The Woman and the Dragon (Revelation 12)

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Welcome to week 21 of this series on Revelation and the end times. I chose that as our bumper this week because it really will seem like we’ve stepped into the Twilight Zone this week and next week.
For those of you that have been here the whole time, I am quite proud of you for sticking it out. I actually added up the word count of my messages so far and it’s over 150,000 words, delivered over about 19 hours of speaking. And it hasn’t been light and fluffy material, so good on you for making it this far and not giving up.
I encourage you to hold onto that stamina because we still have a few more months to go before we are done, and God saved the heaviest lifting for last. If you’re just joining us or only a few weeks in, don’t let that detract you from staying with us. We are discovering the hard to find mysteries of God and I know for many of you, it is giving you a deeper sense of awe for our God and King. In short, what we are doing is hard – but it’s worth it.
I felt like prefacing with that today, because this week we begin with the really hard stuff and it won’t really let up until the very end. Please keep me in prayer as we go along that God will give me the wisdom and insight to teach it to you well.
In fact, let’s pray right now.

Today we are moving into Revelation 12, which is a heavily symbolic vision connected to the midpoint of the Tribulation. As I told you over the last two weeks, the details of the midpoint of tribulation are presented to us in several layers that together make up a whole picture. I put what I believe is the timeline of the midpoint in your notes.
Last week we talked about chapter 11 and the Two Witnesses and the continued age of the Gentiles. We also saw the seventh trumpet blown and a summary of the rest of Tribulation. Today we will take a look at the enigmatic vision of the woman and the dragon. A vision that is jam packed with symbolism and references to the rest of Scripture. It’s a pretty weighty layer of this overall picture, so let’s get into it.
I’m going to read the whole chapter and then come back and zoom in.
Revelation 12
A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head. She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth. Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on its heads. Its tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth. The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that it might devour her child the moment he was born. She gave birth to a son, a male child, who “will rule all the nations with an iron scepter.” And her child was snatched up to God and to his throne. The woman fled into the wilderness to a place prepared for her by God, where she might be taken care of for 1,260 days.
And war broke out in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.
10 Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say:
“Now have come the salvation and the power
    and the kingdom of our God,
    and the authority of his Messiah.
For the accuser of our brothers and sisters,
    who accuses them before our God day and night,
    has been hurled down.
11 They triumphed over him
    by the blood of the Lamb
    and by the word of their testimony;
they did not love their lives so much
    as to shrink from death.
12 Therefore rejoice, you heavens
    and you who dwell in them!
But woe to the earth and the sea,
    because the devil has gone down to you!
He is filled with fury,
    because he knows that his time is short.”
13 When the dragon saw that he had been hurled to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child. 14 The woman was given the two wings of a great eagle, so that she might fly to the place prepared for her in the wilderness, where she would be taken care of for a time, times and half a time, out of the serpent’s reach. 15 Then from his mouth the serpent spewed water like a river, to overtake the woman and sweep her away with the torrent. 16 But the earth helped the woman by opening its mouth and swallowing the river that the dragon had spewed out of his mouth. 17 Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to wage war against the rest of her offspring—those who keep God’s commands and hold fast their testimony about Jesus.

If you do your own research on these things, which I encourage you to do, you will find a rather wide array of interpretations of this vision. I can’t guarantee that mine is right, but it’s the one that makes the most sense to me.
Now that we see the whole context, it’s time to zoom in. But before zooming into verse by verse, let me first give you the overall layout of this vision which will help in understanding its parts. Looking at the whole chapter, I believe that you can split it into two major parts.
Verses 1 – 6 is a vision that effectively tells the whole story of human history from the beginning to the end of the Tribulation. 1 – 5 are in our past, and verse 6 is in our future.
Verses 7 and onward show in more detail the why and how of verse 6.
If you don’t look at this vision that way it can be a bit confusing as to why the 3.5 year protection of the woman is spoken of twice.
Now let’s zoom in a little closer to part 1.
Revelation 12
A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head. She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth. Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on its heads. Its tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth. The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that it might devour her child the moment he was born. She gave birth to a son, a male child, who “will rule all the nations with an iron scepter.” And her child was snatched up to God and to his throne. The woman fled into the wilderness to a place prepared for her by God, where she might be taken care of for 1,260 days.
There is a lot to unpack here. Let’s just start at the top. He begins with…
A great sign appeared in heaven…
John specifying that he is seeing a sign means he is seeing a vision, or a symbolic picture with meaning. And the specification here that this is a sign also lends credence to the fact that other things that he sees that are not designated as signs can and should be taken as literal events, such as the effects of the trumpet and bowl judgments, and even the crazy appearance of the locust demons and such.
So, with it being a sign, we can immediately know that the woman, the dragon, and the child are symbols of real things, and the various descriptors mentioned about them tell us who they represent and details about them.
Let’s see if we can solve the puzzle.
The woman is mentioned first, so let’s talk about her.
A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head. She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth.
Who is this pregnant woman with the celestial garb about to give birth?  Well, it’s actually her adornments that tells us.
She is clothed with the sun. The moon is under her feet. And she has a crown of twelve stars. The sun, moon, and 12 stars. For those of you who have been reading through Genesis in my transformation class, this should immediately ring a bell for you.
This is not the first vision in Scripture to use the sun, moon, and 12 stars as symbols. And the rule of interpreting symbols is to first see if they are explained in the context of the vision, then in the context of the book, and finally you look somewhere else in Scripture. In this case, we are directed to a vision that Joseph of the Old Testament had.
Now, Joseph, in case you don’t know, was the favorite son of Jacob – who was the grandson of Abraham – the father of faith. Jacob had 12 sons in all and God at one point changed his name to Israel. Hence his 12 sons became the patriarchs (or forefathers) of the 12 tribes (or groups of people) of Israel. Every blood Jew is descended from this family.
Anyway, Joseph was the next to the youngest of the twelve and his father’s favorite, which made his other brothers rather jealous. As the story goes, in his teens he had a couple dreams that made his brothers hate him even more and eventually sell him to slave traders. It is in one of these dreams that we get our answer as to who the woman in John’s vision is.
Genesis 37
Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him all the more. He said to them, “Listen to this dream I had: We were binding sheaves of grain out in the field when suddenly my sheaf rose and stood upright, while your sheaves gathered around mine and bowed down to it.”
His brothers said to him, “Do you intend to reign over us? Will you actually rule us?” And they hated him all the more because of his dream and what he had said.
Little did they know that this dream would indeed come true.
Then he had another dream, and he told it to his brothers. “Listen,” he said, “I had another dream, and this time the sun and moon and eleven stars were bowing down to me.”
10 When he told his father as well as his brothers, his father rebuked him and said, “What is this dream you had? Will your mother and I and your brothers actually come and bow down to the ground before you?” 11 His brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept the matter in mind.
This one also came true, but I’ll let you read that story on your own.
What this dream of Joseph has done for us is tell us who the woman in Revelation 12 is. The woman is the nation of Israel, or more precisely, the descendants of Israel or the Jewish people (not necessarily Israel the country). Joseph has a dream where the sun, moon, and 11 other stars bow to him. His father – Israel – interpreted it as representing himself, his wife, and his other 11 sons…the beginnings of the nation of Israel.
So, the woman represents the nation of Israel from its very beginning. This is not the first nor will it be the last time that a nation or religious system is symbolized by a woman. In the case of ancient Israel, their nationality and their religion are really one and the same thing.
Next we are introduced to the dragon, but I want to skip down to the child before talking about him.
Revelation 12
She gave birth to a son, a male child, who “will rule all the nations with an iron scepter.” And her child was snatched up to God and to his throne.
Clearly, the child the woman delivers is symbolizing Jesus – hence the reason why this part of the story had to be hidden until John’s day.  Two weeks ago I showed you that this part of Revelation is the contents of the scroll that Daniel was told to seal up, and John was told to eat some 700 years later.  Back in Daniel’s day, there would be no way to make sense of this part of the vision because Jesus had not yet been born or ascended to heaven after his death and resurrection.
The reference to ruling the nations with an iron scepter is used two other places in Revelation in describing Christ. It is applied to him in chapter 19 during his second coming, and in chapter 2, Jesus applies that description to himself in the letter to Thyatira.
All of these “iron scepter” references point to the prophecy in Psalm 2.
Psalm 2
7 I will proclaim the Lord’s decree:
He said to me, “You are my son;
    today I have become your father.
8 Ask me,
    and I will make the nations your inheritance,
    the ends of the earth your possession.
9 You will break them with a rod of iron;
    you will dash them to pieces like pottery.”
I showed you in the Back to the Future miniseries that this is actually the covenant between God the Father and God the Son that happened before the world began and will be fulfilled in the Millennial Kingdom and ultimately when Jesus hands the kingdom back to God the Father as Paul mentions in 1 Corinthians 15. You’ll have to go back and watch that message from week 10 for the full scoop.
So, that and the fact that said child is snatched up to – not just heaven, but to God and to his throne – clearly points to Jesus. When Jesus ascended after his resurrection, he ascended to sit at the right hand of His Father on His throne. Which we know from multiple scriptures including
Hebrews 12:2
For the joy set before him he [Jesus] endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
So, clearly this child is a symbol of Jesus Christ, and the woman is the nation of Israel that birthed Him, just as Abraham long before was promised that the whole world would be blessed through one of his descendants.

So, now that we know who the woman and the child are, let’s talk about the other part of this vision.
Revelation 12
Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on its heads. Its tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth. The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that it might devour her child the moment he was born.
Now, we know from later in verse 9 that this dragon is the devil, or Satan. This is one of those symbols you don’t have to go very far to interpret.
So, in this vision, Satan is depicted as a red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on its heads. If you think those heads, horns, and crowns are symbolic of something else you’re catching on. I’m actually going to save explaining those until next week when we cover chapter 13 as I would have to go there anyway to do so. Trust me, you don’t want to miss next week – The Beast, the Prophet, and the Mark.
Anyway, aside from his crazy appearance, let’s look at what he does. First, it says that “his tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to earth.” I’ll talk about that in a minute.
Then it says “The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that it might devour her child the moment he was born.”
So, zooming out a bit for context – we have this woman, who is the nation of Israel, pregnant and about to give birth. Satan as a dragon stands in front of her waiting for the child to be born so he can devour it. Instead, the child is born and immediately snatched away.
Aside from what everyone already knows – about Satan and Jesus being enemies – Why is the Devil/Dragon so intent on devouring this child?
The answer actually comes from the very, very beginning – even before Israel came into being. It comes in the prophecy God included in the curse of the serpent after Adam and Eve sinned.
Genesis 3
14 So the Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this,
“Cursed are you above all livestock
    and all wild animals!
You will crawl on your belly
    and you will eat dust
    all the days of your life.
15 And I will put enmity
    between you and the woman,
    and between your offspring and hers;
he will crush your head,
    and you will strike his heel.”
That last statement was God telling Satan (who is the Serpent) that an offspring of Eve will be his ultimate demise. And so, Satan has actually been trying to thwart that plan ever since.
He began by inciting Cain to kill his brother Abel. Later he tried to pollute the human line by having some of his fallen angels mate with human beings resulting in the mysterious Nephilim, but God put a stop to that with the flood and binding those angels in the Abyss (a talk for another time – learn more: https://www.gotquestions.org/Nephilim.html).
Later, when the promise was narrowed down to a child of the nation of Israel, Satan incited Pharaoh to kill off all the Hebrew male children. A similar attempt was made in the story of Esther. Later he tried to use the Assyrians and Babylonians to wipe them out, to no avail.
Then, when Jesus, the promised offspring of Eve, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, was born Satan tried to kill him directly by inciting Herod to kill all the baby boys in Bethlehem where Jesus was born.
When that didn’t work, later Satan tried and failed to cause Jesus to fail by tempting him sin.
When that didn’t work, he later incited Judas to betray Jesus..which actually did lead to his death. At which, Satan surely thought he had finally won!
But his joy was short-lived as three days later Jesus conquered death, rose from the grave, and later ascended into heaven to sit at the throne of God.
And so, you can see how this vision, in the first part of chapter 12, is really a big picture view of the whole history of humanity and Satan’s attempts to prevent the prophecy of his demise from coming true.
Then the first part of the vision jumps abruptly from the ascension of Jesus to the Woman/Israel fleeing to the wilderness to be protected for 1,260 days or 3.5 years – which the time mentioned and the context of Revelation tells us this is referring to half of the seven year tribulation – and more precisely as I will show you, the second half.
So, why the big jump between the ascension of Christ to the midpoint of tribulation? Why totally skip over a couple thousand years as if they didn’t happen?
Well, that’s because this is a vision about Israel, not the church.
We see this often in these prophecies about the end times, most notably in the famous 70 sevens I’ve referenced often.
If you recall from one of my previous talks I explained how the church age, which we are in, has basically put the Israel prophecy clocks on pause. Paul even called it a time of “partial hardening” of the Jews.
Basically, once Israel rejected their Messiah, Jesus, the focus of God’s plan shifted to building His church, and the promises to Israel were put on hold.  And since most of the biblical prophecies are specifically concerning the Jewish people, this time period, when the church is the focus instead of the Jews, is completely skipped over.
It’s almost like skipping over the commercials when you record a show. In real time the commercials played out and the whole show took an hour, but the only thing you are concerned with is the actual show, so you cut out the commercials and the show is only 10 minutes….
Jewish prophecy does the same thing, resulting in foretold events appearing to happen in immediate sequence when, in reality, they are separated by thousands of years.  Which can make biblical prophecy rather confusing at times unless you understand this attribute – which you now do!
So, quick summary before moving on…
The first six verses of chapter 12 are John having a vision that presents the whole history of humanity, and specifically the line of humanity leading to Christ, as a woman (who also symbolizes the descendants or nation of Israel as a whole) about to give birth, and the dragon (who is Satan) waiting to eat her child (because he is the promised one who will destroy the dragon and rule the world).
The child (who is Jesus) is born but is snatched away before the dragon can eat him.
Then it skips the church age and jumps to the woman (Israel) fleeing to the wilderness for the second half of tribulation.
Hopefully that makes sense to you.
I’ll get to the fleeing and wilderness when we cover the rest of chapter 12 later in this talk. Now, I want to shift to the war in heaven.

Revelation 12
And war broke out in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.
10 Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say:
“Now have come the salvation and the power
    and the kingdom of our God,
    and the authority of his Messiah.
For the accuser of our brothers and sisters,
    who accuses them before our God day and night,
    has been hurled down.
11 They triumphed over him
    by the blood of the Lamb
    and by the word of their testimony;
they did not love their lives so much
    as to shrink from death.
12 Therefore rejoice, you heavens
    and you who dwell in them!
But woe to the earth and the sea,
    because the devil has gone down to you!
He is filled with fury,
    because he knows that his time is short.”
This is a fascinating scene that I’m sure you have lots of questions about, so let me try to answer them.
First, who started the war?
It doesn’t say, but my theory is that God starts the war as soon as the angel in chapter 10 said “There will be no more delay!”
Basically, up until this point, Satan and his fallen angels have had access to heaven for the purpose of pointing out all the failures of believers to God, and now that the final parts of God’s plan are about to unfold, God is done with Satan’s nagging so kicks him out permanently – which also sets in motion the events God already had planned for the remainder of the tribulation.
Anyway, I can’t prove it, but that’s my theory and I’m sticking to it.
So, God cues Michael, the archangel, to start the purge. Satan and his minions fight back and lose. Then it says…
Revelation 12
The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.
This and the following rejoicing of those in heaven tell us a lot about Satan’s role in human history.
He is the “ancient serpent” – pointing us back to the Garden of Eden and tempting Eve to sin.
He is the one “who leads the whole world astray.” He has been behind every false religion and lie that man has believed since the beginning. Jesus called him the “Father of Lies.”
And he is also the Great Accuser of the brethren (or believers). Basically, as we speak, Satan is probably standing before God pointing his finger down at you and me trying to get God to see how imperfect we are. But the beautiful thing is that Jesus is also right there at the Father’s side making a case for us based on our faith in Him. And he’s winning.  Pretty awesome! I bet Satan is a rather frustrated guy.
Anyway, after this, he is confined to the earth, and he’s really angry.

But before we talk about that, I’m sure that you’ve been wondering – Didn’t Satan already fall from heaven?
And the answer to that is….it’s complicated.  But I’ll try to explain it.
The lives and times of the angels is something that is a bit of a mystery to us humans. We only get little bits and pieces about them scattered throughout Scripture. And the same is true of Satan, who is himself an angel.
The best that we can piece together about this highly debated topic is that it all started before the creation of the earth.
In Genesis 1:1 the bible starts with – In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.
It would seem that God created the heavens (as in the place where God dwells and believers go when they die) shortly before the earth – which included the angels. We get that from a conversation that God had with Job. This is God patronizing Job.
Job 38 – Angels created before the earth.
4 “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?
    Tell me, if you understand.
Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know!
    Who stretched a measuring line across it?
On what were its footings set,
    or who laid its cornerstone—
while the morning stars sang together
    and all the angels shouted for joy?
This seems to imply that the angels watched God make the earth. Satan would have been one of them – in fact he was one of the “morning stars” (Which is where we get the name “Lucifer” from the Latin translation of the Hebrew behind this phrase) – The adversary we know as Satan was initially one of these morning stars”, or Lucifers, and at that time would have been good, since according to Genesis, at the end of the 6th day, after the earth was created and populated with animals and man, everything was good, which must mean Satan’s initial fall was after the end of creation but before he tempted Eve in the Garden.
There are two passages, one in Isaiah and another in Ezekiel, that most believe are speaking of Satan by way of speaking of the king of Babylon in one and the king of Tyre in another. These like many prophecies have double or more applications.
For the sake of time I’ll only read the Isaiah reference today, but I encourage you to look up the Ezekiel reference yourself: Ezekiel 28:11-19
Isaiah 14 – Satan’s Fall
12 How you have fallen from heaven,
    morning star, son of the dawn!
You have been cast down to the earth,
    you who once laid low the nations!
13 You said in your heart,
    “I will ascend to the heavens;
I will raise my throne
    above the stars of God;
I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly,
    on the utmost heights of Mount Zaphon.
14 I will ascend above the tops of the clouds;
    I will make myself like the Most High.”
15 But you are brought down to the realm of the dead,
    to the depths of the pit.
Clearly this is speaking of more than just a human king. Here we see the “morning star” – Lucifer – again.
Basically, the story goes that Lucifer was the most beautiful angel (Ezekiel refers to that) but at some point he became prideful and decided he wanted to be like, no, above the God who made him. This was unacceptable to God, and so Satan was cast out of heaven down to the “realm of the dead, to the depths of the pit.” And apparently he took a third of the angels with him, as we can see by the reference to the dragon’s tail sweeping a third of the stars in the first part of the vision we are covering in Revelation 12.
So, he was cast down, presumably before tempting Eve, but not cast entirely out..
We know from his tempting of Eve, and from the beginning of the story of Job that Satan was not permanently cast out of heaven at this point. In the story of Job, Satan is apparently still allowed in the presence of God, along with all the other angels, when he makes his accusation of Job.
Job 1 – Satan still has access to the Lord
One day the angels came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came with them. The Lord said to Satan, “Where have you come from?”
Satan answered the Lord, “From roaming throughout the earth, going back and forth on it.”
That and Satan tempting Jesus himself in the wilderness and later Jesus telling Peter that Satan wants to sift him like wheat indicates that Satan still has access to the earth and heaven. He spends his time on earth tempting people to sin and defy God, and he spends his time in heaven pointing out to God when his temptations succeed and we fail.
Hes quite a jerk.
But here at the midpoint of tribulation, that changes as Satan and his cohorts are permanently kicked out of heaven and confined to the earth.
Now, there is one more reference to Satan falling that you may still be wondering about, so I’ll quickly cover it.
In the gospel of Luke, Jesus sends out 72 of his followers to do some evangelism. When they come back from their efforts, they are all excited because even demons submit to them when they use His name.
Luke 10 – Jesus saw Satan Fall
18 He replied, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. 19 I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. 20 However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”
It’s quite debated what Jesus was talking about when he said “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.” It’s not so much debated WHAT he said he saw, but WHEN he is referring to having seen it. Was it right then? Was it while the 72 were doing their work? Was it back when Satan fell the first time? Or was he talking about the future in a past tense way because He is God and can see all of time as having already happened?
We can’t be sure, but from the context and everything else we can surmise about the fall of Satan, I believe he is referring to near the beginning of the world (that he created) when Satan fell the first time.
Why he’s bringing it up now may be, in response to the followers’ joy at demons submitting to them, as a warning not to get prideful about that like Satan did – hence his conclusion that they should be more joyful about being in the book of life than being able to boss demons around. Or maybe he’s emphasizing how his authority, that he’s giving them, is indeed greater than Satan’s. Either way, I think he’s referring to the original fall – not one that happened right then. But I could be wrong, so I encourage you to do your own research on the matter.
And that concludes the mini sermon within the sermon on the different falls of Satan.

Now, getting back to the vision in Revelation 12. The dragon, who is Satan, has now been thrown to the earth. And the hosts of heaven rejoice because they are sick of him always up there accusing the brethren. Then, in speaking of the brethren (or fellow believers) they say…
Revelation 12
11 They triumphed over him
    by the blood of the Lamb
    and by the word of their testimony;
they did not love their lives so much
    as to shrink from death.
In other words, despite Satan’s constant accusing of you and I, we triumph over him, not by our own perfection but by the blood of the Lamb (Christ Jesus) and the word of our testimony – our testimony of making Him our Lord and King despite the temptation to be my own king – such that we do not love our temporary lives so much as to shrink even from death for His name. During the tribulation, many will die this way.
Revelation 12
12 Therefore rejoice, you heavens
    and you who dwell in them!
But woe to the earth and the sea,
    because the devil has gone down to you!
He is filled with fury,
    because he knows that his time is short.”
So, the hosts of heaven are glad to be rid of him, but watch out earth because he knows his time is short and he is very, very angry. How does he know his time is short? He can read the bible same as us, and he’s had much longer to study it than we have. He knows how it ends, even though he’s going to do all he can to prevent it. Which is exactly what God expects him to do, and thus, even Satan’s attempts to foil God’s plan only further its fulfillment.

Now, let’s talk about what Satan does now that he’s on the earth for good.
Revelation 12
13 When the dragon saw that he had been hurled to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child. 14 The woman was given the two wings of a great eagle, so that she might fly to the place prepared for her in the wilderness, where she would be taken care of for a time, times and half a time, out of the serpent’s reach. 15 Then from his mouth the serpent spewed water like a river, to overtake the woman and sweep her away with the torrent. 16 But the earth helped the woman by opening its mouth and swallowing the river that the dragon had spewed out of his mouth. 17 Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to wage war against the rest of her offspring—those who keep God’s commands and hold fast their testimony about Jesus.
This is expanding on what John already saw in the earlier part of the vision when the woman fled to the wilderness.

I will talk more about why I think this “place prepared” is Petra in a later talk –  but if you’d like to learn more now I’ll include a link in my notes:

For now, let’s talk about what happens when the dragon pursues the woman…
Revelation 12
14 The woman was given the two wings of a great eagle, so that she might fly to the place prepared for her in the wilderness, where she would be taken care of for a time, times and half a time, out of the serpent’s reach.
This reference to eagle’s wings points us back to another similar situation in Israel’s history…the Exodus, when the Israelites escaped from their slavery to Egypt through great signs and wonders performed by God – many that are repeated in the judgments of the tribulation.  Three months after their escape, Moses is having a conversation with God up on Mount Sinai:
Exodus 19
Then Moses went up to God, and the Lord called to him from the mountain and said, “This is what you are to say to the descendants of Jacob and what you are to tell the people of Israel: ‘You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself.
He says some more, but I just wanted to show you how God himself referred to the miraculous escape of the Israelites from the Egyptians as being “carried on eagle’s wings.”
So, the vision here in Revelation 12 tells us that the Israelites escaping the dragon will be protected in similar fashion to when the Israelites escaped from Egypt. For example…the vision continues…
Revelation 12
15 Then from his mouth the serpent spewed water like a river, to overtake the woman and sweep her away with the torrent. 16 But the earth helped the woman by opening its mouth and swallowing the river that the dragon had spewed out of his mouth.
Most commentators agree that this river from the dragons mouth is not symbolizing a literal flood of water, but rather a flood of soldiers. Most likely soldiers at the command of the Beast, who is the human puppet of Satan and had just set himself in the temple and called himself God. Either way, whether soldiers or a literal flood of water, God protects Israel in similar fashion to when he parted the waters of the Red Sea – He apparently causes the earth to swallow up whatever is chasing His remnant. How exactly that will work, we can only wait and see.
And so, Satan’s attempts to foil the plans of God are once again thwarted and he is madder than ever.
Revelation 12
17 Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to wage war against the rest of her offspring—those who keep God’s commands and hold fast their testimony about Jesus.
What that is describing is what Jesus described as the “great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again.” (Matthew 24:21)
We will see more details about that next week in another layer of this overall picture, but the larger sense of what is happening here is that Satan is once again trying to prevent his own demise.
In the first part of this chapter’s vision, we saw how Satan has tried throughout history to prevent the seed of Woman from fulfilling the promise God made to him when he played the serpent to Eve. In that effort he failed when Jesus rose from the dead.
So, now he is trying to prevent the other prophecy that will lead to his end. He’s trying to prevent Jesus from coming back a second time because he has read the end of the book and knows that when Jesus comes back, he’s going into lock Satan in the Abyss for a thousand years followed by a quick trip to the lake of fire for eternity.
So, if he can prevent the return of Christ, he thinks he can avoid that fate.
So, how could Satan prevent the return of Christ?
Short answer: He can’t
…but not because there isn’t technically a way he could do it. Just like if Satan had succeeded in killing Jesus as a baby, or prevented his birth altogether – theoretically that would have messed up God’s plan of salvation and might have prevented Satan’s demise.
But in reality, it WAS NOT and IS NOT possible to mess up God’s plans.
GOD’S WORD WILL NEVER FAIL because, one, God cannot lie, and two because there is nothing outside of His control and nothing beyond His power to overcome.
So, just as Satan’s previous attempts to prevent the birth of Christ failed, his attempt to stop Christ coming back will also fail. But that won’t stop him from trying the one way he thinks he might be able to outsmart God. Because you see, even though Satan knows he is going to lose – he convinces himself of his own lies and tries anyway.
So, what is the technical way that, IF God wasn’t trustworthy, all powerful, and totally in control, that Satan could foil God’s plans and prevent Christ from coming back?
Answer: The elimination of the Jewish people.
If Satan could eliminate the Jews completely, that would do two things:
One – God promised that a remnant of his people would always exist. So killing them all would cause God to break a promise.
Two – If there are no Jews left, then they would never all repent and fulfill the Mosaic covenant, which would then result in Jesus coming back to fulfill the Abrahamic covenant in the Millennial Kingdom.
I don’t have time to get into the details of that, but if you watch the first week of the Back to the Future miniseries, it explains how the covenants work, and I plan to give more details about this when I get to the war of Armageddon.
And so, Satan’s only hope in preventing his doom is to prevent the Jewish people from ever getting to that place where they collectively repent.
However, his attempts to do so by killing them off, ironically, only aids in the effort to reduce the total number of Jews down to a small enough group that it actually will be possible for ALL of them to agree that Jesus is their Messiah.
Thus sealing his fate all the more.
Thus ends the homily (that’s a fancy word for sermon) on Revelation 12, the vision of the Woman and the Dragon.

If your head is hurting, I’m sorry. I did the best I could. Just wait until next week! I recommend taking some Advil before the talk…
I’ve already heard several of you tell me that you have to listen to the talk a second time to catch the parts where your brain shut down. That’s good – it means you really want to learn something. Like I said at the beginning today (if you can remember that long ago) I’m proud of all of you that are sticking with it. It will be worth it in the end – God’s Word itself promises so back at the start of this book.
Revelation 1
The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, who testifies to everything he saw—that is, the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.
And that’s what we’ve been doing, and I for one have already been blessed to see, among other things, your hunger for Scripture grow. There are few things that make at least this pastor’s heart happy than to see those God has put in my care want to know Him at a deeper level. And I can tell that you do!
You’re reading the Word, even studying it.
You’re praying, here in church, in our prayer meetings like the one this Wednesday, in your small groups, and I’m sure individually on your own.
You’re breaking bread, fellowshipping, doing life together in our monthly potlucks, agape feasts, small groups, and other get-togethers. Sometimes you do so much fellowship before church that we have to beg you to come in to the worship service!
And you are serving. It takes a small army to make church happen in this school each Sunday and a majority of you are in the mix making it happen – and you’re serving in the community like at the PIN breakfast and some of you are regulars at the CPC and other things.
And for that I thank you and it warms my heart to see a church our size truly walking the walk, and always aiming to grow deeper in our faith.
It kind of makes me feel like the Apostle Paul in his second letter to the Corinthians…
2 Corinthians 8:7
You excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in the love we have kindled in you—see that you also excel in this grace of giving.
I find it comforting when I see the great Apostle Paul having some of the same challenges in his churches that we pastors have today. And it’s true, we here at Reality are so good at so many of the right things, that it is somewhat surprising that we are so challenged in the area of giving.
If you look at our bulletin you will see that we are already behind in our budget for the year, and it’s only the end of February. If things don’t change we may be in the same hole we were in back in December – which God, through you, miraculously pulled us out of. But, I don’t think He would appreciate seeing us put ourselves back there again.
Now, I’m not saying we are terrible at giving. It could certainly be worse. In fact, we are not even bad at giving. It’s more the contrast that is disconcerting.
The contrast between how good we are at almost everything else – how we excel like the Corinthian church at most things – but for some reason settle for “good enough” in this area.
With that said, this discrepancy is not uniform across the church. There are many of you that give exceptionally well, which keeps us afloat. But there are also enough of you that do not, keeping us just that – afloat and no more.  And I’ll tell you it is certainly the cause of much pondering and praying on my part to figure out why and what to do about it.
In case you can’t tell, I’m practicing our core value of Keeping it Real by just being honest and direct with you about our situation.
I’m not bringing it up because there is anything to be alarmed about or to make anyone feel guilty. I’m bringing it up because it surprisingly does fit well with what I talked about today, and it’s something I’m hoping and praying that we will be able to change as we venture into March and the rest of the year.
Now, I’m sure you’re wondering how in the world I got to the topic of giving from the apocalyptic vision of the woman, who is Israel, and the dragon, who is Satan, and how he is thrown to earth and chases Israel into their protective custody…
Surely Pastor Daniel is stretching it this time just to get in a giving talk…
Perhaps…and just to be even more transparent, I actually was joking with my wife this past week that I would surely make the preacher hall of fame if I could turn a talk on the apocalypse into a giving talk. And it really was a joke, not a plan.
But then, as I was fine-tuning my talk on Tuesday and making my hundreds of picture slides, the connection just appeared to me in the same manner that most of my application endings come about.
I’ll fill you in on a little secret about how I write my sermons – at least these Revelation ones. I never go into it knowing what the application will be. I go into it trying to give you all the details of what the text means, and in the process it’s as if God just points something out and shows me how it applies. And this one was no different.
And what God pointed out to me, is that the reason why so many Christ Followers do not give to God as He commands, is the same reason why Satan keeps trying to thwart God’s plans.
Like Satan, we convince ourselves that either God is not in control, or he is not all powerful, or he is not true to His word, or perhaps all three.
Now, of course, as Christians we SAY we believe that God is all powerful, in control, and true to His word. What Christian would say otherwise?  But the truth about what we believe is not in what we say or even what we think, but in what we do.
And so, when a Christian reads God’s Word – such as the Scripture we read every Sunday when we give our offering:
2 Corinthians 9
Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others.
Or when a Christian hears the words of Jesus:
Matthew 6
19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Or when a Christian reads the words of Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived:
Proverbs 3
Honor the Lord with your wealth,
    with the firstfruits of all your crops;
10 then your barns will be filled to overflowing,
    and your vats will brim over with new wine.
Or when a Christian hears the words of God Almighty:
Malachi 3
10 Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.
When a Christ Follower, who has made Jesus their Lord and King, sees all of that in what they claim to believe are the very words of God, and then still chooses NOT to give – it is only because either
You don’t believe that these promises of God will be kept by Him. That He is dishonest.
OR
You don’t believe that He is capable of keeping said promises. That He is incompetent.
OR
You don’t believe He actually controls everything. That He is disconnected.
Or possibly all three.
Because if you actually believed that God’s Word is TRUE. And that God is POWERFUL enough to overcome any obstacle and IN CONTROL enough that he can ensure you are taken care of as you trust Him and obey Him – then your actions would show that you do.
Your actions, specifically your action of obedience to the WORD you claim to believe, would show that you really do trust God over your own understanding as the famous proverb urges.
Proverbs 3
Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
    and he will make your paths straight.
I like to point out the reverse of this…
Trust in yourself with all of your heart
and lean not on the Lord’s promises
In all your ways resist His will
And he will let you stumble along your own path.
My friends, I want so badly for you to receive all that God has for you – not just part of it. I want you to know Him intimately and personally through experience, not just know about Him from a distance.
I want you to experience the goodness of a life LIVED 100% in faith, not just 50%, or 80%, or even 90%, but 100% in faith and obedience to His word. Because 90% obedience is really 100% disobedience. Every parent knows that. And faith without obedience is really not faith at all.
God’s promises are not unlocked by intentions, or feelings, or words that we say. They are unlocked by the action that shows we really do trust Him despite every human reason we can think of not to.
Think of it this way – why do you pay your electric bill consistently and on time? Or your rent or mortgage? Well, it’s because you believe/know that the electric company is IN CONTROL of your power. They can turn it off or keep it on at will. That the electric company is CAPABLE of providing you all the electrical power you need.  And that they are TRUE to their word. They will shut your power off if you don’t pay them and they will keep it on if you do.
And why do you trust all of that?  Because you’ve actually paid your electric bill and seen the results. And some of you may have not paid an electric bill and seen those results too.
And do you know what those who have been giving God his tithe for a long time understand that those who haven’t don’t?  That not giving God to God is like not paying the electric bill and just accepting a life without electricity. Now, some people wouldn’t mind doing that, but I’m talking to the average American that wouldn’t know how to survive without it for more than a day – we don’t even go camping without it anymore! No heat, or A/C. No hot water. No refrigerator, dishwasher, or microwave. No lights, television, or wifi.  All the while, if you just paid the electric company you could have all the wonderful conveniences that electrical power provides. Obviously you COULD survive without it – but why would you want to?
It’s quite similar with God – He has so many promises attached to trusting him in giving that living without them really is comparable to living with no electricity, but in a different sense. You won’t die without them, but life is a lot better with them!
But blessings aside – do you know what one major difference is between the electric company and God, other than the fact that most Christians trust the electric company more than Him?
The electric company didn’t create you.
The electric company doesn’t have great plans for you.
The electric company didn’t send his son to die for you so you could be forgiven of your sins.
The electric company doesn’t love you.  But God does.
And so I challenge you. Try it for a month. Test God as He says to do. Try actually tithing – giving 10% of your income to God. Tithe on your tax return. Tithe for the month of March. Step out in faith, trusting in God’s Word and see if He keeps his promises.
You’ll never know if you don’t try.
God doesn’t say, “trust me once you are pretty sure it would work without my help.”
God says, “trust me when you are certain it will fail without my help.” That’s what faith is all about.
Don’t be like the dragon, the serpent of old, who is called the Devil and Satan – who spends his whole existence resisting God and insisting on doing things his own way only to find that it always leads to failure. Surrender your whole self to God, all that you are, and all that you have, and God will honor his promise, that if you Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, then all those other things that you’re so worried about will be added to you as well.
It’s a beautiful promise that you can trust. Will you give Him a chance to show you?
Let’s pray.