satan has never been able to destroy Israel.
This brings us to the third person. In v.5 we read, "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."
Satan couldn’t stop Israel from perpetuating, nor could he stop the Savior from being born. And, he was not able to stop the Son from being exalted to the right hand of God, where He literally, at this moment, intercedes for His people. And, he will not be able to prevent the Savior from coming back as King of kings and Lord of lords to establish His eternal kingdom.
The iron scepter in v.5 speaks of the justice the Lord Jesus will establish on the earth during the Millennium. Although it will be a time of worldwide blessing and prosperity and the curse is at least partially removed from the earth and nature, it will be also a time when sin is still manifest to some degree. During the Millennium the righteousness of the Lord Jesus will reign throughout the earth, but evil will still exist. During that time Satan will be bound into the bottomless pit with his minions, and they will be released for one final war at the end of the thousand year reign of Christ on the earth.