The only thing that can silence the accusations of Satan is the death and resurrection of Messiah.
Chapter 12 begins to unpack allegorically what the synopsis of Chapter 11 explained literally. There are key differences between the two chapters that give us clues as to how we should interpret the respective texts. Chapter 11 begins with Yochanan receiving a measuring reed, which is an indication of physical interaction during a personal encounter with G-d or an envoy/messenger, and the subsequent direct relaying of information, whereas chapter 12 begins with, “A great sign appeared”. A sign by definition is a symbol or representation of something or someone else, this is a clear direction to the reader to consider this section of text to be an allegory/sign of something or someone else.
Scholars debate various passages of the book of Revelation, often based on either the literal or allegorical interpretation of the text, however, almost all agree that chapter 12 is to be interpreted allegorically. What remains is that we interpret the symbolism correctly. Yochanan the Jew is not using pagan myth as a foundation for what he’s seeing, to the contrary, his vision is well grounded in the Tanakh (OT) and he continues to allude to the Exodus, the theme which has been the sub plot of the entire book from the very beginning.
Yeshua often told mashlim (Parables) and then explained or unveiled them only to His talmidim (disciples).
His (Yeshua) talmidim (disciples) began questioning Him as to what this parable meant. 10 And He said, “To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of G-d, but to the rest it is in mashlim (parables), so that seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand. “Now the mashal (parable) means this:” –Luke 8:9-11
We know that the Revelation is the Unveiling of Yeshua to His faithful servants, recorded by the prophet Yochanan, Yeshua’s beloved talmid (disciple). Revelation 12 follows this same pattern of teaching, first giving the mashal (sign/parable) (verses 1-6) and then unveiling it to the Ecclesia—Community of believers (verses 7-15).
For example, in verse 6 the number 1260 days is used to describe the woman’s time in the wilderness. In the previous chapter this number was used in a literal sense referring to the allotted time of the prophesying of the two witnesses, this is qualified by the context of chapter 11; however in this chapter the same number is part of the sign/parable which is subsequently qualified in the unveiling of the sign/parable. Verse 14 explains that the number 1260 days is to be understood metaphorically as, “a time and times and half a time” according to the vision of the prophet Daniel (Daniel 7: 25).
For those who argue otherwise, it’s important to note that neither the 42 months nor the 1260 days of chapter 11 are metaphorical according to the p’shat (plain meaning) of the text, whereas the idiom, “a time and times and half a time” is in itself a metaphor/mystery that is only interpreted otherwise if the context denotes a remez (hint) at another meaning.
12:1 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; 2 and she was with child; and she cried out, being in labour and in torturous pain and about to give birth.
As previously stated, the sign indicates metaphor and allegory. The Hebrew recognizes the messianic prophecy of Isaiah in these first few verses:
“HaShem Himself will give you a sign: behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call
His name Immanuel (G-d with us). –Yishaiyahu/Isaiah 7:14
It is noteworthy that this is a, “great/mighty” sign. It is unmistakable, a sign that spans generations from ancient times past and into the future, it can’t be contained except in the pages of the heavens. This seemingly mysterious woman is no more mysterious to the Jew than Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Lea, the matriarchs of Israel. Her description is rich with Hebraisms and Tanakh references, so much so that to any believer of Yochanan’s time well versed in the Tanakh (The only Bible available to believers up until some 30 years prior to the writing of Revelation) could see plainly what outsiders could not. Thus, Yeshua’s Unveiling/Revelation is intended for the faithful, those who invested time in the teaching of the Apostles and the reading of the Torah, Ketuvim and Nevi’m (OT).
So, who is this woman? She’s a sign to the nations. She’s seen in the heavens because her destiny is secure in the arms of HaShem and His heavenly armies. She’s a light to the nations (Isaiah 49:6; 60:1-3), clothed in the sun. Her feet are secured upon the symbol of the Messiah, the moon. Upon her head is a crown of twelve stars, she wears the authority of a nation of twelve tribes. She is with child, a child who we soon learn, is the Messiah Himself. She’s known great suffering and trials, the Greek word translated, “pain” is used most often to describe torture and torment. Hence she screams not only due to the birthing process but also because of her great suffering.
A woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars;
This reference couldn’t be clearer. Israel’s greatest rabbis agree that the words of Solomon’s Song are an allegory for G-d’s love relationship with ethnic Israel.
“Who is this that arises like the dawn, as fair as the moon, as bright as the sun,
majestic as the stars in procession?” –Shir Ha-Shirim/Song of Songs 6:10
These words are attributed to the friends of the groom, and being friends of the groom they’re also friends of the bride. The Shulamite bride is Israel and the Groom is G-d Himself.
The symbolism of the sun, moon and stars is also a blatant allusion to Joseph’s dream:
“Then he had another dream, and he told it to his brothers. “Listen,” he said, “I had another dream, and this time the sun and moon and eleven stars (+1=12) were bowing down to me.” When he told his father as well as his brothers, his father rebuked him and said, “What is this dream you had? Will your mother and I and your brothers actually come and bow down to the ground before you?” –Genesis 37:9-10
The sun and the moon are Jacob (Israel) and Rachel, the Patriarch and Matriarch of ethnic Israel and the eleven stars are the tribes of Israel less one, Joseph, who makes twelve.
At Revelation 21:12-14 the number twelve refers to the twelve tribes of Israel and the twelve Apostles, all Jews. This is yet another affirmation of the number’s correct interpretation.
HaShem speaks of Israel as His bride/wife numerous times throughout the Tanakh. Unlike many earthly husbands, G-d is never unfaithful, even when His wife is faithless He remains faithful, for He cannot disown Himself (2 Timothy 2:13).
“For your Maker is your husband--
HaShem Shaddai (Almighty) is His name--
the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer;
he is called the G-d of all the earth.” –Yishaiyahu/Isaiah 54:5
“I will betroth you to me forever;
I will betroth you in righteousness and justice,
in love and compassion.
I will betroth you in faithfulness,
and you will acknowledge Hashem.” –Hosea 2:19-20
2 and she was with child; and she cried out, being in labour and in torturous pain and about to give birth.
This is the beginning of the antithesis to the great mourning of Israel’s failure to birth salvation, which is recorded in Isaiah 26:17-18:
“As a pregnant woman about to give birth
writhes and cries out in her pain,
so were we in your presence, HaShem.
18 We were with child, we writhed in labour,
but we gave birth to wind.
We have not brought salvation to the earth,
and the people of the world have not come to life.”
This failure is answered by G-d with the promise of a Son, the deliverance of the ethnic people of Israel and the return of her land.
“Before she goes into labour,
she gives birth;
before the pains come upon her,
she delivers a son.
8 Who has ever heard of such things?
Who has ever seen things like this?
Can a country be born in a day
or a nation be brought forth in a moment?
Yet no sooner is Zion in labour
than she gives birth to her children.
9 Do I bring to the moment of birth
and not give delivery?” says Hashem.
“Do I close up the womb
when I bring to delivery?” says your G-d.
10 “Rejoice with Jerusalem and be glad for her,
all you who love her;
rejoice greatly with her,
all you who mourn over her.
11 For you will nurse and be satisfied
at her comforting breasts;
you will drink deeply
and delight in her overflowing abundance.” –Yishaiyahu/Isaiah 66:7-11
“Writhe in agony, Daughter Zion,
like a woman in labor,
for now you must leave the city
to camp in the open field.
You will go to Babylon;
there you will be rescued.
There Hashem will redeem you
out of the hand of your enemies.” –Micah 4:10
Who is this woman? The answer is undeniably, “Ethnic Israel” the Jewish people. She is NOT the extended Israel of post replacement theology rhetoric (now known as Extentionism, Supersessionism and so on). She is NOT the Church as spiritual Israel. She is ethnic Israel. Anyone who says otherwise is perpetuating a satanic lie that has defiled the Church for far too long. They bring judgement on themselves.
It’s worth noting that up till this point The Woman (Ethnic Israel) hasn’t given birth. This means that she currently represents ethnic Israel prior to the birth of the Messiah.
3 Then another sign appeared in heaven: and behold, a great red dragon (Taniym/devourer, tormentor) having seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads were seven crowns.
The second sign, the Dragon is Satan (The Adversary). His appearance in the heavens (the second heaven, not the third heaven from which He was originally cast out), denotes his role as prince of the air (Ephesians 2:2).
The red colour of the dragon symbolizes torment and intent to destroy and torture. The whore and beast of Revelation 17: 3-4 are also red/scarlet for the same reason. The colour red is associated to the Hebrew name, “Edom” which literally means, “Red” and is born of the root Adamah (earth). Esau, who is called Edom because of his sin in despising his birth rite (Genesis 25:30), is known for his rebellion against G-d and his offspring become the objects of G-d’s judgement (Isaiah 34:5-6), thus the Dragon is seen as one who resists the purposes of G-d.
In keeping with the underlying Exodus narrative, Yochanan is also alluding to Pharaoh’s role in seeking to enslave and destroy Israel:
“Speak, and say, Thus says HaShem Elohim (G-d); Behold, I am against you, Pharaoh king of
Egypt, the great dragon (Taniym) that lies in the midst of his rivers, which has said, My river is mine
own, and I have made it for myself.” –Ezekiel 29:3 (See also 32:2)
There are also a number of other passages from the Tanakh that refer to the Dragon and associate him with other symbolically evil beings such as Leviathan and Rahav (Psalm 74:13-14; Job 26:12-13; Isaiah 27:1).
The seven heads and ten horns symbolize authority and established rule (temporary). This corresponds to the beast with ten horns in Daniel’s vision:
“After that, in my vision at night I looked, and there before me was a fourth beast—terrifying and frightening and very powerful. It had large iron teeth; it crushed and devoured its victims and trampled underfoot whatever was left. It was different from all the former beasts, and it had ten horns.” –Daniel 7:7
“He gave me this explanation: ‘The fourth beast is a fourth kingdom that will appear on earth. It will be different from all the other kingdoms and will devour the whole earth, trampling it down and crushing it. 24 The ten horns are ten kings who will come from this kingdom. After them another king will arise, different from the earlier ones; he will subdue three kings.” –Daniel 7:23-24
The dragon therefore will be the power behind a future (fourth) kingdom that will have ten kings/rulers representing a unified government and complete power of the kingdoms of the world (as opposed to the kingdom of G-d). The number of heads not only represents the completeness of the Dragon’s evil nature but also the fact that he is difficult to kill, each head defending the others.
4 And his tail sweeps away a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth.
The Greek is present tense, “sweeps”. This indicates what the dragon does rather than what he has done. Therefore this is not a reference to Satan’s original casting out of the third heaven (Ezekiel 28:12-19; Isaiah 14:11-15), but a reference to the battle in the heavens that will be further explained in verses 7-9. Daniel 8:10 attributes this action to the little horn of his vision.
The stars are the dragon’s messengers, who number a third of the messengers of the heavens (angels are likened to stars in a number of biblical passages including Isaiah 14:11-15). In metaphorical terms this shows how little power Satan has in relationship to the remaining angelic host, not to mention his miniscule position when standing before the G-d of creation.
His tail sweeps the stars away because it’s in the wake of his defeat that his messengers fall. Both Satan and his messengers have become the tail and not the head, what power was allowed him in the second heaven has now been taken from him. This is the last descent prior to his judgement, he is now bound on earth within its atmosphere (the outer limit of the first heaven).
And the Dragon (Taniym/devourer) stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she gave birth he might devour her child.
The woman, represented by Miriyam (of Judah), is about to birth the Messiah Yeshua. Like Pharaoh before him, Herod sought to devour Israel’s Messiah (Jeremiah 31:15; Matthew 2:13-18).
Satan has sought to devour ethnic Israel from her conception, he continues this act of rebellion by seeking to prevent her reconciliation through Messiah. He will be found wanting, unable to affect a victory.
5 And she gave birth to a son, a male child, who is to shepherd all the nations with a rod of iron; and her child was caught up to G-d and to His throne.
Yochanan leaves no room for confusion, the child is a, “son” and a, “male”. He is described using the Messianic title, “shepherd all the nations with a rod of iron” meaning that he has been given absolute authority of creation by G-d Himself, to be the Shepherd of all nations. This is of course a quote from the Tanakh:
“I will surely tell of the decree of HaShem:
He said to Me, ‘You are My Son,
Today I have begotten You.
8 ‘Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Your inheritance,
And the very ends of the earth as Your possession.
9 ‘You shall break them with a rod of iron,
You shall shatter them like earthenware.’” –Psalm 2:7-9
Unlike the tyrants of earth, Messiah will shepherd the nations with the iron rod of firm justice. The shepherd uses a rod to fight off the enemies of the sheep and bring them to submission. For the sheep on the other hand, He uses a staff (Crook) to guide them and in cases of danger, to hook them around the neck and pull them free.
There is no doubt that the child is the Messiah Yeshua. Yochanan sees no need to describe every detail of His life, after all he is relaying a sign/parable and not a detailed account of the life of Messiah. Thus Yochanan shows the earthly birth and ascension of the Messiah, summing up His earthly ministry from start to ascent. Of course Yeshua’s earthly ministry is not yet complete, He is coming to reign.
It is of note that the Son is caught up to the third heaven and the throne of HaShem, He plays no direct part in the events that follow, which occur in the second heaven. This is yet another affirmation of the Almighty G-d and His power, so far beyond that of the devil, that He need not exert Himself in defeating the evil one.
6 Then the woman fled into the wilderness where she had a place prepared by G-d, so that there they would nourish her for one thousand two hundred and sixty days (3 ½ years, 42 months).
This exodus of sorts mirrors the type set for it in the Exodus from Egypt, however it’s not the exodus from Egypt because the Messiah has been born. Therefore it first conveys the escape to Egypt of Miriyam, Joseph and Yeshua following Herod’s attempt to kill the baby Yeshua (Matthew 2:13-14), and secondly the dispersion of ethnic Israel into the nations following the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD.
Notice that the purpose of this wilderness experience is nourishment. The Greek text says, “they” would nourish her”. The “they” in this case is G-d the Father, Son and Ruach Ha-Kodesh. We know from the unveiling of this sign/parable in verse 14, that the 1260 days is a time, times and half a time, which is an undetermined metaphorical period that began at the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD and continues till this day.
7 And there was war in heaven, Michael and his angels waging war with the dragon (Taniym/tormentor).
Verse seven begins the unveiling or explanation of the sign/parable of verses 1-6. We are first shown the guardian warrior of Israel in the heavenly realms, Michael (Who is like G-d? 1 Thessalonians 4:16; Yehudah 9). He has a history of defending ethnic Israel and warring on her behalf in the name of HaShem; he continues this role here in the final conflict of the heavenly realms.
In Daniel 10:21 Gabriel (Mighty One of G-d) tells Daniel about, “Your prince”, Michael (Who is like G-d?). “Your” is plural referring to ethnic Israel. Michael is the guardian of Israel who fights alongside Gabriel for her good according to the will of HaShem, the G-d of Israel.
“Now at that time Michael, the great prince who stands guard over the children of your people (Ethnic Israel), will arise. And there will be a time of distress such as never occurred since there was a nation until that time; and at that time your people (Ethnic Israel), everyone who is found written in the book (Rev. 20:15; Matthew 24:21), will be delivered.” –Daniel (The L-rd is my Judge) 12:1
The Dragon (Taniym/devourer, tormentor) and his messengers waged war, 8 and they were not strong enough, and there was no longer a place found for them in heaven.
Satan had been cast out of the third heaven (Ezekiel 28:12-19; Isaiah 14:11-15) but had been allowed to come before G-d in the second heaven to accuse the sons and daughters of HaShem. Now, following the birth, death and resurrection of Messiah Yeshua, the Devil is about to be cast out of the second heaven as well. This means that Satan was cast from the second heaven following the ascension of Messiah over two thousand years ago and has since been seeking to destroy ethnic Israel and her offspring. However, as we will soon read, his time is short.
The Dragon is not even strong enough to defeat one third of G-d’s heavenly armies.
9 And the great Dragon (Taniym, tormentor) was thrown down, the serpent (Nachash/tempter, deceiver) of old (Genesis 3) who is called the Devil (Slanderer) and Satan (Accuser), who deceives (Tempter) the whole earth; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.
This verse describes the Dragon from beginning to end, the various names used convey aspects of the Devil’s character, and each attribute is reflected in the evil actions of the Adversary of G-d’s people.
a.) Dragon: The Tanakh conveys this title by comparing the evil one to animals that metaphorically represent the actions of the Dragon:
1.) Rahav: Isaiah 51:9; Psalm 39:10; Job 26:13
2.) Leviathan: Isaiah 27:1; Psalm 74:14; 104:26; Job 41:1-34
3.) Behemot: Job 40:15-24
4.) Tanym: Isaiah 51:9; Psalm 74:13; Job 7:12
b.) Serpent: Nachash, present in the Garden of Eden, a tempter and deceiver (Genesis 3)
c.) Devil: Greek, “Diabolos” means slanderer or accuser, which corresponds to the Hebrew Satan (Accuser) Job 1-2
d.) Satan: Adversary/Accuser
e.) Deceiver (of the world) Rev. 20:2-3
f.) The Accuser of our brothers: Satan continues to falsely accuse the Jewish people today and extends his accusations against the Messianic Jewish and Gentile believers
The Greek is correctly translated, “earth” here because the context denotes a counterpoint to the heavens.
Yeshua reflects on this event (and perhaps the original casting out of Satan) in Luke 10:18.
On earth Satan continues his temporary role as devourer, deceiver, accuser, tempter and adversary:
“Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” –1 Peter 5:8
10 Then I heard a loud throng (voices) in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our G-d and the authority of His Messiah have come, for the Accuser (Satan) of our brothers and sisters has been thrown down, he who accuses (satan) them before our G-d day and night.
The text uses the plural, “our” therefore the heavenly voice is in fact heavenly voices joined in unity. This unified throng are the messengers/angels of HaShem. We know this because the martyrs are not in heaven but beneath the altar in Avraham’s bosom. Some have said angels wouldn’t call believers their brothers and sisters, however Revelation 22:9 suggests that angels consider righteous human beings to be fellow servants of HaShem, which denotes a type of sibling connection in Messiah.
The only thing that can silence the accusations of Satan is the death and resurrection of Messiah. Those who have accepted this gift of salvation through the washing of Yeshua’s sacrificial and life giving blood can no longer be accused because the blood of Messiah has both covered and removed their sin, past, present and future.
“31 What then shall we say to these things? If G-d is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? 33 Who shall bring a charge against G-d’s elect? It is G-d who justifies. 34 Who is he who condemns? It is Messiah who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of G-d, who also makes intercession for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Messiah? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?” –Romans 8:31-36
11 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.
The brothers and sisters of faith who are being proclaimed by the throng are spoken of in the past tense as having overcome, not by their own strength but because of the sacrificial death and resurrection of Messiah Yeshua (The Male Son and Shepherd), and because they did not relent in bearing witness to His saving work. They were martyred “Al Kiddush Hashem”, to sanctify The Name of G-d.
Martyrdom, contrary to the modern Islamic lie, is not the act of intentionally killing yourself for a holy purpose, rather it is the act of holding to your commitment to Messiah in the face of death. The former is the sinful action of one who puts G-d to the test, the latter is the righteous action of one who values life but considers eternal life in Messiah to be of greater value. For an example of true martyrdom see Acts 7:59-60.
12 For this reason, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them.
That is the angelic host of HaShem.
Woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil (Slanderer) has come down to you, having great wrath, knowing that he has only a short time.”
Satan has always known he could not continue to resist G-d forever, however in this event he sees that his power has been diminished further and that the next step down for him will be into eternal punishment (20:10). Therefore he realizes that he has little time left and is utterly and helplessly angry, resulting in wrath toward all creation.
13 And when the Dragon (Taniym/tormentor, devourer) saw that he was thrown down to the earth, he persecuted the woman who gave birth to the male child. 14 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 face of the serpent (Nachash/tempter, deceiver).
Though Satan continues to persecute Ethnic Israel he is not allowed to destroy her completely. G-d Himself protects her and keeps her as a remnant for the sake of His Own Great Name. Ethnic Israel is lifted up on the wings of, “The” great eagle, representing G-d Himself.
“Like an eagle that stirs up her nest,
That hovers over her young,
He spread His wings and caught them,
He carried them on His pinions.
Hashem alone guided him (Ethnic Israel),
And there was no foreign god with him (Ethnic Israel).” –Deuteronomy 32:11-12
Notice that this act of protection, strength and deliverance is a feminine act of G-d, He is seen here as a mother protecting her young.
“You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings, and brought you to Myself.” –Exodus 19:4
“Yet those who wait for HaShem will renew their strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary.” –Yishaiyahu/Isaiah 40:31
Notice that she (Ethnic Israel) will experience a time of nourishment and protection away from the fierce anger of the Serpent. Some see a yet to be future physical protection of ethnic Israel.
15 And the Serpent (Nachash/tempter, deceiver) spewed water like a river out of his mouth after the woman, so that he might cause her to be swept away with the flood. 16And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and drank up the river which the dragon (Taniym/tormentor) spewed out of his mouth.
The spewing forth of water by the Serpent is an act of persecution toward Ethnic Israel and at the same time an act of obstinate rebellion against G-d. The name, “Serpent” is used to connect this act to the Serpent of Genesis who births rebellion on the earth. The Serpent sees the correlation to Israel’s deliverance from Egypt and attempts to counteract the miracle of the Red sea by drowning Israel as she escapes the bondage and threats of the enemy. However, the earth herself is employed by G-d to consume the waters, thus emulating the escape from Egypt and causing Israel to once again come to deliverance through a symbolic immersion like that of the Red sea. One might also see an attempt by the evil one to make a pretence of foiling G-d’s promise to never again destroy the land with a flood, regardless, his attempt is thwarted.
17 So the Dragon (Taniym/tormentor) was enraged with the woman, and went off to make war with the rest of her children, who keep the Instructions of G-d and hold to the evidence of Yeshua.
If the Greek, “entole” is to be understood as Torah, then the rest of the woman’s (Ethnic Israel’s) children are Messianic Jews. They, “keep the Torah (Instructions) of G-d and hold to the evidence of Yeshua”. However, in John 13:34 Yeshua uses the same term to describe His commandment to love and in Matthew 12:28-31 Yeshua uses entole to explain the two commandments that are the sum of the Torah and a guide for every believer, therefore it seems reasonable to interpret the present passage to refer to all followers of the Messiah Yeshua who have been spiritually born of Ethnic Israel through the Ethnic Jewish G-d Messiah Yeshua. This does not mean that the Church is Israel, to the contrary it shows a clear distinction between Ethnic Israel (The Woman) and those who are spiritually born. Israel continues to have a G-d given ethnic imperative to exist as a separate entity from the nations, this is essential to the outworking of G-d’s kingdom on earth. The alternative would make G-d a liar. Thank G-d, “Who cannot lie” (Titus 1:1-3) that ethnic Israel remains and will remain at His coming! Am Y’srael Chai! Baruch HaShem!
The dragon stood on the seashore.
In order to call forth the two beasts (13:1, 11).
© Alastair Brown 2015