Make your own free website on

"The Book of Revelation, An Eschatological Study of the Endtimes", by Chad J. McCoy

Chapter 6
Symbolic Prophecy

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
our God,
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:

Part One:

- clothed with the sun
- moon under her feet
- wearing crown of 12 stars
- pregnant

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

Part Two:

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,

but when the angel told her not to worry, that it would happen as God had said, it was enough for her. She believed. She was clothed in the strength of the God.
Luke 1:46-55 shows how strong she was in the Lord. She had gone down to see Elizabeth, whom the Lord had told would bear John the Baptist. When Mary heard this, she said "My soul glorifies the Lord
47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48 for he has been mindful
of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
49 for the Mighty One has done great things for me-
holy is his name.
50 His mercy extends to those who fear him,
from generation to generation.
51 He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
52 He has brought down rulers from their thrones
but has lifted up the humble.
53 He has filled the hungry with good things
but has sent the rich away empty.
54 He has helped his servant Israel,
remembering to be merciful
55 to Abraham and his descendants forever,
even as he said to our fathers."

This was a woman of righteousness.
When Jesus was born, the angels appeared in the fields to the shepherds and told them the Messiah had been born. The shepherds went and found Jesus lying in a manger, just as the angels had said. And when they related to Mary and Joseph all the things they had been told by the angels, the bible says " But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart."
That's not the only time this was said of her.
In Luke 2:51: "Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart." - This was Mary's reaction after they had left Jerusalem and three days later discovered that Jesus wasn't with them. They went back to Jerusalem and found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, and listening and asking them questions. Everyone was amazed at his understanding and his answers. Luke 2:48-49 continues the story: When his parents saw him, they were astonished. His mother said to him, "Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you."
49 "Why were you searching for me?" he asked. "Didn't you know I had to be in my Father's house?"
Jesus went back home with them, and was subject to them. But Mary remembered all that had happened and treasured these things in her heart.
To treasure something means you place great value on something. Mary didn't just remember these things as nostalgic anecdotes. They were important to her. She kept them in her heart, and thought about them, meditated on them. They were dear and precious to her. Now you begin to see that Mary indeed was clothed with the strength of God.
When Jesus was crucified, who was there with him? Were the Magi there, who had traveled all those miles for two years to find him as a baby and give the King of the Jews their gifts? No. Was the leper there, whom Jesus healed and had came back to say "Thank-you"? No. Was Jairus there, whose little girl he had raised from the dead? No. Were the disciples there? John 19:25-27 (Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, "Dear woman, here is your son," 27 and to the disciple, "Here is your mother." From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.) says that only John was there. Who else was there? Mary, Jesus' mother. When no one else was there (with the exception of John), not Peter, not Lazarus, not the formerly demon-possessed man of the Gadarenes, not the man whose sight Jesus restored by spitting in his eyes - when none of them were there, Mary was there. Why? Because all through the years she had seen the things of God, and treasured them in her heart.
After Jesus had died, the disciples met to choose a replacement for Judas. Guess who was there, praying and meeting with them? Mary. Acts 1:13.14: When they arrived, they went upstairs to the room where they were staying. Those present were Peter, John, James and Andrew; Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew; James son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. 14 They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.
A strong woman, this Mary. Strong with the strength of God. Yes, I believe that we could say that Mary was clothed with the sun, the strength of God.
Let's continue checking the description against the identity of Mary. If this is really Mary, then every point needs to fit.
The next part says that she has the moon under her feet. Put another way, she's standing on the moon. Now does this mean she was the first astronaut? Of course not. This is not to be taken literally. It is a sign, whose meaning we must ferret out. Let's do another word study, this time with "moon".
I found as weak a chain of evidence for moon as I found for sun. Just about every time the bible says moon, it means moon. Only two scriptures indicated otherwise:
Psalm 89:37: "it will be established forever like the moon, the faithful witness in the sky." Selah"
Solomon 6:10: "Who is this that appears like the dawn, fair as the moon, bright as the sun, majestic as the stars in procession?"
We see from these verses that the moon was used as a symbol of beauty, and as being called the faithful witness.
So what is the woman of Revelation Chapter 12 standing on? Beauty? God is trying to tell us an important truth here, and I don't think the message is that Mary was pretty. The other symbol is that of the faithful witness.
It doesn't say Mary is the Faithful Witness; she isn't the Moon, she is standing on the Moon. So she is standing on the Faithful Witness. Ok, if we knew who the Faithful Witness was, we might be able to make more sense of this.
We have four places in scripture that these words are used. The first is Psalm 89:37, referring to the moon as the faithful witness.
Then we have Jer. 42:5: "Then they said to Jeremiah, "May the LORD be a true and faithful witness against us if we do not act in accordance with everything the LORD your God sends you to tell us." - so the Lord is the faithful witness here.
Rev. 1:5 says " and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth." - here Jesus Christ is the faithful witness.
Rev. 2:13 says Antipas is the faithful witness: "You did not renounce your faith in me, even in the days of Antipas, my faithful witness, who was put to death in your city-where Satan lives."
Ok, let's plug these values in to our equation and see which one makes sense.
Was Mary standing on the actual moon? No.
Was she standing on Antipas? No.
Could she have been standing on the Lord Jesus Christ? Yes, that is possible. How do you stand on Jesus? By believing his words and obeying them. By seeking his kingdom and his righteousness. Did Mary do these things? Yes she did.
John 2:1-5 tells the story of Jesus and his disciples coming to a wedding in Cana. Mary came to Jesus with a problem: They had run out of wine. Why do you think Mary came to Jesus? He had not yet performed any miracles; this would be his first one. What was it about Mary; what was it she knew, that no one else did? Why did she think there was anything he could do? Even Jesus tells her to leave him alone. Mary doesn't take no for an answer, showing her incredible conviction. She turns to the servants and tells them to do whatever Jesus told them to do. Jesus goes on to turn water into wine, and the bible says that it was at this time, with the performing of this miracle, that Jesus revealed his glory and his disciples put their faith in him. (On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus' mother was there, 2 and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. 3 When the wine was gone, Jesus' mother said to him, "They have no more wine."
4 "Dear woman, why do you involve me?" Jesus replied. "My time has not yet come."
5 His mother said to the servants, "Do whatever he tells you.")

I'll bring before you one other passage. Luke 2:34. Joseph and Mary brought Jesus before the temple when he was 8 days old, to be circumcised. A man named Simeon, a righteous and devout man who had the Holy Spirit on him, was moved upon to enter the temple. He saw Jesus, and took him into his arms, proclaiming him to be the Christ. Then he looked at Mary and told her " Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: "This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, 35 so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too."
You see, he told Mary that Jesus would cause the thoughts of many hearts to be revealed. He also told her that her own soul would be pierced, as well. This didn't mean that she would be run through with a sword, but that the sword of God would pierce, or enter her soul, due to the things this baby Jesus would accomplish on the earth.
Can we say that Mary was standing on the Faithful Witness? Yes we can.