A great sign then appears in heaven and a woman with child cries “out in labor and in pain to give birth” (12:1-2). Without going into a ton of detail, this woman (not a literal woman) represents Israel who oftentimes in the Old Testament was pictured as being married to God (Isaiah 54:5-6). A second sign appears in heaven which is a “great, fiery red dragon” (12:3). John describes this dragon as “having seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems on his heads” (12:3). This dragon is Satan and John even records the fact that the dragon (Satan), with his tail, “drew a third of the stars [angels] 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 [the Messiah] as soon as it was born [Herod demanding the death of all male children]” (12:4). The picture is clear. God promised a deliverer from sin (Genesis 3:15) and Satan made it his priority to make sure that this deliverer would not survive. John continues to write that the woman (Israel) “bore a male Child who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron. And her child was caught up [Jesus' ascension] to God and His throne” (12:5). Jesus did survive Satan’s attacks and rose victoriously from the dead to sit at the right hand of God. Now John sees the woman (Israel) fleeing into the wilderness “where she has a place prepared by God, that they should feed her there one thousand two hundred and sixty days” (12:6). The time spoken of here is the last three and a half years of the great tribulation period when Satan will do his best to terrorize Israel; however, God promises to protect them. The prophet Daniel gives some insight on what will happen during this time. For the first three and a half years, the Antichrist will make a peace covenant with Israel, but at the midpoint of the seven year tribulation he will break that covenant, discontinue temple worship, and defile temple worship (Daniel 9:27). This is called the abomination of desolation and as a result of it, many Jews will flee (Matthew 24:15-22).
Mimicking the chaos which is happening on earth, war will break out in heaven when Michael and his angels fight Satan and his angels (12:7). Satan and his angels will lose this battle and be cast to earth for the last time where he will become very angry and take his wrath out on the inhabitants of the earth (12:12). He will first go after Israel, but they will be given God’s special protection (12:13-16). In frustration, Satan will then take out his wrath on anyone who names the name of Christ (12:17).
Although we read this and are saddened by the devastation which Satan will pour out in the last days, we must remember that he is already destroying the inhabitants of the earth. He seeks to destroy their lives through temptation, sin, and discouragement. Those who claim to be followers of Christ must offer hope through Jesus Christ so we can help win the battle for souls right now. We must not wait until these judgments come upon the earth.
Dear God, make me a person who spreads the message of hope to those on earth. Use me at my job, in my neighborhood, and in my dealings with people every day to offer salvation to those without Jesus Christ.