Unveiling the Symbolism in Revelation

Chapter 12

By Ernie and Mary Kroeger

"A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars; and she was with child; and she cried out, being in labor and in pain to give birth." (vv.1-2)

"A great sign appeared in heaven." What an interesting phenomenon - a great sign in heaven! The heavenly realm symbolizes the spiritual realm, so it transcends the earthly realm. Our natural understanding can never ascend to the heavenly or spiritual understanding because it is always fighting it.

This supernatural sign in the heavenly or spiritual realm focuses on a woman who is clothed with the sun! In the scriptures the church is always referred to in the feminine gender. This is very clearly stated in Ephesians 5:25-26. "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her with the washing of water with the word."Thus we see that the woman represents the church. The woman or church is clothed with the sun.

Again we go to the Old Testament to receive illumination. In Genesis 37 we read about Joseph's dreams. Jacob didn't have any trouble identifying the symbolic meaning of the sun, moon and stars - "Shall I and your mother and your brothers bow down to you?" The sun represented the father, the moon the mother, and the stars the sons. In symbolism we see that this woman is clothed with the Father God's nature.

"And the moon is under her feet." The moon represented the mother in Joseph's dream, so the moon typifies a woman. Here we have two women - one woman having another woman under her feet. The two women represent two different churches - the true church and the Babylonian church. The Babylonian church is the false church that encompasses all the religious thinking of the carnal mind. This picture tells us that the true church has overcome all that religious thinking. She represents the overcoming church that will have nothing to do with the religious systems of man!

On her head is a crown of twelve stars! The head is the highest realm of every person. That is where our thinking takes place. The crown with the twelve stars tells us what is most important to this church; it tells us what this church is thinking about. Twelve symbolizes the government of God, and the stars represent the elders of the church. These leaders are under the government of God.

The church is in love with Christ, and her thoughts are focused on pleasing Him! Christ showers her with His love, and this love creates in her a desire to please Him and to fulfill His every desire. Our thoughts produce corresponding actions. This church is in the process of becoming one with the message she proclaims! While she is still imperfect and in the process of being formed into the image of Christ, God looks at her and declares her to be beautiful and under His government!

This woman has an intimate relationship with her husband for she is with child. A child is growing within her. In Gal. 4:19 Paul said, "My children, with whom I am again in labor until Christ is formed in you." This is not speaking of the birth of a baby, but of the birth of a mature son. Peter tells us that we have been born of an incorruptible seed. An incorruptible seed cannot bring forth anything that is corruptible! What a word of encouragement!

The church is producing a mature son, but the birth process is difficult! It involves a struggle for life by both mother and child. We have been so indoctrinated by religiosity that it is very difficult to get it out of our system. Our birth process to maturity is not complete until every vestige of the Babylonian church has been eradicated. In order to mature we have to come out of religiosity. This stirs up the religious mind in immature Christians, resulting in rejection and probable persecution from them.

How strong is our desire for acceptance? Do we desire the acceptance of people more than the acceptance of God? If we don't come out of the religious system, we'll remain in its norms and dogmas! No wonder we are exhorted to come out of everything that hinders our growth into maturity!

"And another sign appeared in heaven: and behold, a great red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads were seven diadems." (v.3) Now another sign appeared in the spirit realm, and John's attention was drawn to a great red dragon. This dragon is described as having seven heads and ten horns. Then in verse 9 he is identified as being the serpent of old, who is called the devil, and Satan who is the deceiver. These are not three entities; they are three names identifying the same entity.

The word red is translated from the Greek PURRHOS, meaning fiery red  the same word that is used in chapter 6. When this word is used in connection with our redemption, it signifies a purifying process that rids us of our fleshly thoughts, but when used in connection with the dragon or serpent, it signifies a process that works in the opposite direction. The dragon wants our nature to become like his nature, so he wants to do away with all our trust in God.

As we look at this seven-headed red monster with ten horns, let's remember that this description is encoded in symbolism. The seven heads speak of complete authority, and the ten horns of complete power. His power and authority are confined to the earthly realm  for remember, the serpent is restricted to eating the dust of the earth!

Jesus told the religious Jews that they were of their father the devil. Why? Because they were receiving the devil's thoughts and lies. They received the lies that were in their carnal mind. When Adam ate the forbidden fruit, he received the devil's mind  the mind that is always against the Spirit!

The dragon's rule is confined to the carnal mind. There he rules humanity's thought processes! Humanity is in captivity to the rule of the dragon. To be freed from its rule we have to receive God's rule. To receive His rule we have to be put into the new man, the Christ Man, receive His thoughts, and be led by the mind of Christ!

"And on his head were seven diadems." The word diadem comes from the Greek DIADEMA, and is derived from diadeo, which means to bind around. A diadem was a kingly ornament for the head. Among the Greeks and Romans it was the distinctive badge of royalty. There is a difference between a diadem and a crown. Crown comes from the Greek STEPHANOS, which denotes (a) a victor's crown or (b) a token of public honor for distinctive service. The dragon considers himself to be royalty, for he rules the carnal mind.

"And his tail swept away a third of the stars of heaven, and threw them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she gave birth he might devour her child." (v.4)

What a powerful tail! Isaiah 9:15 tells us that the prophet who teaches falsehood is the tail. The dragon's tail represents the false prophets; they speak the words and ideas that are given them by the dragon. Through these lies the stars, sons or elders, are cast down to the earth  to an earthy realm of thinking. The heavenly realm speaks of life, and the earthy realm denotes the death realm. So the dragon gets the elders to interpret the scriptures to the satisfaction of the self-life, and they pass these ideas on to their followers.

Let's look at some examples. The false prophets tell us that we need inner healing after we have become Christians. They say our problems are due to some hurts way back - even while we were in the womb. Instead of recognizing that the old man can never become righteous, they try to heal him. The scriptures tell us that in Adam all die, and in Christ all are made alive. Instead of teaching Christians to walk according to the Spirit, the false teachers teach them to walk in the zealousness of self-effort, and to blame others or the past for their failures.

Another popular lie that many Christians now believe is that God does not want His children to suffer. Yet Jesus Himself had to learn obedience by the things that He suffered. Suffering reveals the extent of our obedience, but it is not pleasant. The rapture theory that promises escape from the great tribulation period sounds inviting, but it is in complete opposition to God's teaching. God wants His children to be overcomers! They are to overcome the fears, bitterness, unforgiveness, etc., that the dragon tries to implant and nourish in them. Revelation chapters 2 and 3 repeatedly state that the promises are for the overcomers! We need to face the obstacles that are put in our pathway, and overcome them by faith!

Why was the dragon standing before the woman? He wanted to intimidate her and fill her with fear; he wanted to manipulate her and control her. So he tried to fill her mind with doubt and confusion. The devil keeps on trying to topple our faith. Just because we were overcomers yesterday doesn't mean the devil will back off today. He kept trying to get Jesus to yield to the desires of the flesh to the very end, but he was never successful! Failures do not daunt the devil.

The birthing process activated the dragon. What does the birthing process symbolize? It typifies our birth out of our carnal, soulish thinking. Living out of the mind of Christ is the mark of maturity! When this occurs, the dragon loses control because the spiritual realm is beyond his reach! The soul includes our desires, our mind, our emotions and our whole sense of being. The dragon tries to latch on to our soulish desires for comfort, ease, prosperity, control, health, power, pride, revenge, self-indulgence, etc. When we are birthed out of the soul realm, the dragon has lost his point of contact. Jesus said, "For the ruler of the world is coming, and he has nothing in Me." (Jn. 14:30) Jesus was only listening to the Father, so the dragon or devil could not find a point of contact in Him!

Jesus was birthed as a Son at His baptism, and the Holy Spirit came on Him in the form of a dove, and a voice from heaven declared, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased." After His baptism, Jesus always followed the leading of the Spirit; He was no longer led by the law. That brought forth accusations from the religious hierarchy! He was accused of eating with sinners, healing on the Sabbath, drinking too much wine, mingling with the wrong crowd, even calling God His Father! Similarly, we too will be targeted with accusations after we are birthed out of our soulish thinking. The religious system cannot understand nor tolerate the spiritual mind.

Jesus received the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove, but the disciples received the Holy Spirit in the form of tongues of fire. Why the difference? Jesus was pure and holy; He did not need the refining fire! The Spirit came on Him in the gentleness of a dove. However we need the consuming fire of the Holy Spirit to purify us from all unholy thoughts and desires!

The dragon wanted to devour the male child, but he was unable to do so. All the dragon's tactics and accusations cannot vanquish the male child! The dragon cannot accomplish his desires! Sometimes it seems to us that he is victorious, but his victories are only temporary. He only wins some skirmishes but the victory belongs to the sons by the power of the Holy Spirit. God has promised that all things will be subjected to Him, and He is able to fulfill His promises and accomplish His desires!

"And she gave birth to a son, a male child, who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron; and her child was caught up to God and to His throne." (v.5) She gave birth to a son - HUIOS  which means a mature son! This is a foreign concept to the natural mind. Birth actually speaks of the beginning or origin of something. For example, we speak of the birth of a nation or the birth of an idea. In this passage God refers to the church as giving birth to a mature son  one who has overcome the dictates of the self- life!

This male child or son is to rule the nations with a rod of iron! This sounds rather ominous, like the rule of an officious dictator, doesn't it? What does the rod of iron symbolize? Iron symbolizes something that is unbendable. What is unbendable in the spiritual realm? It's truth, isn't it? Truth cannot be changed, nor can it be bent, for then it would no longer be truth.

In Rev. 2:26-27 we read, "He who overcomes, and he who keeps My deeds until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations and he shall rule them with a rod of iron." This passage identifies the overcomers with the male child! They are given authority to rule the nations. They have learned to rule the nations (imaginations) within themselves, and are therefore ready to rule the nations that surround them.

As soon as this mature child comes into being, it is caught up to God and to His throne! The throne indicates authority to rule. This son becomes part of the royal priesthood and the twenty-four elders who sit on the throne with God. God's throne is not like the man-made thrones here on earth. Everything in God's domain lives; his life infiltrates and dominates everything! So His throne is a living throne! It is in every mature son of God, and every mature son is on the throne. They are governed by the life of God, and they govern the nations by His life!

This event has nothing to do with our physical death; it takes place in the spiritual unseen realm! The spiritually mature Christians are not ruled by their circumstances; they rule over their circumstances!

"Then the woman fled into the wilderness where she had a place prepared by God, so that there she would be nourished for one thousand two hundred and sixty days." (v.6) Young's translation gives us some insight into this. It reads, "that there they may nourish her - days a thousand, two hundred, sixty."

After the mature sons are birthed out of the church system, the woman flees into a wilderness - a place that has been prepared for her by God! There is not much food in the wilderness. When the children of Israel were led by God into the wilderness, a place between the bondage of Egypt and the promised land, they were fed supernatural food. God did not forsake them even when they grumbled and complained. What an awesome picture of God's unending love! God loves the church even though she still needs to mature. He has a place for her in the wilderness where she needs help to survive.

"They may nourish her." "They" refers to the sons that have been birthed out of her! Those who have come into maturity must not despise the church that is still in a mixture of truth and religiosity. They must honor her and help her, for she gave them birth. God loves her and He knows how to bring her into maturity. The one thousand two hundred and sixty days (three and a half years) refer to her time of ministry - see chapter 11:3 for a more detailed explanation.

"And there was war in heaven, Michael and his angels waging war with the dragon. The dragon and his angels waged war, and they were not strong enough, and there was no longer a place found for them in heaven. And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him." (vv.7-9)

"There was war in heaven." This war takes place in the spiritual realm within us. This is not a war that took place in prehistoric times. It is an ongoing battle with every situation that seeks to rob us of our peace. The kingdom of heaven is within us! The dragon, Satan or the serpent (these are three names for the rule that is against the Spirit) cannot rule the mind of Christ. The natural mind does not want to lose control, so it fights the thoughts that come from the mind of Christ! This battle takes place in our mind.

But the dragon and his angels or messengers are no match for Michael and his messengers! The Hebrew name Michael means "who is like God". We know that Jesus Christ is the exact representation of the invisible God, so Michael symbolizes Jesus Christ. He and His messengers are fighting for us! He gives us words of encouragement and sends us messengers who help us along the way. The good news is that Christ, in union with us, always wins!

Satan is a deceiver. He presents his lies in a form that resembles truth in order to deceive us. But Christ is the truth, and truth reveals the lie! The dragon is thrown out of his usurped place of rulership when we believe the truth. In other words, he and his demonic host have lost their control over us, for they can only access and influence the natural mind. They can only feed on dust (the natural mind). Christians who are living in the earthy realm will continually be deceived. The new creation man believes what God says and lives out of the mind of Christ! The overcomer has no duality in him because he has overcome the thinking of the natural mind, and is now living in the mind of Christ.

"Then I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, `Now the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, he who accuses them before our God day and night.'" (v.10)

"NOW!" What a wonderful message is contained in this short word! Our salvation is for NOW! We don't have to wait for our physical body to die before we can enjoy our salvation! We have been born again of an imperishable or incorruptible seed! We have been born of His Spirit, and are now a new creation! Just as a newborn child has to mature before the nature of the father can be seen in him, so we have to mature spiritually for the nature of our heavenly Father to be seen in us. When Christ is formed in us we come into maturity, and it reveals the authority we have in Christ! When Christ rules in us, the accuser is knocked off his throne!

Satan is an accuser! He accuses us of many inadequacies: of not having prayed enough, praised enough, given enough, loved enough, read the Bible enough  and the list goes on! He even accuses us of having listened to him! To exonerate himself and us, he then blames our ancestors, our parents, our teachers, and others. If they had not done what they did, we wouldn't have those problems.

Our salvation and deliverance from our bondage to Satan's accusations and our carnal mind came in Christ's crucifixion, resurrection and the outpouring of His Spirit! In Christ there is no condemnation! When Satan's accusations come to us, we can joyfully say that they do not belong to us, for we are in Christ, the new man. His accusations only apply to the old man  the man who is dead in his trespasses and sins. The new man that we are in Christ has been freed from believing Satan's lies!

"And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death." (v.11)

How do we overcome Satan's accusations?

1) By the blood of the Lamb! We know that the soul is in the blood; life is in the Spirit! Our soul is the seat of our mind, emotions and will, and they give us our sense of being. The blood of the Lamb symbolizes the soul of Christ. What sense of being did He have? He knew that God was His Father, and He only desired to do the Father's will! He did not have any sin-consciousness, any guilt, or any desire to do His own will! He lived in truth, and truth does not receive lies! We too will overcome Satan's accusations and temptations when we receive the sense of being Christ had! This is how we apply the blood of Christ!

2) By the word (LOGOS) of our testimony! We know that Jesus Christ is the Word, the LOGOS. We overcome every fiery dart of the enemy when Christ is our testimony! We do not overcome by our own efforts or by anything we have accomplished; we overcome by relying on everything Christ has accomplished!

3) By not loving our self-life, i.e., our soul. The word "life" should read "soul"  from the Greek PSUCHE. We are not to love our soul, for it loves an easy, comfortable life and the pleasures of this world. Love for ease, honor and recognition forms an attachment to this world and these things begin to possess us. The love of self keeps us from receiving Christ's life. That love has to die. "Except a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it cannot bring forth fruit." Often our feelings contradict what God is telling us to do. When we yield to our feelings, we love our soul too much  we are not letting that love die. Adam and Eve yielded to their feelings; the fruit looked good to them, so they disobeyed God. Humanity calls that making a wrong choice, but God calls that loving our soul too much! We are not letting that love die! This is the root cause of disobedience!

"For this reason, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them. Woe to the earth and the sea; because the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, knowing that he has only a short time." (v.12)

"For this reason, rejoice." We can rejoice because in Christ our bondage to sin is broken! The accuser has been overcome! We don't need to grovel and cringe under all the accusations that the accuser levels at us! His power over us has been broken, and we must realize that it has been broken, and that under no circumstances do we want to restore it! We have reason for rejoicing! We can now be happy and in a good frame of mind! We're at peace with God!

This rejoicing is not for everyone! It is only for those who dwell in the heavens  in the spiritual realm. Those who abide in Christ live in this realm. Christ is the anointing, the truth and the life! Abiding in Him means living in Him  in the truth and life that He is! His life takes us out of death, and His truth takes us out of the lies and deception of the natural mind! Soulish emotions cannot rule those who live in the heavens for they have been freed from their bondage to self!

"Woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, knowing that he has only a short time." A woe is pronounced on those who live on the earth (in their carnal mind) and on those who live in the sea (in the ignorance of who God is). Why? Because they have not experienced the freedom that is ours in Christ. The devil is still free to inveigle them with his lies. Christ's resurrection marked the devil's downfall! It was bad news for the devil when Jesus Christ was given all authority in heaven and on earth! It filled him with wrath. The fact that there are now those who are dwelling in the heavens where he can't get at them, emphasizes the actuality that his time is short. Once Christians realize the authority they have in Christ, the devil realizes that his time to hassle Christians is coming to an end!

The dragon's evil and depraved mind now sought to take it out on the woman who had given birth to the male child. "And when the dragon saw that he was thrown down to the earth, he persecuted the woman who gave birth to the male child." (v.13) Notice that his wrath was aimed at the woman  not at the earth and sea dwellers. He already had them where he wanted them. They already were entangled in his web of lies and suffering the results of their wrong beliefs. But he could still persecute the woman, the church.

The dragon cannot enter the Spirit realm, so he aims his attacks at the soul. Our new birth makes us a new spiritual being, and places us into the life-giving spiritual man. When we understand and function in who we are in Christ, the devil can't touch us. But he can still attack our soul  on the level of our thinking, feelings and emotions. He knows all the tricks of his trade, and he'll do everything he can to discourage us and get us into unbelief, choice and disobedience.

"But the two wings of the great eagle were given to the woman, so that she could fly into the wilderness to her place, where she was nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent." (v.14) Again, the serpent's efforts are foiled! The woman is given two wings for her protection and for her flight to the wilderness where a place has been prepared for her. The wilderness typifies the journey between the bondage of Egypt and the abundance of the Promised Land. The bareness of the wilderness cannot supply the necessary food for survival, so she needs supernatural help. Our dependence should always be on God, but when there is a natural abundance we tend to forget this. The wilderness makes us aware of our needs. God is faithful in supplying her needs during her 3« years (symbolizing her time of ministry) in the wilderness. Her ministry there is to give birth to sons of God! These sons are birthed out of the church system, and are called the firstfruit. God will bring in the harvest later on.

"From the presence of the serpent." The Concordant Literal translation reads, "from the face of the serpent.' We identify people by their faces  not by other body parts. The imagery here reveals that the church is protected from any identification with the serpent. So-called churches that identify with the serpent's thinking have no part in God's kingdom. God's protection surrounds the church that does not want the serpent's thinking, and He protects her even though she has her problems and many wrong ideas!

We can identify with that in our own lives. We see how His protection surrounded us during our growing up years when we viewed His dealings with us from our own wrong perspective. So many corrections were necessary! But His grace and patience endured  and is still enduring!

"And the serpent poured water like a river out of his mouth after the woman, so that he might cause her to be swept away with the flood. But the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and drank up the river which the dragon poured out of his mouth." (vv.15-16)

"And the serpent poured water like a river out of his mouth." The source of our water is very important! If the source is unclean, the water will be unclean. Water is essential for the sustenance of life. God gives us the water of life  that is, He gives us life-giving words! The serpent does not have life, so he can only give us words that are in the death realm. His words are deadly poisonous and they contradict God's words. The serpent's words poured out like a rising river that overflows its banks! His objective is to do away with the church  to have her drown in his lifeless philosophies.

The serpent throws all kinds of accusations at those of us who comprise the church! He accuses us of doing too little to merit salvation, of not being perfect, of not being zealous enough, etc. He tries to get us to doubt God's promises, and tells us that a real tug-of-war is taking place between God and himself, and that he is sure to win. There is no end to his lies for they come from the bottomless pit!

This torrent of lifeless words is directed towards the natural mind. The earth (the natural mind) is open to receiving the devil's words. Those who are still living according to their natural thinking, accept them. We too were guilty of that when we first became Christians and viewed the spiritual from a natural perspective. In fact many Christians never grow beyond this stage. Natural understanding of spiritual realities gives the serpent a point of contact from which he can harass them. Believing his lies brings us under his control. Receiving the water of life frees us from all his lies.

"And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and went off to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus.' (v.17)

The dragon was enraged with the woman because he couldn't touch her, for she had God's divine protection! Have you ever found yourself in a helpless situation and you were thwarted in your desire? Do you remember the rage you felt and the strong desire for revenge? I mean, before you were a Christian, of course!

The dragon vowed to make war with the woman's offspring. You see, that is all he could do - make war. He would make it difficult for them. If he couldn't win the war, he could get them entangled in warfare with him, and that would keep their minds occupied with fighting instead of resting in the finished work of Christ.

The dragon majors in attacking our identity in Christ. Once we realize that in Christ we are spiritual beings, the dragon has lost his point off contact on that level. But that does not deter him from attacking us on the soul level. He does this from within and from without! He tells us that we may be forgiven, but we are still sinners, and then he proceeds to point out all our failures, shortcomings and sins. He tells us to be more zealous, to try harder, to do more good works, etc. He tries to plant doubt in our mind regarding our salvation and God's ability to keep His promises.

Jesus Christ's greatest attacks from the religious hierarchy came in regard to His identity. He was not crucified because of His good works, but because He said that God was His Father! If we have God as our Father, it naturally follows that we are His children! God is spirit, so we are spiritual beings! It's awesome to realize that we have been fathered by God! God wants us to know this, but the dragon wants us to be ignorant of this wonderful truth! So he sets up roadblocks (doubts) within us, and makes sure we will be rejected and persecuted for our beliefs from those who accept the flood of words from the dragon.

Those who hold to the testimony of Jesus cannot be touched. God keeps them! They can be martyred, but just as Jesus cried out, "Father forgive them, for they know not what they do," so they echo the same sentiment! Stephen's dying words were, "Lord do not hold this sin against them!" The undying love of those who are martyred proves that they truly are sons of God!

Previous: Chapter 11 | Revelation Index | Next: Chapter 13