May 22 2022
Today, Sunday May 22
A Great Conflict
Revelation 12:1-6 “Now a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a garland of twelve stars. Then being with child, she cried out in labor and in pain to give birth. And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great, fiery red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems on his heads. His tail drew a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was ready to give birth, to devour her Child as soon as it was born. She bore a male Child who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron. And her Child was caught up to God and His throne. Then the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, that they should feed her there one thousand two hundred and sixty days.”
Two wonders or signs appear here in these first verses of chapter 12. The first is a woman and a detailed description is given of her. John saw that the woman was clothed with the sun, and had the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. That fascinating description reflects Joseph's dream, recorded in Genesis 37:9-11. In the imagery of Joseph's dream, the sun represents Jacob, the moon Rachel, and the eleven stars Joseph's brothers. The allusion to Joseph's dream is fitting, since his life parallels Israel's history. Both endured the indignity of captivity in Gentile nations, yet were in the end delivered and exalted to a place of prominence in a kingdom.
That the woman was clothed with the sun reflects redeemed Israel's unique glory, brilliance, and dignity because of her exalted status as God's chosen nation (Deut. 7:6; 14:2; 1 Kings 3:8; Pss. 33:12; 106:5; Isa. 43:20). It also links her with Jacob (the sun in Joseph's dream), an heir in the Abrahamic covenant; Israel's continued existence as a nation reflects the ongoing fulfillment of that covenant (cf. Gen. 12:1-2).
The woman with child is the first wonder; the great red dragon is the second. Revelation 12:9 makes it clear that this is Satan. The color red is associated with death (Rev. 6:4) and Satan is a murderer (John 8:44). The heads, horns, and crowns will appear again in Revelation 13:1 and 17:3. The heads represent mountains (Rev. 17:9), and the horns represent kings (Rev. 17:12). We shall study the meaning of these symbols in more detail later.
The dragon was cast out of heaven (Rev. 12:9), and he took with him a third of the angels (Rev. 12:7, 9). They are spoken of as "stars" in Revelation 12:4 (see also Dan. 8:10). This is evidently a reference to the fall of Satan (Isa. 14:12-15), when he and his hosts revolted against God. However, the casting out described in Revelation 12:7-10 is yet future.
Just as soon as the child was born, Satan tried to destroy Him. This conflict between Satan and "the woman" began soon after man fell (Gen. 3:15). Throughout Old Testament history, Satan tried to prevent the birth of the Redeemer. There was always a "dragon" standing by, waiting to destroy Israel or the ancestors of the Messiah. Pharaoh is called a "dragon" (Ezek. 29:3), and so is Nebuchadnezzar (Jer. 51:34).
At one critical point, the royal line was limited to one little boy (2 Kings 11:1-3). When Jesus Christ was born, Satan used King Herod to try to destroy Him (Matt. 2). Satan thought that he had succeeded when he used Judas to betray the Lord and hand Him over to be crucified. But the Cross was actually Satan's defeat! "And they overcame him [Satan] by the blood of the Lamb" (Rev. 12:11).
Satan has always had a special hatred for the Jewish people and has been the power behind anti-Semitism from the days of Pharaoh and Haman (see the Book of Esther) to Hitler and Stalin. Finally, in the middle of the Tribulation, there will come a wave of anti-Semitism such as the world has never seen (Rev. 12:6). But God will protect His people during those three-and-a-half years (1,260 days; see Rev. 11:2; 13:5). Apart from the 144,000 (who are sealed and protected), a believing remnant of Jews will survive this very troublesome time.
We are involved in a similar conflict today (2 Cor. 11:13-15; Eph. 6:10). Satan is out to destroy the church, and our victory can come only through Jesus Christ.