James J. Barker

Lesson 21

Text: REVELATION 12:1-17


  1. The Scofield Study Bible calls this parenthetical section "The seven personages" because starting here in chapter 12, and continuing on through chapter 13 we have these seven important personages: the woman clothed with the sun, representing Israel (12:1), the dragon, representing Satan (12:3), her child, referring to the Lord Jesus Christ (12:5), Michael the archangel (12:7), the Jewish remnant (12:17), the first beast, also known as the antichrist (13:1), and the second beast, also known as the false prophet (13:11).
  2. John Walvoord says, "About these main characters swirls the tremendously moving scene of the great tribulation. First to be introduced and of prime importance as a key to the whole situation is the woman representing Israel" (The Revelation of Jesus Christ).
  3. Tonight, we will focus on the first of these main characters: Israel (the woman), Satan (the great red dragon), the man child (the Lord Jesus Christ), and Michael the archangel.



  1. The first of the seven personages to be introduced here in chapter 12 is described as "a great wonder in heaven" (12:1).
  2. The Greek word translated "wonder" is usually translated "sign."  For example, in Matthew 24:3, our Lord's disciples asked Him, "What shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?"
  3. Then later on in the same chapter we read, "And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory" (Matt. 24:30).
  4. We see the same word in Revelation 15:1, "And I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvellous, seven angels having the seven last plagues; for in them is filled up the wrath of God."
  5. The same word is translated "sign" in II Thessalonians 2:9, which describes the Satanic deceptions of the antichrist. "Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders."
  6. Sometimes this Greek word is translated "wonders" (Rev. 13:13), and sometimes "miracles" (Rev. 13:14; 16:14; 19:20). This is noted in the margin of the Scofield Study Bible.
  7. The "great wonder" John saw in Revelation 12:1 appeared in heaven, but it portrays scenes here on earth.  The vision in Revelation 12:2 describes the birth of the baby Jesus.
  8. Verse 6 pictures the woman fleeing "into the wilderness."  This is because the woman (representing Israel) is being persecuted by the dragon, i.e., Satan in the great tribulation (cf. 12:13).
  9. This persecution of Israel has been going on all throughout their history, but it will increase in severity as we get close to the tribulation period. Zechariah 14:2 says all nations will be gathered together against Jerusalem.
  10. Because the woman is pictured as giving birth to "a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron" (12:5), Roman Catholics have thought this woman represents Mary, the mother of our Lord, but this would be impossible (cf. 12:6, 13-17).
  11. Another popular interpretation is the woman represents the church.  However, the church did not give birth to Christ.  It is the other way around -- Christ started the church.
  12. These prophecies in verse 6 and verses 13-17 describe the persecution of Israel during the coming tribulation.
  13. In these visions, the woman represents Israel as the matrix from which Christ came. The woman is described as clothed with the sun, having the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars (12:1).
  14. John Walvoord says, "The description of the woman as clothed with the sun and the moon is an allusion to Genesis 37:9-11, where these heavenly bodies represent Jacob and Rachel, thereby identifying the woman with the fulfillment of the Abrahamic Covenant...The twelve stars seem to refer to the twelve tribes. The persecution of the woman coincides with the persecution of Israel" (The Revelation of Jesus Christ).
  15. The woman as the nation of Israel is seen travailing in birth and awaiting delivery of her child. Revelation 12:2 refers to the sufferings of Israel as a nation rather than to the historic birth of Christ.
  16. The dragon is seen awaiting the birth of the child with the intent to destroy it as soon as it is born. This refers to the circumstances surrounding the birth of Christ in Bethlehem and the attempts of Herod to destroy the baby Jesus (cf. Matt. 2:16-18).
  17. The devil has been trying to destroy Israel right from their very beginning.  There are several examples in Scripture, notably the effort by Haman in the book of Esther. "Israel is hated by Satan not because of any of its own characteristics but because she is the chosen of God and essential to the overall purpose of God for time and eternity" (John Walvoord, The Revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ).
  18. It has been pointed out that Herod was an Edomite and therefore a descendant of Esau and of the people who were the traditional enemies of Jacob and his descendants, the Israelites.
  19. In Ezekiel 35:5, the LORD condemns the Edomites for their "perpetual hatred" and violence toward the children of Israel.
  20. In Revelation 12:6, Israel (the mother of the man child) is seen fleeing into the wilderness to a place prepared of God for 1,260 days (three and one-half years, the latter half of the seven-year tribulation period).
  21. Israel will be in comparative tranquility and safety in the first three and one-half years of Daniel’s seventieth week (Dan. 9:27), but will be betrayed by the antichrist at the half-way point.
  22. Daniel 9:27 says, "in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease."
  23. There is a big time lapse between verses 5 and 6, but this is not an uncommon occurrence in prophecy. The first and second comings of Christ are often spoken of in the same sentence (cf. Isaiah 9:6, 7).
  24. Though a remnant will survive the persecution (Rev. 12:6, 14-16), according to Zechariah 13:8, two-thirds of the people of Israel will die during the tribulation.



  1. The second great sign appearing in heaven is described as a great red dragon having seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns upon his heads.
  2. The dragon is identified as Satan in 12:9. The name Satan, from the Hebrew, has the meaning of “adversary.”
  3. Satan is referred to as "the dragon" thirteen times in the book of Revelation, eight times here in chapter 12.
  4. In Revelation 12:9, Satan is called “that old serpent,” a reference to the Garden of Eden and the temptation of Eve.
  5. The title “Devil” (12:9) is from the Greek diabolos, which has the meaning of  “slandering.” Satan is the master accuser of the brethren (12:10).
  6. By comparing this chapter with other prophecies in Revelation 13 and 17, as well as certain prophecies in the book of Daniel it becomes clear that the dragon represents the revived Roman empire and Satan, the power behind it.
  7. The color red symbolizes his murderous characteristics (12:3; cf. 6:4).
  8. In Daniel 7:7, the revived Roman Empire is described as "dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly," and having ten horns.
  9. The "seven heads" identifies Satan with the antichrist, who has "seven heads and ten horns" (Rev. 13:1; 17:3, 7).
  10. The "seven heads" also connects Satan with the harlot one-world church because Revelation 17:3 says John saw "a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns."
  11. Furthermore, Revelation 17:9 says, "The seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sitteth." For more than 2,000 years Rome has been known as "the city on seven hills."
  12. This is acknowledged by the Catholic Encyclopedia, which says, "It is within the city of Rome, called the city of seven hills, that the entire area of Vatican State proper is now confined."
  13. Daniel 7:24 and 25 says, "And the ten horns out of this kingdom are ten kings that shall arise: and another shall rise after them; and he shall be diverse from the first, and he shall subdue three kings. And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time."
  14. This is a prophecy regarding the rise of the antichrist as the head of the revived Roman Empire and a world dictator. He will emerge during the coming tribulation period, and may be alive right now.
  15. The tail of the dragon is said to draw a third part of the stars of heaven and cast them to the earth (12:4). This refers to the angels who followed Satan in rebellion against God.
  16. These fallen angels (devils, unclean spirits, demons) assist Satan in "deceiving the whole world" (12:9-12).
  17. It should be noted that these parenthetical sections are not in chronological order. Walvoord says, "Though the events of this chapter deal in general with the end of the age, it is clear that they do not come chronologically after the seventh trumpet. Rather, the fall of Satan may be predated to the time of the seals in chapter 6, or even before the first seal. His fall begins the great tribulation" (The Revelation of Jesus Christ).



  1. The woman identified as Israel in Revelation 12:1 and 2 is said in verse 5 to bring forth a man-child who is destined to rule all nations, but who for the time being is caught up to God to the throne.
  2. He is described as destined to rule all nations with a rod of iron. This is an allusion to Psalm 2:9, which says, “Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.”
  3. A similar prophecy is found in Revelation 2:27 and again in 19:15, which says, “He shall rule them with a rod of iron.”
  4. All these Scriptures that talk about the rod of iron refer to our Lord's reign during the millennial kingdom.
  5. The catching up of the man-child to God and to His throne refers to our Lord's ascension into heaven. Walvoord describes verse 5 as "the panorama" of our Lord's birth, life, and ascension.



  1. Michael is referred to in Daniel 10:13 as Michael, "one of the chief princes."
  2. He is called a "prince" again in Daniel 10:21.
  3. In Daniel 12:1, we are told that Michael is "the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people (Israel)."  This prophecy marks the beginning of the great tribulation and it coincides with the prophecies here in Revelation 12.
  4. Michael is referred to in Jude 9 as "Michael the archangel."
  5. Revelation 12:7 says, "And there was war in heaven..." It may seem strange that Satan should have access to the third heaven (near to the throne of God), yet this is the picture given in the book of Job, chapters 1 & 2, where Satan along with other angels presents himself before God and accuses Job of fearing God only because of God’s goodness to him.  Thus Satan is "the accuser of our brethren" (12:10).
  6. God will send Michael the archangel, with his elect angels, and together they will force the devil and his demons out of heaven and hurl them to the earth (12:7-12).
  7. This is probably what our Lord was referring to when He said in Luke 10:18, "I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven."
  8. Satan and his demonic hosts will be excluded from the third heaven, but will continue to have dominion over the second heaven and the first heaven (12:12).
  9. John Walvoord says, "Satan’s defeat in heaven, however, is the occasion for him to be cast into the earth and explains the particular virulence of the great tribulation time" (The Revelation of Jesus Christ).
  10. Revelation 12:13 says, "And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man child."
  11. This indicates that Satan's persecution of the Jews will get even more severe. Recently a Muslim fanatic shot dead three children and a teacher at a Jewish school in Toulouse, France.
  12. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the President of Iran, has made many, many statements expressing his desire to annihilate Israel. Reports say that Iran has enough radioactive material to produce nuclear bombs. This has caused great concern and has prompted Israel to say they will do whatever it takes to defend themselves.
  13. Much of the hostility towards Israel is coming from apostate religious leaders. A few days ago in a special interview with a German newspaper, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Fouad Twal, named by Pope Benedict to represent the Catholic communities in Israel, declared that “Israel’s existence as such has nothing to do with the Bible.”
  14. In a 2010’s Vatican synod on the Middle East, considered the most important event in a decade for the Vatican, bishops declared that “we Christians cannot speak about the Promised Land for the Jewish people.”
  15. “There is no longer a chosen people”, said Archbishop Cyrille Salim Bustros, chosen by the Pope to draft the synod’s conclusions.  “The concept of the promised land cannot be used as a base for the justification of the return of Jews to Israel and the displacement of Palestinians."
  16. Elias Chacour, the Catholic Archbishop of Israel, said that “we do not believe anymore that the Jews are the Chosen People.”
  17. “Modern-day Jews are not God’s chosen people”, the former head of Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox Church, Pope Shenouda III, recently declared in a meeting with former US President Jimmy Carter. “Do not believe their claims that they are God’s chosen people, because it is not true.”
  18. Giulio Meotti, an Italian journalist, says: "Today the Christian arena is divided among the mainline Protestant churches, which are prominently anti-Israel; the Vatican, which embraced a new aggressiveness against Israel; the US Evangelicals, which are pro-Israel, and independent Protestant groups based in Europe, like Christians for Israel." (
  19. Revelation 12:17 indicates that though Satan will persecute all Jews, he will direct his fiercest attack on Jewish Christians. "There is a double antagonism against those in Israel who turn to Christ as their Messiah and Saviour in those critical days and maintain a faithful witness" (John Walvoord, The Revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ).



"I think that the United States supporting Israel is one of the reasons that God's hand of blessing has been so evident upon our country. Unfortunately, though, what we see happening today in our nation is a slow but steady turning away from the nation of Israel and an abandonment of them. With all of the other problems that we have in our country that deserve the judgment of God and are already bringing judgment, the last thing that we need to do now is to be involved in anything that ceases to be a blessing to the Jewish people"
      ---- Pastor Mark Hitchcock, who has written over twenty books on end time biblical prophecy.

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