Summary: We are only going to look at the three principle characters who have been involved in the spiritual warfare.
Chapter 12 of Revelation is one of the most revealing chapters in the Bible. It rolls back the curtain between earth and heaven and shows what lies behind all the sin and evil and all the conflict of this world. It reveals a great spiritual struggle that is occurring behind the scenes of this world.
In the last days that spiritual struggle will be more intense. This intense spiritual struggle is what Jesus called the great tribulation. It will be the most intense and terrible tribulation the world has ever seen.
But why does the world have to suffer this tribulation? Why will there be such a terrible tribulation in the end time? This passage tells us. It will show us this great spiritual warfare that is waged behind the scenes of this world. The war that is being fought for the souls of men.
Tonight we are only going to look at the three principle characters who have been involved in the spiritual warfare. PRAYER
READ 1 & 2. We are introduced to the first character in the great tribulation—a woman with child. Notice how she bursts on the scene. She is said to be a wondrous sign. She is in heaven. This means that she is the heavenly representative of some earthly people. Who is the woman and what people does she represent?
First of all, she isn’t identified, but it is pretty clear who she is. She is clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her. This refers back to the OT dream that Joseph had. Have someone read Genesis 37: 9-11.
Jacob understood exactly what Joseph meant. The sun represented the father Jacob, the moon the mother, and the twelve stars the brothers. The dream was a picture of Israel. Joseph was dreaming that Israel would be saved from destruction through him.
This woman in our passage is pregnant and the child is pictured as being born. Note what is said about the child in verse 5. Read 5. This clearly refers to Jesus Christ. He was born to rule all nations and He alone was exalted to the throne of God.
So who is this woman? There are at least four main positions about who she is.
1. Some say she is Mary, the mother of Jesus. But there are just too many supernatural things said about this woman for her to be an earthly or human being.
2. Some say she is the church. But this is difficult to see, because the church didn’t give birth to Christ. Christ gave birth to the church.
3. Some say she is the ideal Zion, the ideal Jerusalem, the ideal Israel, the chosen people, the community of God from which Christ came. They say the mother represents all the true people of God, those before Jesus came and those after He came. This position is a possible identification of the woman. But again, this position doesn’t fill all the things said about the woman.
4. Some say that the woman represents Israel, the very people who gave birth to Jesus Christ. This seems to be the closest identification of the woman. As we progress through the passage, we will see that everything said about this woman fits Israel like a glove.
• Paul said in Romans 9:5 that Jesus Christ came out of Israel.
• Isaiah prophesied in Isaiah 66: 7-8 that Israel would have labor pains and bring forth a male child.
READ 3 & 4. Now we see the second character in the great tribulation—an enormous dragon, that is, the devil. Note that it says that the dragon is said to be a sign in heaven. Three things need to be mentioned about this sign.
1. First there is the description and authority of the dragon or the devil. The description is different from what most people think. When people think of the devil, they picture a fiery red serpent-like creature with two horns and a long pointed tail who holds a pitchfork in his hand. But this is a total misconception.
When Scripture speaks of Satan as a dragon, it is referring to the evil work he does, not to his looks or appearance. Scripture says that Satan is the highest and most glorious being ever created by God, that his being is so magnificent that he shines like the sun and actually possesses glory just like God. Note what this verse says about his description, and remember, this is not picturing what he looks like. It is describing his authority and power.
• Satan has seven heads. Seven is the number of completeness and fullness. Satan is complete in intelligence; he has full knowledge. He is not omniscient but his knowledge is complete and full.