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Bible Commentaries

John Brown's Commentary on Selected Book of the Bible

Revelation 12

Verses 1-17

John Brown

Rev_11:19 ; Rev_12:1-17

War

A riot is a spontaneous outburst. A war is subject to advance planning. --Richard M. Nixon

The grim fact is that we prepare for war like precocious giants, and for peace like retarded pygmies. --Lester Bowles Pearson

I. INTRODUCTION

A. This morning we will continue our study in the book of Revelation starting with chapter 12.

1. Actually, the chapter break is unfortunate, since the chapter should begin with verse Rev_11:19 .

2. It is there that the thought, the text, and the "context" changes!

B. This chapter is a chapter of "wonders" as stated in verses 1 and 3.

1. The King James uses the word "wonder", but other translations simple call it a "sign".

a) Meaning that much of it is "symbolic" in nature!

C. Rev_12:1 ; Rev_12:3 ; Rev_12:12 ; Rev_12:14 is also a chapter of "great" things. There is a high level of drama and intensity as we see phrases like "a great wonder" in verse1, and "a great red dragon" in verse 3, "great wrath" in verse 12, and "two wings of a great eagle" in verse 14!

1. So, let's take a look at this "great" chapter!

II. TEXT

A. The last verse in chapter 11 gives us a hint as to the interpretation of the following chapter!

1. Rev_11:19 Then the temple of God was opened in heaven, and the ark of His covenant was seen in His temple. And there were lightnings, noises, thunderings, an earthquake, and great hail. (NKJV)

2. The temple of God and the ark of the convenant are Jewish in origin!

a) We know that for the resurrected church there will be no temple for we will worship the Lord in Spirit and Truth!

(1) Rev_21:22-23 But I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.

23 The city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it. The Lamb is its light. (NKJV)

b) We also know there will be no need for the ark of the covenant because Jesus will be the fulfillment of all the Old Testament "types".

(1) Therefore verse 19 in chapter 11 speak of God's covenant with the nation of Israel!

(2) Which better helps us understand the what follows!

B. The first "sign" we see in chapter 12 is "a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a garland of twelve stars"

1. Rev_12:1-2 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.

2 Then being with child, she cried out in labor and in pain to give birth. (NKJV)

a) There are 4 "women" represented in the book of Revelation.

(1) They are Jezebel ( Rev_2:20 ), who represents paganism.

(2) Israel ( Rev_12:6 )

(3) The "scarlet woman" ( Rev_17:1 ), who represents the apostate, or backslidden church.

(4) And the Lamb's Wife ( Rev_19:7 ), which is the true church!

(a) Which one is this?

b) This is not the virgin Mary as the Catholic church teaches it to be!

(1) There is not a shred of scriptural evidence that the body of Mary ever ascended into Heaven, and yet this woman is in John's vision of Heaven!

c) This is not the Church as some Protestant churches teach today!

(1) You see, the Church did not give birth to Christ. Christ gave birth to the Church!!

d) Mary Baker Eddie claimed that this woman was herself and that the "manchild" she brought forth was Christian Science!

(1) Dr. Henry Ironsides was quoted as saying about this theory, "I need not take up the time of sane people."

(2) We, likewise will spend no more time on Mary Baker Eddie's theory!

e) If you will remember Joseph's dream in Gen_37:9 , he interpreted the sun, moon, and 12 stars to be his father, mother and 12 brothers who would one day bow down to him.

(1) Jacob, Joseph's father, was the only one to accept this at the time and he understood it to mean his entire family, symbolically the nation of Israel!

(2) We must not limit it to practical Israel though. This woman is "spiritual Israel" as well. The lineage goes backward in time to the seed of Eve, and forward in time to the seed of Mary and the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ!

(a) This "woman" represents the age-old struggle and battle of all Christianity against satan and his desire to destroy the "man child" that would bring salvation!

(b) It was indeed from the chosen nation of Israel that the child Jesus was born!

C. The next "sign" we see is in verse 3and 4 Rev_12:3-4 And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great, fiery red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems on his heads.

4 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. (NKJV)

1. We shouldn't have much of a problem identifying this guy!

2. Rev_12:9 So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. (NKJV)

a) Seven speaks of completeness, the heads, horns, and crowns speak of authority and power!

b) Eph_6:12 gives us a wonderful summary and interpretation of this verse: 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. (NKJV)

c) The "stars" speak of the fallen angels under the influence and authority of satan to "control" these earthy powers and dominions!

(1) Scripture gives strong indication that there is a least one powerful demon in charge of the destruction of every nation!

d) The "seed of the serpent" has been at war with the "seed of woman", "Israel's" child since the devine pronouncement in Gen_3:15 .

(1) He has been trying to destroy the Christian witness since his proud heart rebelled against the plans of God!

(2) Every attempt he has made against the "manchild" and HIS mission has failed!!

D. Rev_12:5-6 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.

6 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. (NKJV)

1. The time frame here is 3 1/2 years into the tribulation! Verse 6 tells us that the Lord will provide a special place, and preserve the nation of Israel through the tribulation!

E. Rev_12:7-9 And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought,

8 but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer.

9 So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. (NKJV)

1. These events will take place during the final half of the tribulation!

a) They begin with the blowing of the 7th trumpet and continue through chapter 19 of Revelation.

b) They are the last 3 1/2 years of Daniel's 70th week!

2. The events in verse 7 do not begin until the Church is in the presence of the Lord.

3. In fact, some commentators believe that this "war" spoken of in verse 7 actually started as a result of the church being raptured. That means it has been going on for 3 1/2 years!

a) You see Michael is a warrior, not a messenger!

b) And Yet 1Th_4:16 tells us that . . .the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. (NKJV)

c) Michael is usually involved when he is in battle with satan over the welfare of the saints!

(1) As he did over the body of Moses according to Jude!

(2) As Christians we must remember that satan is not in hell!!!! He has never been in hell!

(3) It is a place prepared for him and his angels but, his present home is the "air" or stellar heavens!

(a) Eph_2:2-3 in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience,

3 among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others. (NKJV)

(4) He has access to heaven and stands before the Lord accusing the brethren!!

(5) It is this domain the Lord recaptures first! Satan looses this battle!

(6) This time cast to earth and only earth!

F. Rev_12:10-12 Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, "Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down.

11 "And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.

12 "Therefore rejoice, O heavens, and you who dwell in them! Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and the sea! For the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has a short time." (NKJV)

1. All of heaven rejoice over the victory of Michael and the angels as satan is kicked out of the heavens! He will never be allowed to stand before the Lord again to accuse the brethren!!!

2. Notice how they (the Christians) overcame satan!

a) 2Co_10:4 For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, (NKJV)

b) They, (WE) overcame with 3 simple weapons: the blood of the lamb (the cross), the word of our testimony (the only true Word), and our desire and ability to live for Christ and His purposes instead of our own!!

c) While heaven is rejoicing, earth is definitely not!

(1) satan is ticked! He only has a short time to do all the damage he can!!

III. CONCLUSION

A. Rev_12:13-17 Now when the dragon saw that he had been cast to the earth, he persecuted the woman who gave birth to the male Child.

14 But the woman was given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness to her place, where she is nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent.

15 So the serpent spewed water out of his mouth like a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away by the flood.

16 But the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed up the flood which the dragon had spewed out of his mouth.

17 And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ. (NKJV)

1. satan steps up his persecution of the remaining Jewish 144,000.

2. The Lord provides some sort of devine "airlift" that John symbolically describes as "two wings of a great eagle"!

a) John doesn't tell us specifically what it is but we know that the Lord divinely protects her for the remainder of the tribulation!

b) With all this evidence, why would any one want to be on the loosing side of this war?

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Bibliographical Information
Brown, John. "Commentary on Revelation 12". John Brown's Commentary on Selected Books of the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jbs/revelation-12.html.