The Woman and
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:
Who is this woman:
The Jewish nation: Can not be for the Jews rejected the Messiah.
The church: Can not be because that would mean that the church gave birth to Christ (Mt. 16:18).
The virgin Mary: While she was the fleshly mother of Jesus, she was not the mother of all who believed (v.17).
The Spiritual remnant of God's people through all ages. This is my position.
Not just limited to the church (v.17). The church can't give birth to itself.
However, there is a relationship between God's people of the Old Covenant and the New (Heb. 9:15; 11:40).
Could be showing even further that she is God's faithful people.
Moon under her feet - Could be talking about the Old Testament where the truth was sort of hard to find (Heb. 1:1; 1 Pet. 1:10-12).
The sun produces great light. Christ is the light of the world (John 8:12).
The twelve stars on her head could easily represent the twelve apostles and thus, those who live under the New Testament.
So: we see the faithful of God under both covenants represented here.
2 And she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered.
This "woman" had the messiah in her womb since (Gen. 3:15).
The world longed for the Messiah to come.
3 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.4 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.
This dragon is clearly the devil as he is called the serpent in verse 9.
"Great" is in reference to his influence and power.
"Red" symbolizes his murderous nature (Jn. 8:44).
"Seven heads" shows his great intelligence and craftiness (2 Cor. 11:3).
"Ten horns" shows his fulness of power.
"Seven crowns" show his royalty. He rules in the realm of evil.
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.
This is obviously referring to Christ.
Rule with a rod of iron (Psa. 2:6-9).
Went to heaven to reign (Ac. 1; Dan. 7:13-14; Heb. 1:8).
6 And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days.
Christ came through God's faithful remnant.
Now that He is born, the woman obviously is showing what spiritual Israel is going to do. The church.
The church will go into the wilderness for a period of time.
Physical Israel was nourished in the wilderness by God
Spiritual Israel is now nourished by the true bread of life (Jn. 6:50f).
7 And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon 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 deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
There are three possible positions as to what this war in heaven is referring to:
This war is speaking of the primeval war between Satan and God.
This war is portraying Satan actually invading heaven and being defeated.
This war is portraying a spiritual warfare which has been going on from the beginning but reaches its climax at the cross.
To take the first position would be pulling this verse out of context. Why would John mention the war with Satan before time now? What comfort could that bring the first century Christians?
If we take the second position, we are guilty of shifting from a symbolic to a literal translation in the same context.
The third position makes the most sense. (Isa. 53:10-12; Lk. 11:21f; Mt. 12:29; Jn. 12:31; Jn. 14:30).
"Devil" means accuser, slanderer.
"Satan" means adversary.
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, ye heavens, and ye 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 knoweth that he hath but a short time.
With the final defeat of Satan, God's salvation, kingdom, and power are finally fully seen.
The authority of Christ is fully established (Mt. 28:18: Eph. 1:20-23).
The Devil is the accuser of our brethren. When one would sin against God, we have the picture that the Devil would accuse him before God and demand justice.
The brethren overcame achieve victory over Satan because of God's victory.
They do this in three ways: (v.11)
By the blood of the Lamb (Rev. 1:5; Ac. 22:16).
By the word of their testimony (Jn. 20:30-31; Ac. 8:37; 1 Pet. 1:5). They held on to their faith.
By not loving their lives, even unto death (Rev. 2:10). Must be willing to die.
The heavens rejoice at God's victory and the victory of the saints through Him.
But the world is told to beware because the Devil has been defeated and is angry.
"Earth" the world of sinners.
"Sea" the mass of society.
The Devil is going to persecute the world for a "short time."
13 And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man child.
Since Christ is now out of reach, the Devil is going to persecute His people; the church.
Jesus warned His disciples of this (Jn. 15:20).
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, from the face of the serpent.
The church being in the wilderness is similar to the Jews wandering in the wilderness. God provided for them and He will provide for His church (Ex. 19:4; Dt. 32:11; Ps. 36:7).
It appears that this 42 months could be the time of the Roman persecution.
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.
The idea of God's people being threatened by waters is not new (Isa. 8:5-8; Isa. 43:2; Ps. 144:7).
Now the Devil tries to sweep the church away by the delusions that pour out of his mouth. False religious teaching, false philosophies, and malicious reports intended to destroy the church (Jn. 8:44).
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.
The earth, or the sinful world, swallows up the lies of the Devil. This is not what the Devil wanted for they were already lost. The world accepts the Devil's lies but the church does not.
17 And the dragon was wroth 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.
Now the devil goes after the rest of the woman's seed (Gal. 3:28).
He goes after individual saints. He still does this today.