The Foiling of the Dragon
The Book of Revelation is the word of God but also a literary masterpiece which continually weaves strands together, intricate and beautiful. Chapters 12-15 provide our “Third Interlude” and go into more detail concerning Christ’s Church and the demonic powers arrayed against her. Indeed, these chapters may be seen as supplying commentary to chapters 1-11 by going into depth about Satan, the Beast, the False Prophet, and the Great Prostitute which have been at war with God’s people from the beginning. So what we shall see is John recording visions, which take us back again to our Lord’s victory over sin and death, and the subsequent persecution of the Church due to Satan’s rage, and carried out by his minions over her history, which is represented by a brief period of time (1260 days).
A woman clothed with the sun with the moon under her feet and wearing a crown of twelve stars is giving birth before a dragon awaiting his meal. It is obvious that the baby to be born is Christ as he is the one to “rule all the nations with a rod of iron.” Though some say the woman is Mary, I agree with those who believe she is representative of Israel bringing forth the Messiah and the Church fleeing into the wilderness; that is, she is God’s people spread throughout both dispensations—Old and New. The dragon is, of course, Satan, and a third of the angels join him in his fall. The child is “caught up to God and to his throne” symbolizing Christ’s victory over the devil. The woman (now representing the Church) flees into the wilderness “where she has a place prepared by God, in which she is to be nourished 1260 days.” We recall that the children of Israel were protected by God from enemies (such as the Moabites) and fed by God with quail and manna throughout their forty year travail in the wilderness (cf. Deuteronomy 29:5-7). Elijah fled from Ahab into the wilderness and was fed by ravens. John the Baptist came out of the wilderness to preach repentance to the people. The wilderness was the place in which God would “speak tenderly” to Israel (Hosea 2:14). Thus, the wilderness, though dangerous, was viewed as a place of repentance and holiness by the Israelites, and is so presented here.
But having been defeated by Christ, the wrath of the dragon is great. We shall see him pursue the woman (the Church) and try to destroy her. God guarantees that he shall fail. But that does not mean that many won’t seal their testimony with their own blood; indeed, millions will. But their place in heaven is secure. The Church must own her exile on earth, for we are citizens of a greater Kingdom.