In our study of Revelation chapter twelve, we look at Satan's coming battle for control of heaven and his pursuit of God's people.
"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." NIV translation
Now, John tells us of a sign that he sees in heaven and it is a woman. There are those who say that this is an actual woman and that it is the Virgin Mary but this is not so. John says that it is a sign (not an actual woman) and we see the same description in Genesis 37:9. There Joseph has a dream with the same description and it refers to Israel and not an actual woman.
"She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth." NIV translation
Many have used this verse to once again say that the woman is Mary but, if you realize that the woman is Israel, you can see that this verse speaks to the fact that Jesus was a Jew. After a four hundred year silence ("pregnant"), the promised child was born.
"Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on his heads." NIV translation
Another sign appears which is a dragon and we shall see later that this dragon is identified as Satan. This verse has been misused to give the image that Satan is a horribly ugly creature but he is not. He, in fact, is described elsewhere as one of the most beautiful of angels and in fact was what we would call the music minister in heaven. We have all seen the pictures of a little red creature running around with a pitchfork but that is not the true picture of Satan. The seven heads indicate his complete wisdom and the ten horns remind us of his earthly strength while the seven crowns speak of how the earth has completely turned to him.
"His tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to 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." NIV translation
John sees the sign in heaven of Satan and his fall as this speaks of the third of the angels that followed him. Satan opposed the birth of Jesus as he knew that it would seal his doom.
"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." NIV translation
This verse tells of the birth and resurrection of Jesus. We are also reminded that He will rule all nations and it is coming soon.
"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." NIV translation
This verse speaks to a time to come when Israel will be taken to a special place where God will protect them from Satan. This will last for the second half of this great tribulation period. There are those that have taught that this was talking about how Joseph, Mary, and Jesus fled from King Herod into Egypt but as we have seen Mary is not the woman in this verse. (John said it was a sign.)
"And there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back." NIV translation
Satan still has access to heaven (as we see in the book of Job) and he still wants to take the place of God. This verse speaks of a coming battle where Satan attempts to take over heaven.
Revelation 12:8 & 9
"But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. 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." NIV translation
Satan will lose the battle and will be banished to the earth with the angels that had joined him in the rebellion. The people that are left on the earth will be fooled by him and led away from the truth of God.
"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.'" NIV translation
Now the kingdom of God is declared in heaven. There is rejoicing as Satan has been cast out for the final time by the authority of Jesus Christ.
"'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.'" NIV translation
How was the battle won over sin and Satan? The answer is in this verse as we see that it was by the blood of Jesus Christ. When we come to Christ, there should be a desire to share your testimony. There should also be a willingness to do so even at the risk of your life. As Christians, we can be assured that we pass from this life and into the very presence of God.
"'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.'" NIV translation
Heaven rejoices as Satan and his demons are cast down but there is trouble ahead for the people of earth. At this point, Satan knows that he has very little time left until he is judged. Imagine playing a game and knowing that, no matter what you do, in the end you will lose. That is how it is with the devil and it makes him furious.
"When the dragon saw that he had been hurled to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child." NIV translation
There is and has been pursuit and persecution of the Jewish people since the time that they left slavery in Egypt. It is going to get worse as we see that Satan is going to chase them one last time.
"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." NIV translation
Satan begins to pursue the Jews but God provides them with great speed as the eagle is a symbol of speed throughout the Bible. God has prepared a place for His people where they will be protected from Satan. They will be taken care of for 1260 days. There are those that say this verse was fulfilled when Israel became a nation but that is not what is being spoken of here.
Revelation 12:15 & 16
"Then from his mouth the serpent spewed water like a river, to overtake the woman and sweep her away with the torrent. But the earth helped the woman by opening its mouth and swallowing the river that the dragon had spewed out of his mouth." NIV translation
Satan couldn't catch God's people and so he tried to overtake them and drown them. The earth itself intervened on behalf of them and swallowed up the water.
"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." NIV translation
Satan could not touch most of God's people and that really made him mad. Then, he turns that anger to the Jewish witnesses. These are the 144,000 that we were introduced to in chapter 7.