We had just looked at the six soundings of angelic ‘trumpets’ that revealed partial disasters that God will bring upon the earth, to attempt to motivate those stubborn non-believers to, in fact, believe in Him and then repent. The partiality of the destruction shows God’s restraint in this final act of love – it is a preview of the total disasters that will strike those who persist in rebellion. He is, in essence, pleading with them.
The sounding of the seventh trumpet signals that God’s clemency has expired. At this juncture, the apostle John’s vision shifts heavenward, and towards future events after the tribulation period:
Then the seventh angel sounded; and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever.” Rv. 11:15 NASB
Then the temple of God was opened in heaven, and the ark of His convent was seen in His temple. And there were thunderings, an earthquake, and great hail. Rv. 11:19 NKJV
Thus, the seventh trumpet heralds the victory of God and Christ over the forces of Satan.
Next, Jesus reveals the details of how this triumph will be accomplished. He is bringing the ‘big picture’ together; and to do this, He shifts John’s vision earthward in place and backwards in time:
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 seen 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 the nations with a rod of iron. And her Child was caught up to God and His throne. Rv. 12:1 – 5. NKJV
The Child is Jesus; and the dragon is Satan. The description of the woman who bore Jesus is drawn from the Old Testament’ – from Joseph’s vision that He received from God, which revealed that he would rule over his family. (Gn. 37:9, 10.) The twelve stars symbolize the twelve tribes of Israel.
Some Bible interpreters see the pregnant woman as symbolism for the remnant of Israel who ultimately come to Christ. The seven heads of the dragon have been said to represent vast intelligence, the horns: power and strength, the diadems: the princely status of the devil in the world, the third of the stars: demons / rebellious angels. (Rv. 12:7 – 9, below.)
Continuing with this vision, the devil did indeed try to kill the infant Christ through King Herod. (Mt. 2:12 – 23.) Next, we see that God gives His Son reign over the world, (when God brings an end to all of man’s governments), and Jesus will rule with a firm hand (‘rod of iron). But before that can happen, God must remove Christ from the earth, (Jesus’ ascension to His Father), away from the designs of the devil.
John’s vision stays earth-focused but shifts forward in time to the second half of the tribulations:
Then the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared for her by God, that they should feed her there one thousand two hundred and sixty days. Rv. 12:6 NKJV
Some interpret this to be symbolic of God’s provision for the remnant of Israel (‘the woman), who have accepted Christ as their Messiah, so that they are divinely hidden from the wrath of Satan at this time. Others believe the woman is the witnessing church of Christ.
The apostle’s vision now shifts heavenward, and, some believing to the time of Jesus’ ascension, others to the time of Adam and Eve, and still a third group to the beginning of the tribulations, basing their beliefs on scripture from the book of Daniel. (12:21):
Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels fought back, but he was defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world – he was thrown to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. Rv. 12;7 – 9. ESV
[I think we can eliminate the Adam and Eve time-frame consideration, because the book of Job tells us that Satan still had free reign to travel back and forth from heaven to earth with impunity 1:6, 7.)]
Then I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ has come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, he who accuses them before out ‘God day and night. And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death. For this reason, rejoice O heavens and you who dwell in them.
Woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, knowing that he only has a short time. Rv. 12:10 – 12. NASB
Michael was an archangel (an angel of high rank – also mentioned in Dan. 10:13, where he is specified as a warrior and advocate for Israel). The devil has been kicked out of the clouds and now has some major anger issues. The saints at this time, overcome the devil by their faith in the cleansing blood of Christ, and by their public testimony of the same – even in the face of death.
John’s vision moves forward in time to the middle of the tribulations:
Now when the dragon saw that he had been cast to the earth, he persecuted the woman who gave birth to the male child. But the woman was given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness to her place, where she is nourished for at time and times and a half of time, from the presence of the serpent. Rv. 12:13, 14. NKJV
For some, this again refers to the remnant of Israel that is divinely hidden from Satan during the last half (3 1/2 years) of the tribulations. Other believe it indicates the witnessing church.
So the serpent spewed water out of his mouth like a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away by the flood. But the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened its mouth to swallow up the flood which the dragon had spewed out of his mouth. And the dragon was enraged with the woman; and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ. And he stood on the sand and the sea. Rv. 12:15 – 17. NKJV
Some view the ‘flood’ to represent a mass of anti-Christian opposition from Satan’s followers; others see it as a symbol of all the lies and deceits the devil hurls against God’s children. The ‘swallowing earth is believed to symbolize God protecting Israel:
When the enemy comes in like a flood, the Spirit of the LORD will lift up a standard against him. Is. 59:19 NKJV
So, because the devil was unsuccessful at trying to kill Jesus, or the remnant of Israel, he now vigorously pursues the Gentiles who came to faith during the tribulations. In that pursuit, Satan employs the assistance of the ‘beast.’
Goodnight and God bless.