The Book of REVELATION
James J. Barker
SATAN'S ROLE IN HISTORY AND
- 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).
- 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
- 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
THE WOMAN CLOTHED WITH THE SUN
- The first of
the seven personages to be introduced here in chapter 12 is described as "a
great wonder in heaven" (12:1).
- 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?"
- 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).
- 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."
- 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
- 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
- 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.
- 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
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
- 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,
- 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.
prophecies in verse 6 and verses 13-17 describe the persecution of Israel during
the coming tribulation.
- 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
- 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).
- 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.
- 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).
- 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
- 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.
- In Ezekiel 35:5, the LORD condemns the Edomites for
their "perpetual hatred" and violence toward the children of
- 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
- 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
- Daniel 9:27 says, "in the midst of the week he shall
cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease."
- 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).
- 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.
THE GREAT RED DRAGON (12:3,
- 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.
- The dragon is
identified as Satan in 12:9. The
name Satan, from the Hebrew, has the meaning of “adversary.”
- Satan is
referred to as "the dragon" thirteen times in the book of Revelation, eight
times here in chapter 12.
- In Revelation
12:9, Satan is called “that old serpent,” a reference to the Garden of Eden and
the temptation of Eve.
- 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).
- 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.
- The color red
symbolizes his murderous characteristics (12:3; cf. 6:4).
- In Daniel 7:7,
the revived Roman Empire is described as "dreadful and terrible, and strong
exceedingly," and having ten horns.
- The "seven
heads" identifies Satan with the antichrist, who has "seven heads and ten horns"
(Rev. 13:1; 17:3, 7).
- 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
- 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."
- 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."
- 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."
- 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
- 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.
- These fallen angels (devils, unclean spirits, demons)
assist Satan in "deceiving the whole world" (12:9-12).
- 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).
THE MAN-CHILD (12:5)
- 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.
- 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.”
- 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.”
- All these
Scriptures that talk about the rod of iron refer to our Lord's reign during the
- 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
MICHAEL THE ARCHANGEL (12:7,
- Michael is
referred to in Daniel 10:13 as Michael, "one of the
- He is called a
"prince" again in Daniel 10:21.
- 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
- Michael is
referred to in Jude 9 as "Michael the
- 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"
- 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
- This is
probably what our Lord was referring to when He said in Luke 10:18, "I beheld
Satan as lightning fall from heaven."
- 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
- 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).
- 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."
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.”
- 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
- “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."
- Elias Chacour, the Catholic Archbishop of Israel, said
that “we do not believe anymore that the Jews are the Chosen
- “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
- 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
- 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
"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