REV 12 - STUDY GUIDE BY DAVID GUZIK,
THE WOMAN, THE CHILD, AND THE DRAGON
1. (Revelation 12:1) The
woman is described in celestial images.
great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon
under her feet, and on her head a garland of twelve stars.
a. Now a great sign appeared: This
is the first of seven signs that John relates, and is described as a great sign (mega
semeion). In Revelation chapters 12, 13, and 14 the main figures
of the Great Tribulation are described, and this great sign introduces
the first of the seven:
The woman, representing Israel.
The dragon, representing Satan.
The man-child, referring to Jesus.
The angel Michael, head of the angelic host.
The offspring of the woman, representing Gentiles who come
to faith in the Tribulation.
The beast out of the sea, representing the antichrist.
The beast out of the earth, representing the false prophet
who promotes the antichrist.
b. A woman clothed with the
sun: Because John plainly said this is a sign, we
don’t expect this woman to appear literally on the earth. God will use this
sign to communicate something to John and to us. Women often represent
religious systems in Revelation.
c. A woman clothed with the
sun: This woman has been associated with many different
religious ideas. Roman Catholics claim this woman is Mary, pictured as the
“Queen of Heaven.” Mary Baker Eddy (the founder of Christian Science) said she
was this woman.
is common in Roman Catholic art to represent Mary as standing on a crescent
moon with twelve stars around her head.
d. A woman clothed with the
sun: Scripturally, this woman clothed with the sun should
be identified with Israel, according to Joseph’s dream (Genesis 37:9-11). In that dream, the
sun represented Jacob, the moon represented Joseph’s mother Rachel, and the
eleven stars were the sons of Israel which bowed down to Joseph. In this sign
with twelve stars, Joseph is now among the other tribes of Israel.
2. (Revelation 12:2) The
woman gives birth.
being with child, she cried out in labor and in pain to give birth.
a. Being with child:
Later in the chapter, it is clear that this child born of Israel is Jesus (She
bore a male Child who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron, Revelation 12:5).
b. She cried out in labor and
in pain to give birth: The pain described
refers to the travail of Israel at the time of Jesus’ birth (under Roman
occupation and oppression).
1. (Revelation 12:3) A
fearful, powerful dragon appears.
another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great, fiery red dragon having seven
heads and ten horns, and seven diadems on his heads.
a. Another sign appeared in
heaven: Again, we are reminded that this is a sign. The
creature here was not literally a great, fiery red dragon, but
the dragon represented his nature and character.
i. His description “symbolically suggests his fierce power
and murderous nature… a picture of the fullness of evil in all its hideous
b. Seven diadems on his heads: This
dragon had great power (seven heads and ten horns) and
claimed royal authority (seven diadems). The
crowns represent his presumptive claims of royal authority against the true
King. He wants to be considered a king.
“From the similar description given in 13:1 and the parallel
references in Daniel 7:7-8, 2, it is clear that the
revived Roman Empire is in view… The seven heads and ten horns refer to the
original ten kingdoms of which three were subdued by the little horn of Daniel 7:8, who is to be
identified with the world ruler of the great tribulation who reigns over the
revived Roman Empire.” (Walvoord)
2. (Revelation 12:4) The
dragon looks to the earth.
tail drew a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. And the
dragon stood before the woman who was ready to give birth, to devour her Child
as soon as it was born.
a. His tail drew a third of
the stars of heaven: Many believe this describes one-third of the angelic host
in league with Satan (his angels of Revelation 12:9). This army of angelic
beings in league with Satan makes up the world of demonic spirits.
i. “God never made an evil being; but He made angels,
principalities, and powers capacitated for mighty joys and distinctions in His
glorious domain, yet with free will, implied in the very creation of moral
beings, which they could exercise for their everlasting weal or woe. Many have
remained steadfast, to wit, ‘Michael and his angels.’ But some abode not in the
truth, but revolted against the rule of Heaven, and became unchanging enemies
of God and His Kingdom.” (Seiss)
b. To devour her Child as
soon as it was born: The attempt to devour her Child was
initially fulfilled by Herod’s attempts to kill Jesus as a child (Matthew 2:16-18). It was also fulfilled
throughout Jesus’ life as Satan attacked Him (John 8:58-59 and Mark 4:35-41).
1. (Revelation 12:5)
Jesus’ ministry is described by its earthly beginning and end.
bore a male Child who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron. And her Child
was caught up to God and His throne.
a. A male Child who was to
rule all nations with a rod of iron: Clearly, this refers
to Jesus Christ, the Messiah. He rules the world with a rod of iron (Psalm 2:9 and Revelation 19:15).
b. She bore a male Child: This
refers to Jesus’ birth. Rule all nations with a
rod of iron refers to the triumphant return of Jesus. By stating
the starting point and ending point of Jesus’ earthly work, John alluded to all
that stood in between.
i. “After a conflict with the Prince of this world, who
came and tried Him, but found nothing in Him, the Son of the woman was taken up
to heaven and sat on the right hand of God. Words can hardly be plainer than
c. A male Child: This
is obviously Jesus. This means that the woman of Revelation 12:1 cannot be the
church, because Jesus “gives birth” to the church, not the other way around.
The woman must therefore either be Mary or Israel, the
only two “women” who could have “given birth” to Jesus. The rest of Revelation 12 will demonstrate
that this woman is Israel, not Mary.
2. (Revelation 12:6) The
woman in the wilderness.
the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, that
they should feed her there one thousand two hundred and sixty days.
a. Then the woman fled into the
wilderness: Persecuted by the dragon, the woman is protected by God
in a prepared place for one thousand two hundred
and sixty days
This helps us to understand with certainty that the woman is
Israel and not Mary. How could Mary possibly flee into the wilderness in this
b. One thousand two hundred
and sixty days: This reference to a three and one-half year period
connects these events with the final seven years of the Daniel 9 prophecy.
Since Revelation 12:5 describes the
ascension of Jesus, and Revelation 12:6 describes
yet-to-occur events in the 70th week
of Daniel, between these two verses lies hundreds of years (our current
period). This obvious “near-far” break in time is typical of prophecy. Daniel’s
seventy week prophecy has such a break (Daniel 9:24-27).
c. Into the wilderness, where
she has a place prepared by God: Some believe
this place in the wilderness is
the rock city of Petra, south of the Dead Sea. Reportedly, Christian
businessmen have stocked the place with food and evangelistic tracts written in
d. Prepared in the wilderness: Prepared uses
the same ancient Greek word Jesus used in I go to prepare a place for you (John 14:2-3). This demonstrates
that God’s careful planning works on earth as well as in heaven.
1. (Revelation 12:7-8) War
between Michael and the dragon.
broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the
dragon and his angels fought, but they did not prevail, nor was a place found
for them in heaven any longer.
a. War broke out in heaven: At
the mid-point of the great tribulation, God will turn the tide against Satan —
first in heaven, then on earth. A battle will take place that will deny Satan
access to heaven.
b. Michael and his angels: Some
individuals and groups (such as the Seventh Day Adventists and Jehovah’s
Witnesses) insist on saying that Michael is
actually Jesus. This is wrong on every count.
Some say Michael must be Jesus, because he has his angels. But
if Satan — a fallen angelic being — has his angels (Revelation 12:7), can’t Michael — an
unfallen angelic being — have his angels?
Some say Michael must be Jesus, because his name means One
like God. But if this were a title of Jesus, it could argue against His
deity, not for it — because it would say that Jesus is like God,
but not God. “There is also an unquestionable
Godlikeness in all holy beings, which must be very exalted in those preeminent
among the ministers of the throne.” (Seiss)
Some say Michael must be Jesus, because he is called the
archangel (Jude 9), which means leader or
prince among the angels, and they say that only Jesus is the leader of the
angels. But we know from Daniel 10:13, 10:20 and 10:21 that Michael is
one angelic prince among others. Also, Paul refers to an
archangel in 1 Thessalonians 4:16 in
a way that presupposes other archangels.
Some say that Michael must be Jesus, because Paul says that at the rapture, the
Lord will call His people with the voice of an archangel (1 Thessalonians 4:16). But
Jesus can use an angel to call out for His people without being that angel,
just as much as God can use a trumpet to sound out a call without being the
v. Jude 9 says that Michael
would not rebuke or accuse Satan on His own authority, but only say “The Lord
rebuke you.” This shows that Michael isn’t Jesus, because Jesus often rebuked
Satan and demons in His own authority (Matthew 17:18, Mark 1:25, 9:25, Luke 4:8, 4:35).
vi. “Michael is not to be identified with Christ, any more
than any other of the great angels in this Book. Such identification here would
confuse hopelessly the actors in this heavenly scene.” (Alford)
c. Michael and his angels
fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought: This
is a dramatic scene of battle between good angels and bad angels.; faithful
angels and fallen angels.
i. Who fights
in this battle? This is truly a battle between equals. The dragon represents
Satan (Revelation 12:9), and Satan is not the
counterpart of God — God has no counterpart. If anyone, Satan is the
counterpart of Michael, who seems to be the chief angel opposite this chief of
ii. Why is
the battle fought? In a previous scene of conflict between Michael and Satan (Jude 9), Satan wanted to
prevent the resurrection and glorification of Moses, because he knew God had
plans for the resurrected and glorified Moses (Luke 9:30-31). Here is another
occasion where Satan wants to get in the way of God’s plan for the end-times.
iii. When is
this battle fought? This battle occurs at the mid-point of the seven-year
period, as described by Daniel. At that time Michael shall stand
up, the great prince who stands watch over the sons of your people; and there
shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation, even to
that time. And at that time your people shall be delivered. (Daniel 12:1)
iv. How is
this battle fought? We know this is a real fight; but is it a material or a
spiritual battle? Our battle with Satan and his demons is spiritual,
fought on the battleground of truth and deception, of fear and faith (Ephesians 6:12). In regard to material
attacks against the believer, Satan and his demons were disarmed at the cross (Colossians 2:15). Among angels, it is
possible that there is a material battle
to be fought in a way we can only imagine. In his classic work Paradise
Lost, the great poet Milton imagined this battle:
Th’ archangel trumpet: through the vast of heaven
It sounded, and the faithful armies run
Hosanna to the Highest: nor stood at gaze
The adverse legions, nor less hideous joined
The horrid shock: now storming fury rose,
And clamour such as heard in heaven till now
Was never; arms on armour clashing brayed
Horrible discord, and the madding wheels
Of brazen chariots raged; dire was the noise
Of conflict; overhead the dismal hiss
Of fiery darts in flaming volleys flew,
And flying vaulted either host with fire:
So under fiery cope together rushed
Both battles main, with ruinous assault
And inextinguishable rage; all heaven
Resounded, and had earth been then, all earth
Had to her centre shook.
d. Nor was a place found for
them in heaven any longer: This shows us that up until this
happens (at the mid-point of Daniel’s 70th week),
Satan does have access to heaven, where he accuses God’s
people before the throne (Job 1:6-12, Revelation 12:10).
troubles some to think that Satan has access to heaven, because of the mistaken
teaching that God can allow nothing unholy in His presence. But the Bible
clearly says that while Satan appears on earth (Luke 4:1-13), and describes him
as the prince of the power of the air (Ephesians 2:2), it also says that
Satan has access to heaven, where he accuses God’s people before the throne (Job 1:6-12).
2. (Revelation 12:9)
Satan and his angels are cast out of heaven.
great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who
deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast
out with him.
a. So the great dragon was
cast out: This single verse uses many different titles for our
spiritual enemy, including Dragon, serpent of old, the Devil, Satan, and
he who deceives the whole world. These titles describe
Satan as vicious, an accuser, an adversary, and a deceiver.
Walvoord on the Devil: “The title ‘Devil’ is from the Greek diabolos,
from the verb diaballo, which has the meaning of
‘defaming’ or ‘slandering.’ He is the master accuser of the brethren.”
b. He was cast to the earth: The
Bible describes four different falls of Satan. Revelation 12:9 describes the
second of these four falls.
In Luke 10:18, Jesus said “I
saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.” This refers either to
the first fall of Satan (from glorified to profane), or it is a prophetic look
ahead to the second fall at the mid-point of the seven year tribulation period.
c. His angels were cast out
with him: This indicates that demonic spirits are indeed fallen
angels, those who joined with Satan in His rebellion against God. These are “his angels.”
These angels are also the same as the third
of the stars of heaven described in Revelation 12:4. Since Satan only drew
a third of the stars of heaven, it means that two-thirds
of the angels remained faithful to God. It’s comforting to know that faithful
angels outnumber fallen angels two to one.
3. (Revelation 12:10-12) A
joyful declaration in heaven.
heard a loud voice saying in heaven, “Now salvation, and strength, and the
kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of
our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast
down. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their
testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death. Therefore rejoice, O
heavens, and you who dwell in them! Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and the
sea! For the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows
that he has a short time.”
a. I heard a loud voice
saying: Whoever is behind this loud voice, it
is some representative of redeemed humanity — not an angel or God — because the
voice speaks of the accuser of our brethren.
b. The accuser of our
brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down:
Satan’s work of accusing only ends here, when he is cast out from his access to
heaven. Today, we have (and need) an intercessor
and advocate (Hebrews 7:25, and 1 John 2:1).
c. And they overcame him by
the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love
their lives to the death: This tells us three keys to the
saint’s victory over Satan.
d. They overcame him by the
blood of the Lamb: The blood overcomes
Satan’s accusations. Those accusations mean nothing against us
because Jesus has already paid the penalty our sins deserved. We may be
even worse than Satan’s accusations, but we are still
made righteous by the work of Jesus on the cross (Ephesians 1:7, Colossians 1:14, and Hebrews 9:14).
Although, it is important to say that we should not regard the blood of Jesus
in a superstitious manner. It is not a magical potion, nor is it the literal
blood of Jesus, literally applied that saves or cleanses us. If that were so,
then His Roman executioners, splattered with His blood, would have been
automatically saved, and the actual number of molecules of Jesus’ literal blood
would limit the number of people who could be saved. The blood speaks
to us of the real, physical death of Jesus Christ in our place, on our behalf,
before God. That literal death in our place, and the literal judgment He bore
on our behalf, is what saves us.
ii. By the blood emphasizes
the death of Jesus. He did not only suffer, He died. Of the Lamb emphasizes
the substitutionary work of His death, because the
Passover Lamb died as a substitute for
The blood of Jesus heals our troubled conscience, because we know that by His
death our sin is atoned for (Hebrews 9:14). But to only use
the blood of Jesus in that way is selfish. We should be like “these saints used
the doctrine of atonement not as a pillow to rest their weariness, but as a
weapon to subdue their sin.” (Spurgeon)
How does the blood of the Lamb conquer Satan in the life of the
believer? How does the death of Jesus on the cross as our substitute bring us
works first because His victory is our victory. “First,
you are to regard Satan this day as being already literally and truly overcome
through the death of the Lord Jesus. Satan is already a vanquished enemy. By
faith grasp your Lord’s victory as your own, since he triumphed in your nature
and on your behalf… Come, my soul, thou hast conquered Satan by thy Lord’s
victory. Wilt thou not be brave enough to fight a vanquished foe, and trample
down the enemy whom thy Lord has already thrust down? Thou needest not be
afraid, but say, ‘Thanks be to God which giveth us the victory through our Lord
Jesus Christ.’” (Spurgeon)
works because the work of Jesus on the cross for us is the ultimate
demonstration of God’s love (Romans 5:8), and a constant
remembrance of the blood of the Lamb assures us that every fear Satan
whispers into our mind is a lie.
vii. It works because the death of Jesus on the cross as
our substitute reveals the true nature of sin, and this makes us want to avoid
sin. “Satan makes sin seem pleasurable, but the cross reveals its bitterness.
If Jesus died because of sin, men begin to see that sin must be a murderous
viii. It works because the death of Jesus on the cross as
our substitute purchases us as God’s personal property, and this makes us want
to live unto God. “If anything can make a man holy it is a firm faith in the
atoning sacrifice. When a man knows that Jesus died for him, he feels that he
is not his own, but bought with a price, and therefore he must live unto him
that died for him and rose again.” (Spurgeon)
Therefore, we use the blood of the Lamb in
spiritual warfare — not as a Christian
“abracadabra,” as if chanting “The blood of Jesus, the blood of Jesus” could
keep Satan away like garlic is said to keep away vampires. Rather, our understanding,
our apprehension, our focus — may I say
our obsession with the death of Jesus on the cross as
our substitute wins the battle.
x. “The precious blood of Jesus is not meant for us merely
to admire and exhibit. We must not be content to talk about it, and extol it,
and do nothing with it; but we are to use it in the great crusade against
unholiness and unrighteousness, till it is said of us, ‘They overcame him by
the blood of the Lamb.’ This precious blood is to be used for overcoming, and
consequently for holy warfare. We dishonor it if we do not use it to that end…
The dog of hell knows the dread name which makes him lie down: we must confront
him with the authority, and specially with the atonement of the Lamb of God.”
e. They overcame him… by the
word of their testimony: The word of their testimony overcomes
Satan’s deception. Knowing and remembering the work of
God in their life protects them against Satan’s
deceptions. As faithful witnesses, they have a testimony to bear — and because
they know what they have seen and heard and experienced from God, they cannot
be deceived by Satan’s lies telling them it isn’t true (as the testimony of the
man born blind in John 9:25).
f. They overcame him… they
did not love their lives to the death: Loving not their lives overcomes
Satan’s violence. If they do not cling to their own earthly
lives, then there really is no threat Satan can bring against them. If they
believe to live is Christ, and to die is gain (Philippians 1:21), then how can Satan’s
violence against them be effective?
ancient Greek word for love here is agape,
which speaks of a self-sacrificing, decision-based love. It is up to each one
of us to choose: Will we love our lives to the death? Will
our physical lives be the most precious thing to us, or will we find our life
by losing it for Jesus? (Mark 8:35)
g. Therefore rejoice, O
heavens, and you who dwell in them! Heaven rejoices at
the eviction of Satan. But heaven’s gain is the earth’s loss: Woe to the inhabitants of
the earth and sea!
h. He knows that he has a
short time: Satan’s power is real and terrifying, but not because he
is triumphant, but because he knows he is beaten and has a short time left.
He is like a wounded, cornered animal that fights ferociously.
i. Satan might give up his fight against God and humanity
made in God’s image, except for the fact that he is utterly depraved, and
probably insane in some way; Satan may have deceived even himself into thinking
that he has a chance. Our rebellion against God makes even less sense than
Satan’s rebellion does.
E. Conflict on the earth.
1. (Revelation 12:13-16)
Satan attacks the woman, and God protects her.
when the dragon saw that he had been cast to the earth, he persecuted the woman
who gave birth to the male Child. But the woman
was given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness to
her place, where she is nourished for a time and times and half a time, from
the presence of the serpent. So the serpent spewed water out of his mouth like
a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away by the
flood. But the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and
swallowed up the flood which the dragon had spewed out of his mouth.
a. He persecuted the woman
who gave birth to the male Child: Some teach that the
woman is a symbol representing all the people of God, including faithful Israel
and the church. They use this to advance the idea that the church is here
during the tribulation period. But if the woman represents all the
people of God (the church and faithful Israel), then who are the
rest of her offspring described in Revelation 12:17? It is better to see
her as Israel in general or Messianic Jews in particular.
i. Why does
Satan attack the Jewish people? This is a question for all history, not only
for the Great Tribulation. The reason is because from the time of Abraham,
Israel holds a critical role in God’s plan of redemption. First, it was in bringing
forth the Messiah and Redeemer. Then, it was in the fulfillment of His plan,
because Jesus promised that the Jewish people would exist and welcome Him when
He returns in glory to this world (Matthew 23:39). If Satan succeeds in
destroying the Jewish people, then God’s eternal plan is in some way thwarted.
ii. “The persecution of Israel is part of the satanic
program to thwart and hinder the work of God… Israel is hated by Satan not
because of any of its own characteristics but because she is the chosen of God
and essential to the overall purpose of God for time and eternity.” (Walvoord)
b. But the woman was given
two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness to her place: Eagle’s
Wings are an emblem from the Exodus deliverance (Exodus 19:4), another way of
connecting these people with Israel.
Some have wondered if the reference to the two wings of a great eagle do
not in fact describe a great military transport plane used to evacuate people
in an emergency situation.
c. Where she is nourished for
a time and times and half a time: This is another
reference to a three and one-half year period, indicating that these events —
this dramatic persecution of Israel — takes place during the 70th week
of Daniel 9.
d. So the serpent spewed
water out of his mouth like a flood after the woman: The
fury poured out against Israel after the abomination of desolation (marking the
half-way point of the 70th week of Daniel)
was spoken of by Jesus in Matthew 24:15-22, and spoken of in
distinctly Jewish terms (housetop… pray that your flight
may not be in winter or on the Sabbath). This passage in Revelation
describes the fury that Jesus told them to flee.
e. The earth opened its mouth
and swallowed up the flood which the dragon had spewed out of his mouth: This
passage also describes God’s ultimate protection of Israel from the fury of
Satan and his antichrist in the great tribulation.
it says in Isaiah 59:19, When
the enemy comes in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord will lift up a standard
2. (Revelation 12:17) The
wrath of the dragon is focused against God’s people.
dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her
offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus
a. The dragon was enraged
with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring: This
may refers to Israel (the woman) and Gentiles who come to faith in Jesus during the Great
Tribulation (the rest of her offspring). These two groups are
particular targets of Satan and his antichrist’s persecution in the last days.
b. He went to make war with
the rest of her offspring: This either begins or continues the
fierce persecution of all those who would not submit to and worship this great
Satanic dictator. The martyrs of this period were shown in Revelation 6:9-11 and Revelation 7:9-17.
i. “It is precisely when Satan has lost the battle for the
souls of saints in heaven that he begins the fruitless persecution of their