The Great War: Part One – The Players in the War (Revelation 12:1-6)

 

The longest war in all of history has been going on now for over 6,000 years. It the great war between the forces of evil and good. This war has raged for centuries and has affected the lives of everyone in both the physical world and the spiritual realm. The final battles of this war take place during the last 3 ½ years of the tribulation period. With the rapture of the church, Satan will use this time in history to make his most desperate attempts to dethrone God. He attacks God’s purposes and God’s people with a fervor that has never been seen since. Though his attacks are powerful, he will not succeed. Satan’s rebellion will be crushed and he will be held captive for a thousand years during a time known as the millennial kingdom. At the end of the millennial kingdom, Satan will be loosed and will make one final attempt to overthrow God, but he will fail. This time, he will be cast into the lake of fire where he will stay for eternity.

In this chapter, the apostle John describes the final battles in this Great War. Before he proceeds with the details of the battle, he introduces the main players in this war.

The Woman. The first main player described is the woman. Notice what it says in verses 1-2. And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars: 2 And she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered.” [1]The great wonder or sign is the first of seven such signs seen by John in the last half of the tribulation. The woman that John sees is symbolic. She is the second of four such symbolic women found in the book of revelation. John MacArthur writes, “The woman is the second of four symbolic women identified in revelation. The first, though an actual woman, had the symbolic name Jezebel and represented paganism. The third, depicted as a harlot, appears in 17:1-7. She represents the apostate church. The fourth woman is the bride of the Lamb and represents the true church.”[2]

The woman seen here in Revelation 12:1 is symbolic of the nation of Israel. This is a very obvious interpretation due to the context of this passage and the Bible as a whole. “The woman symbolized Israel, as indicated by Genesis 37:9–11, where the sun and the moon referred to Jacob and Rachel, Joseph’s parents. The stars in the woman’s crown clearly related to the 12 sons of Jacob and identified the woman as Israel fulfilling the Abrahamic Covenant.”[3] There are those, however, who try to identify the woman as the church. Some say that Israel and the church are one in the same. Such a view will lead to a complete distortion of God’s Word. “While there is a unity of the people of God, this does not wipe out dispensational and racial distinctions.”[4]

The context of this passage points to Israel as the nation through whom Jesus came. The woman is seen here as pregnant and about to give birth. “The woman was said to be pregnant and about to give birth (12:2). While in some sense this may be fulfilled in the birth of Christ to the Virgin Mary, the context seems to refer to the emerging nation of Israel in its suffering prior to the second coming of Christ.”[5]

Notice in verse 6 that the woman is taken to a place of protection. “And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days.”[6] Satan will attempt to destroy all believing Jews so that none of them would left alive to enter the millennial kingdom. However, God will not allow Israel to be destroyed, as He prepares a place where Jews can go and be protected from the attacks of the Antichrist.

The Dragon. Verses 3-4 describe the second player in this Great War. “And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads. 4 And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born.”[7] The great dragon is identified in verse 9 as none other than Satan. Of course, Satan is not an actual dragon, he is a fallen angel. However, the depiction of Satan as a dragon shows his character. He is deadly and vicious and will do anything to thwart God’s plans. The dragon is depicted as having seven heads. These seven heads represent the seven consecutive world empires: Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, Rome, and the future empire of the rule of the Antichrist. This final empire of the Antichrist is a ten nation confederacy symbolized by the ten horns on his head. Though this ten nation confederacy does not actual exists today, there are some interesting developments in the world that could lead to such a confederacy coming together. There are many reports that suggest that the European Union is moving toward pulling nations together in 10 super regions that almost exactly match the borders of the old Roman Empire.

Satan’s power is seen in his tail that pulls out a third part of the stars. This is an obvious reference to the fall of Satan from heaven when he brought with him a third of the angelic host. Those angels who followed Satan were cast down to the earth. This is seen in passages such as Isaiah 14:12-15 and Ezekiel 28:12-17.

Satan is also seen as standing before the woman (Israel) waiting to devour her child (Jesus). Satan has always tried to destroy the one who would bring salvation to the world. He actually thought he accomplished his goal when Jesus was crucified. However, the resurrection changed all of that!

                The Man Child. The third and final player in this great world is the man child described in verse 5. And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne.” [8] This child is none other than God incarnate, Jesus Christ. He is the rightful heir to the kingdom. He will rule all nations. Though Satan attempted to destroy Jesus, He failed. Jesus accomplished His redeeming work on the cross and is now in heaven waiting for the day in which He will claim His rightful place as king of the earth.

The interesting thing is that God has revealed to us in His Word how this war will end. Jesus Christ will be victorious and He will rule and reign. The question is simply, ‘whose side are you on’? I don’t know about you, but I am glad that I am on the winning side. All those who place their faith in Jesus are adopted into God’s family and are on the winning side.

 

[1] The Holy Bible: King James Version. (2009). (Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version., Re 12:1–2). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

[2] John MacArthur. Because the time is near. p. 200

[3] Walvoord, John F. (1985). Revelation. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 957). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

[4] Walvoord, John F. (1985). Revelation. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 958). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

[5] Walvoord, John F. (1985). Revelation. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 958). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

[6] The Holy Bible: King James Version. (2009). (Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version., Re 12:6). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

[7] The Holy Bible: King James Version. (2009). (Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version., Re 12:3–4). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

[8] The Holy Bible: King James Version. (2009). (Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version., Re 12:5). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

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