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Bible Commentaries
Revelation 12

Everett's Study Notes on the Holy ScripturesEverett's Study Notes

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Verses 1-17

Israel’s Role in the Tribulation Period - There are three characters described through symbolism in Revelation 12:1-6: the woman, the man child, and the dragon. We know from Revelation 12:9; Revelation 20:2 that the dragon is Satan. However, much debate has come forth as to the identity of the woman and the man child.

Revelation 12:9, “And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.”

Revelation 20:2, “And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years,”

We read in Psalms 74:13-14 about the “heads of leviathan,” which represented Israel’s ancient enemy Egypt, whom God drowned in the Red Sea.

Psalms 74:13-14, “Thou didst divide the sea by thy strength: thou brakest the heads of the dragons in the waters. Thou brakest the heads of leviathan in pieces, and gavest him to be meat to the people inhabiting the wilderness.”

We read again in Ezekiel 29:1 to Ezekiel 32:32 how God will judge Pharaoh, king of Egypt, who is called “the great dragon.”

Hilton Sutton believes that the woman represents the nation of Israel, and the man child symbolizes Jesus, who was born from the nation of Israel. [87] The analogy of the sun, moon and stars can be found in Genesis 37:9-10 where Joseph dreamed that these images represented his parents and brothers. The fact that these images are associated with the woman (Revelation 12:1) suggests that she represents Israel.

[87] Hilton Sutton, Revelation: God’s Grand Finale (Tulsa, Oklahoma, c1984), 138.

Regarding the man child, the fact that he is born to rule all nations, and that he is caught up to God and to His throne (Revelation 12:5) can fit no other human being except the Lord Jesus Christ. We read how the dragon waited for the birth of this child in order to devour him (Revelation 12:4) describes how Satan waited for thousands of years for the birth of the Messiah in order to destroy Him in his battle to rule this earth.

The season of 1,260 days indicated in Revelation 12:6 and Revelation 12:14 refers to a time period within the seven-year Tribulation Period. Perhaps during the beginning of this seven years God will divine protect His people Israel (Revelation 12:6; Revelation 12:14), since the Church will be raptured at the beginning of the Tribulation, and there is no longer a believer upon the earth to stand in the gap and intercede for Israel. Thus, God Himself will make a special provision to protect her. In Numbers 33:1-56 we read a list of the many places that the children of Israel encamped, forty-two locations are listed to be exact. Michael Wilcox draws an analogy between the forty-two months that God hides the woman in the wilderness (Revelation 12:1-17) and the forty-two encampments of Israel in the wilderness (Wilcox, Revelation, The Bible Speaks Today, 118).

It seems that at this time a great battle takes place in heaven, in which Michael and his angels win a spiritual battle and cast Satan down to earth, and out of the heavenly realm in which he has had access since the beginning of creation (Revelation 12:7-9). There will be great rejoicing in Heaven at this time of Satan’s defeat (Revelation 12:10-12). But this is not good news for the inhabitants of the earth; for now Satan is furious and determined to destroy any remnant of God’s people off of the face of the earth (Revelation 12:13-17). There will be a remnant of Jews who do embrace the Messiah and serve Him faithfully during this period of time (Revelation 12:17).

Revelation 12:1 “and upon her head a crown of twelve stars” - Comments - The best explanation of what a crown represents that I have heard comes from Marietta Davis’ book Caught Up Into Heaven, which says, “Their crowns represented the starry heavens, being miniature expressions of the wreathed universes that encircle the throne of the Infinite One. [88]

[88] Marietta Davis, Caught Up Into Heaven (New Kensington, Pennsylvania: Whitaker House, 1982), 126.

Revelation 12:2 Comments - We find a mention of the sun, moon and eleven stars in Genesis 37:9-10.

Genesis 37:9-10, “And he dreamed yet another dream, and told it his brethren, and said, Behold, I have dreamed a dream more; and, behold, the sun and the moon and the eleven stars made obeisance to me. And he told it to his father, and to his brethren: and his father rebuked him, and said unto him, What is this dream that thou hast dreamed? Shall I and thy mother and thy brethren indeed come to bow down ourselves to thee to the earth?”

If the woman symbolizes the nation of Israel, then it makes sense to understand the sun and moon as a representation of the patriarch and matriarch who gave birth to the nation of Israel, and the twelve stars represent the twelve sons and the twelve tribes who came forth from these twelve sons.

One of the more intriguing theories in recent years as to the origin of the star of Bethlehem and the interpretation of Revelation 12:1-5 comes from a lawyer named Frederick A. Larson. His research using computer generated astronomy software provides an accurate map of the alignment of the stars during the time of Christ, reveals strong evidence as to the identification of this famous star. He extracts nine characteristics of the star from the biblical text, then eliminates the possibilities of the star being a meteor, comet, or nova based upon this evidence. [89] He explains how the kingly planet Jupiter fulfilled all of these conditions in 3 and 2 B.C. In September of 3 B.C. Jupiter made a close “conjunction” to the star “Regulus,” so that they appeared as one shining object, an event that happens every twelve years. Jupiter then dropped back from Regulus in a phenomenon called “retrograde motion.” The conjuction and retrograde of Jupiter and Regulus took place three times, so that Jupiter appeared to “crown” the star Regulus thrice. In addition, this rare event took place within the constellation Leo the Lion, signifying the tribe of Judah. At this was taking place, the constellation Virgo, which follows Leo, would rise with the sun with the moon following. Larson believes this combination of events fits the vision of Revelation 12:1-5 in which the sign in heaven was a woman clothed with the sun. The constellation of the dragon would follow Virgo in the sky. The time of the full moon could be described as being at her feet. In nine months, June of 2 B.C., the planet Jupiter would travel through the starry sky and cross paths with Venus to form a very bright light. If the Magi had made their way to Jerusalem, then turned south to make the five-mile trip to Bethlehem, they would have seen this conjunction of planets as a bright light over this Messianic city in the early hours of the morning. Such astronomical activity may have gone unnoticed by King Herod until it was pointed out to him. Had the star of Bethlehem been a comet or supernova, everyone would have been familiar with these lights in the sky; thus, Herod had to ask the Magi about this star. Regarding the description of the star stopping over Bethlehem, Larson explains that Jupiter would enter another retrograde motion on 25 December of 2 B.C., so that it appears to have stopped in the eyes of the Magi. Such a combination of astronomical events would meet the descriptions of the Star of Bethlehem. [90]

[89] The nine characteristics are “(1) It signified birth. (2) It signified kingship. (3) It had a connection with the Jewish nation. (4) It rose in the east, like other stars. (5) It appeared at a precise time. (6) Herod didn’t know when it appeared. (7) It endured over time. (8) It was ahead of the Magi as they went south from Jerusalem to Bethlehem. (9) It stopped over Bethlehem.” See Frederick A. Larson, “The Star of Bethlehem,” [on-line]; accessed 6 January 2010; available from http://www.bethlehemstar.net; Internet.

[90] Frederick A. Larson, “The Star of Bethlehem,” [on-line]; accessed 6 January 2010; available from http://www.bethlehemstar.net; Internet.

devour her child as soon as it was born.

Revelation 12:4 Comments - Since we know that Satan has stood before the woman since the fall of Adam and Even in the Garden, looking to devour the promised seed that would bruise his head, and looking for the Messiah prophesied of since the birth of the nation of Israel, we can understand that the event of the dragon’s tail drawing one third of the angels with him must have taken place before the Fall in the Garden of Eden. It probably took place shortly after the creation of the heavens and the earth, since these fallen angels were cast down upon the earth at the time of their rebellion.

Revelation 12:5 Comments - There is little doubt that the man child is Jesus Christ. For no other human has ever been caught up to be seated at God’s throne.

Revelation 12:9 Comments - Note that this war in heaven (Revelation 12:7) was fought after earth was created in the book of Genesis.

Revelation 12:10 “for the accuser of our brethren is cast down” - Comments - Revelation 12:10 tells us that Satan, the accuser of the brethren, spends day and night accusing Christians of their faults. We find in Romans 8:33-34 a description of how Jesus Christ stands at the right hand of the Father to intercede for those whom Satan has accused.

Romans 8:33-34, “Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.”

Paul also warned Timothy about the adversary’s opportunities to speak reproachfully against those with sin in the lives.

1 Timothy 5:14, “I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house, give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully.”

This tells us that when we sin, we must be quick to confess our sins so that Jesus Christ is given the authority to intercede in our behalf to the Father. We also have the story in Job 1-2 of how Satan stood before God and accused Job of being unrighteous in his heart. The Lord said, “…and still he holdeth fast his integrity, although thou movedst me against him, to destroy him without cause.” (Job 2:3) Thus, we see that Satan’s accusations have the potential to move God against us. Job cried out for a redeemer to plead for his innocence, but there was none (Job 9:33).

Job 9:33, “Neither is there any daysman betwixt us, that might lay his hand upon us both.”

Revelation 12:10 Comments - We read in Revelation 12:10 how the Heavens rejoice because Satan, the accuser of the brethren, referring to the Church, has been cast out of Heaven. We know that during the Church age Satan is in heaven accusing the brethren. Thus, it makes sense to understand that Satan will be cast out of Heaven at the time of the Rapture of the Church, or during the middle of the seven-year Tribulation Period.

Revelation 12:11 “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb” - Word Study on “overcame” The Greek word “overcome” ( νικα ́ ω ) (G3528) is used seventeen times in the book of Revelation. Seven of those occurrences are found in John’s epistles to the seven churches of Asia Minor in which the Lord Jesus Christ exhorts these believers to overcome.

Word Study on “by” In Revelation 12:11 the Greek preposition ότι is used with the accusative, and is translated “because of” ( NASB), and “by” ( NIV, RSV, KJV).

Jesus said God purchased His Church with His own blood:

Acts 20:28, “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood .”

Romans 3:25, “Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood , to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;”

Hebrews 2:17, “Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people .”

Scripture References - Note:

Romans 5:9, “Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.”

Ephesians 1:7, “In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;”

Ephesians 2:13, “But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.”

Colossians 1:14, “In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:”

Colossians 1:20, “And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.”

Hebrews 9:12, “Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.”

Hebrews 9:22, “And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.”

Hebrews 13:12, “Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate.”

Hebrews 13:20, “Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant,”

1 Peter 1:2, “Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied.”

1 Peter 1:19, “But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:”

1 John 1:7, “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.”

Revelation 1:5, “And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood,”

Revelation 5:9, “And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation;”

Revelation 12:11 “and they loved not their lives unto the death” BDAG says that the Greek preposition ἄχρι is used in Revelation 12:11 with the genitive of manner, “faithful unto death” (see ἄχρι 1c). A person chooses to be faithful unto Jesus to the point of dying for Him.

NIV, “so much as to shrink from death.”

RSV, “even unto death.”

NASB, “even when faced with death.”

Scripture References - Note:

Luke 14:26, “If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.”

2 Corinthians 1:8-9, “For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life : But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead:”

Revelation 12:11 Comments We see in Revelation 12:11 the means by which believers are to be overcomers, which is by the blood of the Lamb, the word of their testimony and by not loving their lives even if it cost them their death. John the apostle will use this Greek word again in 1 John 5:4 by emphasizing that it is our faith in Christ Jesus that enables us to be overcomers.

1 John 5:4, “For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.”

Scripture References - Note similar verses:

Romans 8:32, “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?”

Romans 8:37, “Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.”

2 Timothy 2:12, “If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us:”

Revelation 12:14 “And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle” Comments - We find a reference to eagle’s wings in Daniel 7:4.

Daniel 7:4, “The first was like a lion, and had eagle's wings: I beheld till the wings thereof were plucked, and it was lifted up from the earth, and made stand upon the feet as a man, and a man's heart was given to it.”

In this Old Testament passage of Daniel some scholars suggest that the lion represents Great Britain and the plucked eagle’s wings represent the United States of America. If this is the case, it becomes logical to suggest that these wings of the eagle in Revelation 12:14 also represent the United States. We see in these last days how this is the only nation on earth that is standing by Israel’s side to rescue it from many anti-Semitic nations. Hilton Sutton accepts this interpretation of the eagle’s wings. [91]

[91] Hilton Sutton, Revelation: God’s Grand Finale (Tulsa, Oklahoma, c1984), 148.

Revelation 12:17 Comments - This rage that will be poured out upon the children of God in the last days will be created by Satan himself. The church has been given a way to overcome, as just stated in Revelation 12:11.

Revelation 12:11, “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.”

Bibliographical Information
Everett, Gary H. "Commentary on Revelation 12". Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghe/revelation-12.html. 2013.
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