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Bible: What Does Revelation 12 Teach Us About Israel and "the Red Dragon"?

Updated on August 21, 2016

The Identity of the Pregnant Woman

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Satan (Red Dragon with Seven Heads and Ten Horns)


The Identity of the Red Dragon

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Revelation 12: Two Heavenly Signs

Israel: The Pregnant Woman

John now sees two heavenly signs:

(1) a pregnant woman in the throes of labor, wearing a crown of twelve stars, being clothed by the sun, and having the moon under her feet (vv. 1-2); and

(2) a monstrous red dragon with seven crowned heads and ten horns (v. 3).

[The woman does not represent Mary the mother of Jesus, but the nation Israel; the sign resembles Joseph’s dream in which he sees the sun (Israel/Jacob), the moon (Rachel), and eleven stars (the sons of Israel) bowing down to him (see Gen. 37:9-10).

The twelve stars here could refer to the twelve tribes, but what the referents of the sun and moon are is unknown.

Since the dragon appears later in the narrative, a full interpretation of its identity will wait until then.

Sufficient to say now is that it symbolizes Satan. See 12:9.]

The Failure of the Dragon


The Ascension of Christ


Lucifer's (aka Satan) History: From Original Sin to Persecution of Israel

From verse four through six, John provides a broad-brush view of history from Satan’s original sin to his persecution of Israel during the Great Tribulation.

Verse 4a probably points to Satan’s gathering of a third of the angels to himself at the rebellion in the beginning of creation, especially since John mentions the devil’s latter-day expulsion in the immediate context (vv. 7-9).

[It is strange, however, that Satan should have to throw his co-conspirators down to earth; one would think that they would have gone willingly unless, of course, Satan had deceived them.]

The rest of the verse depicts the adversary’s readiness to murder the woman’s (Israel’s) child at His birth—an event that occurred thousands of years later than his expulsion.

The apostle points out that Israel’s male newborn was destined to reign as King over the earth and do so according to God’s strict righteousness; however, before that strong rule comes, her Child ascends to heaven’s throne (v. 5).

[Born during Herod’s time, Christ will reign on Earth in the undated future; in the meantime, He accomplished the work of redemption (unstated), and ascended to heaven to resume His rule of the universal kingdom.]

John leaps ahead to the distant future when God would take care of Israel in the wilderness during the last half of Daniel’s seventieth week, the Great Tribulation (“one thousand two hundred and sixty days”) [v. 6; cf. Dan. 9:27; Matt. 24:14].

Angelic Announcement: God's Kingdom is Coming

After John reports that Michael and his friends expel Satan and his cohorts from heaven (vv. 7-9), he testifies to another loud voice announcing the coming of God’s kingdom; this authoritative person can proclaim good news because Satan is no longer present to accuse believers continually (v. 10).

He asserts that believers overcame Satan by

(1) relying upon the merits of Christ’s sacrifice on their behalf;

(2) bearing strong witness to the truth of the gospel; and

(3) being willing to die for their faith (v. 11).

The voice calls upon heavenly saints to rejoice in these facts, yet tells “the inhabitants of the earth” to moan.

The Devil is now among them, incensed beyond comprehension, because he “knows that he has a short time” to persecute believers (vv. 12-13).

Satan Fails to Annihilate Israel

It seems reasonable to conclude that this angelic war ends in the middle of Daniel’s seventieth week, since Satan only has “a time and times and half a time”—another designation for three and one-half years—to war against the woman whom God now protects (v. 14).

John reports that Satan “spewed water” in an attempt to drown Israel, but that the earth opened up and swallowed the flood (vv. 15-16).

[Perhaps Satan’s men blow a dam or redirect some other water source toward Israel’s city of refuge, and God causes a deep rift to contain this flood.]

Frustrated by his failure to annihilate Israel, Satan concentrates his efforts on “the rest of her offspring”: other believers in the Messiah who obey God’s word and trust in Jesus’ teachings (v. 17).

© 2013 glynch1


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