Revelation 12:1-17 Part 1

REVELATION 12:1-17 Part 1



1)    Then a great sign in the heaven was made visible: a woman sun-clothed, the moon underneath her feet, a crown of twelve stars on her head,

2)    having in her belly, crying out travailing and pained to bring forth.

3)    Then another sign in the heaven was made visible: and lo, a great fiery dragon having seven heads and ten horns and on its heads seven diadems,

4)    and its tail draws the third of the stars of the heaven and cast them into the earth.  And the dragon stands before the woman who is about to bring forth, that when she brings forth it might devour the child.

5)    And she did bring forth a son, a male who intends to rule all the nations by means of a rod of iron; and her child was hastened away to God and to His throne.

6)    But the woman did flee into the wilderness where she has a place having been prepared there of God, that there they may feed her a thousand two hundred and sixty days.

7)    And fighting was in the heaven, Michael with His messengers to fight the dragon; and the dragon (and its messengers) fought,

8)    but it did not prevail, a place no longer found for them in the heaven;

9)    and the great dragon, that old serpent (the whole world’s deceiver) called diabolos and ‘o Satanas, was cast into the earth and its messengers cast with it.

10) And I heard a great sound in the heaven declaring ‘now the salvation and the might and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ did come to be, for the accuser of our brothers that accuses them before our God day and night was cast;

11) for they did overcome him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their life even unto death.

12) Because of this rejoice, heavens and you who dwell in them; woe the land and the sea for the devil did go down to you having great wrath, knowing that it has little time.’

13) And when the dragon beheld that it had been cast into the earth it did pursue the woman whoso brought forth the male;

14) and the two wings of the great eagle were given to the woman so that she could fly into the wilderness into her place away from the presence of the serpent where she is fed there a time, times and a half time.

15) And the serpent did cast water from its mouth as flood after the woman that it might bring about her carrying away,

16) and the earth did run to the aid of the woman; and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed up the flood which the dragon cast from its mouth.

17) And the dragon was enraged regarding the woman and did go forth to make war with the rest of her seed, that is those keeping the commandments of God and holding the testimony of Jesus.


As you might anticipate, there are once again some observations that need to be made.  First, as always, is our perspective.  What is it that we strive for upon entering the text of Scripture?  And, of course, it is to hear it and see it and understand it as best we can from the standpoint of The One Who conceives it and perceives it and reveals it.

To the degree that we as creatures take upon ourselves the freedom to “interpret” from our own perspective what God has revealed, we diminish and even corrupt the spoken and inspired Word (which was made flesh and dwelt among us).  And therefore this is a very frightening enterprise.

Second, it has been correctly discerned that the entirety of Scripture is our God’s Revelation of Himself (Father Son Spirit) and His creation in terms of covenant continuity.  He covenanted from the beginning to create, sustain and save His creation; for He loves it; and, upon finishing it, He called it “very good”.

Therefore the entire Revelation is to be understood as one covenantal document; and, from beginning to end, it all agrees; and no book, passage, chapter or verse can be detached from the whole without abstracting it from its covenantal context.

Third, to translate a particular passage, chapter or verse into an English (or any other language) “dynamic equivalent” (in order to make it “more understandable”) is to strip the covenantal context from it, thereby making it less understandable, because the language of God is the same all through Scripture!  By inserting dynamic equivalents into the text, the words and phrases and events that God has spoken all through His Revelation are lost; and so the context is lost!

Fourth, since the Revelation of Jesus Christ is called the “capstone” of God’s revealed Word (and rightly so), it “fills up” that which has been revealed and prophesied!  It’s the “last stone”, the “top of the structure” of all that God has said and done; therefore the covenant is the same, the language is the same, and the perspective is the same as in all the rest of Scripture!  It is a complete structure with the “capstone” in place.

So we should expect – anticipate - (as we are to have the mind of Christ from His sanctuary) that chapter twelve (and the remaining ten chapters) will exhibit all the characteristics and the language as the rest of Scripture, for it all has come from Him.

Fifth, The Revelation is the final inspired Word from God; and it concerns the Word-Made-Flesh Who came in the fullness of the time to make atonement for the sin of the world, by Whose blood the world order is “overcome”, and by Whose authority the world is ruled!  The Revelation is no less the Gospel of Jesus Christ than are the four Gospel accounts: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

And, as a matter of fact, it is the “fullness” of all that was previously revealed; and it provides the hope (anticipation) of the ongoing, and soon completed, work of God the Son.  Nowhere else in all of inspired Scripture is the fullness of His work so clearly revealed!

And then sixth, with the seventh and final trumpet having sounded, and with the “mystery of God” (from Daniel’s prophecy) fully revealed, and the events of the last days shown to John, we still have eleven chapters to go!  And we now observe that the Revelation, beginning here at chapter twelve is “recast” with a revised emphasis.  In saying that, I do NOT mean that there is an “alteration” or “change” in God’s perspective; but what it does mean is that there must be a further Revelation of all that has been revealed (and a further Revelation of all that is to take place quickly).

At the halfway point here in John’s letter, all of that which is revealed to be in the “last days” is now to be recast with “other” significance of equal weight and value.

And though the same “last days” period is recounted, and though the events during that period (many of them) are the same events, and though the “cutting off” of the harlot (Israel) is the same, and though the mystery of God regarding the Gentile nations is the same, the emphasis in the last eleven chapters turns decidedly toward The Body of Christ – in the last days.  (And that’s why an understanding of Luke’s text concerning Pentecost is so important.)

Once again, our God’s perception (as John is caused to see and hear) (His perception) of the latter days is crystal clear (as prophesied by the prophets and by Jesus and His apostles).  That has not changed.  As these last days is “recast” in the following eleven chapters, there is an emphasis now to be placed on that which has further great significance and value: the Church, the Kingdom, the world – all of that for which our Lord shed His blood.

As you’ll hear, some of the terminology is a little different, and some of the events are recounted in different ways.  But the same “last days” is “near” (according to our Lord in chapter one). 

But the “weight” of the Revelation to John is now to be placed on the world which our Lord came to save.  This additional emphasis – a matter of great value - is what accounts for the recasting of the last days in the second half of The Revelation of Jesus Christ.

Once more… the first eleven chapters reveal an account of the “fullness of the time” with an emphasis on our Lord’s Person, His Royal High Priesthood and His Parousia.  The second half – the last eleven chapters – reveal the “fullness of the time” with an emphasis on all that our Lord came to save….an equally weighty and significant Revelation… all conceived and perceived from the sanctuary in the heaven.

You see, all of this is God’s sanctuary; it was all created by Him, and it all belongs to Him; and it is all to reflect His glory.  Cosmologically speaking, that’s what this creation is for (this that is called the “universe”).  For God SO loved this cosmos that He created for Himself….

From His perspective of the magnificent sanctuary that He has made for His glory, and by His great Providence (a terribly misunderstood word – providence), He, by the Word of His Power, spoke creatures in His Own image into being, having prepared a place for them (us) which is, as He perceives it, the very center of His glorious sanctuary!  He loves what He made; and, as mentioned earlier, when He completed it all He called it “very good”.

However, (in that same great Providence) there are many creatures (ten thousands times ten thousands) (creatures) of His that are not in His image (Father Son Spirit). They are angelic messengers.  They are not “man made in God’s image”; some of which followed a leader in rebellion, all of which were “cast” from the Presence of God in His glory cloud into the very place that God had pronounced “very good”, and upon which He had created man in His Own image.

In vindictive rebellion, and being aware of the covenantal providence of Almighty God, this “leader of the rebellion” deceived the creatures that God had made in His image; and God cursed the man and his wife and all their offspring and the creation itself that God had called “very good”.  And in the same “breath” of His Word, He revealed the One Coming Who would save the world, overcome the curse, rebirth the elect creatures made in His image, destroy the rebellious creatures and return God’s magnificent sanctuary/creation to its original purpose (which is to  glorify its Creator)!

But that rebellious creature (cast to the earth from its presence in the glory cloud), called by various names such as “Lucifer”, “o’ Satanas”, “diabolos”, “serpent”, “leviathon”, “dragon”, “beast” (among others), is unrelenting in its retaliative attempt to disinherit, or hinder, or even sever the One Who God sent to save the world and redeem mankind in His image.

That’s where we are in the text.  It’s God’s perception of what’s happening here in the last days, as our Lord reveals to John that which is to come “quickly”.  That’s why Jesus says what He does to John as He sends messages to the Churches:  “Don’t be confounded; don’t be fearful”; “be faithful – be obedient; Lo, I told you beforehand!  Anticipate what I said; hope in what I’m doing, “for the time is near”.

Now, as we further prepare ourselves for this chapter and beyond, as usual there are a number of Scripture portions that merit our attention.  (Not only that, but they are crucial.) And we will do our best to arm ourselves with God’s Word.  And I can think of no better place to begin that process than with our Lord’s encounter with the demon creatures on the other side of Gennasaret (the Sea of Galilee).  Here’s the text:


28) And when He had arrived at the other side in the country of the Gadarenes, there met Him two demoniacs coming forth out of the tombs, very fierce, so as to allow no one to pass along through that way.

29) And lo, they cried out saying, “What is there for us and for you, Son of God?  Did you come here ahead of time to torment us?”

30) Now there was far from them a herd of swine feeding,

31) and the demons were beseeching Him saying, “If you cast us out, send us into the herd of swine!”

32) And He said to them “Go!”  And coming out they went off into the swine.  And lo, all the herd rushed down from the cliff into the sea and died in the waters.

33) Now, those feeding them fled, and, having gone into the city, reported everything, especially about the demoniacs.

34) And lo, all the city came out to a meeting with Jesus, and having seen Him they requested that He go away from their locality.


And so (in our preparation for the second half of The Revelation) we come to this most remarkable event – the confrontation between Christ and the Gadarene demons (angel/messengers having been cast from the glory cloud).  This is obviously a historical occurrence which is figuratively and theologically complex; and there is so much more here than just the simple event itself.  So this isn’t an isolated story to be told in a vacuum.  And it is a perfect place to begin as we approach God’s perception of the last days in chapter twelve of Revelation of Jesus Christ.

The Lord Jesus had, only a short time before this event, told the scribe, the representative of Israel’s leadership, that the land (Israel) was infested with scavengers and vultures and wolves (beasts).  And that there was a demonic wilderness in all the surrounding nations.  So He had no Kingdom in which to lay His head!

Then He stepped out of the nation of Israel, turning His back to it and casting it off, setting sail for the wilderness of the Gentiles on the other side.  And while on board the boat (crossing over), He fell asleep; and while He was asleep a great shaking occurred.  A tumult in the sea.  A quaking tumult (not just a storm, but a shaking).

And, of course, what is being pre-figured here in this very real event was the death and burial of Christ, at Whose tomb was a great shaking before His resurrection!  The great shaking of the sea was the shaking of all that can be shaken, and the Presence of the Son of God/Son of Man as He goes forth to establish all that cannot be shaken, to redeem the world and bring it into submission!  All of it prophesied all through the older Scripture!

And the new disciples, who had no idea yet that the foundations of the New Heavens and the New Earth were being laid, were fearful of the formless turmoil of the shaking and the inundating waves.  And they awakened Jesus to arise and save.  And Matthew uses the exact word that he ought to have used in order to indicate the Lord Jesus Christ being “raised up.”  And immediately Jesus brings calm to the tumult.

And, again quite obviously, what is being figured here in this absolutely real and significant event, is the resurrection of the Son of God as the Savior of the nations – the world!  And not only did Jesus demonstrate His Creator/God control over every aspect of His Own creation, but He also demonstrated the electing love and mercy of The Father as the salvation of the nations is here so clearly figured.

The faithless fear of the disciples was the fear of “going under.”  But the “going down into the deep” was actually being figured for the old people of God who were being cut off and cast out.  Those old foundations were being shaken, and the structures were being destroyed – going down under a flood of wrath.  The disciples were actually witnessing the laying of the new foundations on the Rock which is Christ.  And if they had seen that (and understood it), they would have known that the shaking tumult around them was not, alone, the ominous, foreboding event which they imagined!

The point is that even though this must have been an awful, fear-producing occurrence in God’s creation, if the disciples had seen that it was a Kingdom-significant thing of such cosmic magnitude (all prophesied), they still, I don’t think, would have enjoyed the ride, but they would have been able to marvel at the working of the Son of Man as He worked His initial strokes of judgment and salvation.

Then for the first time Jesus sets foot on Gentile soil.  And the victory over sin and death and Satan which would take place soon on Calvary, and at Pentecost, and then at His Parousia, is about to be pre-figured again.  The Gentile nations, the wildernesses of demon-possessed humanity, were about to be the recipients of the promised salvation of God.  And to illustrate that, the first thing that meets Jesus on Gentile soil is the legions of satanic angel/messengers who have had free reign in the nations since the fall of Adam.

And, as the representative of all the fallen angels, this legion receives the fate which is to befall all of them in time – the “going under” into the abyss, which the disciples, you remember, feared so greatly during the shaking of the sea while they were crossing over.

We’ll get to the second thing that greeted Jesus on Gentile soil in a minute.  But we want to examine the demonic confrontation first – in some detail, for it bears great significance to our text here in Revelation twelve.

Apparently there were hillsides going up pretty close to the shore on the Syrian/Jordan side of the sea.  From the sound of the text, this is a fairly hilly countryside.  Gadara must have had hills all around it – three sides – and the common burial place for the dead were holes cut out of the sides of those hills.  And that’s where these fierce, howling, demon-possessed people were living – inside these holes where the dead bodies were!

And, from the text, they were so beastly and animalistic that no one could capture them, and no one could pass through that area to another!  The town was over to the side, with fishing boats and other activities – and down the shore and up on the hill there was a couple of people feeding a heard of swine.

And, as Jesus and His disciples step out of the boat – with all the others in the other boats, these animalistic people come rushing out of the tombs and down the hill – menacing, fierce, howling and growling.

And having seen Jesus the demons cried out directly to Him – probably in a great cacophony of noise – “What is there for us and for you, Son of God?  Did you come here ahead of time to torment us?”

Now, that first part is a Greek idiom.  Don’t forget that Syria had been thoroughly Romanized for a hundred years by this time, and Hellenized for three hundred before that.  And the Greek idiom coming out of the mouths of these people wasn’t unusual at all.  The literal translation – “What is there for us and for you…” simply means – What do we have to do with you?  What’s the reason for this – why are you here?  Have You come ahead of time to torment us?

Now, apparently these creatures knew, although by no means were they omniscient – and having no abilities to be in more than one place at a time, and being limited to time as all other creatures are – these angel/messengers that had been cast from the heaven knew that something terrible would one day happen to them! 

They knew God (for they had once been there – in the glory cloud).  And they knew His Son – as is demonstrated here.  And they knew that Jesus was second Person of Triune Godhead – God the Son.  And they knew what God had said and what was written.

And – something else!  “Have you come ahead of time” also indicates that they have knowledge of the covenant; they have knowledge of the last days; they have knowledge of the promise to save the world!  They have knowledge of the coming binding of their leader – Satanos.  It was prophesied!  Their question indicates that they knew about the coming inclusion of the Gentile nations in the Covenant – and the accompanying taming of the beasts and wildernesses of the Gentiles.

The writer Luke is much more specific than Matthew is.  He wrote, “Don’t command us into the deep!”  You see, these creatures knew that one day they would be sent “into the deep.”  Or “down under.”  And, as is the case so many times in Scripture, deep water is often used to signify inundation, flood, judgment, rejection and banishment into the “underworld” of woe – the “abyss”.

And, that’s exactly what happens here!  They see the Son of God coming and they immediately begin to cry and scream and pray and beg because they knew the dreaded “casting under” was coming!  And, since He was here now, they began to doubt their own eschatological understanding!  They began to doubt what they knew!  They asked Him if He was here ahead of time; was He going to send them under early!

So they begged Him instead to send them into the swine in order to keep from “going under.”  So Jesus did.  He did what they begged Him to do.  But He deceived them (as He has done from the beginning)!  The swine up on the top of the hill, having received the demons, rushed in panic down that cliff right into the water and were drowned!  And the demonic angels went under anyway!

And the significance of this great event in the grand and mighty plan of God for the Warrior-King to conquer the nations, is that no longer is the world hopelessly lost in the demonic depravity which was so characteristic of the Gentile nations!  Jesus, having been raised up, is Savior of the World.  He has cast off the old nation of God in a flood of wrath, and He has risen again from the dead with a great shaking, in order to establish a new Israel – a New Heavens and New Earth that cannot be shaken – a redeemed and peculiar people – holy unto Himself.  And that salvation also extends to all of creation, which groans for its redemption; for the atonement extends even to the elimination of sin and death from the world.  And it extends to the casting down into the abyss of the principalities and powers of the air, and all the demonic, rebellious angel/messengers, and, finally, sending them into the eternal lake of fire under the judgment seat.

Now, the second thing that meets Jesus on Gentile soil is the Greek Polis.  Polis being the Greek word for city.  And from which comes our English word “police.”

Matthew writes:  “Now, those feeding them (the swine) fled, and, having gone into the city, reported everything, especially about the demoniacs.  And, lo, all the city came out to a meeting with Jesus, and having seen Him they requested that He go away from their domain.”  (Their province.  Their locality.)

So the Gentile “city” – the Polis - comes out for a meeting with the Christ of God.  We don’t know what Jesus said to them – all we know is what they said to Him.  However we do know what He said in other similar situations, don’t we?  Just before He offered Himself up for sacrifice, He said:  “Now judgment is upon this world; now the ruler of this world shall be cast out.”  That’s the same word St. John uses in Revelation twelve for the “casting” of the dragon!  And Jesus Himself announced, a little later on in this Gospel:  “If I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, then the Kingdom of God has come upon you.”

The Cross, according to Jesus, was the mark of the judgment of the world (John chapter twelve, verse thirteen) – or, as John Calvin put it, the reformation and restoration of the world.  The illegitimate ruler of the Gentile world order was cast out into the abyss by the coming of Christ.  And, as He Himself said, “All authority (remember the word exousia – from the word “being”) (all authority) in heaven and on earth has been given to Me.”  And the Apostle John later adds the same thing:  The Kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come!

So the Greek polis – a city of the nations - comes out for its very first meeting ever with the Son of God.  And it doesn’t really matter to the significance of this event what they said.  The point is that the demonic infestation that terrorized this fishing village was the figure of the demon possession of the Gentile world.  And Christ sends them under.  Wherever He goes He sends them under and they no longer wreak havoc and demonic power over the populations.  Men and women and children then come under a Sovereign.  God’s anointed King.

Now, all of these events, in their context, are figures of the yet-to-come death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, His sending of Holy Spirit at Pentecost; and His later actual destruction of the Temple, the city and the nation of Israel at His Parousia (at which time the demons of the abyss were released for a time, times and a half); and then the preaching of the Gospel in the nations of the world.

And Jesus has also given us another figure here, hasn’t He?  The “polis” – the Gentile city – is no longer held captive to demons.  Our city is a Gentile city.  And without His sacrifice; without His resurrection; without Pentecost; without His Parousia; without His crossing over to take dominion of the nations; without the preaching of the Gospel, all Gentile cites would still be held captive to free-reigning demons.

The city told Jesus to “go away” from their locality.  And I don’t think it’s in the least coincidental that that’s what Jesus said He had to do.  Listen:  (John chapter thirteen, verse one) “Now before the feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that His hour was come that He should go away out of this world unto the Father….”  This is exactly the same word Matthew uses as he describes the city of Gadara asking Jesus to depart.  Go away.  He did; and the Spirit of Christ – God the Spirit poured out from the Head at Pentecost - now hovers over the new heavens and the new earth (as He did at creation).

And, at that last Passover, which is the context in John, Jesus instituted the Lord’s Table, which he instructed us to observe while He is “gone away” and until He returns.  That we will do next Lord’s Day, in remembrance of Him and what He promised.

From Gadara’s viewpoint it was helpless.  But the unholy angels knew Jesus, and they were done!  As you look at our increasingly unholy environment right now in our time, the tendency is to lose heart.  “O ye little faiths”, Jesus said to His disciples.  The Warrior-King has stepped out on your soil and taken control as your reigning Monarch!

He has now “gone away”, as He promised, in order that the Spirit of His glory might put all enemies under His feet.  What you “see” is not what you get!  Don’t let what you think you see deter you from what is real and actual!  Don’t be faint-hearted and weak-kneed!  Be faithful to the One who has already won the victory.  That’s what He called upon the Churches to do in the first three chapters of The Revelation, isn’t it?

The Lord Jesus had crossed over to the Gentile nations and had figuratively cast down the powers of the air and sent them into the deep.  In taking dominion of His promised Kingdom, He cast down the present rulers of this world order and pre-figured their ultimate binding and destruction.

He sent the fallen angels into the swine, and the entire herd panicked and drowned in the waters; and then the Greek city came out to meet its Lord for the first time, and they asked Him to go away.  And that’s exactly what Jesus had to do – go away in order that the Son of God with Power could actually overcome the nations by Holy Spirit and the Sword of His mouth.

Our preparation for all further preaching of the Revelation of Jesus Christ begins here.  There will be more.  And the hope of the world will shine forth from His written Word to the glory of God.