Question: Who is the "woman" and the "dragon" and the various other characters of Revelation 12. Could you please explain what it all represents.
Answer: This chapter takes place in the middle of the Tribulation period. It shows the conflict between the two seeds which began in Genesis 3:15, "And I will put enmity between thee (Satan) and the woman, and between thy seed (Antichrist) and her seed (Christ)." The chosen seed (Christ) was to be born through his national seed of the world(Israel)and the enmity (warfare) will be continued by Satan’s seed until he is cast into the Lake of Fire in Revelation 20:10. This chapter shows his attempt to exterminate the nation of Israel.
The "woman" is none other than the nation of Israel. The moon under her feet shows the reflected glory of the Old Covenant at Sinai. The sun over her head shows us the New Covenant of glory in which she appears before God. The 12 stars on her head are referring to the 12 Tribes of Israel.
The "she" is Israel and the "child" is Christ. In Micah 5:2 God tells us where Christ is to be born, "In Bethlehem of Ephratah." This is significant because there was also a Bethlehem of Zebulon, which was a larger city. Look up these comparisons of prophecy and fulfillment by Christ, which were given so as to eliminate an impostor.
1. Come from the seed of Jacob (Numbers 24:17 with Luke 3:34)
2. Tribe of Judah (Gen. 49:10 with Luke 3:33)
3. Heir to the throne of David (Isaiah 9: with Matthew 1:1)
4. Place of birth (Micah 5:2 with Matthew 2:1)
5. Born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14 with Matthew 1:18).
6. Flight to Egypt (Hosea 11:1 with Matthew 2:l4,15)
7. A prophet (Deuteronomy 18:15 with John 6:14)
8. His Triumphal Entry (Zechariah 9:9 with John 12:13,14)
9. 30 pieces of silver ( Zech 11:12 with Matt. 26:15)
These are only few of the hundreds of prophecies concerning Christ’s First Coming. It would be impossible for any other man to fulfill all of them to the minute detail, showing us this was the true Messiah.
Since the Jews would not believe God; then they should have believed the Devil. In Verse 4 we are told that the dragon (Devil) was ready to devour the child (Christ) as soon as He was born. The Devil recognized Christ as the Messiah. This is one time he would have outsmarted himself, for had Israel been watching his attempted murder, it would have been evidence of Christ’s Messiahship. ‘What other child has Satan stood ready to murder at birth, except the Messiah. Herod was his man (Matthew 2:16), the one he used to attempt to accomplish the task.
The "Dragon" is Satan who will be the seventh ruler during the first 3and 1/2 years of the Tribulation. He will suffer a death stroke by the sword and have a resurrection and will be considered the eighth ruler (Revelation 17:10,11). He will then declare himself to be God (2 Thessalonians 2:4). He will then exercise his authority as the one-world ruler by placing 10 subordinates to oversee his provinces. They will be the overseers of his kingdom and be in complete subjection to him who has placed himself as God, king, and the ruler of the world. He has always wanted God's throne (Isa. 14:13) and the power to rule the world.
Let us now see the contrast between Verses 1 and 3. Remember, God had promised Israel a Messiah who would sit upon the throne of David, giving Israel their inheritances (Ezekiel, chapter 48) with Christ ruling the world for 1,000 years through them. No wonder Satan wanted to devour the child (Christ) for it would keep God’s word from being fulfilled, and him from being the ruler of the world!
"A third part of the stars of heaven." This is the third part of the angels that followed Satan when he tried to take over the throne of God (Ezekiel 28 and Isaiah 14).
The "man child" is Christ who was the Messiah to rule the nations with a rod of iron. Israel rejected Him and they were offered another chance after His Resurrection; but they still nationally rejected Him as their Messiah. (Acts 1:6) He ascended back to Heaven and God sent two angels to immediately proclaim
“.....this same Jesus which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven." (Acts 1:11).
Between His departure and return we are in a period of time called the Church Age, when Christ is calling Jew and Gentile to believe in His name. (John 6:47).
"And the woman fled into the wilderness." The place is undoubtedly Petra, the red rose city of stone. God has preserved Israel for thousands of years, He will have no trouble doing it for another 3 and 1/2 years.
Michael, the Archangel, (Jude 9) and his mighty angel armies fight against the "dragon" (Satan) and his 1/3. Satan loses and is cast out to earth.
"And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book." - Daniel 12:1
When they came to arrest our Lord in the Garden, He told them.
"Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?"- Matthew 26:53
God has an innumerable company of Angels (Hebrews 12:22). Satan, only has l/3, there are 2/3 still with God.
Satan will no longer have access to accuse the brethren. Why? The Judgment Seat of Christ will be over. The Christian’s two judgments will be complete. They are in Heaven because of their faith and rewarded for their works. Now, God will not allow anyone to accuse His saints. By God’s Word the Devil’s mouth will be shut and by His power he is cast out of heaven. Why is the power come? Because God cast the Devil out, He has power over him. (Job 1:12 and 2:4-6).
God has the power to bind Satan (Revelation 20:1-3), the power to cast him into the Lake of Fire (Revelation 20:10), and the power to help Christians to resist Satan by remaining steadfast in the faith. (1 Peter 5:8,9).
We are talking of the Tribulation martyrs and what it will cost them to remain faithful to the Lord. They overcame Satan by the blood of the Lamb. This was their Salvation and they knew they were going to Heaven. The word of their testimony was this,
"For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith." (4) Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God? - 1 John 5:4-5.
The Lord has this to say to them,
"Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints. - Psalm 116:15
The least we can do for the Lord is testify. The most we can do for Him is give our lives, as will the Tribulation martyrs. It does not cost us our lives to witness now. What is holding you back. Are you afraid of a little criticism.
Why rejoice? Because they will be in heaven having be1ieved in Christ, Their faith on earth is now a reality in heaven.
"Receiving the end of your faith, the salvation of your souls" (1 Peter 1:9).
Because they did not have to hear him accuse them and the brethren.
Satan appeals to our old sin nature, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life (1 John 2:16) We, as they, will someday put off the old nature, exchange it for a glorified body; and be freed from the bondage of this life and the enticements of Satan. We will be clothed with a new body free of the old sin nature (Romans 8:2l-23; Revelation 21:3).
"For our conversation (Greek - "citizenship") is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: (20) Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself. - Philippians 3:20-21
Again, remember the "woman" is Israel. Satan persecutes wherever he is. He will never stop until he is cast into the Lake of Fire. Christians should never think because they have gotten a victory over the devil one day, he will not be back the next. Sometimes his attacks are the most severe just after we have had a great victory.
If the Devil could exterminate Israel he would prove the Word of God false. But God protects His chosen ones. His Word can never be broken. In the past He saved an ungrateful, rebellious Israel simply "for His Name’s sake." (Psalm 106:8). His Word He had magnified above His name (Psalm 138:2) "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away." - Matthew 24:35
"Wings of a great eagle" to fly. Here is an example of reading Scripture literally when it is literal; and looking for what it symbolizes when a literal interpretation doesn't make sense. After all, only one set of wings will not help an entire nation to flee. God uses many things in nature to illustrate a truth. Here, He is using an eagle to symbolize His power, and wings to fly to illustrate the swiftness by which He takes Israel to a prepared place to escape the persecution of the dragon.
In your private Bible study, look up the following: Exodus 19:4; Exodus 32:11,12; Isaiah 40:31; Malachi 4:2; James 3:3; James 3:4; James 1:6, James 3:1l,12.
Notice how God uses a fountain, salt water, fig leaves, olive berries, the sea, horses, ships, wind, and birds (eagles) to symbolize and i1lusrate a truth (Matthew 13)
A Practical application. As God cares for and protects His chosen nation, Israel, we can depend upon Him to do the same thing for us individually. The Body of Christ (the Church) is a "...chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people..." (1 Peter 2:9) As the nation of Israel seems about to perish, God will provide a way of escape. We, as individuals, have God’s promise that,
"There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it. (13) Wherefore, my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry. - 1 Corinthians 10:13-14
God will "nourish" the "woman" for a "time, times, and half a time." Or;
"time" = one year,
"times" = two years; and
"half a time" = six months.
This is the same as Verse 6, giving 1,260 days, or 3-1/2 years. This is the last 3-1/2 years of the Tribulation, known as the Great Tribulation, as recorded in Matthew 24:2l. Remember, there are three tribulations spoken of in Scripture.
- The Tribulation Period, a period of seven years from the Rapture to the Revelation, known as the 70th week of Daniel (Daniel 9:27) and Jacob’s Troubles (Jeremiah 30:6,7).
- The Great Tribulation. This is the last 3 1/2 years of the seven year tribulation period, when Israel will experience the greatest persecution. “For then shall be (the) great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor shall ever be.”
It is so bad that God tells us that
“...except those days should be shortened., there should no flesh be saved.” - Matthew 24:21,22
- Tribulation of the Saints during the church age. In Colossians 1:24 the word “afflictions” is the Greek word "THILIPSIS” and is better translated “tribulations’ (2 Thessalonians 1:4; 1 Thessalonians 3:4; 2 Timothy 3:12; 1 Peter 4:14.)
We know there are many Christians suffering persecutions today in foreign lands, even to bodily harm and loss of life. They love the Lord Jesus Christ and it costs them. Do you hesitate to speak out for the Lord simply because you think you might lose a friend. If you "lose" a friend because you witness to them, they are not a true friend.
The area to which Israel will flee will undoubtedly be south of Jerusalem, in a great stretch of wilderness known as the land of Moab and Edom. In Daniel 11:41 we are told, this land escapes the control of the Anti-christ. It is in this region the city of Petra lies. Petra is almost 120 miles from Jerusalem. Now we can understand what the Lord is saying, in Matt 24:17-20.
"Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house: (17) Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes. (18) And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days! (19) But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day: - Matthew 24:17-20
The rock city of Petra is a natural fortress of solid rock which is almost invulnerable. The Moabites and Edomites dug out caves and carved temples centuries ago; which are now ready-made shelters for the Jews. There is only one entrance and that is through a narrow gorge about a mile long and in some places not more than 10 to 12 feet wide. Once inside, one man could hold off an army.
Many years ago, a man named Blackstone, realizing this prophecy, wrapped many Bibles in water proof coverings and hid them in these caves. They were put there for the Jews to find when they arrive.
What is the "flood" in this verse? There are two possibilities. This could be literal water; or a flood of people (an army) that the Anti-christ sends after Israel, As the flood is cast out of the Anti-christ's mouth it is, no doubt, referring to his giving an order to his army to overtake and kill all the Jews. This would be like a mass of people being destroyed by a flash flood. The other possibility is that there could be a great dam in that area holding back a reservoir of water. The Anti-christ could speak an order and have it blown up in an effort to release the water and literally drown the fleeing Jews.
In either case, God protects his people by opening the earth and swallowing the water or army. Remember, God divided the Red Sea for Israel and drowned the Egyptians. He also opened the earth another time and swallowed a group of rebellious people who had defied God’s leader, Moses. Read Numbers 16:30-34.
In other places in the Bible “flood” and “sea’ are used in reference to an army. Jeremiah 46:8; Ezekiel 38.9; Daniel 9:26; and also Revelation l3:l where "sea" is used to represent people or nations. Personally, I tend to think this is an army rather than literal water. But, whichever; we will be watching from the windows of Heaven for we will be with Christ when this takes place. Israel will no doubt be singing Psalm 124 after their deliverance.
"If it had not been the Lord who was on our side, now may Israel say; (1) If it had not been the Lord who was on our side, when men rose up against us: (2) Then they had swallowed us up quick, when their wrath was kindled against us: (3)
Then the waters had overwhelmed us, the stream had gone over our soul: (4) Then the proud waters had gone over our soul. (5)
Blessed be the Lord, who hath not given us as a prey to their teeth. (6) Our soul is escaped as a bird out of the snare of the fowlers: the snare is broken, and we are escaped. (7)
Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth. - Psalm 124:1-8
No matter what dispensation of time we are living in, our help is certainly in the name of the Lord!
Satan hates Christ and his followers. In Matthew 4, Satan could not defeat Christ, so he directed his attention to His children. Christ defeated him by the Word of God, “as it is written.” Satan could not destroy Christ, nor the Word of God, and neither can he defeat us if we read and obey what God says.
Just as God has sealed the 144,000, He has set His seal upon Israel. In Numbers 35, God appointed refuge cities for those who were guilty of manslaughter. Those guilty could flee to one of the cities.
Israel was also guilty of manslaughter; but God in His gracious mercy has provided a refuge city for them called Petra. Israel was not responsible alone for the death of Christ. The whole world was, “For all have sinned (Rom. 3:23) and God sent His Son to pay for the sins of the whole world (John 3:16). Just as God provided a refuge for Israel’s physical safety; so also has he promised provision for our spiritual safety. Our refuge spiritually is in Christ.
Petra, "City of Refuge"
Petra, which in the Greek means "πέτρα" "rock; or fortress; and in the Hebrew, "sela" has a similar meaning, is a historic city that has rock cut architecture and a water conduits system. Established sometime around the 6th century BC as the capital city of the Nabataeans,. It lies on the slope of Mount Hor in a basin among the mountains which form the eastern flank of Arabah (Wadi Araba), the large valley running from the Dead Sea to the Gulf of Aqaba. The site remained unknown to the Western world until 1812, when it was introduced by Swiss explorer Johann Ludwig Burckhardt. It was described as "a rose-red city half as old as time" in a prize-winning sonnet by John William Burgon.
Pliny the Elder and other writers identify Petra as the capital of the Nabataeans, Aramaic-speaking Semites, and the center of their caravan trade. Enclosed by towering rocks and watered by a perennial stream, Petra not only possessed the advantages of a fortress, but controlled the main commercial routes which passed through it to Bosra and Damascus in the north, to Aqaba and other locations on the Red Sea, and across the desert to the Persian Gulf.
Excavations have demonstrated that it was the ability of the Nabataeans to control the water supply that led to the rise of the desert city, creating an artificial oasis. The area is visited by flash floods and archaeological evidence demonstrates the Nabataeans controlled these floods by the use of dams, cisterns and water conduits. These innovations stored water for prolonged periods of drought, and enabled the city to prosper from its sale.
(Above) The narrow passage, called "The Siq" that leads to Petra, looking toward "The Treasury."
Petra is known as the Rose-Red City for the color of the rocks in which Petra is carved.
Chronicles 25:12 calls it the "Valley of Salt," which recalls the salt caravans of ancient and modern History.
On the authority of Josephus (Antiquities of the Jews iv. 7, 1-4, 7) Eusebius and Jerome (Onom. sacr. 286, 71. 145, 9; 228, 55. 287, 94) assert that Rekem was the native name and Rekem appears in the Dead Sea scrolls as a prominent Edom site most closely describing P
A little further from the Treasury (above), is a massive theatre, so placed as to bring the greatest number of tombs within view. At the point where the valley opens out into the plain, the site of the city is revealed with striking effect. The amphitheatre has been cut into the hillside and into several of the tombs during its construction. Rectangular gaps in the seating are still visible. Almost enclosing it on three sides are rose-colored mountain walls, divided into groups by deep fissures, and lined with knobs cut from the rock in the form of towers.
Evidence suggests that settlements had begun in and around Petra about 1550-1292 BC. It is listed in Egyptian campaign accounts and the Amarna letters as Pel, Sela or Seir. A sanctuary has existed there since very ancient times. This part of the country was biblically assigned to the Horites, the predecessors of the Edomites.
The habits of the original natives may have influenced the Nabataean custom of burying the dead and offering worship in half-excavated caves. 2 Kings 14:7 gives the meaning of "Sela, the rock-city of Idumæa :- rock, Sela (-h)." Strong's Talking Greek & Hebrew Dictionary. In the parallel passage in 2 Chronicles 25:11,12, however, "Sela" means "from an unused root meaning to be lofty; a craggy rock, literal or figurative (a fortress) :- (ragged) rock, stone (-ny), strong hold. Strong's Talking Greek & Hebrew Dictionary." 2
etra and associated with Mount Seir.
Under Roman rule, in 106 AD, that part of Arabia under the rule of Petra was absorbed into the Roman Empire as part of Arabia Petraea, becoming its capital. The native dynasty came to an end. But the city continued to flourish. A century later, in the time of Alexander Severus, when the city was at the height of its splendor, the issue of coinage comes to an end. There is no more building of sumptuous tombs, owing apparently to some sudden catastrophe, such as an invasion by the Sassanid Persians.
Christianity found its way to Petra in the 4th century AD, nearly 500 years after the establishment of Petra as a trade center. Athanasius mentions a bishop of Petra. At least one of the tombs (the "tomb with the urn"?) was used as a church. An inscription in red paint records its consecration "in the time of the most holy bishop Jason" (447).
Petra declined rapidly under Roman rule, in large part due to the revision of sea-based trade routes. In 363 an earthquake destroyed many buildings, and crippled the vital water management system. The ruins of Petra were merely an object of curiosity in the Middle Ages, and the first European to describe them was Johann Ludwig Burckhardt in 1812. Because the structures weakened with age, many of the tombs became vulnerable to thieves, and many treasures were stolen.
Here is Dean John William Burgon's Poem Petra. He is referring to it as the inaccessible city which he had heard described; but had never seen.
"It seems no work of Man's creative hand,
By labour wrought as wavering fancy planned;
But from the rock as if by magic grown,
Eternal, silent, beautiful, alone!
Not virgin-white like that old Doric shrine,
Where erst Athena held her rites divine;
Not saintly-grey, like many a minster fane,
That crowns the hill and consecrates the plain;
But rose-red as if the blush of dawn,
That first beheld them were not yet
Match me such marvel save in Eastern clime,
A rose-red city half as old as time."