The Woman, her Son, and the Dragon - Part 1

Tom Pennington Revelation 12:1-17


You know, I think over the last year, most Americans, and certainly all Europeans, have been shocked and devastated to see a war break out on the European continent. It's been a while since that has happened and I think it caught many off-guard, but it really shouldn't. Sadly, it's the world we live in. It's the fallen world that mankind has come to know.

Years ago, a group of academics and historians studied the world's history, and they released this startling conclusion. Since 3600 BC, the world has only known 292 years in which there was peace. There have been, in that time, 14,351 wars in which 3.64 billion people have died. Professor Quincy in his book, The Study of War, examines just one period of time from 1480 AD to 1941, 1480 AD to 1941. During those 461 years, Great Britain was involved in 78 major wars, France 71, Spain 64, Russia 61, Austria 52, Germany 23, the US 13 (and we're cheating because we started later), China 11, and Japan 9. War has stained this planet from the first murder in Genesis 4, and it will continue to do so until the final war in Revelation 21, at the end of the millennium, when Christ will forever destroy Satan and every other being that opposes Him.

Tonight, we come to a unique passage, a passage where we will learn the source of all of those wars. And we'll learn about a war that will end all war on this planet, not for a year or two, but for 1000 years.

Let me just remind you where we are. We're in the middle of our study of the seven-year Tribulation. It begins in chapter 6 of Revelation and runs all the way through chapter 18. Last time, we looked at the seventh trumpet in chapter 11:15-19. Again, just to remind you, there are a series of judgments that are unleashed and, beginning in chapter 6 as Jesus unrolls and breaks the seven seals on the scroll that is the title deed to the earth, the first six seals in chapter 6. Then there's an interlude where we learn about the Tribulation saints in chapter 7. Then He breaks the seventh seal, which initiates the first six trumpets in chapters 8 and 9. Then there's an interlude in chapters 10 and 11, or through the middle of chapter 11, where we are met with the little book and the two witnesses who'll be witnesses at the end times. And then, last week, the seventh trumpet.

Tonight, we come to another interlude in chapters 12 through 14. That will be followed, in chapters 15 and 16, by the seven bowls of wrath, and then in chapters 17 and 18, the destruction of both political and religious Babylon. So, this is where we are. In chapter 11:15, the seventh angel sounded his trumpet. But the devastating effects of that trumpet that come in seven bowl judgments aren't recorded until chapters 15 and following. So, that means chapters 12, 13, and 14, those three chapters, are a third interlude in this prophecy.

These three chapters describe events that, for the most part, occur during the entire seven-year Tribulation period. In other words, the events described in chapters 12-14 happen contemporaneously with the events we have already studied in chapters 6-11. So, think of chapters 6-11 and chapters 12, 13, and 14 as kind of an overlay telling us about that same period of time. So, why? What's the difference? Well, chapters 6-11 describe those events primarily in terms of what Christ is doing. But chapters 12-14 describe those same events primarily in terms of what Satan is doing.

So, let me give you an outline of these three chapters as we look at chapters 12, 13, and 14. In chapter 12, we are introduced to Satan's long war against God, His Messiah, and His people. In chapter 13, we're introduced to Satan's generals during that future Tribulation campaign, when he's at war with God during the seven-year Tribulation. We meet, first of all, in the first ten verses of chapter 13, the beast from the sea, who is the false Christ, the Antichrist. And then in the second-half of chapter 13, we meet the beast from the earth who is the false prophet, the religious leader who will point all of humanity to the Antichrist. And then in chapter 14, we see Satan's defeat at the hand of Jesus Christ. So, that's a road map of where we're going.

Tonight, we're going to initiate our study of chapter 12. And the basic message of chapter 12 is this: throughout human history, Satan has been at war with God, with his Messiah, and with His people, and his attacks will intensify as the end draws near. Here's an outline of chapter 12. In verses 1-6, we have Satan's continual war against Israel. In verses 7-12, Satan's coming war in heaven. And then in verses 13-17, we have Satan's comprehensive war against Tribulation saints during the Tribulation period.

Tonight, we're just going to consider the first six verses. Let's read it together. Revelation 12. You follow along as I read it. "A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars; and she was with child; and she cried out, being in labor and in pain to give birth. Then another sign appeared in heaven: and behold, a great red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads were seven diadems. And his tail swept away a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she gave birth he might devour her child. And she gave birth to a son, a male child, who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron; and her child was caught up to God and to His throne. Then the woman fled into the wilderness where she had a place prepared by God, so that there she would be nourished for one thousand two hundred and sixty days." In these six verses, we learn that Satan's long war against God is often waged against the nation Israel, and the primary reason for that is that the Messiah was to come from Israel.

So, let's look at it together. As I said, these first six verses can simply be called Satan's continual war against Israel. Now, let me just warn you, in studying these verses together, you're going to feel a bit tonight like a time traveler, because we're going to find ourselves at various points on the scale of human history, on the timeline of human history. We'll find ourselves outside history in the time just before God created the world, but after He created all the angels. We'll sweep across history, and we will actually land for a time in the years 4 to 6 BC. And then we'll finish our time tonight in the last 3 1/2 years of the seven-year Tribulation. So, put on your time traveler gear and let's look at it together.

Now, what unites these verses and what unites all of those points on the timeline of God's history is Satan's war against God and, specifically, that war as it has unfolded against Israel. So, let's look at it together.

The passage begins with the war in the past recounted. He begins by looking back. John first introduces us to the three main characters involved in this compelling drama of war. By the way, let me just say something, because (in case you're exposed to it) there have been those who said what you read here is just like other pagan myths, and that's all it is. The only resemblance of this account to similar pagan myths is that they all describe the supernatural conflict of good and evil. But this is unique, and we'll see why.

The first main character in this drama is simply called the woman. So, let's find out her real identity in verse 1: "A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars..." Now, John saw a great sign in heaven. The Greek word for sign is a word for something that is expressed symbolically, that points to a spiritual reality. In this case, this woman, as we'll discover, is not an actual woman, but rather is symbolic of something else. The Greek word "great" is mega. It's translated, brought over directly - transliterated, really, into English - mega. It occurs several times in this vision. It seems that everything John saw in this vision was either enormous in its appearance or enormous in its significance. It's great. One other note to make, and that is, what he saw here was in heaven, but it pointed to what was on the earth. So, let's look at this woman now.

First of all, let me give some context. There are several symbolic women in the book of Revelation. First of all, there is a real woman who has a symbolic name, in chapter 2:20. She's given the name Jezebel. She was simply a false teacher, in Asia Minor, who was engaged in paganism. A second woman, symbolic woman, we meet is in chapter 17. She's a harlot who represents false religion including, as we'll discover, apostate Christianity. In chapter 19 we meet the bride of the Lamb who represents, of course, the true Church of Jesus Christ. And then, we have the woman here in chapter 12.

So, who is this woman? What does this woman represent? Well, look at verse 5, because there we have a great clue. We're told this woman gave birth to the Messiah. So, think with me for a moment. What are the options? Well, what about Mary? It can't be Mary because look down at verse 6. In the future, she's going to flee into the wilderness where she has a place prepared by God for the second-half of the Tribulation. Can't be the church. Why? Because the church didn't give birth to the Messiah. Messiah gave birth to the church. Thirdly, this woman can't represent all believers, Old and New Testament. Why? Because look down in verse 17. There, we have a reference to the rest of her children. So, there have to be others beyond her. So, the woman herself can't be all believers.

The woman in our text represents Israel and let me show you why. There are several arguments. I'm not going to give you the arguments on the notes that are for, you know, the kids to follow and you to follow, but you can jot them down as I give them to you, okay? Here are a series of arguments for why this woman must be Israel.

Number one: the Old Testament often pictures Israel as a woman, specifically the wife of Yahweh. Jeremiah 3:1, Jeremiah 3:20, Ezekiel 16, Hosea 2:2 are just a few of the places where the Old Testament pictures Israel as a woman.

Number two: Daniel's 70-week prophecy is about Israel. And Daniel's 70th week makes it clear that the future Tribulation will focus on Israel. If you weren't here when we studied Daniel, go back and listen to the messages on Daniel 9. You'll learn that the 70-week prophecy, that Daniel is given, focuses on the people of Israel, on the nation of Israel. And the first 69 weeks focus on Israel and the 70th week, which describes the Tribulation (the 7-year period yet to come), focuses on Israel as well. So, we would expect Israel, then, to be in prophecy about the future, specifically, prophecy about the Tribulation.

Third argument: the last verse of chapter 11 mentions the ark of the covenant and immediately we are referenced to this woman in chapter 12:1.

Argument number four: the images in verse 1 of chapter 12 come from a very clear reference to Israel in the Old Testament. Turn back to Genesis, Genesis 37. Here's where this imagery comes from. Genesis 37:9. This is Joseph. "Now he [Joseph] had still another dream, and related it to his brothers, and said, 'Lo, I have had still another dream; and behold, the sun and the moon and eleven stars were bowing down to me.' He related it to his father and to his brothers; and his father rebuked him and said to him, 'What is this dream that you have had? Shall I and your mother and your brothers actually come to bow ourselves down before you to the ground?'" He goes on to explain the fallout of this dream. Now, in Joseph's dream that we just - we see here in Genesis 37 - the sun represents Jacob, the moon Rachel. And the twelve stars, there were 11, but remember Joseph, that's 12. So, the twelve stars represent the twelve tribes of Israel. About that there is no debate. That's clearly what's going on here in Genesis 27 or 37. So, there is every reason to take exactly the same images in Revelation 12:1 and see them as connecting the woman, there, to what's described here in Genesis 37. That means that the woman in Revelation 12 is connected to Jacob and Rachel, who inherited the promises of the Abrahamic covenant. Now, let's go back to Revelation 12. Her crown there is adorned with twelve stars, representing the twelve tribes of Israel. So, my point is her description, completely analogous to Genesis 37, points to her identity as symbolizing or representing the nation, Israel.

And then, my fifth argument for why this has to be Israel, is again back to verse 5. This woman gives birth to the Messiah. And if it's not Mary, who else could it be? Well, the New Testament is very clear. Romans 9:4-5. Paul there says, "who are Israelites, to whom belongs the adoption as sons, and the glory and the covenants and the giving of the Law and the temple service and the promises, whose are the fathers [listen to this], and from whom [talking about Israel] is the Christ [Messiah] according to the flesh, who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen." So, Israel is the one who gives birth to the Messiah according to Romans 9. So, that's her real identity. This woman represents Israel.

Now, let's come back to our text and see - now that we've seen her real identity, let's look at her crucial distinction. Verse 2 says, "and she was with child..." Literally, the Greek says, "she was having in womb". That's just a Greek euphemism for she was pregnant. Now, the Old Testament made it clear that Messiah had to come from Israel. Genesis 12:3. God promised Abraham that from his descendants all of the nations of the earth would be spiritually blessed. Then, clearly, this person had to be from the tribe of Judah in Genesis 49:10. Judah is the one who holds the scepter and who will reign "until Shiloh comes", until he whose right it is comes. And then, finally, in 2 Samuel 7:16, we learn that not only will they come from Abraham and the Jewish people, and then from Isaac, and from Jacob, and then from Judah, but it will come even from one family in Judah, and that's the family of David. So, it had to be.

Verse 2 goes on to say, "and she cried out, being in labor and in pain to give birth." In the same way that a pregnant woman in labor feels pain, the nation Israel suffered pain waiting for her Messiah. Her pain, in part, came as she experienced again and again God's chastening for her sin. But her pain came also, in part, from Satan's raging efforts to destroy Israel so that Israel would not give birth to her Messiah.

Think about the many biblical examples of Satan's desperate attempts to destroy the Jewish people and destroy, therefore, the future Messiah and destroy the saving purposes of God. It starts all the way back with Cain's murder of Abel in Genesis 4. The wicked one slays the righteous one, but God brings other children. Then Satan tries to corrupt the line of Seth in Genesis 6. Fast forward to the time of the Judges and Satan instigates Israel's pagan neighbors to destroy Israel. Satan even used the first king of Israel, Saul, to try to kill David and, with David's death, would have ended the messianic line. During the Divided Kingdom, twice, the Messianic line dwindled to a single male child. And during one of those occasions, or on one of those occasions, Athaliah, the wicked daughter of Jezebel, tried to kill that child but God preserved him. In the time of Esther, Satan prompted Haman to initiate the annihilation of the Jews. What is all that about? Why? Understand that Satan's attempts to destroy Israel can be traced back to his consuming desire to destroy the Messiah and to prevent His saving work.

So, the first character in this drama is the woman who represents Israel. The second character is the dragon. John describes this woman's mortal enemy. First of all, we get a picture, a glimpse of his true character in pictures. Verse 3: "Then another sign appeared in heaven..." Again, here is a sign. This is something described symbolically in heaven that points to a reality on earth. Verse 3 goes on to say, "and behold [John calls our special attention to what he saw], a great red dragon..." First of all, notice again, he was great. He was mega. He was enormous. He was terrifying in both size and appearance, and he was a dragon.

Now, who was this dragon? Well, this is a very easy question to answer, because verse 9, you'll notice, identifies him very specifically and exactly as "the devil and Satan". The same identification is made in chapter 20:2. Now, make clear your thinking here. Satan is not actually a dragon any more than Israel is actually a woman. This picture describes his character. By the way, only in the book of Revelation is he described as a dragon. Scripture most commonly describes him in animal terms as a serpent or as a snake. In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word translated dragon is also translated monster. The point is this: like a dragon, Satan is dominating, intimidating, ferocious, violent. Think of the most ferocious dinosaurs. That's the picture you're intended to get. He is a ferocious beast, seeking to destroy everything in his path.

We know, by the way, that the animal Satan used in the Garden of Eden was a serpent or reptile. But think about this. We also know that it had not yet been cursed to move on its belly. That happens as a result of the fall. That means probably it was upright, perhaps like a dragon standing on two legs. But regardless, he is like a dragon in his intimidating, ferocious, violent character.

John also describes this dragon as red. Likely red, here, is the color of bloodshed. It emphasizes his vicious, violent, deadly nature. You remember what Jesus said about Satan in John 8:44: "He was a murderer from the beginning..." He enjoys shedding blood. War is Satan's favorite thing.

Verse 3 identifies his person and character in a couple of other pictures. Verse 3 goes on to say, "having seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads were seven diadems." Now, I'm not going to explain this all in great detail because here it doesn't factor into what we're being told. We'll meet this again so hang on. Let me just give you an overview, and then we get there, it'll become clearer. Seven heads with seven diadems. This is a seven-headed monster that rules the entire world. Seven heads with seven diadems means he has ruling power and he uses it among the nations. As we'll discover in our detailed study of chapter 17, these seven heads, decorated with seven royal crowns, likely refer to seven sequential world empires that existed under Satan's dominion. He also had ten horns. The kingdom of Antichrist will be a confederacy of ten nations. The ten horns, here, likely represent the kings who rule under Antichrist. Again, we'll come back to this, so let me just give you that overview.

It's interesting to note that initially the diadems are on the dragon's heads, that is, the crowns are on Satan, meaning he rules. But in chapter 13:1, these same diadems are worn by Antichrist. It seems to show a shift in power, not from Satan to Antichrist, obviously, but a shift in power from the seven previous world empires to the ten kings who will rule under the final Antichrist. Regardless, get the big picture. In these images in verse 3, we understand that he is a ferocious beast who powerfully, in a dominating way, rules the world.

Now, having seen Satan's true character, John next tells us about an ancient event that lies behind and motivates his long war with Israel. And it is his past war in heaven. This is what motivates him. This is what drives him to hate and attack Israel.

In verse 4, we get a glimpse of how his evil career began. Verse 4 says, "And his tail swept away a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth." I'm not going to take you there because we've looked at it several times in recent months. But let me just remind you that Ezekiel 28, Ezekiel 28 verses 11 and following, records both Satan's initial position and his rebellion. In that chapter, the prophet is talking about the King of Tyre, initially. But starting in verse 11, he shifts to the person who empowered the King of Tyre, the person behind him. And he begins to describe this person in ways that cannot be the King of Tyre because he describes him as the covering cherub, who was in the Garden of Eden, who was anointed with every precious stone, who was the Prime Minister of heaven. And so, clearly, he's talking about Satan, who inspired and who empowered the King of Tyre. So, there in Ezekiel 28, we learn that Satan was, at the beginning, an anointed cherub that covered. He was the Prime Minister of heaven, likely the highest authority in heaven under Christ. But when his heart was lifted up with pride, he imagined that he was greater than God Himself, and he rebelled against God as Creator. And in doing so, he began a cosmic war that now reaches every corner of the universe.

It's a war against God, but it's a war that's fought on two fronts. It began - the first front - it began against God and His holy angels in heaven. But Satan's mutiny eventually focused on a second front when he was thrown out of heaven. He led a rebellion against God among humanity, a mutiny that began in the Garden of Eden, when Adam and Eve believed Satan's lies and joined his rebellion against God and plunged the entire human race into this cosmic war. Since the fall, this planet (earth) has been the primary theater of Satan's long war against God.

Tragically, Satan doesn't fight this war alone. Look again at verse 4: "And his tail swept away a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth." What are these stars? Well, Scripture refers to angels symbolically as stars. Even back in chapter 9:1, we saw one of those illusions. In Job 38:7, again, angels are referred to as stars.

We also get a clue that these stars are angels because, later in this same chapter, John twice refers to Satan's angels. Look down in verse 7: "And there was war in heaven, Michael and his angels waging war with the dragon. The dragon and his angels waged war..." The dragon and his angels. Look at verse 9: "And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him." So, the stars, then, back in verse 4, are angels.

Now, when is this event that's described in verse 4? Because the war that's described in the first half of verse 4 clearly occurs before the birth of Jesus, which comes in verse 5, this war happened before that, and almost certainly it happened, and most would trace it back to the war that occurred when Satan fell. When Satan fell, when he chose to rebel against God, after he created the angelic host, when he rebelled, a third of the angels joined in his rebellion. We're told, here, he swept away a third of them and threw them to the earth.

Tail represents a dragon's power. There's a great deal of power and destructive force. He, with his tail, with his power, drew after him the third of the angels. When God cast Satan out of heaven, Satan left with a third of the angels, those who had followed him in his rebellion.

By the way, a third of the angels has to be a huge number. We don't know exactly but think about this for a moment. We know a third, that's what we're told here, a third of them fell. And in chapter 9:16, you remember, as part of the sixth trumpet, 200 million demons will be released from their captivity. If a third of the angels are demons, that means there are at least 400 million holy angels and 200 million plus demons. But there have to be more. Why? Because in chapter 9:1-3, thousands of other demons were released before that from the abyss. In addition to those two imprisoned groups, referred to in those texts, millions of other demons have been free to roam the earth since the beginning. So, clearly, there are far more than 400 million holy angels and far more than 200 million demons (fallen angels).

Now, although Satan was thrown out of heaven, Satan no longer resides there. God still allows him periodic access to His presence. You remember, Job 1 and 2, where Satan comes to present himself before God and accuses Job. He's called the "accuser of the brethren", meaning he accuses us before God night and day, as we'll see later in Revelation. So, that means he, while he doesn't reside in heaven, he has access there by God's permission. But as we'll see, next time, an event will happen during the Tribulation that will cause God to permanently ban Satan from heaven from that time forward.

But let's go back to the beginning, back after God created the angels and when Satan fell. Once Satan was cast out of heaven, Satan began to direct his attacks against God, the only place he could, and that is here on the earth and, specifically, against Israel. Why? Because, ultimately, his true target was Israel's Messiah. It was to thwart the saving purpose of God.

We learned that as John tells us about Satan's past war against the incarnate Christ. Satan's past war against the incarnate Christ. You see, throughout history, Satan attempted to destroy the people of God in an all-out effort to prevent the birth of the Messiah. Once it was clear that he had failed to prevent the birth of the Messiah, his strategy changed. He then began to seek to destroy the Messiah himself before he could accomplish his redemptive work. Look at verse 4: "And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she gave birth [when the Messiah was born] he might devour her child." He couldn't prevent the birth; that was his goal through the Old Testament history.

But once he saw he couldn't prevent that birth, he seeks to destroy the Messiah after birth. Obviously, the first and clearest example of that is when Satan prompted Herod to murder all the newborns, two years of age and younger in Bethlehem, in Matthew 2. But throughout Jesus' life, Satan continued his efforts to kill Jesus. It's possible that Satan's temptation of Jesus to hurl His body off the pinnacle of the temple was actually in hopes that Jesus would fall to His death. But regardless, we do know this specifically, as Jesus began His ministry, Satan inspired Jesus' neighbors in Nazareth to try to kill him by throwing Him off a cliff, in Luke 4. There were other attempts to take Jesus' life, but John tells us they were unsuccessful "because His hour had not yet come" (John 7:30, John 8:20). Of course, even though Satan was finally successful at the cross, he only meant Jesus' victory and Satan's own ultimate defeat.

So far, we've met the woman, Israel, and we've met the dragon, Satan. Now, we meet the Son, the Messiah. First of all, we notice His birth in verse 5: "And she gave birth to a son, a male child..." In spite of Satan's many efforts to prevent the birth of the Messiah, the woman, that is Israel, gave birth to a son. This was the incarnation of God's eternal Son. Romans 1:3: "...His Son, who was born of a descendant of David according to the flesh..." Isaiah 7:14: "Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel [God with us]." Matthew 1:1: "The record of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham..." And Matthew 1:21 tells His mission: "She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus [Yahweh saves], for He [the child] will save His people from their sins."

So, verse 5 introduces us to His birth, but it also introduces us to His destiny. It goes on to say, "...a male child, who is to rule..." It's interesting expression in Greek. Literally, "who is about to rule". The idea is, this is sure to happen because it has been decreed by God. "...who is [about] to rule all the nations with a rod of iron..." Now, you recognize that illusion. Those words come from Psalm 2:7 and following: "I will surely tell of the decree of the Lord: He said to Me, 'You are My Son, today I have begotten You. Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Your inheritance, and the very ends of the earth as Your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron, You shall shatter them like earthenware.'" Psalm 2:2 refers to Him as the Lord's Anointed or the Lord's Messiah. These words specifically refer to two events. In Psalm 2 it's to when He shatters His enemies, when He returns in the Second Coming, and it also refers to the establishment of His kingdom, His millennial kingdom. He will rule all the nations of earth, that is, all those nations reconstituted after he destroys rebellious mankind in chapter 19.

Why a rod of iron? A rod of iron, a scepter of iron, implies that the Messiah's rule cannot be successfully resisted, and it cannot be broken. It cannot be destroyed. This is his destiny. So many places in Scripture, I wish I had time to take you. My mind is wandering to so many texts where it says He is the One who will be given the throne of His father David.

Verse 5 goes on to speak of His victory: "...and her child was caught up to God and to His throne." John skips from the birth of Jesus to His ascension and exaltation, not because John doesn't think that the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus aren't important. He's already underlined those. Go back to Revelation 1:5: "...Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead [there's His resurrection], and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To Him who loves us and released us from our sins by His blood..." So, clearly, he understands the importance of the death and resurrection of Christ. Verse 18, Jesus says, "[I am the] living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades [grave]." Look at chapter 5, chapter 5:9. John again underscores the importance of the death of Jesus. 5:9: "And they sang a new song, saying, 'Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation." So, don't misunderstand. John understands the importance of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

So, why does he skip from the birth to the ascension and exaltation? Because it emphasizes that the Father accepted the finished work of the Son. Like Hebrews 1:3: "When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high..." It means the Father had accepted His work; redemption's work was done. The Father put His seal of approval on it, and so here we're reminded that the Father drew Him to heaven, and now He sits exalted at His right hand. It showed that Satan's plan to prevent the saving work of the Messiah was totally unsuccessful.

So, that's the first five verses of chapter 12. We've learned about Satan's past war with Israel. It was a war that always centered on his efforts to stop the redemptive work of the Messiah. With verse 6, we suddenly time travel from Jesus' birth and ascension and exaltation in the gospel record, to the end of history. We land in the last 3 1/2 years of the future seven-year Tribulation and here we find, not only has Satan continually warred with Israel in the past, but we learn about the war and the Tribulation to come, and we see it summarized in verse 6.

First of all, we learn in verse 6 of Israel's escape from Satan: "Then the woman fled into the wilderness..." Verse 6 is actually like a summary and John is going to give us a lot more detail later in this same chapter, in verses 13-17. We'll look at it in weeks to come, but just look at chapter 12:13. Chapter 12:13. Here is a fuller version of what verse 6 describes: "And when the dragon saw that he was thrown down to the earth, he persecuted the woman who gave birth to the male child. But the two wings of the great eagle were given to the woman, so that she could fly into the wilderness to her place, where she was nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent." And the rest of that passage goes on to detail in fuller form, what verse 6 just gives us in brief.

Go back, then, to verse 6. The point here is that Satan is not finished with his war with God in which he attacks the people of God, Israel. During the Tribulation, he will ratchet up that effort and that war. He will try to kill all of the Jewish people, including the believing Jewish people, so that none remain to experience the promised salvation, so that none enter Christ's millennial kingdom. In this summary in verse 6, John says that Israel will flee from Satan into the wilderness.

Now, we aren't told here the exact location of this wilderness, but there's a decent chance it is the wilderness that is east of the Jordan River and south of the Dead Sea. It's an area that formerly was occupied by Moab, Ammon, and Edom - an area that's mentioned in Daniel 11:40-41. Jesus Himself describes this same event of the Jews fleeing into the wilderness in the Olivet Discourse. Go back to Matthew 24. Matthew 24. Here's Jesus' version of this. Matthew 24, look at verse 15: "Therefore when you see the abomination of desolation which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand)..."

Now, just to remind you, if you weren't here for Daniel and our study there, he's talking about - the abomination of desolation is an event that is yet to come. It will happen in the middle of the seven-year Tribulation and it's described in 2 Thessalonians 2 when the Antichrist, the man of sin, sets up an image of himself as an object of worship in the temple. That's the abomination of desolation. Jesus says, when you see that (verse 16), "then those who are in Judea [that happens at the midpoint of the Tribulation] must flee to the mountains. Whoever is on the housetop must not go down to get the things out that are in his house. Whoever is in the field must not turn back to get his cloak. But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! But pray that your flight will not be in the winter, or on a Sabbath. For then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will. Unless those days had been cut short, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short." So, Jesus says there's an event coming, at the midpoint of the Tribulation, the abomination of desolation, when Antichrist sets up himself as an object of worship in the temple in Jerusalem. When that happens, run! The Jewish people will flee for their lives into the wilderness.

Now, back to our text in Revelation 12. They will escape into the wilderness, and there they will experience God's care for them. Verse 6 says, "Then the woman fled into the wilderness where she had a place prepared by God, so that there she would be nourished..." Wherever this wilderness is, wherever it is that they hide, it will be because God has prepared it to be so, and He Himself will protect them and nourish them. I love the word nourished here. The Greek word means "to care for by providing food or nourishment, to support". God will support them.

He will also protect them because they will experience God's protection for 1260 days. Look at the end of verse 6: "Then the woman fled into the wilderness where she had a place prepared by God, so that there she would be nourished for one thousand two hundred and sixty days." Obviously, that's 3 1/2 years. Look down at verse 14. Same time is there. She'll fly into the wilderness to her place where she was nourished for - and this is Daniel's language for 3 1/2 years - "a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent." So, after Israel flees from their land, at the midpoint of the Tribulation, because of what Antichrist does in Jerusalem, God will protect them. He will protect them through the entire second-half of the Tribulation, the time Jesus called the "great tribulation". And the Jews that remain in their land during that time will hear the ministry of the two witnesses, according to chapter 11:3, and many of them will be redeemed according to chapter 11:13.

Here's the point. In spite of Satan's desperate efforts to destroy Israel, to destroy the Messiah, to destroy God's redemptive plan, eventually, all Israel will be saved as Paul prophesied in Romans 11:26. What an amazing passage! The woman, her son, and the dragon.

What are the lessons we can learn from this? Let me give you several. First of all, don't forget that God and Satan are still engaged in a cosmic war. We don't live in peacetime. We look in Europe and we see a war raging across the eastern part of Europe and we sort of thank God that we're not in the midst of war. And, of course, that's right. At the same time, Christian, don't forget you are in a war. Satan's long war against God still continues.

Number two: Satan's strategy is always to focus his attacks on God's people. So, don't be surprised. Don't be surprised when Satan uses government or various groups with views opposed to God to attack us. And don't be surprised when he uses his world system to spread propaganda, or to mislead, or to divide. That's what leaders do in war time. That's what we're seeing come out of Moscow. Let's sow as much misinformation as we can and let's deceive and mislead. So, don't be surprised.

Number three - and this is where it gets personal: you are a soldier in God's war with Satan. You are a soldier in God's war with Satan. Read Ephesians 6. We wrestle not against flesh and blood but rather against the forces of Satan. That's where the battle is. Like it or not, you are not at peace. You are a soldier in a war.

Number four: the current battleground in the war between God and Satan, in our lives, the current battleground that we have to fight most frequently is our minds. That's where the war is being waged. Satan is in a war to get your mind. Ephesians 6 talks again and again about that reality.

Number five: our only weapons in this war are the truths of God's Word and prayer. Those are the only weapons you have, because that armor in Ephesians 6 - go listen to the series. I loved our study of that and all that we learned there. Go listen to that series and you'll find that all those pieces of armor come back to truths about God and our salvation. That's all we have is the truth of God and then prayer as that passage ends in Ephesians 6.

And one final note. And I love this one most of all. The outcome of this war is not in question. The outcome is decided. You know, any war in human history can teeter to your back and forth, where either side could win. I'm a sort of student of World War II. And if you've studied World War II, there's a great book you should read called "D-Day", written by Eisenhower's biographer. And in that book, he interviewed 1500, I think it was, survivors of D-Day and wove their stories together. But what he describes is really mind blowing, and that is, the entire future of the European continent. Whether Germany would win or not, came down to about 30 minutes on one beach on D-Day. When it comes to war, nothing's ever sure except in God's war with Satan. The end is decided. We're going to see it in Revelation 14, where Christ defeats him. We're going to see it in Revelation 19 when Christ returns and destroys all his enemies. We're going to see it in Revelation 20 when He lets Satan out for a time to show who are the ones who aren't really submitting to Christ and then He banishes him to the Lake of Fire forever. I love the way John MacArthur puts it in his commentary: "The Lord Jesus Christ will effortlessly crush Satan and his forces and send him to the abyss for the duration of the millennial kingdom. After leading a final rebellion at the close of the millennium, Satan will be consigned to eternal punishment in the Lake of Fire."

You have in your hand a prophecy of exactly how the war ends and that's exactly how it will. So, live in hope. Live in joy. Yes, we're in a battle. Yes, the war is raging. But the end of this war is absolutely sure. Christ wins. So, live as a member of the winning army.


The Seventh Trumpet: The Beginning of the End

Tom Pennington Rev. 11:14-19

The Woman, her Son, and the Dragon - Part 1

Tom Pennington Revelation 12:1-17

The Woman, her Son, and the Dragon - Part 2

Tom Pennington Revelation 12:1-17

More from this Series



The Revelation of Jesus Christ - Part 1

Tom Pennington Revelation 1:1-3

The Revelation of Jesus Christ - Part 2

Tom Pennington Revelation 1:1-3

Salutation & Dedication

Tom Pennington Revelation 1:4-6

The King is Coming!

Tom Pennington Revelation 1:7-8

A Vision of the Exalted Christ - Part 1

Tom Pennington Revelation 1:9-20

A Vision of the Exalted Christ - Part 2

Tom Pennington Revelation 1:9-20

Ephesus: Loveless Fidelity

Tom Pennington Revelation 2:1-7

Smyrna: Faithful in Suffering

Tom Pennington Revelation 2:8-11

Pergamum: Undiscerning Tolerance

Tom Pennington Revelation 2:12-17

Thyatira: Extra-Biblical Authority

Tom Pennington Revelation 2:18-29

Sardis: Dead Christianity

Tom Pennington Revelation 3:1-6

Philadelphia: Enduring Faithfulness

Tom Pennington Revelation 3:7-13

Laodicea: A False Gospel

Tom Pennington Revelation 3:14-22

He is Worthy! - Part 1

Tom Pennington Revelation 4-5

He is Worthy! - Part 2

Tom Pennington Revelation 4-5

He is Worthy! - Part 3

Tom Pennington Revelation 4-5

He is Worthy! - Part 4

Tom Pennington Revelation 4-5

The First Six Seals: The Tribulation Begins - Part 1

Tom Pennington Revelation 6:1-17

The First Six Seals: The Tribulation Begins - Part 2

Tom Pennington Revelation 6:1-17

Tribulation Saints - Part 1

Tom Pennington Revelation 7:1-17

Tribulation Saints - Part 2

Tom Pennington Revelation 7:1-17

The Seventh Seal & the First Six Trumpets - Part 1

Tom Pennington Revelation 8-9

The Seventh Seal & the First Six Trumpets - Part 2

Tom Pennington Revelation 8-9

The Seventh Seal & the First Six Trumpets - Part 3

Tom Pennington Revelation 8-9

The Seventh Seal & the First Six Trumpets - Part 4

Tom Pennington Revelation 8-9

The Little Book

Tom Pennington Revelation 10:1-11

The Two Witnesses - Part 1

Tom Pennington Revelation 11:1-13

The Two Witnesses - Part 2

Tom Pennington Revelation 11:1-13

The Seventh Trumpet: The Beginning of the End

Tom Pennington Rev. 11:14-19

The Woman, her Son, and the Dragon - Part 1

Tom Pennington Revelation 12:1-17

The Woman, her Son, and the Dragon - Part 2

Tom Pennington Revelation 12:1-17

The Woman, her Son, and the Dragon - Part 3

Tom Pennington Revelation 12:1-17

Antichrist - Part 1

Tom Pennington Revelation 13:1-10

Antichrist - Part 2

Tom Pennington Revelation 13:1-10

The False Prophet

Tom Pennington Revelation 13:11-18

A Preview of Jesus' Victory - Part 1

Tom Pennington Revelation 14:1-20

A Preview of Jesus' Victory - Part 2

Tom Pennington Revelation 14:1-20

A Preview of Jesus' Victory - Part 3

Tom Pennington Revelation 14:1-20

A Preview of Jesus' Victory - Part 4

Tom Pennington Revelation 14:1-20

Heaven Prepares for the End

Tom Pennington Revelation 15:1-8

Seven Bowls of Wrath - Part 1

Tom Pennington Revelation 16:1-21

Seven Bowls of Wrath - Part 2

Tom Pennington Revelation 16:1-21

Babylon is Fallen! - Part 1

Tom Pennington Revelation 17:1-18:24

Babylon is Fallen! - Part 2

Tom Pennington Revelation 17:1-18:24

Babylon Is Fallen! - Part 3

Tom Pennington Revelation 18

Babylon is Fallen! - Part 4

Tom Pennington Revelation 18

The Rapture of the Church

Tom Pennington Selected Scriptures

The Future Tribulation

Tom Pennington Revelation 4-18

Heaven's Hallelujah Chorus! - Part 1

Tom Pennington Revelation 19:1-10

Heaven's Hallelujah Chorus - Part 2

Tom Pennington Revelation 19:1-10

The Glorious Return of Jesus Christ

Tom Pennington Revelation 19:11-16


Tom Pennington Revelation 19:17-21

The Real Binding of Satan

Tom Pennington Revelation 20:1-3

The Millennium: Christ's Future Reign on Earth - Part 1

Tom Pennington Revelation 20:1-10

The Millennium: Christ's Future Reign on Earth - Part 2

Tom Pennington Revelation 20:1-10

The Millennium: Christ’s Future Reign on Earth - Part 3

Tom Pennington Revelation 20:1-10

The Last Judgment

Tom Pennington Revelation 20:11-15

Our Eternal Home - Part 1

Tom Pennington Revelation 21:1-8

Our Eternal Home - Part 2

Tom Pennington Revelation 21:1-8

The Eternal City - Part 1

Tom Pennington Revelation 21:9-22:5

The Eternal City - Part 2

Tom Pennington Revelation 21:9-22:5

The Eternal City - Part 3

Tom Pennington Revelation 21:9-22:5

How Should We Then Live? - Part 1

Tom Pennington Revelation 22:6-21