"The Book of Revelation, An Eschatological Study of the Endtimes", by Chad J. McCoy
Let us proceed to open the can of worms that is the 12th Chapter of the Book of Revelation.
Up to now, we have been taking the Book of Revelation as literally as we can. We have also seen events progress in a linear, logical fashion. For example, we had the first seal, the second seal, etc. Then after the seals came the seven trumpets.
At this point, however, John is given a coffee break, as it were - a rest from being shown all the destruction of the endtimes - and is shown a movie. He doesn't have to measure the temple, or count any troops, or describe any more outlandish creatures. He can take a rest, sit back, and just enjoy the pageant being put on for him.
That might sound like I'm trying to be funny, but I'm not. God takes a break from showing him all the details of the world's last days, and shows him a vision full of symbology.
Let us now explore this enigmatic chapter twelve.
I have come up with an explanation for this chapter. Now, by saying I have "come up with" an explanation, I mean that I have come up with an explanation that fits the scriptures, but I can't prove it that it is the correct interpretation.
What does that mean? Well, this chapter is full of symbology. Sometimes it's easy using the bible, logic, and common sense, to unravel prophetic symbols because even if no explanation of the symbols is given, those same symbols have been used before in the bible and explained previously. Thus we know what we are looking at because we have seen it before.
It's like being able to recognize a silver dollar, because we have seen them before. When the government mints a new style of dollar (like the Susan B. Anthony Dollar, which was confused with the quarter at first by people who weren't familiar with it, or the new Golden Dollar, which bears a striking resemblance to Chuck E. Cheese tokens) it takes a while for people to realize that the coin you're trying to pass them is a valid, legal tender dollar. If it hasn't been identified for you before, you're liable to think that it is something it isn't.
When the bible uses symbology, a lot of the time it proceeds to explain that symbology for us, leaving us without the responsibility of trying to sleuth out the answer, and taking all of the uncertainty out of the identification. You know what the symbol represents, because God said this is what it meant.
Symbology that is not explained in one passage can sometimes be understood by looking other places in the bible to see if that same symbology was used previously, and then checking to see if an explanation was given for it at that time.
The reason I say I have "come up with" an explanation for chapter twelve, is that in large part the bible does not explain the symbols contained in this chapter of Revelation.
That means we have to become detectives and try to track down the correct interpretations. We're going to have to get down in the dirt and mud and do some digging. Ironically, no matter which interpretation we come up with, we will have no confirmation from scripture! There is no answer sheet in the back of the bible to let us know that we have interpreted correctly, nothing to tell us that what we have come up with is right. I can make certain claims, you can state otherwise, and we can argue and debate about whose ideas are more sound, but in the end the bible does not say who is right. We have no proof that we are right. NO ONE has any proof that they have the correct view. And so people debate and they argue.
I think that up to this point, what we have uncovered about this prophetic Book of Revelation has been accurate, or at least as accurate as can be possible, because we have been using the bible to interpret the bible.
The best commentary on the bible in the whole world, the absolute best, most accurate commentary on the bible, whether it's prophecy, or history, or the plan of salvation, or anything else, is… the Bible!
When we needed to know what God would use the color white to represent, back in the first seal, we didn't go outside of the bible to discover the truth on the subject. We looked at every place in the bible God had already used the color white, and we saw what He used it to represent. It follows that if He has always used it to represent one particular thing, then he means the exact same thing with this next usage of the word.
Use the Bible to explain the Bible. If that fails, then we must resort to logic, and common sense.
That is why I say I have "come up with" an explanation for this chapter. With this explanation, everything fits. But I have no proof that it is correct. I believe that it is correct, but the bible will neither confirm or deny the theory.
However, I believe that if you follow along with me, you will see a chain formed of logic which has its roots firmly in the bible, that does explain this troublesome chapter.
Here we go:
Rev. 12:1-17: A great and wondrous 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. 2 She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth. 3 Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on his heads. 4 His 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 he might devour her child the moment it was born. 5 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. 6 The woman fled into the desert to a place prepared for her by God, where she might be taken care of for 1,260 days.
7 And there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. 8 But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. 9 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
and the authority of his Christ.
For the accuser of our brothers,
who accuses them before our God day and night,
has been hurled down.
11 They overcame 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 desert, 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 make war against the rest of her offspring-those who obey God's commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus.
Ok, up until now we have been taking the bible literally. We have done so, because we should take the bible at face value unless it says to do otherwise.
I believe Jonah was swallowed by a great fish, it wasn't symbolic of anything. I believe Sodom and Gommorah were consumed by fire. I believe when the bible says angels blew on trumpets, that they were actual trumpets.
Here, though, John tells us that a "sign" appeared in heaven. Other translations use the word "pageant". John is telling us that what he saw was not real, but that they were "signs". When the bible tells us about signs, then we need to start looking for the interpretation of them. Sometimes the bible will proceed to tell us what the interpretation is. In this case, however, in a large part, it does not.
But we know to be looking for signs, and symbols, and representations, and the meanings thereof.
The first sign we have here, is a woman. The description of her is as follows: She is clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, a crown of 12 stars on her head, and she is pregnant.
Then John says another "sign" appeared, and it was a gigantic red dragon. The description was that it had seven heads, seven crowns, ten horns, it drew one third of the stars with its tail and sent them to earth, and that it stands before the woman waiting to devour her child as soon as it is born.
First, we want to identify who the Woman and the Dragon are. The woman gives birth to a baby boy who will rule the nations with an iron staff. The boy is caught up to God, and the woman escapes to the wilderness for 3 ½ years.
This is part one of chapter twelve.
Part two involves the war in heaven where Satan is cast to the earth. Once back on earth, Satan persecutes the woman, who escapes to the wilderness for 3 ½ years (sound familiar?). Satan sends a flood after her, but the earth opens up and swallows the flood. Exceedingly angry at this point, Satan goes to make war on her children.
Ok. We first need to ascertain the identities of the Woman, the Dragon, and the Boy. Once we have done that, we need to figure out what they are up to in part two.
So here is what we have:
- clothed with the sun
- moon under her feet
- wearing crown of 12 stars
Gigantic Red Dragon -
- has 7 heads, with crowns on them
- has 10 horns
- drew 1/3 of stars w/tail and sent them to earth
- stood before woman to devour her child
Woman gives birth to boy who will rule nations w/iron rod
- Boy caught up to God
- Woman escaped to desert for 3 ½ years
Satan cast to earth
Heaven rejoices - Christ's rule has come
Satan knows his time is short
Satan persecutes woman
Woman given eagle's wings and escapes to wilderness
where she is hidden from Satan for 3½ years
Satan sends flood out of his mouth to drown woman
The earth opens up, swallowing the flood
Satan is angry, goes to war with her other children
who keep the words of Jesus
We are told what a few things here mean. In verse 9, we see that the dragon is Satan: The great dragon was hurled down-that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray.
We don't have to try to figure this one out. The bible has explained it for us. The dragon is Satan.
Think of this as a math equation. We have several unknown variables, but this variable has just been identified for us with absolute certainty. So wherever we see the word "dragon", we know that we can plug in the word Satan, because this is who the dragon represents.
We also know who the baby boy is. We aren't told specifically who he is in this chapter, but we do have a description of him: He will "will rule all the nations with an iron scepter."
Let's see if we can find this description anywhere else in the bible. If so, perhaps this person will be identified there!
We find this description only three other places in the bible: Rev. 2:27: 'He will rule them with an iron scepter;
he will dash them to pieces like pottery'-
just as I have received authority from my Father.
Rev. 19:15: Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. "He will rule them with an iron scepter."
and Psalms 2:7: You will rule them with an iron scepter;
you will dash them to pieces like pottery."
This could not be much clearer that the person who will rule the nations with an iron scepter is Jesus Christ.
So the Dragon is Satan, and the Boy is Jesus Christ.
That leaves the Woman.
Well, the woman gives birth to Jesus, so our first possible guess at an identity for this woman is Mary, the mother of Jesus. Let's go back through the description of the woman, and make sure that this fits.
You'll notice we didn't do this with the dragon, but then we don't have to, since the bible tells us who he is. We can worry later about why he looks the way he does. For now, we are interested only in the identities of these symbols.
It says the woman was clothed with the sun. Could this still be Mary?
Well, let's do a word study from the bible for "sun". Does God use the sun to represent anything in particular?
In all the 142 times the word "sun" is used in the New International Version of the Bible, all but two mean just what it says: The sun. Usually when the bible says sun, it means sun.
Judges 5:31 describes the sun as representing "strength": "So may all your enemies perish, O LORD! But may they who love you be like the sun when it rises in its strength." Then the land had peace forty years.
Psalms 84:11 says God is the sun: For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold
from those whose walk is blameless.
So if we are to ascribe any particular qualities to the sun, it must be either "strength", or "God". You might even combine the two and say that the sun represents "the strength of God".
Ok, we'll say that. We don't have a very strong case for it, (only one verse that means strength and one that means God, but it's either that, or we take it literally and believe that the woman is in the middle of the actual sun.)
Let's see if this description fits Mary. Was Mary clothed with the sun? Was she clothed with the strength of God?
In Luke 1:28 (The angel went to her and said, "Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you."), Mary is told by the angel that she is in high favor with God, and that she has been chosen to deliver the Messiah. If God has found high favor with her, then she must have been doing things that pleased him. Erego, she must have been righteous, even before the birth of Jesus.
Let's look further. If you recall, when God promised Abraham a son, his wife Sarah laughed. Sarah didn't believe God could give her a child, because she was so old. As much favor as was found in Abraham and his wife Sarah, she still didn't believe God, and laughed - it was a ridiculous idea to her that she could have a child at her age.
Mary was faced with the same situation. God promised her a son. Mary's impossible situation wasn't that she was too old, but that she was a virgin. This was probably more impossible that Sarah's situation. But the difference here, is that Mary didn't disbelieve. She didn't laugh. She said in Luke 1:38: "I am the Lord's servant," Mary answered. "May it be to me as you have said."
Mary's convictions were evidently very strong. She did voice her concern, that she was a virgin, and she didn't understand how the Lord would be able to give her a son,