Please read "Understanding the Book of Revelation" before reading this Chapter. Notes of Clarification are written in this Font Color.
The Book of Revelation
Prelude - Events are Shown Again
The Woman and the Dragon
The Manchild Rapture
Satan is Cast to the Earth
Beginning at the twelfth Chapter, the Book of Revelation covers events again. There is parallel prophecy showing the same time periods, but with different details. Chronologically Chapter 12 returns to Chapter 4, just before the ending of the Church age and the Rapture of the First-Fruit Overcomers. Notice the difference in the details that are given after the Rapture takes place in these two chapters.
In Chapter 4 we saw events taking place in Heaven after the Rapture.
In Chapter 12 we see events that will take place on Earth after the Rapture.
Thus, Chapter 12 begins before the Rapture and before the rise of the Antichrist and his ten-horned kingdom. There are various reasons why this is so. For one thing, you will notice that the dragon, which is the devil, has seven heads (kingdoms), and these seven heads are Crowned. This shows that the imagery of the Woman and the dragon pertains to "the times of the Gentiles". However, the ten horns which represent the ten kings which appear at the end, and who give their power to the Antichrist, have no Crowns as yet. The Tribulation, at that point, has therefore not yet begun. In the 13th chapter of Revelation, when the Antichrist reigns, we see that the ten horns then have Crowns!
The Woman and the Dragon
1 And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars:
FIRST, the Woman is a Heavenly Sign. She is also a symbol of Spiritual Israel (not carnal or natural Israel), and she represents God's Saints, the true church which, although on earth, sits in heavenly places with Christ Jesus.
Ephesians 2:4,6: "But God ... has raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus."
She holds this position but not without conflict, for she must wrestle with Satan and his angels which are also in high places.
Ephesians 6:12: "For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against ... spiritual wickedness in high places."
SECOND, the woman is "clothed with the sun." The sun is a symbol of Christ who is our righteousness.
Malachi 4:2: "The Sun of righteousness shall arise with healing in His wings."
THIRD, the moon is under her feet. This shows that the church is in the heavens as well as on earth. As the moon reflects the sun in the darkness of the night, so the Church reflects the Son of Righteousness in the darkness of this age.
In The Song of Solomon we see a beautiful picture of the Bride.
Song of Solomon 6:10: “Who is she that looks forth as the morning, fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners?"
Song of Solomon 6:10: “Who is she (The Bride of Christ) that looks forth as the Morning, (Like the Sunrise in all of its Glory) Fair as the Moon, (She reflects the Righteousness of Christ) Clear as the Sun, (She is Clothed with the Sun with Pure Spotless Beauty) and Terrible (Majestic) as an Army with Banners?” (She is set as an Army in Spiritual Warfare against the powers of evil.)
FOURTH, the twelve stars answer to the Twelve Apostles of the Lamb. As a further indication of the close relation of the Church and Israel, Christ promised the Apostles that they would "sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes".
Matthew 19:28: Jesus said ... "you, which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of His glory, you also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel."
2 And she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered.
3 And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon [Satan], having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads.
The woman faces a dragon [Satan] who has seven heads and ten horns. Bible scholars generally agree that these seven heads of the dragon, represent seven successive empires that rise in the world. These were, in succession, Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Media-Persia, Greece, and Rome. The seventh is the coming empire of the Antichrist. The ten horns are the ten kings who receive power with him during the Great Tribulation.
However, since the ten horns are not Crowned, as they are in Revelation 13:1, we understand that the imagery here portrays the Woman and Satan in opposition as natural enemies during the past ages, with the moment of action marked by the Woman travailing in the birth of the Manchild.
4 And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, (this is the one-third group of rebellious angelic hosts who chose to follow Satan, Ezekiel 28) and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon [Satan], stood before the woman [church/Israel] which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born.
The Manchild Rapture
5 And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to His throne.
The Birth of Christ was years before this prophecy was given. Prophecy relates to the future rather than the past, so while the imagery of this verse may also speak of the Birth of Christ, it must have primary reference to the future. Christ was not Raptured to Heaven at birth, He lived 33 years, died on the cross, was resurrected, and 40 days later He ascended to Heaven. In contrast, the Manchild [His Body of Believers] is Raptured at Birth.
In Revelation 2:26-27:the Overcomers were promised to be given this "Rod of Iron" to rule the Nations ... "And he (all mankind) that overcomes, and keeps my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations: And he shall rule them with a rod of iron."
The Overcomers, are translated before the Great Tribulation in a First-Fruit Rapture, and the final Harvest and Resurrection will take place afterwards, before the Day of God's Wrath.
CHRIST is the FIRST of the First-Fruits. The Manchild Saints are caught up to God by Rapture. These Saints are the Overcomers. They are the First-Fruits unto God that "follow the Lamb whithersoever He goes." In Revelation 14, while the Tribulation is still on, we find this company of people standing on the Heavenly Zion, singing a new song before the Throne. They are without guile and "without fault before the Throne of God."
6 And the woman [Israel] fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days [1,260 days or 3 ½ years].
Compare Verse 6 with Verse 14.
These two events, the catching up of the Saints and the fleeing of the Woman, are separated in time by 3 ½ years. The Two Witnesses began their 3 ½ year ministry of prophesying in Israel after the Rapture, and this event, the woman fleeing into the wilderness, occurs just after the Beast/Antichrist overcomes and kills the two witnesses in Revelation 11:7. The Jews flee to the wilderness in the middle of the tribulation, when their Temple is made desolate. The Antichrist may make the Third Temple his headquarters after cutting off the sacrifices there and his Image/statue will be set up in the Temple. This is the "abomination of desolation" .
Matthew 24:15-21: “When you therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place” (whoever reads, let him understand), “Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains: Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes. And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days! But pray that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the Sabbath day: For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be."
The urgency of Christ’s command to flee as soon as the abomination of desolation stands in the holy place, indicates that they must flee immediately, no opportunity for packing belongings, or anything else. The nearest desert area they can reach will be their only opportunity for survival during this second half of the seven year Tribulation period. The Jews who have listened to the two witnesses and have come to believe that Jesus is their Messiah will take warning and flee into the mountains where God will sustain them for three and a half years, and everywhere believers will attempt to flee to remote places in their effort to escape the Antichrist.
Having "a place prepared by God" conveys that preparation has been made prior to her flight so that the place is ready for her upon her arrival. Some believe this place in the wilderness where Israel finds safety during this last 3 ½ years will be the rock city of Petra, in Jordan, south of the Dead Sea. The Bible says that Jordan will escape from the Antichrist's grasp.
Daniel 11:41: "He shall enter also into the glorious land, and many countries shall be overthrown: but these shall escape out of his hand, even Edom, and Moab, and the chief of the children of Ammon."
In modern times there is one nation encompassing those exact three peoples. We know it from the name Ammon, which is the capital of Jordan.
“That they should feed her there”, indicates that the physical needs of the woman will be met in her wilderness hiding place. “They”, seems to indicate the participation of others in providing for her nourishment. In the same way that the ravens (unclean birds) and a Gentile widow were used to feed Elijah during his time of drought, so too will others be used to provide for the Jewish remnant. Perhaps this is an indication that the Jewish remnant will be provided for by Gentile means. During the Tribulation, the need for provision will be intensified in their case because no one will be able to buy or sell without the mark of the beast during this three and one-half years. This time of testing in the wilderness, fed by God, will result in the full conversion of those Jews who remain alive.
Satan and His Angels Cast to the Earth
7 And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon [devil] fought and his angels,
8 And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in Heaven.
9 And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceives the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
10 And I heard a loud voice saying in Heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.
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.
12 Therefore rejoice, you Heavens, and you that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has but a short time.
When the devil and his angels are cast out of the heavenlies, he knows that it will be only a short time of seven years and then he will be chained and the Millennium will begin.
Michael the archangel, is the leader of God's angelic forces. Because the catching away of the Manchild evidently has a definite connection with Satan's defeat and overthrow in the heavenlies. Michael and his angels war against Satan and his angels. But in some way the testimony of the saints also has a vital part in the overthrow of Satan in the heavenlies. That testimony is seen in Verse 11: "And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony." This ejection of Satan ends his occupation of the heavenlies. He is now cast down to earth.
Michael also appears again in the book of Daniel, where we are told that he will come to the rescue of the people of God, at the time of the end:
Daniel 12:1: "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, everyone that shall be found written in the book."
13 And when the dragon [Satan] saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman [church-Israel] which brought forth the man child. [The Raptured Saints]
14 And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time [3 ½ years], from the face of the serpent.
Compare Verse 14 with Verse 6.
Every sentence given in the Book of Revelation has significance. The reason this prophecy is repeated twice may be because there are two phases to it. In Verse 14, "the woman is given two wings of a Great Eagle that she might fly into the wilderness". One may notice that the bald eagle is known as the emblem of the United States of America and at the time when John was given the Revelation, America was a wilderness unknown to civilization. There may be an epic airlift of huge numbers of God's covenant people and Christian believers into a place of safety.
The “wings of the great Eagle” are also an allusion to God’s own description of the Exodus experience and his tender care for the young Israel.
Deuteronomy 32:10,11 says: “He found him in a desert land, and in the waste howling wilderness; he led him about, he instructed him, he kept him as the apple of his eye. As an eagle stirreth up her nest, fluttereth over her young, spreadeth abroad her wings, taketh them, beareth them on her wings.”
Exodus 19:4 says: “I bare you on eagles' wings, and brought you unto Myself.”
15 And the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood.
Satan indwelling the Antichrist has him to pursue Israel with his armies and at this point God intervenes on Israel’s behalf and the earth miraculously opens up and swallows the Antichrist's armies.
16 And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed up the flood which the dragon cast out of his mouth.
17 And the dragon was wroth (Furious/Enraged) with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.
Daniel 7:25 "And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High (with persecution), and think to change times [of sacred feasts and holy days] and laws: and they [the saints] shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time [3 ½ years]."
Notice that after the Manchild is caught up to the throne of God, the woman undergoes a change of position. Satan now persecutes the woman. She is no longer in the heavenlies but is seen on earth, exceedingly weakened by the birth of the Manchild. The Tribulation church no longer sits in the heavenlies, but "the remnant of her seed", are left on earth to contend with the powers of hell which are now cast into their midst.
After the Manchild Company is caught up to heaven, the rest of the seed of the woman is left on earth, fulfilling the words of Jesus, "the one shall be taken, and the other left." Satan's persecution of the seed of the woman is accomplished through the Antichrist who now comes on the scene. His war is not only against the believing Jews but against all the Christians of "all nations, and kindreds, and people and tongues." Satan persecutes Israel and the Gentile Christians.
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The Woman Clothed With The Sun And
The Rapture Of The Child
Revelation 12:1-4: And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a Woman clothed with the Sun and the Moon under her feet, and upon her head a Crown of twelve stars: And she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered. And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads. And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born.
The interpretation of the symbol of the sun-clothed woman is a crucial one in understanding prophecy. Some say she represents Israel. Others say that she represents the church. There is no doubt that she is a symbol of Israel, but she represents more than national Israel. The sun-clad woman represents the true church, the called out ones of all ages, whom Satan ever persecutes in his effort to destroy her seed. She was the "'church in the wilderness" when Israel escaped Pharaoh and fled from Egypt (Acts 7:35). The sun-clad woman represents the church of all dispensations in age-long conflict with Satan. This is shown in the fact that the Great Red Dragon in the symbolism has seven crowns upon his seven heads, thus indicating the whole period of history. (There will be altogether seven world-wide Gentile kingdoms during this age.)
The church and Israel are distinct, yet interwoven together in God's redemption plan and are more closely related than we realize. The early church was in fact composed almost entirely of Jews at its inception. It took on the Gentile aspect only after the apostle Paul received his commission to minister to the Gentiles. Paul saw Israel and the church as distinct entities, yet both a part of the same olive tree (Romans 11:23-25).
Israel and the church flowed together at the beginning of the church dispensation and diverged only when the Jewish nation filled to the full her cup of iniquity by rejecting the Holy Spirit (Acts 7:51). At the end of the age when Israel's national restoration takes place, the people will accept Him whom they have pierced, and we shall see a regrafting of Israel into the same olive tree as the church-although of course the two will still have distinctive identities and missions.
The sun-clad woman, as she represents God's people at the end of the age, certainly includes the church. First, she is a "Heavenly sign". The church, although on earth, sits in heavenly places with Christ Jesus: "And has raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus" (Eph. 2:6). She holds this position not without conflict, for she must wrestle with Satan and his angels which are also in high places (Eph. 6:12).
Second, the woman is "clothed with the sun." The sun is a symbol of Christ who is our righteousness (Mal. 4: 2).
Third, the "moon is under her feet". This expression shows that the church is in the heavens as well as on earth. Song of Solomon 6:10 says, "Who is she that looketh forth as the morning, fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners?". This is a picture of the church clothed with the sun, fair as the moon, set as an army in a spiritual warfare against the powers of evil.
She also has a crown of 12 stars. Rev. 1:20 shows us that stars symbolize the leaders of the church, as well as those of Israel. The twelve stars answer to the twelve apostles of the Lamb: Notice one thing more: The dragon's seven heads, which represent the seven successive world empires, are all crowned. The woman therefore has been in existence during this entire period. However, the ten horns are not crowned as we see they will be in Rev. 13:1. This shows that in point of time Rev. 12 is just before the Great Tribulation. For in Rev. 13 the ten horns of the kingdom of the Antichrist are crowned, showing that by then the Tribulation has arrived.
Now, we notice that the sun-clothed woman is in travail. She brings forth a Child who is to rule the nations with a rod of iron. While this Child does symbolize Christ in a retro-prophetic way, this is not the primary fulfillment. The prophecy was, in fact, given over sixty years after Christ ascended to heaven. It just could not be a prophecy if it referred only to the past. Prophecy refers to the future.
Revelation 2:26-27: And he that overcomes, and keeps my works to the end, to him will I give power over the nations: And he shall rule them with a rod of iron.
In the light of these verses, it is obvious that this prophecy refers primarily to a Company of overcomers who are to rule the nations with a rod of iron:
Revelation 12:5- 6: And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up to God, and to His throne.
This Man Child Company, it is to be noted, is caught up to heaven, just before the Great Tribulation begins. The Man Child cannot be a primary symbol of Christ at this point, for He was caught up to heaven 1900 years before. The Rapture of the Man Child Company at this time is powerful proof that there is a First-Fruit Rapture just before the Great Tribulation. Notice also that after the Man Child is caught up to the throne of God, the woman undergoes a change of position. Satan now persecutes the woman. She is no longer in the heavenlies but is seen on earth, exceedingly weakened by the birth of the Man Child. The Tribulation church no longer sits in the heavenlies, but the Christians, "the remnant of her seed," are left on earth to contend with the powers of hell which are now cast into their midst. The Man Child Company is to be caught up to heaven, and the rest of the seed of the woman is to be left on earth, fulfilling the words of Jesus, "the one shall be taken, and the other left." Satan's persecution of the seed of the woman is accomplished through the Beast who now comes on the scene. His war is not only against believing Jews but against the Saints of "all nations, and kindreds, and people and tongues."