Revelation Chapter Twelve


So far we have progressed through the Holy Place Ministry in Chapter 1-11 of the Book of Revelation. In this process we have had the opportunity of discussing the Candlestick phase of Christ’s ministry (Chapters 1-3), the Table of Shewbread phase of Christ’s intercessory Ministry (Chapters 4-7) and the Altar of Incense phase of Christ’s intercessory ministry (Chapters 8-11).

In Revelation 11:19 we were introduced to the Most Holy Place phase of the intercessory ministry of Christ. In Chapters 12-19 we will see how Christ handles the Most Holy Place phase of His intercession and the effect that it is to have on people in the church and in the world. To understand this part of Christ’s ministry will require us to follow, in some cases, the experience of the Millerite movement and what they had to learn about the sanctuary, the intercessory ministry of Christ, and the truths which are required to learn to know where Jesus wants to take us today.

Another facet of Revelation Chapter Twelve that will be interesting for our discussion is the role of the Spirit of Prophecy in helping the Millerites, and that will help us today as we read this commentary and study this section of the Word of God.

History indicates that the prophetic gift (Joel 2:28-32; Acts 2:16-21; I Corinthians 12-14) was initiated in the writings of Ellen White and thus fulfilled the role of the “Testimony of Jesus Christ” verse 12 which is the “Spirit of Prophecy” Revelation 19:10. In the end of 1844 Ellen G. Harmon (her maiden name) received her first vision and in this vision she was able to reassure the early Millerites that they had indeed been walking the path to heaven and that the experiences of 1844 had indeed been of God. (See Early Writings pages 14-20). This first vision set the stage for many other visions and for much clarification on helping people to read and understand the Scriptures and to encourage people to follow His Word into a right relationship with Him based on Truth and Grace.

In fact when studying the book of Revelation it has been abundantly helpful to have the prophetic gift of the book The Great Controversy to help sort through the historical issues in the churches, seals, and trumpets. This book will be helpful in the issues discussed in the remaining subjects of Revelation.

One of the most important issues necessary to have in place is that of the Sanctuary. We have discussed above of the Holy Place intercessory ministry of Jesus which started in 31 AD when He ascended into heaven in Acts 1:9-11. Jesus ascended to the right hand of the Father and started the ministry symbolized in the ministry of Jesus spoken of in Exodus 29:38-44 and in Numbers 28:1-8. This is considered the Daily ministry of the priest in addition to all of the other activities symbolized in the sanctuary as instructed by Jesus to Moses (Exodus 25-40) and by Solomon (II Chronicles 2-7) and to Ezekiel. (Ezekiel 40-48). This Daily Ministry of the priest was also to occur during the time of the Day of Atonement (Numbers 29:7-11) which is where we are at as of Revelation 11:19 – Revelation 19.

So there are unique qualities of the Day of Atonement which are additions to the Daily Ministry of the priest. These unique qualities are discussed in Leviticus 16 which describes the Day of Atonement Ministry in some detail. This time is also discussed in Daniel 7; Malachi 3:1-6; and Matthew 25:1-13. We will see these issues revealed in the ministry of Christ in Revelation 12-19. We will also see how God spoke of these issues in the book The Great Controversy.

In The Great Controversy we are told that almost immediately after the 1844 great disappointment Jesus repeated His counsel that He gave His disciples after the Great Disappointment of His death on Calvary. Jesus met with the disciples and went over the prophecies with them to show them how the Scriptures were fulfilled in all that happened to Him and to His disciples. (Luke 24:13-27, 44-48). After the disappointment of 1844Jesus gave His disciples, the Millerites, another study in the sanctuary (Revelation 11:19) and then started to help them understand the history of the great controversy theme as described in Revelation 12. We will go cover this same material in this brief commentary on Revelation 12.

Now that we have introduced Revelation 12 and the basic issues of the chapter we will now go through these verses one by one.

 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:

Author: The first symbol that Jesus wants us to see is that of a woman. In the Bible a woman symbolizes His church. This symbol is used in both the Old Testament and the New Testament. (Jeremiahs 6:2; Ezekiel 16:1-14; II Corinthians 11:2; Ephesians 5:22-32; a good woman equally a good church and a bad woman symbolizing a church in rebellion against God).

This woman is clothed with the sun having the garments of the Jesus over her. See Malachi 4:2 and Luke 1:76-79 where Jesus is the dayspring, or the sunrising, that reveals the qualities of God. She also has a crown of 12 stars on her head, symbolizing the 12 patriarchs in the Old Testament and the 12 Apostles in the New Testament.

This woman symbolizes the history of God’s church from the woman promised in Genesis 3:15 to the coming of Jesus Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:18-23.

 2And she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered.

Author: This woman was a symbol of the church of God who would bear the Messiah, see verse 1.

 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.

Author: While the church is developing through history on one side of the story there is an antagonist that is developing along at the same time but this symbol had a head start in literal heaven. The antagonist of the woman is the great red dragon – Leviathan of Isaiah 27:1. This symbol has seven heads which symbolizes a complete entity and the symbol has crowns on his heads indicating that the dragon has kings and powers in its service.

 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.

Author: This power has a history of using its tail to draw a third of the stars from heaven and then cast them to earth. The Bible says that the tail is the prophet, or teacher, that teaches lies. (Isaiah 9:15). Bible history indicates that Lucifer, once a leader in heaven fell due to sin (Isaiah 14:12-20; Ezekiel 28:11-19; The Great Controversy 492-504) and that through his lies he led one third of all the angels to sin and to be cast out of heaven. (II Peter 2:4; Revelation 12:7-9).

Satan, through his representatives on earth – the rulers of men, stood before the church and wanted to kill the Baby Jesus at His birth. This story is told in Matthew 2:1-18 where Herod, Satan’s representative through the Roman empire, sought to kill Jesus and when he couldn’t he chose to have all of the children in Bethlehem, the prophesied city for the birth of the Messiah (Micah 5:2), that were two years old and younger killed in his attempt to kill Jesus. But God the Father had led Jesus out of Bethlehem in time to preserve Him and to prepare Him for the next prophetic experience of coming out of Egypt. (Matthew 2:15).

 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.

Author: The church will bring for a man child and He will rule all nations. The strength of His reign will be like iron, and He will destroy all nations like pottery. (See Revelation 2:16-17; Psalm 2:9; Isaiah 30:8-14; Jeremiah 51:19). With all the efforts of the dragon, and all of his representatives Jesus makes it to heaven, and will sit at the right hand of God (Hebrews 8:1: 12:2), and will sit on His own throne. (Acts 2:20; Revelation 3:21) This ascension took place in 31 AD after His own death, then He was resurrected and ascended to heaven and was on His Fathers throne until 1844 and then followed His Father into the Most Holy Place. (See Daniel 7:9-14).

 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.

Author: After Jesus returns to heaven and begins His intercessory ministry there Satan attacks the church of Jesus for He has sent them out as lambs among wolves. (Matthew 10:16). As God led out Israel into the wilderness so He led His New Testament church into the wilderness – the unpopulated areas of the world – where they could hide from the various persecutions that Satan had prepared for them. God would keep them in this wilderness state for 1260 prophetic day/years. This time period was 538 AD to 1798 AD.

 7And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels,

Author: Again God switches back to continue to the story of the Dragon. This verse tells the incredible story that there was a war in heaven. Michael and His angels fought against the dragon and his angels. The dragon is identifies in Revelation 12:9 as the Devil – or Lucifer in his fallen state. The Devil is also known as the adversary.

Before leaving this verse it will be helpful to identify Michael. The name Michael is identified as “Who is like God.” The name Michael is used in both the Old Testament and the New Testament to identify that Leader who is able to fight against the Devil and wins every time. Michael is used in Revelation 12:7; Jude 1:9; Daniel 10:13, 21; Daniel 12:1.

In the book of Daniel Michael is referred to as one of the Princes, the Great Prince that stands for the people of Daniel, and in reference to Daniel – your Prince. It is interesting that when using the word Prince that the Bible defines this Prince as Messiah – Daniel 9:25. Joshua 5:13-15 describes the Captain of the Lord’s Host, or Prince in the margin, as somebody who Joshua can safely worship. Revelation 19:10 forbids men to worship angels, so this Captain, Prince, Michael is none other than Jesus our great Prince, the Captain of the Lord’s Host. He is the leader of men, and of angels.

 8And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven.

Author: This text states that in the war, verse 7, that Satan lost the war and was an outcast from heaven. He, and his angels, fell from heaven for sin, and as Adam and Eve were cast out of Eden, so Satan and his angels were cast out of heaven. (II Peter 2:4).

 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.

Author: The great dragon has many names, the serpent, the devil, Satan; they all describe various qualities of Lucifer’s fallen nature. The Bible states that the great dragon, in all of his forms and names, will deceive the whole earth for he was cast out of heaven to the earth. The angels that chose to follow him were also cast out. (See pages 492-504 in the book The Great Controversy).

 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.

Author: We know that Satan, the great dragon, was cast out of heaven somewhere around the time of Creation, but he was also cast down at Calvary. Satan was prophesied to wound Jesus at Calvary but Jesus was resurrected and continued on to heaven where He is interceding for us continually. (Hebrews 7:12-28). Satan seeks to accuse us before God (Zechariah 3:1-2) but Jesus won the battle at Calvary and did not sin, He died for us, and was raised for us as well to continue this great warfare until all things are settled. (See Revelation 20)

 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.

Author: As Jesus fought the battle against Satan, so we are called to fight this battle as well. We will overcome Satan just as Jesus did, by the Word of His testimony, and by His blood. We will have to shed our blood by following in His path of righteousness. God’s people do not want to die, but when that time comes they would rather be faithful to God at the cost of their lives. Daniel 3:8-18. They will obey God’s commands not to break His laws against worshipping idols that they would rather die than sin, just as Jesus did. (Exodus 20:4-7).

 12Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.

Author: Satan can read the Bible as well as we can. He knows that he will die for Ezekiel 28:12-18, and Revelation 20:10 have clearly stated this. Satan plans to go down and take as many people as he possibly can with him. Satan, as a roaring lion, will devour as many as will leave the side of Jesus. (I Peter 5:8).

 13And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man child.

Author: From the time that Lucifer was cast out of heaven, his goal has been to destroy the woman/church so that Jesus could not come to Earth to fulfill His prophecy in Genesis 3:15. But God’s Word can not be broken and what God prophesied in Genesis 3:15 came to pass in 31 AD at the death of Jesus on Calvary. Therefore, all of the rest of the prophecies in the Bible will occur as well, for they are based on the ability of God to see the end from the beginning and to accurately record it in the Bible. (Isaiah 46:9-10).

 14And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent.

Author: God here refers us back to the movement of the Children of Israel out of Egypt. He carried them on eagle’s wings to Mount Sinai where He would talk with them, give them His laws, and empower them with His Spirit for this time, 50 days after the Passover was Pentecost. (Exodus 19:1-6).  At Mt. Sinai God would anoint His people Israel as a church of kings and priests just as He did at Pentecost in Acts 2. (I Peter 2:1-10). So again God had a place of respite for His church after she began to be persecuted. Again God warns His people that the persecution will last for 1260 years, or a time, times, and a half a time. (Daniel 7:25; 12:7; Revelation 11:2, 3; 13:5). While she is in the wilderness she will be nourished, and kept alive until this time came to an end in 1798.

 15And the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood.

Author: God prophesies that the serpent will cast out of his mouth waters as a flood. We are told in Revelation 17:15 that waters are people, nations, kindred, and tongues which carry a doctrine for good or for evil in their hearts. (See also Isaiah 8:5-7; Job 24:18-19; Jeremiah 6:6-8. See also water in the Spiritual Dictionary at Satan’s intent is to carry God’s church away with error. But God has said that many waters can not quench His love for us. (Song of Solomon 8:7). God has a way of protecting His church.

 16And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed up the flood which the dragon cast out of his mouth.

Author: In the Old Testament we get to see this event in its literal manner in Numbers 16:1-34. Satan sent his fountains of evil water, Korah, Dathan, and Abiram to teach error to Israel and to rebel against God, and against God’s chosen men. God warned them, through Moses, to stand away from Korah, Dathan, and Abiram’s tents and if these men died a natural death then Moses was not sent of God. But if they died a supernatural death, and the Earth opened her mouth and swallowed up these evil men, and their lies and errors, then the people could know that God had sent Moses. This event occurred and the Earth swallowed up these three evil men, and their errors.

God wants to share with us that He is just as much in control today as in the time of Moses. God prepared the mountain places for the Albigenses, the Waldenses, and the Reformation to flee to. He also prepared America as a place of refuge from the tyranny of persecution in Europe and those fleeing from Europe could get to America, and be able to worship according to their own consciences. America was the place of respite for the woman from the dragon.

 17And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.

Author: Satan recognized that the woman was being protected from him by the hand of God. He grew even angrier when his prey was snatched from his jaws. So we must remember that the dragon, in all of his forms, will continue to try to kill off the church. He has displayed his behavior toward God’s people all through history and since he will not come to Jesus for help he is doomed to repeat his behaviors yet again. Satan will attack the church in any way possible and this will continue down to the time of the remnant peoples of God, those who remain. The remnant of the true church of God are those people who keep all of the commandments of God, and especially the Sabbath commandment for this is one of the commandments that the Little Horn, the Roman Catholic Church, has especially attacked. The Little Horn has attempted to change God’s worship for Him on Sabbath to worship on Sunday a command that is not found in the Bible.

A second issue of identification is that the remnant people of God will also have the testimony of Jesus. Jesus Himself defines this testimony as the Spirit of Prophecy. (Revelation 19:10). The gift of prophecy will be a second identifying mark for it identifies God’s people in harmony with I Corinthians 12-14. When these two concepts are present there is a high probability that this is God’s remnant people.