Bible Study on Revelation 12: The Final Conflict Between Dragon and the Woman
by Steve Sterling 12/06/2011 / Prophecy
The end-time battle between the dragon and the woman in Revelation 12 is the outworking of a wider controversy between Christ and Satan. This controversy actually started in heaven when Satan decided to rebel against the divine government. Due to disobedience and insubordination, Satan was cast out along with his angels who sympathized with him in rebellion. Thus the scene of the controversy was transferred from the heavenly court to the battle field of planet earth.
In your Bible study you will find that most of the story in Revelation 12 is confined to the great controversy as it transpired on earth from a particular point in time. After mention was made of the war in heaven between Michael and the dragon, the narrative transitioned to a conflict between the dragon and the woman. This is a perennial war that is to reach its climax in the last days.
At this point we need to be clear on the Bible's explanation of the symbols employed here. From the interpretations given, the dragon is a symbol of Satan, and the woman is a symbol of the church (Jer. 6:3). It was said that the woman was pregnant and in pain to deliver her child. According the story, she delivered a man child who is to rule all nation with a rod of iron. It is also stated that this man child was caught up to God and his throne.
From the scenario described here, this church of God (the woman) was to deliver a special child. This is clearly referring to none other than Jesus. Speaking of the church giving birth to this child, the prophet Isaiah made the following declaration:
"For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace." Isa. 9:6
Furthermore, it is said that she was in pain to deliver this child. The church was in pain indeed when Herod, in his attempt to kill baby Jesus, ordered all boy babies from 2 years old and under to be slaughtered. This incident had brought a lot of pain upon the church on account of the loss of their male children. In reference to this incidence, Matthew referred to a statement from the prophet Jeremiah saying,
"In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel, weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not." Matt. 2:18 (See also Jeremiah 31:15).
As it turned out, the Devil was not successful in his attempt to kill the man child, and so the child grew up and was able to accomplish the mission of bringing redemption to the fallen sons and daughters of Adam. It is to this achievement that the Lord was pointing when He made the following decree to the serpent in the book of Genesis:
"And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel." Gen. 3:15
Therefore, by His death on the cross, Christ has crushed the head of the serpent. It was to prevent this decisive blow to his kingdom that the serpent (Satan) made a desperate effort to get rid of the seed that was prophesied to hand him this defeat.
When the serpent saw that he has failed in his bid to prevent Jesus from accomplishing His mission, he directed his venom against the woman. With the man child now caught up to God onto His throne, the only bastion of opposition that remains is the woman. It was said that the dragon persecuted the woman for 1260 days. This is a prediction that the church will be persecuted for a protracted period.
While the church has always been facing enmity from society in general, there was a time when this enmity began to receive support from the state in the form of inquisitions and crusades against heretics. It was during the reign of the medieval papacy that hostilities against the people of God accelerated to fever pitch. Simply because of their disagreement with the imperial church, the true Christians were beheaded, tortured at the stake, thrown to lions, and thrust into dungeons and left their to die of starvation.
Many theologians believe this 1260 days to be symbolic of 1260 years based on the day-for-a-year principle established in Ezekiel 4:6 and Numbers 14:34. It is further held that this period began in 538AD and terminated in 1798AD. What was started against the church under the pagan Roman Empire had continued under pseudo-Christian Rome (the Papacy). Through the polished instrumentality of the church of Rome Satan found a most efficient agent to forward his campaign against the saints of God.
However, in spite of the level of enmity manifested toward the church the Devil did not succeed in his attempt to extinguish the light of the gospel message. It was said that the dragon cast out of his mouth water after the woman, but the earth helped the woman and swallowed up the flood. Satabn intends to use the flood to carry the woman away. Flood, as used in an allegorical sense in the scriptures, refers to mass attack (Isa. 59:19).
The church came under persecution from a multitude of adherents to the Church of Rome. They have their businesses boycotted and their properties proscribed; they were driven from their homes and were forced to retreat to the hills and the caves for refuge. It appears that divine intervention came into play to protect and preserve the church of God. The earth swallowing up the flood seems to be describing a scenario where the earth will actually open up and destroy the enemies of the church as in the case of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram (Num. 26:10; Deut. 11:6).
The Devil was wroth because he knows that the preservation of the church means that she will be producing more seeds like that of the original seed through the born again experience. Therefore, he had no choice but to abandon his pursuit of the woman and prepare for the final battle with the remnant of the seed of the woman. The preparation for the final conflict between the commandment-keeping church of God and the dragon is well in advance. This final showdown will get underway during the mark-of-the-beast crisis when the beast makes war with the saints.
In your study of Revelation 12 you will see that it is the beginning of a line of prophecy that continues into chapter 13. Thus, we can see a clear transition from a war in heaven to a war on earth; from a conflict between the dragon and the woman to an end-time warfare between the beast and the remnant saints who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus (Rev. 12:17).