Wow! Chapter 12 of Revelation is intriguing. A red dragon tries to devour a man child born to a shining woman. The child escapes and is caught up to Heaven. The woman flees into the wilderness. There is war in heaven and the dragon and his angels are cast to the earth. Heaven rejoices! But now the dragon is really mad because he knows he’s running out of time. He goes to make war on God’s people.
What is going on here?
Remember the book of Revelation is full of symbols. A symbol is something that represents somethings else. The following clues (Bible texts) will help explain these symbols. Then maybe things will make more sense.
- Woman or bride = God’s people (Isa. 54:5-6; Eph. 5:25-32), both old and new testament.
- Dragon = Satan, also called the devil (Rev. 12:9)
- Stars = angels (Rev. 1:20, 12:9). These are either fallen angels (demons) or God’s angels.
- Man child that rules with rod of iron = Jesus (Ps. 2:7-9)
The Main Story
The main story of the book of Revelation is the war between Jesus and Satan. It is a war of ideas. Who is telling the truth? Is God really a God of love who knows what’s best? Or can we do just as well without Him?
Here’s the story as I understand it.
John saw a shining woman representing God’s chosen people. The child is Jesus the promised messiah that came through God’s people Israel. The dragon is Satan and he wanted to destroy Jesus right away. Remember how all the baby boys in Bethlehem were ordered to be killed? Not only that, but Satan had taken a third of the angels in heaven with him when he turned away from God way back in the beginning.
Notice how the dragon has seven crowns on his head. He wants to be the ruler of this world. There is a war going on. But we know Jesus is the true King of kings who wears many crowns (Rev. 19:12-16). Satan’s always trying to be like God and take over.
Revelation doesn’t focus on Jesus’ earthly life. It focuses on what Jesus did and is doing in Heaven. So here the story skips right to when Jesus is taken up to God and his throne in heaven after his resurrection.
When this happened there was war in heaven. Can you imagine war in heaven, the very place God lives! How sad Jesus must have been. This war may have been a war of words, because the Bible describes Satan as deceiving the whole world. But God’s angels weren’t falling for his lies anymore. They had seen God’s great love in sending Jesus to die for us.
Thankfully, Satan and his angels were thrown out of heaven for good this time because Jesus had won the victory on the cross. Satan can no longer accuse us of our sins and say we deserve to die because Jesus paid the price for our sins and forgives all who ask him too. What a wonderful God!
God’s people overcome the devil by relying on Jesus who died for us and by sharing what Jesus has done for us (“the word of their testimony”). When we love Jesus that much, we are willing to die for him. After all, he can raise us to life again.
Back to the story….
Satan was very mad. Since he couldn’t get Jesus, he goes after God’s people. God protects his people by sending them into the wilderness for a certain amount of time. This time was 1,260 years during the dark ages. This was the same time of the two witnesses in chapter 11. God has always protected small groups of faithful followers from Satan’s deceptions and false teachings to carry the truth forward. This makes Satan very mad so he goes to make war with the followers of Christ living in the last part of earth’s history. This faithful group of people keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus.
Are you a commandment keeper?
Keeping God’s commandments do not save us. We are only saved by accepting Jesus who died in our place. However, the Bible says that if we love God we will keep his commandments (John 14:15, 21; Exod. 20:6). God’s way is love and when we love like Jesus, we will naturally want to keep his commandments of love.
Read God’s commandments that he wrote with his own finger (Exod. 20:1-17).
Are you keeping God’s commandments just the way he asked us to? Pray for Jesus to open your heart and make you to want to keep all his laws of love.
The next two chapters of Revelation are all about this war against God’s people in the last part of earth’s history. I believe we are living in the very last part of this world’s history. We don’t have to be afraid because we know that Jesus won the victory over Satan when he died on the cross, rose again and returned to heaven to rule on his throne. There are still some battles to face, but Jesus is our shield and strength!
Note to parents: There are many more reference texts and details to explore in this chapter that are beyond the scope of most children. If you or your older teenagers want to go into more depth in the study of Revelation, I have an in-depth Bible study of Revelation now available at www.revelationstudyguide.com.