By Brian C Thomas
The story of the Woman and the Dragon is located in the Book of Revelation chapter 12. This chapter describes a combination of heavenly and earthly warfare events - past and future.
"1Now a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a garland of twelve stars. 2Then being with child, she cried out in labor and in pain to give birth".- Revelation 12:1-2 (NKJ).
The chapter opens by describing a great sign that appeared in heaven. There is a woman clothed with the sun, the moon under her feet, and a garland of twelve stars on her head. A garland is a form of a crown. As is often the case, to get understanding of prophecy, one must look to scripture in earlier books. In Genesis 37:9, Joseph describes the following dream: "Then he dreamed still another dream and told it to his brothers, and said, "Look, I have dreamed another dream. And this time, the sun, the moon, and the eleven stars bowed down to me." Here we find almost identical language that describes the woman from Revelation 12:1. Joseph's father gave the following response to his dream, "…and his father rebuked him and said to him, "What is this dream that you have dreamed? Shall your mother and I and your brothers indeed come to bow down to the earth before you?""- Genesis 37:10. Joseph's father's response reveals that the sun represented him (Jacob), the moon represented Joseph's mother Rachel, and the eleven stars were Joseph's brothers. The descendents of Joseph and his eleven brothers became known as twelve tribes of Israel. Joseph's dream was fulfilled when he was sold into slavery and his family had to come to him for food during the famine. If we apply the same interpretations to Revelation 12:1, we can conclude that this woman is symbolic of the nation of Israel.
Joseph's Dream (Genesis 37:9-10)
The Woman's Description (Revelation 12:1)
Joseph's Father (Jacob)
Joseph's Mother (Rachel)
11 - Joseph's brothers
Garland of 12 - Descendents of Joseph and his 11 brothers (12 Tribes of Israel)
*Note: Jacob and Rachel's descendents all became the nation of Israel as God later changed Jacob's name to Israel.
Verse two states that the woman is in labor pain in preparation to give birth to a child. We find similar text in Micah 4:10 that confirms the woman in labor is symbolic of Israel, "Be in pain, and labor to bring forth, O daughter of Zion, Like a woman in birth pangs…"
"3And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great, fiery red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems on his heads. 4His tail drew a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was ready to give birth, to devour her Child as soon as it was born". - Revelation 12:3-4 (NKJ).
The fiery red dragon in heaven is Satan. His fiery red color represents the blood of the great number of people that have been murdered at his hands. He has seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems on his heads. A diadem is another form of crown that signified royalty. What the seven heads represent is a bit difficult to determine. A few scenarios are:
Scenario 1: Seven kings of the Roman Empire.
Scenario 2: Seven forms of worldly governments.
Scenario 3: Rome was known as the city built on seven hills. The seven heads represent the seven hills.
Scenario 4: Seven kingdoms of past, present, and future (as of the time Revelation was written) that oppressed the Jews.
It is possible that the seven heads have multiple meanings and include each of these scenarios. No matter which scenario is correct, they are all tied to satan and the overall conclusion of the prophecy remains the same. To gain understanding of these scriptures, we will look back to other passages as well. We find in the book of Daniel and later chapters of Revelation, a beast with seven heads and ten horns. This beast will attempt to deceive all inhabitants of world. I will elaborate on scenario 4. The symbolism is determined as follows:
- Seven heads = World kingdoms with kings under Satan's control
- Ten horns = Ten end time world leaders that will be under Satan's control
We find evidence of this in the following scriptures:
- There are also seven kings. Five have fallen, one is, and the other has not yet come. And when he comes, he must continue a short time. - Revelation 17:10
INTERPRETATION: At the time John wrote this book, the nation of Israel had been under the oppression of five kingdoms in its history - Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Media-Persia, and Greece. These were the five that have fallen. Each king in the above scripture represented a kingdom. At the time of John's writing, Israel was in bondage to the Roman Empire. The "one is" found in the above scripture is reference to the Romans. As for, "the other has not yet come" - this refers to a future kingdom which many believe will be the revived Roman Empire known today as the European Union. Time will tell if this last kingdom will be the European Union or some other coalition. The last kingdom will complete the total of seven kingdoms that will have afflicted the Jews. The seven heads of the dragon represent these seven kingdoms that are mentioned in Revelation 12:3.
- The ten horns which you saw are ten kings who have received no kingdom as yet, but they receive authority for one hour as kings with the beast. - Revelation 17:12
- The ten horns are ten kings Who shall arise from this kingdom. And another shall rise after them; He shall be different from the first ones, And shall subdue three kings. - Daniel 7:24
INTERPRETATION: The ten horns represent 10 world leaders that will arise out of the seventh kingdom. Keep in mind that the European Union is made up of several countries, each with a leader. They will all be inspired by Satan to rule with immorality. Another leader will rise from this kingdom to take the place of three leaders. This will be the ultimate evil ruler, the Antichrist.
The text in Revelation 12:4 goes on to state that the dragon's tail drew a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to earth. I think this scripture may have dual representation as well, speaking of a past and future event. This describes what happened to the angels that made allegiance with Satan. A third of the angels fell with Satan when he rebelled against God. They were thrown to earth and then became known as demons in Satan's army. Daniel 8:10 gives another account of this event, "And it grew up to the host of heaven; and it cast down some of the host and some of the stars to the ground, and trampled them". But although satan and his angels were cast from heaven, he still had access to the throne of God where he visits frequently to falsely accuse the saints. The day will come when satan will no longer have access to God's throne. He will be restricted to earth only. This will happen in the middle of the 7 year covenant with Israel which is known as the Tribulation. He and his angels will terrorize all inhabitants of the earth due to their earthly restriction. Evidence of this is found later in chapter 12, "7And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, 8but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer. 9So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. 10Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, “Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down. 11And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death. 12Therefore rejoice, O heavens, and you who dwell in them! Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and the sea! For the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has a short time.” - Revelation 12:7-12.
The 4th verse in chapter 12 closes with Satan standing before the woman (nation of Israel) waiting to devour her child as soon as it was born.
"5She bore a male Child who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron. And her Child was caught up to God and His throne". - Revelation 12:5.
The woman (nation of Israel) then gave birth to a male Child. Another account of this is found in Isaiah 66:7,"Before she was in labor, she gave birth; Before her pain came, She delivered a male child". This male Child is Jesus Christ. The genealogy of Jesus covers generations of Jews beginning with Abraham, continuing through King David, and ending with Jesus' earthly father Joseph. This is why Jesus is often called the Son of David. The identity of this Child being Jesus is confirmed in the following scripture, "'He shall rule them with a rod of iron; They shall be dashed to pieces like the potter's vessels'- as I also have received from My Father;" - Revelation 2:27. This verse provides the same description of Jesus as Revelation 12:5. We find more confirmation of this identity in, "You shall break them with a rod of iron; You shall dash them to pieces like a potter's vessel.'" - Psalm 2:9. Jesus ruling with an iron scepter is also found in Revelation 19:15. Prophecy is given here that Jesus will eventually return to earth and rule all the nations. All of Satan's evil kingdoms will be destroyed by Jesus' "rod of iron".
To revisit verse 4 of this chapter, Satan was waiting to devour the Child as soon as He was born. This prophecy was fulfilled when King Herod attempted to kill Jesus by killing all male babies in Bethlehem. He did this because the Wise Men had prophesied to him that a king would be born in Bethlehem when the star in the east was seen. King Herod feared that this king would overthrow him. But an angel warned Joseph, the earthly father of Jesus, to flee to Egypt to escape Herod's slaughter.
Once Jesus completed His mission on earth of bringing salvation by dying on the cross, He was taken to heaven by God. This was the act of God rescuing the Child and taking Him up to His throne to a safe haven.
The Woman in the Wilderness
" 6Then the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, that they should feed her there one thousand two hundred and sixty days". - Revelation 12:6.
Much earthly suffering and destruction is in the future for mankind. As bad as things are in the world today, it will become exponentially worse as the Antichrist approaches his time. For example, one-third of the world's human race will be killed as conflict escalates - Revelation 9:15-18. Based on current world population, that is more than 2 billion people. The Antichrist will make a covenant with Israel for a 7 year period in the future. In the middle of the 7 year covenant (3 ½ year mark), he will betray Israel (Daniel 9:27). This is when the Great Tribulation will begin which is the last half of the 7 year Tribulation. The One thousand two hundred and sixty days refers to the Great Tribulation. During this time, the Antichrist will terrorize the inhabitants of the earth with his focus on the Jews. The months in the Jewish calendar average 30 days long. Thus, 1260 days / 30 days in a month = 42 months. Revelation 13:5 states, "And he was given a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies, and he was given authority to continue for forty-two months". This verse is speaking of the beast of the sea which is the Antichrist and reveals that he will rule and make war with the saints for 42 months…42 months / 12 months in a year = 3 ½ years. This calculation lines up exactly with the prophecy given by Daniel in Daniel 9:27. We can find further confirmation for this calculation by looking at verse 14 in this same chapter, "14But the woman was given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness to her place, where she is nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent" - Revelation 12:14. It is repeated here that the woman is going into the wilderness for safety. She will be nourished for a time, times, and half a time. A time equals 1 year, times equals 2 years, and half a time equals a half year. Therefore, a time, times, and half a time is a total of 3 ½ years.
Jesus also gave an account of this Great Tribulation in Matthew 24:15-28. God will protect the woman (Israelites) during this time who are obedient to his word. Jesus gave the following instructions for them, "Therefore when you see the 'abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place" (whoever reads, let him understand), "then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains" - Matthew 24:15-16. The "abomination of desolation" is the event in which the Antichrist will enter the temple in Jerusalem, proclaim that all worship him as God, and setup a worship center to himself. The Antichrist will kill two-thirds of the Jewish population during this period. But those who are obedient to Jesus' instructions and flee to the mountains will be spared.
In concluding, God gave these prophecies as tools for empowerment and preparation for His people. They are not meant to scare and there is nothing to be afraid of as long as you have accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. He will protect His people! We find hope and joy in the soon return of our Savior Jesus Christ. Until then, Blessings to Israel and to the only wise God, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen.