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Revelation chapter 12

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1And 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: 2And she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered. 3And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads. 4And 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. 5And 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. 6And 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. 7And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, 8And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. 9And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. 10And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. 11And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.

What does Revelation chapter 12 mean?

Starting in chapter 12, Revelation takes a detour from the step-by-step narrative of the end times. The events described occur over a wide variety of eras, including past, present, and future. In the course of these visions, seven main figures are described. Five of those appear in this chapter. The next two chapters will continue to fill in the details. Chapter 15 adds another vision of heaven, and chapter 16 will return to a more chronological depiction of the last days.

This passage typifies the grand symbolism found in much of the book of Revelation. John sees a woman, clothed with the sun, crying out in pain as she gives birth. Waiting to kill her child is a red dragon. The woman symbolizes Israel, the dragon is Satan, and the male child is Jesus. The male child is "caught up to God," a reference to Jesus' ascension after His resurrection, and the woman is able to flee into the wilderness (Revelation 12:1–6).

Next, John observes a war in heaven, where Michael the archangel fully casts Satan out of heaven. This is not a depiction of the initial fall of Satan; according to Old Testament books such as Job, the Devil was still able to access heaven and accuse humanity before God. At this point, however, he will be entirely evicted and thrown down to earth. This results in rejoicing in heaven, but also a dire warning. Now that Satan is running out of time, and confined to the earth, his rage will be taken out on mankind, especially Israel (Revelation 12:7–12).

Jesus predicted an "abomination of desolation" in Matthew 24:15–16. There, He most likely referred to a defilement of the temple by the Antichrist. Jesus warned that people ought to respond to this act by fleeing to the mountains. Here, in Revelation, the people of Israel are given supernatural protection by God—symbolized by the reference to wings—and able to survive for a period of three and a half years. Echoing other prophetic messages about an invasion by a northern army (Ezekiel 38), John also sees the serpent attempt to wash the woman away with a flood of water from his mouth. This would symbolize an armed invasion. God, again, protects the woman with what Ezekiel says is a tremendous earthquake (Ezekiel 38:19–22). This enrages Satan, who commits to attacking the offspring of the woman (Revelation 12:13–17).

The five figures mentioned in this chapter are the woman who symbolizes Israel, the seven-headed dragon who represents Satan, the male child who is Jesus, Satan himself as the fourth figure, and the offspring of the woman, referring to the people of Israel. The following chapter will introduce the last two major characters, who are among the most infamous in all of Scripture: the Antichrist and the False Prophet.
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