Revelation: Chapters 12-13 Symbolism

Last week I needed to take a little break from Revelation. There was a lot going on around me. But I am back to it this week. If you’ve had a hard time following along with all the symbolism, like me, chapters 12-13 are no different, but I powered through it, and so glad I did!

Let’s dig in and I will try my best to explain all the symbolism that appears in chapters 12-13.

Revelation 12-13

Scripture: Let’s not get caught up on all the symbolism and what it means for the end times. Instead, focus instead on color-coding and marking the number of symbols and names.

I am using the study guide “Revelation: A 12-week study” by Stephen Witmer as well as online sources to fully understand Revelation. Bible I use is The Jesus Bible and my Bible Study Journal. I encourage you to look up anything that you don’t understand, as I did. Research is the key to true understanding. I am not a Bible scholar, just a woman who wants to draw closer to God and understand the Word. Lord, forgive me if I misunderstand any of you word. Amen.

Rev. 12:1-6 Observation: The Woman, Red Dragon, and Male Child represent three major players. The Church (or Mary), Satan, and Jesus Christ. To understand Revelation is to understand the symbols, metaphors, and how it all relates back to the Old Testament.

The Woman. The woman is clothed in the sun with a crown on her head. The term “diadem” is a jeweled crown worn as a symbol of sovereignty. The 12 stars on the woman’s crown represent the 12 tribes of Israel, as this has been the symbol for the tribes throughout Revelation.

The woman giving birth symbolizes the Church, as she is the “mother of all…” (Read Galatians 4:26). “She gave birth to a male child, one who is to rule all the nations…” (Rev. 12:5)

The male child is, of course, Jesus Christ. He is the savior of all and the church. He is the reason we believe. The Child has been wept up to God’s throne away for the Dragon.

The Red Dragon. The Dragon is Satan. “…so when she bore her child he might devour it.” (Rev. 12:4) This is also a reference to Old Testament character King Herod when he commanded the killing of all newborn sons. Just a Herod was jealous and wanted to kill the savior, so too is the dragon. He wants to devour the newborn child. And just as Joseph was warned to flee to save baby Jesus, the mother is also sent away to the wilderness for safety. Note the Dragon has seven heads, seven diadems, and ten horns. All symbols of completeness…complete evil.

“His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven and cast them to earth.” (Rev. 12:4) Again, we see the symbolism for ‘stars of heaven’ as ‘angels’. Satan leads 1/3 of the angels in heaven to rebellion against God and swept them down to earth. (Rev. 1:20 shows the reference of angels as stars.)

The number of 1,260 days in Rev. 12:6 is a symbolic number throughout the Bible. 1,260 days is equal to 42 months or 3.5 years. (Old Testament reference: Ezekiel 4:6, Numbers 14:34) We read in Rev.11:2 the temple was trampled for 42 months, and again in Rev. 11:3 with the two witnesses prophesying for 1,260 days.

Read Ezekiel 28:12, 15. Satan rebels against God in the Old Testament. Satan becomes so enamored with himself that he thought he could be better than God. He let his vanity get the best of him and wanted the honor and glory given to God. Rev. 12:3-17 is the prophecy of Satan trying to defeat God, intimidating him, and deceiving the world. How does he do that? By using mankind and our own vanity to make us feel more righteous than we actually are. He gives us grand ideas that we don’t need God—we can do it on our own and we rely on our own knowledge instead of leaning on God and His knowledge. Satan also uses false prophets to help “support” our theory such as prosperity gospels. He also uses sin to trap us into addiction; keeping us apart from God.

I really like how Stephen Witmer describes the ways Satan tries to be like God:

“God exists as a Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; there is also the false satanic trinity comprised of the dragon, the beast from the sea, and the beast from the land. The Lamb was killed and then raised to life; in parallel, the beast from the sea recovers from a mortal wound. God seals his saints, his servants to receive a mark on their forehead (14-1); the beast from the land requires his servants to receive his mark on their right hand or forehead (13:16)…”
~”Revelation, A 12-week Study” by Stephen Witmer

 

The fact that Satan tries so hard to be like God it is no wonder good believers are fooled into following false prophets all the time. These chapters in Revelation is a warning that we MUST always be on the lookout for his deceiving ways.

Rev. 12:7-17 Satan is Thrown Down to Earth: It’s Michael and his swat team of angels vs. Satan and his rebellious, over-zealous angels. Spoiler alert, Michael wins. Satan and his deceivers are thrown down to earth. Amen.

Heaven rejoices (Rev. 12:10-12). But, don’t get too comfortable, Rev. 12:11 reminds us that we have conquered Satan “by the blood of the Lamb…” a.k.a. Jesus Christ. But, we have been warned, Satan is on earth and he has many tricks up his devilish sleeve to deceive us. He is not called the “deceiver of the whole world” for nothing! That is exactly what he is doing.

Rev. 12:13-17 Satan Chases the Woman (the Chruch): Satan chases the woman (who represents the Church and God’s people) into the wilderness where she fled in Rev. 12:6 but she is given wings to fly far away. Satan tries to catch her by pouring water from his mouth. The earth opens up to swallow the water to protect the woman. This is a cool reminder that God is always there in our time of trouble. He is with us.

So, Satan tries a different tactic and goes to “war with her offspring, and those who keep the commandments of God…” Satan has waged war against us, God’s believers! Every single day he is trying to break us. (Reference Genesis 3:15) He has tried since the beginning of time.

Thankfully, we have our Saviour Jesus Christ. Without whom to have paid the price for our sins, Satan would win.

Even before Satan was defeated by Michael and was thrown down to earth, he has had access to God’s people. He would accuse them (us) in God’s presence. This suggests that even though Satan was thrown out of Heaven, he still communicated with God. Remember the testings of Job? Read Job 1:6-7, 2:1-2. Satan was the rebel in heaven and he had his rebel cohorts, too. But Michael and his faithful angels prevailed and evicted him from Heaven.

Why Satan hates us. He hates us because we are all made in God’s image. Satan wages war against us every day, and because of Christ we will gain entrance into heaven—he will not. His vanity will cause him to lose. Relying on our own vanity is a losing proposition as well.

Read 1 Peter 5:8

“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”

The Two Beasts (Rev. 13). The first beast represents a group of people (leaders and nations) who will raise up against Jesus during the end times. Again, we see the numbers that represent evil, or not quite perfect. The leader of this group is called the antichrist, or the first beast. The group is like a leopard with feet of a bear and mouth like a lion. This represents different nations or leaders coming into power.

The beast has 10 horns and 7 heads indicating complete power over the earth and mankind. Their reign will be for 42 months (3.5 years, or 1,260 days, Rev.13:5).

The false prophet (“…one of its heads seemed to have a mortal wound…”, Rev. 13:3) will deceive people into believing he is the one true prophet, even performing miracles to trick us. He has a mortal wound on his head but survived in an attempt to deceive us into believing he is the true prophet. He will deceive many believers with this lie!

The Second Beast. This guy will rise up and force everyone to worship the first. He too performs miracles to deceive all on earth. The two beasts will take over the world and wage war against true Christian believers. They will force everyone to have a mark on their right hand or forehead. This is a direct copy of God—right hand to God, and the mark God gives to believers on the forehead for protection. The mark is not necessarily a literal mark either.

The mark of 666. The number seven is symbolic of completeness. The number 6 represents the mark of mankind. “When Jesus introduces the number 6 and never 7, it is always meant as the opposite of the divine plan of salvation.” (Christianity.com) 666 is the mark of man-centered, not God-centered. So, the mark may not be a literal mark, it can be the idea that we become a man-centered society vs. God-centered. There may be a time in our life that we must choose to bow to a man-centered world or God-centered grace. Which will you choose? (Read more about the meaning of 666 here.)

Application: The mark of 666 also represents weak, lukewarm Christians. They are easily seduced by power and hypocrisy. They value worldly comforts over Jesus’ comfort. This war is being fought every day of our life. It represents less than seven. Less than perfect, and apart from God.

The beast was up to no good back in John’s day too. There was corruption in the church then, as there is today. Governments were corrupt, and nothing has changed. Some value power and money over salvation. Still, nothing has changed. We must make the choice now, not wait for the end of our life. The “mark” can also be thought of as “never God”.

“You and I take the mark of the beast whenever we deny God and sell out our faith to follow a lesser being, replacing God and his gifts of eternal life through our Lord Jesus Christ with poor imitations that can never be equal to the divine gift of salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ our Lord. Better to choose
“always Christ, only Christ, forever Christ.”
~Dr. Michael A. Milton, Christianity.com

Revelation moves fast. There is a lot going on. There has always been a debate about the meaning of Revelation. Is it a spiritual matter with symbolism that leads us back to Christ, or is it a sign of things to come on earth? It can be both.

The great question is, what do we choose? Do we choose to follow the world or Christ? Following Christ is the true mark of a true believer.

Prayer: Dear Lord, help me follow you, not the world. Always Christ, only Christ, forever Christ. Give me discernment to see the false prophets and beasts in everyday life. Help me put on the armor of faith to battle Satan’s deceitful ways. In God’s name, I pray, amen.

I love that line from Christianity.com so much I made a Free Printable Bible Bookmark for you. Just click on the image below.

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