Summary: Second in series, identifying the Dragon in the text.
Now a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a garland of twelve stars. Then being with child, she cried out in labor and in pain to give birth. And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great, fiery red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems on his heads. His tail drew a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was ready to give birth, to devour her Child as soon as it was born. Revelation 12:3-4
Throughout history, there have been many works of fiction about a young person that rose up out of obscurity and unto triumph. What often times seems to be the most dire of situations, when the situation seems impossibly insurmountable, we see the hero triumph--and we cheer.
One such true story we touched on briefly in last week's message, the story of Joseph in the latter chapters of Genesis. Against all odds, Joseph was sold into slavery from his position as favored son of Jacob, then thrown into jail after false accusation of attempted rape. Even in jail, all that Joseph touched was blessed, and after interpreting dreams of the Pharaoh was placed into the highest position in the country right after the Pharaoh himself. Later, Joseph saved his family--the entire nation of Israel--including those brothers that had sold him into slavery. Joseph then stated "But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive." (Genesis 50:20, NKJV)
Last week, we studied the identity of the woman in Revelation 12. Of the four more popular thoughts, we saw how this woman is figurative and not literal like Mary mother of Jesus. Not the church, as this view would have the church give birth to the Savior, and also have the unmarried church as the mother of offspring of many, and also how some cults such as the Christian Scientists view their founder at the woman. We then saw how, because of the parallel in Genesis to the passage in verse 1, this woman can only be Israel the nation out of which Jesus came.
This week we are going to study the next of the characters in this great end-times drama, The Dragon. In the weekend devotionals, we will see how there are seven distinct persons revealed in the drama of chapters 12 and thirteen and how each character has their role as set up and known by God from the foundation of the world.
The Dragon, Part I
Theologians are almost completely united in their interpretation on the next two images in Revelation 12. Nearly all agree that the Dragon represents Satan and the Child represents Jesus Christ. But, from what we see in the imagery regarding Satan in Revelation 12 describes not his appearance but instead his demeanor.
First, let's take a brief look at verse two. Why is the Woman, whom we identified as Israel, in pain or travail? Persecution by Satan throughout the ages, from the very beginning. Satan hates God, hates His plan of redemption and hates His people with a murderous hatred.
Now in verse three we see "another sign", indicating that, like the Woman, this vision of the Dragon is symbolic of a person. Again, the view that this Dragon represents Satan is universal among Bible students and scholars; the imagery is undeniable.
The setting is in heaven. What we will see here is a flashback, a trip to the past if you will. We have discussed the fall of Lucifer in the past; Lucifer was the best and brightest of all the angels. His intelligence was (and still is) off the scale by our measurements, he was musically talented, beautiful, he was the "cherub who covers"; he was closer to God than any other being ever has been. He was God's right hand angel, you could say (see Ezekiel 28:11-19; Isaiah 14:12-15). However, Lucifer was "perfect in your ways from the day you were created, Till iniquity was found in you. (Ezekiel 28:15, NKJV). What was this iniquity? Pride.
Lucifer (star of the morning), the perfect, beautiful, powerful, talented angel "said in (his) heart: 'I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation on the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.' (Isaiah 14:13-14, NKJV). His goal was to dethrone God, set up his own throne, rule all of the angels and be in charge of heaven.