Thank you for joining me today in what will be a multi-part deep dive study into Revelation 12. This chapter of the Book of Revelation has baffled many for centuries, and recently in 2017 a sign in our stars was thought to have happened as a sign of things to come (more on this astonishing feat later and what I think it means). Being a deep dive, this will require multiple parts of the chapter to be broken down into multiple articles.
Revelation 12 tells of a Woman, a Dragon, and a Child, with many cryptic events seemingly written in parables, and has baffled even the best of scholars still to this day. It explains events that have yet to come, and some that have, in an intertwined way that can be confusing to anyone. Thankfully, we have the full Word of God to reference, and by understanding common literature at the time of the original writing versus modern standards today, we can begin to understand it better.
For starters, a chiasmus writing style was used in Revelation 12. A chiasmus is a two-part sentence or phrase that makes the second part a mirror image of the first. This does not mean that the second part mirrors the same exact words that appear in the first part, but rather that concepts, ideas and parts of speech are mirrored. Chiasmus is a poetic and rhetorical device in many languages. Chiasmus, originally Greek for “X-shaped” (the Greek letter chi looked like an “X”) - “crosses” the structure of two phrases or sentences, using a distinctive structure in the first, and then reversing it in the second, creating the “mirror”.
A good example of a chiasmus is what Jesus said in Matthew 20:16 (KJV):
So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen.
See how these sentences cross and mirror each other, as if a reflection of ideas?
The first phrase crosses and mirrors it’s own idea:
So the last shall be first,
and the first last
The words even make the X cross when written in this fashion as it would have back then in older literature.
The same type of reflected idea is also in the second sentence, where it says many will be called but few chosen.
Another reason it can be hard to understand is because we are trying to compare it to modern literature today. Most modern literature that we see today, especially in the USA, is written in linear fashion. Revelation 12 was not; I’ll get into that more later, as we will see some of it is even a flashback.
Take heed, however, that even with this knowledge, it is still difficult to comprehend, and Revelation was a message that was not intended to be understood 100% accurately down to which literal people on earth will do what things, and Jesus told us to hear His message, have faith, and look for signs. This is partly why He said in Mathew 13:13 (ESV): This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.
Even my study here could be very wrong or off on many things we will talk about, but I did my best by using the Word of God and our history of literature. Understanding literature and common writing practices goes a long way to understanding how and why things were written in certain fashion in the Bible as well.
Always remember Jesus’ words, especially if you get frustrated trying to understand something like Revelation. He preached more about faith, prayer, and avoiding actions that can condemn you to Hell than anything else.
Matthew 21:21-22(ESV): And Jesus answered them, “Truly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ it will happen. 22 And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.”
Luke 16:19–31 (ESV) is also when Jesus tells the great parable of Lazarus getting to Heaven and avoiding Hell, using the poor man and the rich man as an example.
Now, let’s take a look at Revelation 12:
Revelation 12 (ESV):
The Woman and the Dragon
12 And a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. 2 She was pregnant and was crying out in birth pains and the agony of giving birth. 3 And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads seven diadems. 4 His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven and cast them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she bore her child he might devour it. 5 She gave birth to a male child, one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron, but her child was caught up to God and to his throne, 6 and the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, in which she is to be nourished for 1,260 days.
Satan Thrown Down to Earth
7 Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels fought back, 8 but he was defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. 9 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 down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. 10 And 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 have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. 11 And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death. 12 Therefore, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!”
13 And when the dragon saw that he had been thrown down to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child. 14 But the woman was given the two wings of the great eagle so that she might fly from the serpent into the wilderness, to the place where she is to be nourished for a time, and times, and half a time. 15 The serpent poured water like a river out of his mouth after the woman, to sweep her away with a flood. 16 But the earth came to the help of the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed the river that the dragon had poured from his mouth. 17 Then the dragon became furious with the woman and went off to make war on the rest of her offspring, on those who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus. And he stood on the sand of the sea.
Wow! Am I right? As we read through Revelation 12, we can definitely see a lot of parables and symbolic writings mixed together, and it can be difficult to fully comprehend and understand it’s meaning. Questions may arise in your mind such as will we see this happen? Will we physically see Satan being thrown down to earth? Or has it happened already, and we didn’t notice it? Is the woman Mother Mary and the child Jesus? What does it mean that she was clothed with the sun and had the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars? And why did she hide on earth after satan was thrown down? Let’s get into that!
Revelation 12 Deep Dive - Rev 12:1-2
Revelation 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:”
The word “wonder”, in this sentence, is a symbol pointing to something else. This is the first of 7 signs in the last half of the Great Revelation. For reference, see Revelation 3, Revelation 13:13-14, Revelation 15:1, Revelation 16:14, and Revelation 19:20.
The next figure, a “woman”, is not an actual woman as we may think, but rather a symbolic representation of Israel. This can be referenced in the Old Testament, as we see Israel as the wife of God mentioned here in Isaiah:
Isaiah 54:5-6 (KJV): For thy Maker is thine husband; the Lord of hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; The God of the whole earth shall he be called. For the Lord hath called thee as a woman forsaken and grieved in spirit, and a wife of youth, when thou wast refused, saith thy God.
The same reference is also made in Jeremiah 3:6-8 and 31:32, Ezekiel 16:32, and Hosea 2:16. It is clear that this “woman” is Israel - why would it suddenly change?
For reference, three other symbolic women also appear in the Book of Revelation:
1-Jezebel, who represents paganism (2:20)
2-The scarlet woman (17:3-6), symbolizing the apostate church
3-The wife of the Lamb (19:7), symbolizing the true church
So - now we know that the “woman” represents Israel, and her child is Jesus, the Messiah:
Revelation 12:5 (KJV): 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.
Micah 5:2 (KJV): 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.
Now, moving on through the first verse, we read the portion stating “clothed with the sun … moon under her feet … twelve stars”. For reference to the meaning of this, we must go back to the dreams and visions of Joseph in Genesis:
Genesis 37:9-11 (KJV): And he dreamed yet another dream, and told it his brethren, and said, Behold, I have dreamed a dream more; and, behold, the sun and the moon and the eleven stars made obeisance to me. And he told it to his father, and to his brethren: and his father rebuked him, and said unto him, What is this dream that thou hast dreamed? Shall I and thy mother and thy brethren indeed come to bow down ourselves to thee to the earth? And his brethren envied him; but his father observed the saying.
The sun is naturally bright and beautiful to behold. “Being clothed with the sun” is a sign of the glory and status of Israel. God promised they would be saved and given a kingdom. I think the “moon under her feet” describes God’s covenant with Israel. I noticed that “new” moons were associated with honor and praise and sacrifices to the Lord in other books of the Bible:
1 Chronicles 23:31 (KJV): And to offer all burnt sacrifices unto the Lord in the sabbaths, in the new moons, and on the set feasts, by number, according to the order commanded unto them, continually before the Lord:
Ezra 3:5 (KJV): And afterward offered the continual burnt offering, both of the new moons, and of all the set feasts of the Lord that were consecrated, and of every one that willingly offered a freewill offering unto the Lord.
For more references to the moon, check out 2 Chronicles 2:4 & 8:13, as well as Psalm 81:3.
The “crown of 12 stars” is a pretty easy one to me - it is the 12 tribes of Israel.
The idea put together is viewed as the sun showing Israel’s unique glory because of her status and depicts her as God’s chosen nation, while the moon under her feet signals God’s promise of power and dominion, and the 12 tribes of Israel at the head completes the picture.
Even though this scenario starts in Heaven, it will move to earth as we will see.