A mysterious woman, a child destined to be a king, and a hideous hydra-headed dragon. These are the principals in the mysterious book of Revelation, chapter 12. It reads like one of those fabulous mythological stories from antiquity. But it is not a myth. It is a true allegory of the past and the near future.
The apostle John, the author of Revelation, sees a beautiful woman in the heavens, clothed with the sun, wearing stars in her hair, and with the moon at her feet. She gives birth to a royal child as a dreadful fiery red dragon lies in wait to slay and devour. But before he can pounce, the child is whisked away into Heaven.
We are soon told that the dragon is Satan, the Devil, the notorious serpent from the Garden of Eden, and it becomes clear that the child who ascends into Heaven is Jesus. But who is the woman?
The first thing that comes to most people’s minds is that she is Mary, Jesus’ earthly mother, who gave birth to Him in a Bethlehem stable. Mary was, as said the angel who told her she had been chosen to bear God’s Son, “highly favored” and “blessed among women” (Luke 1:28). But as we read further, it becomes clear that Mary does not fit the description of this woman. This heavenly woman is someone else.
The dragon tried to kill the child at birth. The Gospel of Luke tells us that King Herod, no doubt inspired by this Devil dragon, tried to do just that. His assassination attempt was thwarted and he died a few years later, but not before he had shed the blood of many innocent children in his maniacal quest to kill the child who was foretold to become “King of the Jews” (Matthew 2:16–19). Jesus eventually did die so that we could all be saved, but He was resurrected three days later and spent another forty days on Earth being seen by hundreds of people before being “caught up into Heaven” (Acts 1:1–9; 1 Corinthians 15:4–7). He will return soon, after the few remaining Endtime prophecies are fulfilled, to rule the world.
As John continues to describe his vision, he tells us that he saw a war in the spirit world. The great archangel Michael, who the prophet Daniel said would stand up for God’s people in the last days (Daniel 12:1), led an army of angels in war with the Devil dragon. The dragon loses, and he and his army of fallen angels—the “third of the stars” that he had drawn out of the heavenly host—are cast down to the earth.
The Devil has always been the great accuser. He stands even today before God like a prosecutor before a judge and accuses humanity, especially those who have accepted Jesus’ atonement for their sins, of crimes against God. The Bible’s ancient book of Job confirms that he has been doing this since time immemorial.
“There was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them. And the Lord said to Satan, ‘From where do you come?’ So Satan answered the Lord and said, ‘From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking back and forth on it.’ Then the Lord said to Satan, ‘Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil?’ So Satan answered the Lord and said, ‘Does Job fear God for nothing? Have You not made a hedge around him, around his household, and around all that he has on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But now, stretch out Your hand and touch all that he has, and he will surely curse You to Your face!’”
The Devil was right in his assessment of the vast majority of humankind. When extreme hardship hits, many of us have been guilty of waving our fists in the air and blaming God for our troubles. We are all sinners, but the Great Judge has already forgiven our sins. Still, the Devil hasn’t given up trying to have us condemned. However, one day soon that will end.
After losing the cosmic battle to the forces of good, the Devil is cast down on the earth and can no longer accuse us to God. Heaven rejoices! But it is woe to the inhabitants of the earth because when the Devil is cast down he starts the 1260-day reign of terror that is called the Great Tribulation. The Devil can no longer tell God to condemn us, but he can do everything in his power to hurt us. He knows his time is short, so he does his damnedest. But he is damned, and just as he lost the fight in the heavenlies, he will also lose the war on Earth. Have no doubt about that! Good and God will prevail.
So who is the woman? The answer may surprise you!
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. She bore a male Child who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron. And her Child was caught up to God and His throne. Then the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, that they should feed her there one thousand two hundred and sixty days.
And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer. So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, “Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down.”