We are going to end our preaching today on chapter 12. We divided it further into two sections. Verse 7-12 covers our second sermon point “The Dragon’s Defeat” while Verses 13-17 covers our third sermon point “The Protection of the Woman”. As explained last week, these chapters beginning from Revelation 12 are called symbolic histories. There are seven symbolic characters which we will cover until Revelation 14 and Lord-willing, we will able to finish it for the whole of September. For now, let us focus on two of them, the Dragon and the Woman.
Last week, we heard that the Dragon is the fallen angel Satan while the Woman is the whole church promised since Genesis 3:15. We end our preaching then by explaining how in the entire millennium period (1,260 days) the militant church lives in suffering and tribulation but continues to enjoy the protection from God. This theme of protection and care John continues to portray in the whole of chapter 12.
Satan is now bound. He has been cast down from heaven when the Lamb finally conquered sin and death by his own atoning work at the cross. He can longer accuse the brethren for failing in their sins because Christ, the Lamb of God, gave his life as a ransom for the many (Mark 10:45). Because his future is certain, Satan devours God’s people and attempts to kill them. He first tried to deceive them with his false teachings but God protects them with truth. Next, he persecutes and puts them to death but God brings them to his presence in heaven. This is the picture John wants us to see his symbolic history between the Dragon and the Woman.
So let us hear God’s Word preaching this morning. Before we begin, let us pray.
The Dragon’s Defeat
Verses 7-12: Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels fought back, but he was defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death. Therefore, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!”
Again, there are several question we need to answer and this becomes the structure of preaching every week. First, who is Michael and why was he fighting with the dragon. Second, when was the dragon thrown down and what happened as a result of it?
The angel Michael is the captain of the host of God’s loyal angels. The earliest reference to him was recorded in Daniel 10 where he was called by the God to guard God’s people against the ruling empires of that day. Clearly, John refers to the same angel Michael which the prophet Daniel has already recorded in his book. Now, John saw a heavenly war between God’s angelic hosts and the dragon’s minions. According to him, the dragon was defeated and as a sign of their defeat, he and his cohorts were thrown down to earth. Why did Michael fight the dragon? So that he cannot accuse those whom God elected for salvation. Later on we will answer this question fully when come to the next question. In the meantime, let us ask when did this occur?
As always, we need to view them as events taking place between the first and second coming of Christ but from different scenes and perspective. Jesus himself spoke about Satan falling from the heavens. In Luke 10:18-20, Scripture says, “And he said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” This was during the public ministry of Jesus when he continues to demonstrate the powers of his kingdom. Therefore, the falling of Satan here does not refer to the cursing of the serpent after man fell to sin (Genesis 3) as some have concluded. Rather, this period of great kingdom power comes with the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. It was the decisive victory of Christ at his death when procured for his people forgiveness of sin. So the heavenly battle of the angels occurred during the time of Christ first coming. They are true history portrayed in symbolic terms. John will again refer to the same event in Revelation 20 where Satan was bound for a whole millennium (1000 years).
Prior to his casting down, Satan was allowed to enter the heavens and accuse the brethren for their sins. We saw this happening in the book of Job chapter 1 and in Zechariah 3 were Satan accuses Joshua but he was rebuked. In Jude 9, we read the same thing happen when the Michael rebuked Satan over the body of Moses. Let us examine these text from Scripture.
The book of Job is not a mythical but a historical account of the life of Job. The scene in heaven must be understood in a real sense rather than in a metaphorical sense. Let us read a portion of text from Job 1:6-12:
Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them. The Lord said to Satan, “From where have you come?” Satan answered the Lord and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.” And the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?” Then Satan answered the Lord and said, “Does Job fear God for no reason? Have you not put a hedge around him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But stretch out your hand and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face.” And the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your hand. Only against him do not stretch out your hand.” So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord.
So it appears here prior to Christ’s first coming, Satan was still allowed to enter the heavenly courts and accuse God’s people. A similar event happens in Zechariah’s vision which is also prior to Christ’s death and resurrection. We read from Zechariah 3:1-5:
Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him. And the Lord said to Satan, “The Lord rebuke you, O Satan! The Lord who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is not this a brand plucked from the fire?” Now Joshua was standing before the angel, clothed with filthy garments. And the angel said to those who were standing before him, “Remove the filthy garments from him.” And to him he said, “Behold, I have taken your iniquity away from you, and I will clothe you with pure vestments.” And I said, “Let them put a clean turban on his head.” So they put a clean turban on his head and clothed him with garments. And the angel of the Lord was standing by.
This prophetic vision was fulfilled by Christ’s atoning death at the cross. This historical event has taken away the sin of God’s people and they are now cleansed from it. Satan cannot anymore accuse them. He will be forever be silenced. Jesus Christ, the mediator of the new covenant has triumphed over Satan and now sits victorious in the heavens while Satan is forever banished from the throne of God. As a result, heaven rejoices and sings praises to God, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death. Therefore, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short! (Revelation 12:10-12)”
Christian, your sin has been paid in full. Christ cleanses you from the guilty and corruption of sin. He rescues us from the misery of sin and death. Rejoice!
The Protection of the Woman
Verses 13-17: And when the dragon saw that he had been thrown down to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child. But the woman was given the two wings of the great eagle so that she might fly from the serpent into the wilderness, to the place where she is to be nourished for a time, and times, and half a time. The serpent poured water like a river out of his mouth after the woman, to sweep her away with a flood. But the earth came to the help of the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed the river that the dragon had poured from his mouth. Then the dragon became furious with the woman and went off to make war on the rest of her offspring, on those who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus. And he stood on the sand of the sea.
We end chapter 12 answering these questions. First, what is the meaning of the eagle and what is the symbolic meaning of a time, and times, and half a time.? Second, what is the meaning of the river coming out from the mouth of Satan and the earth opening its mouth?
Simply put, these are symbolic terms from the Old Testament. Let us go through them one by one. Keep in mind that the theme of this section is the plan of Satan to persecute God’s people because he hates them and because he has been defeated by Christ, his strategy now is to devour Christians here on earth. Revelation 12: 12b warns, “But woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!”
Again, here is the list of symbolism and their meaning:
- The two wings of the great eagle – this refers to the protection of God in the wilderness. Exodus 19:4 refers to the eagle’s wings as God hovering over God’s people watching and protecting them. It is a sign of God’s spiritual protection to God’s people during this time of great tribulation.
- A time, and times, and half a time – in mathematical terms, it is equivalent to 1+2+0.5 = 3.5 or 3 and 1/2 time period. It is the same as 42 months, 1260 days or the millennium, the period between Christ’s first and second coming. This symbol also came from Daniel specifically from 7:24.
- The river coming out from the mouth of Satan – the symbol of things coming out from one’s mouth refers to their teachings or doctrine. It also means their witness or proclamation. In Revelation 1:16 speaks of Jesus mouths a two-edge sword while in Revelation 11:5 records of two witnesses breathing fire out from their mouths. But in Revelation 12:15, Satan’s mouth comes out river of waters to drown the woman or symbolically the whole church. Water flowing as river is seen negatively in Scripture. It portrays chaos. It means false teaching whose aim is to confuse Christians and to lead them astray.
- Earth opening its mouth – this refers to God protecting God’s people from false prophets and teachers. It points back to the events in Numbers 16 where Korah tries to rebel against Moses and God punishes him and his whole family by opening up and earth to swallow them. It is a sure sign of God’s protection in the midst of corrupt and rebellious teachings.
Christian, we sometimes wonder how can God protect us in the midst of chaos? Like the watchful eye of an eagle, he knows each one of us and like the great wings of an eagle, protects us personally out from the whole mass of rebellious people. He is all-knowing and all-powerful. He controls and rules everything in his providence but at the same time, he is the author and perfecter of our faith. He is not only our Creator but he is also our Redeemer. He provides and protects us. He will never leave us nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5).
ZCRC(Imus), let us take comfort of the fact that God protects his people. Christ conquered sin and death and while we suffer persecutions and tribulation, God continues to rescue us from danger here on earth and brings us to his presence as soon we have faced death. May the Lord continue to encourage us with these words. Amen.
Reuel Dawal is the Minister of the Word and Sacraments at ZCRC. He was an intern prior to being ordained and installed as the church's new pastor. He is currently finishing his Biblical and Theological Studies at the Miami International Seminary (MINTS) online. He and his wife Yeng are married since 2017 and lives in Imus, Cavite.