Revelation 12:1-6: The great battle.
A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head. 2 She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth. 3 Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on its heads. 4 Its tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth. The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that it might devour her child the moment he was born. 5 She gave birth to a son, a male child, who ‘will rule all the nations with an iron sceptre.’And her child was snatched up to God and to his throne. 6 The woman fled into the wilderness to a place prepared for her by God, where she might be taken care of for 1,260 days.” NIV
Tom Wright tells of being at the funeral of a well-known cricketer. He says that, as many of the great man’s former colleagues and opponents piled in to the church, he had the frustrating feeling that he should known who they were. But they had changed so much from how they looked as younger men. Quite a few others at the funeral agreed with his thought that it would have been good if they’d worn labels on their heads to identify themselves!
Wright says we often feel like this as we read ‘Revelation’. There are so many symbolic figures, and we can’t always tell who they are with any ease. But there can be no doubt as to who is the central figure in this passage (5). It is obviously Jesus (Psalm 2:6-9). Similarly, with the ‘’dragon’’; we know this is Satan (9). From the beginning, the devil wanted to destroy Christ (see, e.g. Matthew 2:13, 16), but he was unable to succeed. Even though Jesus died some years after the initial attempt on His life, He was raised from death to be enthroned at the right Hand of God (5). His death could not happen outside of the Father’s purpose and timing.
The woman probably represents Israel or the church – possibly both. The ‘’twelve stars’’ no doubt represent the twelve tribes or twelve apostles, or, again, maybe both. Once more, this book speaks of the protection of the church (6). God is in control although the battle rages, and it is fierce. This message comes repeatedly in the book of ‘Revelation’. We now know, however, that God’s protection does not mean that believers will never suffer. But it does mean, that like Jesus, they can never be destroyed.
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