When you first read Revelation chapter 12 it almost feels like you are reading some popular sci-fi novel. There’s talk of dragons and a woman who sprouts eagles wings, and a serpent pouring out “water like a river out of its mouth.” But it is important that we dig deeper, looking beyond the “story”, if you will, and discover the story, truth, and hope this chapter is revealing.
But before we get too far into things, let’s first introduce our main characters in this portion of scripture.
In Revelation chapters 12, 13, and 14 we see the main figures of the Great Tribulation described. There is a lot we could unpack with each of these but, for times sake, here is a brief overview of each.
First we have the woman, representing Israel. Second, the dragon, representing Satan. Third, the man-child, referring to Jesus. Fourth, the angel Michael, head of the angelic host. Fifth, the offspring of the woman, representing the Gentiles who come to faith in the Tribulation. Sixth, the beast out of the sea, represents the antichrist. And seventh, the beast out of the Earth, representing the false prophet who promotes the antichrist.
Now that we’ve set the stage, let’s dive deeper into what this text is telling us. First off, it is important to notice that right there in verse one we are told that this is a “great sign”. These two words are making it clear to us that we shouldn’t expect for this whole birthing scene to literally take place. Rather, God is using this sign to communicate something to John, the writer, and to us.
So what is the “sign” the Lord is trying to communicate in this imagery filled birthing scene? It is actually referring to the travail of Israel at the time of Jesus’ birth as they were under Roman occupation and oppression.
Next on the scene is the dragon, which we said earlier represents Satan. Once again, take notice that John makes it clear that what he is describing is a “sign”, as noted in verse 3. That means that this creature is not literally a great, fiery red dragon, but instead represents the nature and character of satan. One bible scholar wrong “His description “symbolically suggests his fierce power and murderous nature…a picture of the fullness of evil in all its hideous strength.” And the crowns noted represent his hypothetical claims of royal authority against the true King, not true authority itself. He WANTS to be considered King, but we all know how that turns out for him in the end, as there is only ONE true King - Jesus.
In an attempt to claim that desired kingship, we read in verse 4 that “the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she bore her child he might devour it.” When you think about it - his plan was a solid one. Devour the child before He can truly become a threat. This attempt to “devour her child” was initially fulfilled by Herod’s attempts to kill Jesus as a child. However, as we see all throughout scripture, these “well laid plans” if you will can never and will never be able to stand firm when facing the greatness of the Lord.
As is always true with the Lord, we see that God made a way for the woman “where there seemed to be no way”. Verse 6 tells us plainly that, though persecuted by the dragon, the woman is protected by God in a PREPARED place!
This word “prepared” uses the same ancient Greek word Jesus used in “I go to prepare a place for you” in John 14:2-3, and demonstrates God’s careful planning both on earth as well as in heaven. What a wonderful reminder of the Lord's faithfulness and provision. A thread that we have seen woven from the beginning of this Dwell journey where, in the gospels, we read of God’s plan to save His people by sending His son to earth - fully God and fully man - savior of the world to right here, in the book of revelation. Reminding us that we can stand firm, with bold faith and confidence, in the provision, protection, and faithfulness of our Father.
And it is through this faithfulness that we reach this incredible moment of celebration noted in versus 10-12 as we read of the saint’s victory over Satan by, as verse 11 declares, “the blood of the lamb and the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives, even unto death.” I just love how this verse reveals to us the victory we find when we partner the Lord’s faithfulness to us with our faithfulness to Him. A confidence and true hope in knowing that when we live our lives surrendered to the Lord he takes our imperfect selves and faithfully leads and directs us to a place of celebration and victory that boldly declares - “We WILL overcome by the blood of the lamb and the word of our testimony.”
The church as a whole tends to shy away from diving into the book of Revelation because it can feel intimidating and can honestly almost feel dark or scary, but in reality,, when you truly dive into what the scripture is saying, you will find that it is not a book full of moments of darkness but rather a book filled with victory and celebration as the Light of the World overtakes the darkness for eternity. So I encourage you, don’t stop short of finishing out the New Testament with us because the book feels intimidating. Instead, continue with us through these final chapters so we can celebrate together the victories we have in the Lord, past, present, and future!