Revelation 12 takes us back in time to eternity past and gives us a panoramic view of human history through the end of the Tribulation. There are six characters in this chapter: 1) the woman 2) the red dragon 3) the child 4) the archangel 5) Israel and 6) the Jewish remnant.
The woman is a type of the nation of Israel, who had been “travailing in pain” awaiting the arrival of the Messiah, Jesus Christ. The cause of this pain was the persecution that the nation of Israel had endured at the hands of Satan and his satanic forces. They had been attempting to stop the birth of the child (Jesus Christ) and destroy the people of God (Israel). The symbolism of being clothed in the sun, the moon under her feet and the twelve crowns on her head have historical significance in light of Genesis 37 where Jacob (the sun) and Rachel (the moon) bring Joseph (the twelve crowns) a type of Jesus Christ, into this world.
The red dragon is Satan. The Greek word for dragon is “drakon” meaning to see clearly, which is an obvious reference to Satan’s superior intelligence. The seven heads, the ten horns and the seven crowns (diadems) seem to represent a number of satanically influenced world powers who exist throughout history, as seen in Daniel 7:7-8,24. The reference to one-third of the stars (angels) further reinforces the fact that the dragon is Satan and that it is his goal to destroy the Messiah.
The child is Jesus Christ the Messiah who was born a Jew. This Child will rule (destroy) the evil nations and rule over the millennial nations with a “rod of iron.” It is this Child Who was caught up to Heaven at His ascension and seated at the right hand of God where Satan could no longer inflict pain and suffering upon Him. Therefore, Satan shifted his attention to the nation of Israel, causing them to flee into the wilderness, where they will be protected by God, for the last half of the Tribulation.
The archangel is Michael, who along with his army of elect angels, wages war against Satan and his fallen angels. The result will be that Satan and his angels are cast to the earth during the last half of the Tribulation. When Satan and his followers are permanently cast out of Heaven, rejoicing naturally breaks out among the elect angels. Satan is also identified as the one who continually accused the believers before God day and night. (Revelation 12:7-9)
During the Tribulation, the way believers will overcome Satan and his evil forces will be by their faith in Christ (blood of the Lamb) and by their execution of God’s plan, purpose and will (the word of their testimony). Furthermore, they will be willing to give up their lives rather than worship the Anti-Christ. A warning will be given to those who are on earth during the last half of the Tribulation because Satan will be at work among them, and knowing that his time is short, he will be fiercer than ever.
“For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world; and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. Who is He that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?” (I John 5:4-5) Jesus Christ won the strategic victory (planning and directing of operations to counter the enemy) over Satan and His world system. At salvation, the believer shares in this strategic victory. Christ dealt Satan a fatal blow that will be reality at the end of human history when Satan and his fallen angels are cast into the Lake of Fire for all eternity. (Hebrews 6:17-20; Colossians 2:9-15; Revelation 19:20)
It is because of Christ’s strategic victory over Satan that the believer has the potential to win the tactical victory (the method or procedure carried out against the enemy) over Satan and His world system. The filling of the Holy Spirit supplies the power to accomplish this. The Christian Way of Life is a supernatural way of life and it requires a supernatural power to live it and to overcome the tactics of Satan, his demons (fallen angels) and his world system. (John 16:33; I Corinthians 15:51-57; I John 5:1-21)
Overcometh is the Greek word “nikao” and means to prevail. How has the believer overcome? He has overcome by his faith in Christ. The person who has come to believe that Jesus is the Son of God is the one trusting Christ as Savior, and thereby, winning the strategic victory over Satan and his cosmic system. (I John 5:4-5; Revelation 12:11)
Many privileges are given to the believer at the moment of salvation and many are given after salvation. However, opportunities must be seized by personal volition. As a believer, you are the most privileged person on the face of the earth, but at the same time you may be missing the opportunities for fantastic blessing by not executing God’s plan, purpose and will for your life. Tactical victory comes over a period of time as the believer makes thousands of right decisions regarding God, himself, others and circumstances. Winning the tactical victory is done by the believer who is being empowered by God the Holy Spirit as he organizes his life around right priorities: Jesus Christ must be the most important person in your life, learning and applying accurate Bible doctrine must be placed above personal pleasure or your career, and virtue (a strict adherence to the truth) must drive every decision you make in life. (Ephesians 4:14-15)
Privilege in life is always accompanied by responsibility. This is also true with the Royal Family of God. Our first responsibility, of course, is to God as Royal Priests, and our second responsibility is to others as Royal Ambassadors. Christ’s strategic victory secured only potential for the tactical victory. As believers, we all have equal privilege and equal opportunity to execute the Christian Way of Life. Some believers will choose to do so and some will not. Those who fail in their responsibility to God will experience a life of misery and unhappiness. Those who choose to embrace and fulfill their responsibility to God will experience a life of peace and happiness.
The “two wings of a great eagle” that Israel will be given, signify great strength and rapid flight to escape the pursuit of Satan and his forces. There are parallel passages in Exodus 19:4, Deuteronomy 32:11 and Isaiah 40:31. Since Satan will not be able to overtake the woman (Israel), he will attempt to drown her. However, once again God will be protecting Israel, and the earth will absorb the water keeping Israel from harm. Finally, in Revelation 12:17 we see the battle of Armageddon when Satan and his forces make war with the children of God (believers). (Revelation 19:17-19)
God has always protected His people. Jehovah-Nissi, one of the names of God, means the Lord our Banner. In Exodus 17:8-16 we see an example of God’s protection of His people. Jesus Christ is our Standard-bearer, Who goes before us to win the battle, both strategically and tactically. We see this in Philippians 3:7-21in five stages:
Stage 1- Salvation - (Veracity) v.7-9
Stage 2- Childhood - (Values) v.10-11
Stage 3- Adolescence - (Virtue) v. 12-14
Stage 4- Maturity - (Velocity) v.15-19
Stage 5- Ultimate Sanctification - (Virtual Reality) v.20-21
7. But whatsoever things were profitable to me, those things I judged to be forfeited for the sake of Christ. 8. More than that, I judge all things to be forfeited in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things and judge them all to be rubbish in order that I may gain Christ, 9. And be found in Him not having a righteousness of my own derived from the law, but that righteousness which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith. 10. That I may know and understand Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being partaker of His death by faith. 11. In order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. 12. Not that I have already attained it or have
already become spiritually mature but I press on in order that I may possess as mine, that which I am possessed of by Christ Jesus. 13. Brethren, I do not judge myself to have already possessed it but this one thing I do, forgetting the past I reach forward to the things in the future. 14. I pursue, as if I was in a footrace, the goal of the reward which is in my heavenly destination from God in Christ Jesus. 15. Let us, therefore, as many as are spiritually mature, think in reference to this attitude of reaching this goal and if in anything you have a different attitude, God will reveal it to you. 16. However, let us keep pursuing that standard to which we have attained. 17. Brethren, join in following my example and observe those who pursue the same pattern that you have seen in us. 18. (For many pursue a course, of whom I have told you and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ. 19. Whose end is a loss of spiritual well-being, whose god is their appetites or emotions and whose self-praise is what they should be ashamed of, who set their minds on earthly things).
20. For our citizenship is in heaven from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. 21. Who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory by the exertion of the power that He has, even to subject all things to Himself.