Rev 12:1,3                            Two Signs in Heaven                                1/8/2006         ßà   

  • The Origin of the Great Battle (Phil 2:13, Rev 12:1-6)

 

 

 

 

 

#1.    The Glorious Woman (Rev 12:1-2, 21:9, Gen 3:15, Eph 5:31-32, Mal 4:2, 1Cor 15:41, Rev 1:20)

 

 

 

 

 

  • The Ugly Red Dragon (Rev 12:3-4,9, 17:9,12, Isa 1:18, 2Tim 2:26)

 

 

 

 

 

#2.       The Good Works of the Woman (Rev 12:5, Psalm 2:7-9, Eph 1:20-22, Joh 18:37)

 

 

 

 

 

  • The Wicked Works of the Dragon (Rev 12:4, Isa 9:14-15, Mat 2:2,8, Mic 5:2)

 

 

 

 

 

#3.       War on This Earth (Rev 12:6, 11:3, John 20:21, Acts 1:8, Eph 4:11-12, Heb 10:24-25)

 

 

 

Please open your Bibles to the Revelation of Jesus Christ, Rev 12:1 (2X). As you know, the Bible in its original texts, the Hebrew of the OT and the Greek in the NT, there were no punctuation marks, no periods or commas, no distinction between capitals and lower case letters, no verse numbers and no chapter numbers. All these came into being in the 13th century. We admire the wisdom of the people of those days to arrange what we presently know as Rev 11, for in Rev 11 we have before us a general overview of the history of the church in the NT period of time. There in Rev 11 we see the church in battle against the forces of evil. But is it really the church that does the fighting against the forces of evil? No! It really is God who fights for us, but He does it in us and through us. Let me bring to your memory again the words of Phil 2:13, “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” When we now turn to Rev 12, even though the last trumpet has already blown at the end of Rev 11, God takes a step back in time and shows us:

  • The Origin of the Great Battle (Phil 2:13, Rev 12:1-6)

God’s will is that we must first understand the origin of this great battle between God and the Devil, and that we must first have an insight into the spiritual powers that are behind this bitter enmity against God. To begin with, God shows us here in Rev 12 two signs in heaven. Therefore I chose for the title of this sermon, Two Signs in Heaven (2X). The two signs are “the woman” and “the dragon”.

Re 12:1 ¶  And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars:

Re 12:2  And she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered.

Re 12:3  And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads.

Re 12:4-5  And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born. And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne.

Re 12:6  And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days.

When you see the word “wonder” in verses 1 and 3, this really is the word for “sign”. And the vantage point is again from this earth. John saw two signs in heaven. The first sign was:

#1.    The Glorious Woman (Rev 12:1-2, 21:9, Gen 3:15, Eph 5:31-32, Mal 4:2, 1Cor 15:41, Rev 1:20)

Re 12:1 ¶  And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars:

Re 12:2  And she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered.

What John saw was not a real woman, but he saw a great sign in heaven. By saying this God indicates that in the chapter before us we must not expect a literal description of something real, but a chapter filled with symbolism, and therefore this chapter must be explained in the symbolical sense of the word. A sign is not the real thing, but it is pointing to the real thing. A sign is something that has no reality in itself, but which has meaning only as it stands connected with the reality which it symbolizes. What is this sign pointing to? Put a sticker here in Rev 12 and please turn to Rev 21:9 (2X). This sign is pointing to the church, because that fits harmoniously to the context of Rev 11. This woman does not represent Mary, the mother of Jesus, since Rev 12:6 indicates that this woman is persecuted by Satan for the entire NT period of time, and Mary did not live that long. No! This woman represents the church, consisting of all the NT saints as well as all the OT saints, for we all together are called “the Bride of Christ”. She is the great and glorious woman who will be glorified by God through all time and eternity.

Re 21:9  And there came unto me one of the seven angels which had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues, and talked with me, saying, Come hither, I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb’s wife.

And then God proceeds to show us the Bride of Christ as a beautiful city, having the glory of God, the New Jerusalem. But God has already shown us this woman way back in Genesis. Please turn to the beginning of your Bibles, to Genesis, Gen 3:15 (2X). There in Gen 3 God shows us for the first time that He will send the Lord Jesus Christ to do battle for us against Satan. We are not able to fight Satan; God in Christ has to fight for us. There in Gen 3:15, which is called the Proto-evangel, or the first declaration of the Gospel, where God was speaking to Satan, there God gave us this rich verse,

Ge 3:15  And I will put enmity between thee (Satan) and the woman (the church), and between thy seed (the unsaved) and her Seed (Christ); He shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise His heel.

Here we can clearly see that the woman is not Eve, for Eve is not given her name until later, in Gen 3:20. Moreover, a physical woman does not have seed, and therefore God was speaking of the woman in a symbolic way. Moreover, the Hebrew tenses speak of continual enmity between Satan and the woman as a continual war, continuing to the end of time, and therefore neither Eve nor Mary can be in view in this verse, for they lived only a short span of time. The woman represents the body of believers, and Christ came out of the body of believers. He is the Seed of the woman. He bruised the head of Satan at the cross, and bruising the head of a serpent means death for that serpent. Moreover, the Scriptures are abundantly clear that the only woman who will be glorified and exalted by God is the Bride of Christ, the church, for she is the only one who will be married to Christ. We read in Eph 5:31,

Eph 5:31  For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.    This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.

How then can we explain that this woman was clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and a crown of twelve stars upon her head? Please turn in your Bibles to the last prophecy in the OT, the prophecy of Malachi, Mal 4:2 (2X). In general we may say that this woman is of so great value and great importance that even the heavenly bodies of light must serve to add to her glory. But there are other good reasons why God chose the sun and the moon and the stars. First of all God chose the

clothing of the sun to indicate that she is clothed with the righteousness of Christ. We read in Mal 4:2,

Mal 4:2  But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up (Lit. “frisk”, or “leap”) as calves of the stall.

The context speaks of Judgment Day. This Sun of righteousness is none other than the Lord Jesus Christ. Each one who belongs to the Bride of Christ, who fears God, shall receive a new and perfect body, for Christ shall arise with perfect healing in His wings. And why does this woman have the moon under her feet? What does the moon represent? Some people think that the moon represents Satan, or some other evil thing that has been subdued. But that is altogether out of context. Is the moon also glorious? Absolutely yes! God says in 1Co 15:41, “There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory.” The moon is a reflection of the sun. If in Rev 12:1 the Sun represents the Lord Jesus Christ, then the moon must represent the Bible, the Word of God, which reflects the splendor of Christ, to describe to us a portion of His glory. This woman has the Word of God under her feet, because this is her foundation. The Bible is the foundation on which the church stands, for it is only through the Bible that God communicates to us His will and His Gospel, the good news of our salvation, and it is only the Bible that the church believes to be the Divine revelation of God and of Christ. For in Rev 22:18-19 God indicates that anything more or less than the Bible is not worthy for us to put our trust in, for it is an abomination in the sight of God. And why does this woman have a crown of twelve stars upon her head? Some people think that these 12 stars represent the 12 tribes of Israel. But that is absolutely nonsense. There are not 12 tribes of Israel, but there are 13 tribes for Joseph received a double portion of his father’s inheritance, and thus Joseph is represented by the tribes Ephraim and Manasseh. Please turn again to the Revelation of Jesus Christ, Rev 1:20 (2X). Would it not be the simplest solution if we find the meaning of these stars within the prophecy of Revelation itself? The Lord Jesus already gave us the meaning of the stars in the 1st chapter of Revelation. He said in Rev 1:20,

Re 1:20  The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches.

And thus, the crown of twelve stars represent that the woman, the church, has been blessed by God with the gift of a full number of ministers, pastors and teachers, who watch over their flocks like faithful undershepherds under Christ as their chief Shepherd. The number 12 simply means “fullness”. It is a full and complete number of undershepherds. We may think that we are way short of faithful pastors and teachers in today’s church, but according to Christ it is a full and complete number that fits according to God’s plan. On the other hand, it must also be said that with all her glory this woman has not yet reached the purpose of her existence, and is not yet perfectly happy and blessed, for she is described as being pregnant, and in pain and travail of birth. And although this woman is highly exalted, she is also at the same time in distress and in helpless condition. She evidently is about to be delivered. And since we realize that the child she brings into the world is the Lord Jesus Christ, we see that this picture of the woman represents the church before the birth of Christ. And since that is the woman described here we learn from it that we, as members of the church, are like helpless individuals in the face of Satan the dragon. We cannot defend ourselves. Christ has to do it in our place.

  • The Ugly Red Dragon (Rev 12:3-4,9, 17:9,12, Isa 1:18, 2Tim 2:26)

Please turn again to Rev 12, Rev 12:3 (2X). The 2nd sign which is seen in heaven forms a terrible contrast with this glorious but helpless woman.

Re 12:3-4  And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads.                      And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born.

Here we see a gigantic monster, but it is a greatly deformed monster. God describes him as an ugly creature that can only be imagined. Its main feature is that of a serpent. If you drop down to verse 9 you can see whom God identifies this creature with.

Re 12:9  And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.

This gigantic dragon is the old serpent, the Devil, and Satan. He is pictured here as a red dragon, having 7 heads and 10 horns. This must be taken symbolically, for the Devil is a spirit, and spirits do not have heads and horns. What does this mean? In the first place, he is of red color, the color of blood and war and sin. Yes, red is the color of sin. We read in Isa 1:18, “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” And thus this red dragon is the personification of all that is evil, Satan himself. Secondly, God shows us that this red dragon is so gigantic to indicate that he is extremely powerful. When we read this we wonder why there are people who say that they will stand up on their own power against Satan. They believe that they are able to SAY NO to the temptations of the Devil. They believe they have a free will to resist the Devil. But God indicates here, and in other parts of the Bible, that Satan is way too powerful against us. For example God says in 2Tim 2:26, “That they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will”. Those last eight words, “who are taken captive by him at his will”, plainly indicate the predicament that mankind is in. This is the bad news part of the Gospel. The bad news is that all of mankind has been sold by Adam into the hands of Satan, the dragon, and NONE of mankind is able to wrestle himself out of the hands of Satan. Therefore all of mankind is on a slippery slide into Hell. But God, in His wisdom, chose certain individuals whom He wanted to rescue out of the hands of Satan, and on the cross the Lord Jesus Christ saved them. For those who have been chosen, the elect of God, that is good news; that is the Gospel. But all the non-elect are still in the hands of Satan, and loving it, for sin is delicious. But they do not know that they are in the pawns of Satan. And then we remember those last eight words, “who are taken captive by him at his will”. Satan can do this, for he has conquered the kingdom over this world and over mankind, since he was successful in making Adam and Eve to obey him. Thirdly, God shows that this dragon has 7 heads and 10 horns and he has 7 crowns upon his heads. Therefore he is a dragon with royal power and authority, but he is also bloodthirsty and destructive in nature. Why does God picture him as such an evil monster? Did God create such a monster? NO! God did not create this monster. God created the angel Lucifer, the bright shining one, but Lucifer was not satisfied with his position. Lucifer wanted to be worshipped like God, and thus Lucifer rebelled against God, and against the task that God assigned him to do. And in his rebellion God shows us the heart of this rebel angel in earthly terms, in this picture of the dragon, and God warns us through this picture to be aware of the great power of this fallen angel. This was a picture of Satan before the cross. But after the cross, when we read in Rev 12:9 (2X) that Satan was cast out of heaven into the earth, we see him emerge on the earth with 7 heads and 10 horns and 10 crowns upon his horns. In other words, even though he has been cast out of heaven, on this earth he has become more powerful than ever before. The Devil has not always been this powerful in the NT time, for initially after the cross he was bound with chains of stupidity. But it is within God’s plan that Satan must be released for a season near the end of time. And thus we can say that the picture with Satan having 10 crowns upon his horns is a picture of Satan during the FTP, when Satan will be at his greatest power. I believe that presently we are in the FTP. And so, if you believe that you can get away with this sin, or that sin, or just a little tax evasion here and there, beware that you do not die in that sin, for Christ is at the door. What is the meaning of the 7 heads and the 10 horns? Please drop down to Rev 17, Rev 17:9 (2X). Both the heads and the crowns have to do with the dominion of Satan. We read in Rev 17:9,

Re 17:9  And here is the mind which hath wisdom. The seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sitteth.

7 mountains have been carved out as the dominion of Satan. This is mainly a figure of speech to indicate that the whole earth will be the complete perfection of Satan’s kingdom on this earth. Except for a small remnant who remain in the Kingdom of God, Satan’s kingdom will be perfect. Please drop down to verse 12, Rev 17:12 (2X).

Re 17:12  And the ten horns which thou sawest are ten kings, which have received no kingdom as yet; but receive power as kings one hour with the beast.

Again the 10 horns are a figure of speech to indicate the completeness of Satan’s kingdom, and the one hour is a symbol for a short period of time, most likely not one hour, but the duration of the FTP. Let us now return to chapter 12, Rev 12:5 (2X). There we read about:

#2.       The Good Works of the Woman (Rev 12:5, Psalm 2:7-9, Eph 1:20-22, Joh 18:37)

Rev 12:5,  And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne.

The body of believers, the Bride of Christ, brought forth a man child. Who was this man child? This verse clearly indicates that this man child was the Lord Jesus Christ, for “He was to rule all nations with a rod of Iron”. Please turn in your Bibles to the Psalms, Psalm 2:7 (2X). Some people believe that one day, the Lord Jesus Christ shall rule for a period of 1000 years from His physical throne in Jerusalem. They believe that Christ will have such an iron-fisted rule over all the nations that sin will no longer be able to rear its ugly head on this earth. But the phrase “ruling with a rod of iron” does not mean that at all. In fact, the idea that Christ will rule for 1000 years from Jerusalem is not in the NT at all. Let us hear what God has to say about “ruling with a rod of iron.” Psalm 2 is a Messianic Psalm. We read in:

Ps 2:7-8  I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee.             Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.

Ps 2:9  Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.

What we read here is that Christ will use the rod of iron to break the heathen, or the nations, into pieces like a potter smashes his worthless vessels into pieces. It is a picture of Judgment Day. And therefore this is what the 1st half of Rev 12:5 teaches. Please turn in your Bibles to the Epistle to the Ephesians, Eph 1:20 (2X). Despite the dragon’s repeated attempts to devour Him, the Lord Jesus lived out His sinless life on earth, and then we read in Rev 12:5, “and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne”. It means that on Ascension Day in AD 33, 40 days after His resurrection from the grave, He was caught up unto God and unto His throne. You see, Christ has a throne, because He is a king. When the Lord Jesus stood before Pontius Pilate in John 18:37, “Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth.” Therefore after Christ was crucified and had endured the penalty for the sins of all those whom He came to save, the Lord Jesus was caught up to His throne at the right hand of God. Speaking of the greatness of His power we read:

Eph 1:20-22  Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places,      Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come:    And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church,

Therefore, Christ is not only a King, but He is presently reigning as King of kings. And God arranged it so that the work of the woman, the Bride of Christ, was instrumental in bringing this to pass. Please turn again to Rev 12:4 (2X), and let us see this time:

  • The Wicked Works of the Dragon (Rev 12:4, Isa 9:14-15, Mat 2:2,8, Mic 5:2)

Re 12:4    And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth: and the

dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born.

What was the Devil doing? “His tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven”. If this chapter must be understood in the symbolic sense, then what is the meaning of this? We have seen this before in Rev 9, where the locusts and the horses had tails which stung. We read in Isa 9:14-15,

Isa 9:14  Therefore the LORD will cut off from Israel head and tail, branch and rush, in one day.

Isa 9:15  The ancient and honourable, he is the head; and the prophet that teacheth lies, he is the tail.

The prophet that teacheth lies, he is the tail”. And thus the 1st wicked work of the Devil is that he teaches lies. We already knew that from his work in the Garden of Eden. But what stars of heaven are in view here? From the rest of the Bible we learn that the expression “stars of heaven” occurs 10 more times, and it always refers to the stars in the firmament, the visible stars in our Milky Way. It cannot be that these “stars of heaven” refer to believers who are already in heaven, for once we are in heaven there is no possibility that we can lose our salvation. And it cannot be that real stars would fall to earth, for the earth is much smaller than any one of those stars. And so, by a process of elimination, these stars whom Satan draws with him into the cursed condition he is in, must represent the angels who fell into sin with him. And he dragged the third part of the angels, which means a great many of them, but the majority of the angels remained faithful to God. This was the 2nd wicked work of the Devil we read here in Rev 12:4. And then we read in Rev 12:4, “and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born”. The Devil wanted to destroy Christ soon after He was born. Please turn to the Gospel according to Matthew, Mat 2:2 (2X). But the Devil is a spirit, and thus he needs to indwell a human body to accomplish his goals through this human body. The Devil chose to indwell Herod the Great, king of Judea and Samaria and other regions surrounding those areas. After Jesus was born, Magi from the East came to Jerusalem, saying in Mat 2:2, “Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.” Then Herod inquired from the priests and scribes where Messiah might have been born. They found an obscure passage in Micah 5:2, which reads, “But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting”, and from this they concluded that Bethlehem must be the place where Messiah shall be born. Is it not amazing that the scribes could distil correctly out of such an obscure passage where Christ had to be born, but about 30 years later they did not recognize that Jesus was indeed the Christ, the promised one from of old? Then Herod called the Magi privily, and inquired of them what time the star appeared. And we read in:

Mat 2:8  And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also.

But instead of worshipping the child Herod wanted to kill Him, for Satan who dwelt in him wanted to

kill the Lord Jesus. So, when the Magi did not return, he issued an order to kill all the male babies in Bethlehem from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently inquired of the Magi. But Joseph was warned by an angel of the Lord to flee into Egypt, and thus Satan failed to devour the Lord Jesus. What can we say about the woman, the Bride of Christ, after Christ went back to heaven? Please turn again to Rev 12, Rev 12:6 (2X). There we read about the:

#3.       War on This Earth (Rev 12:6, 11:3, John 20:21, Acts 1:8, Eph 4:11-12, Heb 10:24-25)

Re 12:6  And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days.

These are the same “thousand two hundred and threescore days” that we have determined to represent the entire NT time period from Rev 11:3, “And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth”. In other words the woman, after she gave birth to the Lord Jesus, represents the same as the two witnesses who represent the body of believers during the entire NT time period. “The woman fled into the wilderness”. This refers to the wilderness where the Israelites spent 40 years after they had been led out of Egypt. Only when they finally crossed the Jordan River into the land of Canaan was their deliverance completed. God arranged these events in this way to show us a perfect picture of our salvation out of Egypt, the house of bondage. Once we have been born again we still wander through the wilderness of this world where we are attacked by Satan, by evil men, and by our own sinful nature. This is a spiritual war-zone. We live as strangers and pilgrims on this earth, which is not our home. This world is a wilderness where we can be killed by Satan, or by evil men, or by our own stupidity. Only on the Last Day, when we finally receive our glorified bodies, will our salvation be completed. In the meanwhile, God has a place prepared for us in this wilderness. It means that God has a job for us to do here. What is that job? On various occasions the Lord Jesus instructed His Disciples to be witnesses of the Gospel. For example He said in John 20:21, “Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you.” And in Acts 1:8 the Lord Jesus said, “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” This is the place that has been prepared for every child of God, old or young, and we should feel honored that we can be instrumental in doing this work that is pleasing in the sight of God. Please turn in your Bibles to the Epistle to the Ephesians, Eph 4:11 (2X). In another sense, the place God has prepared on this earth for the saints is the congregation to which we belong. There in the church as a place can we find rest for our tired feet, and there can we be fed with new spiritual things so that we can go out again with renewed vigor and strength. There in our congregation does God provide undershepherds who will lead us. God, in His wisdom, has arranged for all these things. God says in Eph 4:11-12, 

Eph 4:11-12  And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;                  For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.

Therefore, since God sustains us in our spiritual warfare, and since God provides for our spiritual welfare, and since God provides for our physical well being, we should not neglect to thank God for all these things, and to meet with other saints, and exchange our experiences with them and encourage them, and to study the Word of God with them. That is why we read in Heb 10:

Heb 10:24  And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:

Heb 10:25  Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.

When we see the Day of the Lord approaching, let us meet together and talk about the things that are foremost in our minds, and let us ask God how we can rob the house of Satan of one more soul, which is worth more than all the wealth this earth can provide.

AMEN.

Let us turn to the Lord in prayer.