Who are the woman and her child in Revelation 12?

I am busy rewriting this article.

Rather read Who are the woman and her child in Revelation 12?

Purpose

Why do Michael and his angels wage war in heaven against the Satan and his angels, and what weapons do they use? – A study of Revelation 12.

The Dragon

The dragon is identified as “the devil and Satan” (Rev 12:9):

It “stood before the woman … so that when she gave birth he might devour her child” (Rev 12:4). Ever since God told the serpent that the seed of the woman “shall bruise you on the head” (Gen 3:15), Satan stood ready to thwart Christ’s mission.

But Jesus was “caught up to God and to His throne” (Rev 12:5), meaning that Satan failed.

The dragon has seven heads and ten horns (Rev 12:3). These symbolize the kingdoms of the world (Rev 17:9-10, 12). The dragon, therefore, also represents the earthly kingdoms through which Satan persecutes God’s people.

There are three beasts in Revelation that have seven heads and ten horns each. For a more specific identification of the dragon, see – The seven-headed beasts of Revelation.

War in Heaven

The leader of God’s angels is the archangel Michael.

He and his angels are opposed by Satan and his angels, for Satan has deceived a large number of God’s beautiful angels to side with him against God.

Satan’s weapons are deception (Rev 12:9) and accusations (Rev 12:10). He deceives angels and people into sin and then accuses them before God.

This crisis in heaven, described as a “war in heaven” (Rev 12:7), is symbolized by Revelation 5 as “a book … sealed up with seven seals” which “no one in heaven … was able to open” (Rev 5:1, 3). In both chapters, the crisis is located in heaven but is solved by Christ’s death. For a further discussion, see – The seven seals verse of Revelation.

 

The Dragon

“Then another sign appeared in heaven:
and behold, a great red dragon
having seven heads and ten horns
His tail swept away a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth.
The dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth,
so that when she gave birth he might devour her child.”
(Rev 12:3-4)

The Dragon is Satan.

Great Red DragonRevelation 12:9 identifies the dragon as “the devil and Satan.” It “stood before the woman … so that when she gave birth he might devour her child” (Rev 12:4). Ever since God told the serpent that the seed of the woman “shall bruise you on the head” (Gen 3:15), Satan has been watching, expecting the Messiah, and standing ready to thwart His mission.

The Dragon has seven heads and ten horns

But the dragon has seven heads and ten horns, just like the beast from the sea (Rev 13:1) and the scarlet beast (Rev 17:3). “The seven heads are … seven kings” (Rev 17:9-10) and “the ten horns which you saw are ten kings” (Rev 17:12). The dragon, therefore, also represents the earthly kingdoms through which Satan persecutes God’s people. (For specific identification, see The Seven-Headed Beasts of Revelation.)

Jesus was caught up to God.

Satan stood ready to devour her child as soon as He was born (Rev 12:4), but Jesus was “caught up to God and to His throne” (Rev 12:5). In other words, Satan was defeated and Christ won the victory when He came to this earth.

War in Heaven

Rev 12:7 mentions the war in heaven briefly:

“And there was war in heaven,
Michael and his angels waging war with the dragon.
The dragon and his angels waged war.”

Michael; the archangel

It is a war between two groups of angels. The name of the leader of God’s angels is “Michael” (Rev 12:7). This name means “who is like God.”  He is mentioned four times in the Bible; mostly resisting evil angels, for example:

Michael is “the archangel” and he argued with the devil “about the body of Moses” (Jude 1:9).

When Daniel saw the angel whom God sent to him, he “retained no strength” (Dan 10:8). This, therefore, was a mighty angel, but this angel was delayed for three weeks by “these forces” (Dan 10:13). “These forces,” therefore, are powerful supernatural forces. The angel said that Michael is the only one “who stands firmly with me against these forces” (Dan 10:13; cf. 12:1).

Satan and his angels

Michael and his angels wage war against Satan and his angels (Rev 12:7). This means that Satan has deceived a large number of God’s beautiful angels to his side in rebellion against God.

Michael’s victory

While verse 7 mentions the war in heaven, verses 8 to 12 describe Michael’s victory.

Satans’ Weapons

With what weapons are the war in heaven waged? The dragon is identified as:

“the serpent of old
who is called the devil and Satan,
who deceives the whole world” (Rev 12:9)

“the accuser of our brethren …
he who accuses them before our God day and night” (Rev 12:10).

Serpent – “The serpent … said to the woman” (Gen 3:1). The “serpent,” therefore, refers to Satan’s deception of Eve.

Satan – The name Satan means adversary (opponent). He is God’s adversary, but also of all angels and people who side with God.

Deceives – He “deceives the whole world” (Rev 12:9). Deception is one of his key strategies. In other words, to achieve his purposes, he tells lies. Jesus said of him, “Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44).

AccuserHe is “the accuser of our brethren:” He “accuses them before our God day and night.” Zechariah 3 shows Satan accusing Joshua the high priest of iniquity. Another example is when Satan said that Job fears God only because God protects him (Job) on all sides, but if all of Job’s possessions are taken away, then Job would curse God (Job 1:10-11).

Devil – His role as the accuser is also reflected in the name “devil” (diabolos). This Greek word means “slanderer; false accuser; unjustly criticizing to hurt (malign) and condemn.” The NASB, in a few places, also translates this word as “malicious gossips.”

Satan’s weapons, therefore, are not physical. He deceives and he accuses. See The seven seals verse of Revelation for a further discussion.

Disarmed the Rulers and Authorities.

Abstract: Rulers and authorities—the supernatural beings condemned by God—use the sins of humans to accuse God of unfair judgment, but Jesus disarmed the rulers and authorities.

Purpose

The reader should read the article Christ’s death reconciled us to God before reading this article. That article defines the problem that was solved by the Cross. The current article explains how the Cross solved that problem.

The explanation which the reader will find in these two articles is very different from the standard explanations one finds in churches today.  Paul emphasized and today all agree that the Cross solved the problem, but the Bible does not explain explicitly what the problem was or how it was solved. The Bible is mostly a description of events on earth. Very little is said of the events in the background in heaven. For that reason, different people understand the problem differently:

Some believe that God was angry and had to be pacified, but since the Bible clearly teaches that God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son (John 3:16), many others believe something like that God’s justice demands that somebody must suffer and that the innocent Son of God suffered in our place.  

In contrast to that view, this article argues that the Cross disarmed the rulers and authorities. 

These ideas are critical to one’s Christian experience because ideas have consequences. We are saved through faith by grace, but some ideas, such as that God is angry with sinners, destroy faith and trust in God. We must make sure that our understanding of the problem, and of the solution provided by the Cross, is Biblical.

Summary

In Colossians 2:13-15, we read about three events:

    1. We have been made alive when our transgressions have been forgiven.
    2. The certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us has been canceled by being nailed to the cross.
    3. God disarmed the rulers and authorities through Christ.

As discussed in another article, the “Certificate of debt consisting of decrees” is the penalty for our sins. The second event, therefore, is the same as the first.

As also discussed on a separate page, the Rulers and Authorities are supernatural beings—different ranks of angelic beings (Rom 8:38, Eph 1:21, 3:10, and 6:12). Since God had to triumph over them, we understand that they oppose God; they are His enemies, under Satan’s leadership. The purpose of the current post is to explain how the Cross disarmed them.

It is concluded below that the “rulers and authorities” used our sins as weapons against God, who “passed over the sins previously committed” by the believers (Rom 3:25). In other words, Satan refused to accept God’s judgments and continued to accuse God of unfair judgment, pointing to the sins of the believers.

Through the Cross, God “disarmed” the “rulers and authorities.” The Cross demonstrated God as faithful to the principle of love but revealed Satan and his “rulers and authorities” as evil murderers. In this way, the Cross confirmed the justice and fairness of God’s judgment; showing that God acted fairly in forgiving the sins of the believers. Thus Satan was disarmed. He is no longer able to accuse the believers and he is no longer able to accuse God of unfair judgment.

Discussion

In Colossians 2:13-15 we read of three things which God (v12) did through Christ:

“having forgiven us all our transgressions,

14 having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.

15 When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him.”

God “disarmed” them (Col 2:15), which means that God took their weapons away. The purpose of this page is to identify the weapons of the “rulers and authorities” and to explain how they were “disarmed”.

Our Sins are Their Weapons.

Revelation 12

Revelation 12:7 describes this heavenly conflict as war:

“there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels” (Rev 12:7)

The “dragon” is “the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan” (Rev 12:9). He is also “the accuser of our brethren” (Rev 12:10) because he accused the believers “before our God day and night” (Rev 12:10). The “war in heaven,” therefore, was a war of words and Satan’s weapons were the sins of the believers. Satan accused “our brethren”, but because God forgave them of their sins, he effectively accused God of injustice; and of unfair judgment for forgiving (justifying) the believers.

Romans 3

We see this same principle in Romans 3:25-26, which states that:

The cross demonstrated God’s righteousness, and

It was necessary to demonstrate God’s righteousness because “in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed” (Rom 3:25).

In other words, Satan attacked God’s “righteousness” for passing over “the sins previously committed.” He used the sins of God’s people to accuse God of unfair judgment.

This is also the implication of Colossians 2:15, where disarming the “rulers and authorities” is mentioned in the context of forgiveness (Col 2:13) and canceling the penalty for sins (Col 2:14).

Satan was Disarmed by the Cross.

God “triumphed over them through Him (Christ)” (Col 2:15). This means that God disarmed Satan through the cross.

Colossians 2:14-15 also says that God “disarmed the rulers and authorities” WHEN He “canceled out the certificate of debt … having nailed it to the cross.”  In other words, the rulers and authorities were disarmed by canceling the certificate of debt, which was done through the Cross.

We see this also in Revelation 12, where Michael’s victory over the dragon and his angels is described as the throwing down of the dragon and his angels (Rev 12:9) from heaven (Rev 12:8) to earth (Rev 12:12). As shown in the discussion of Revelation 12, this happened immediately after the Cross.

Further support for this is the statement in Revelation 12:11 that Satan was overcome by the blood of the Lamb. The conclusion is, therefore, again that Satan was disarmed through the Cross.

Disarmed Rulers and AuthoritiesTo conclude, Satan’s weapons were the sins of the believers, which Paul refers to as the Certificate of debt consisting of decrees. By nailing it to the Cross, God canceled it and “has taken it out of the way” (Col 2:14), thus disarming Satan’s rulers and authorities.

Through Demonstration

The Cross canceled out the “Certificate of Debt” through demonstration.

According to Romans 3:25, Christ Jesus was “displayed publicly … to demonstrate His (the Father’s) righteousness … so that He (the Father) would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus”.  In other words, the Cross demonstrated that it is just for God to forgive (justify) the guilty “who has faith in Jesus”.

Also in Colossians 2:15, Paul used the words “public display,” but here it says that the cross “made a public display of” the “rulers and authorities”.

The words “demonstration” and “public display” means that the Cross demonstrated or showed something and that this revelation canceled the penalty due for our sins, with the consequence that Satan and his followers are no longer able to accuse “our brethren” or to use those sins to accuse God of unfair judgment. The public demonstration through the Cross verified the justice and fairness of God’s judgment and disarmed Satan by proving his arguments as false.

In Revelation 12, where Satan is described as accusing “our brethren … before our God day and night” (Rev 12:10), Satan is “thrown down” (Rev 12:9) from heaven (Rev 12:8). This is interpreted as that the Cross of Christ convinced the heavenly beings that God is right and Satan is wrong, destroying any credibility which Satan still had with the heavenly beings that still were loyal to God.

To summarize, the Cross did not change God, as many seem to think; it changed the heavenly beings. The Cross gave them conclusive evidence. As discussed in the article Christ’s death reconciled us to God, Satan accused God of unfair judgment, pointing to the sins of God’s people and the angels were not able to determine conclusively who is telling the truth; God or Satan. But the Cross gave them the evidence they needed.

We see this symbolized in Revelation 5, where there is a sealed book (Rev 5:1), and nobody is able to open it (Rev 5:3), but then the Lamb overcomes (Rev 5:5) and is found worthy to open the book because He was slain (Rev 5:9).

The Cross did not put an end to human sin, and our sins remain clearly visible to the heavenly beings, but God took away Satan’s ability to use those sins to accuse God of poor judgment.

Colossians 2:13-15, therefore, all deal with the same subject; the sins of the believers:

      1. These sins have been forgiven (Verse 13).
      2. The penalty for those sins has been canceled (Verse 14).
      3. The rulers and authorities are no longer able to use those sins to accuse the believers (Verse 15).

Revealed Character

Christ’s death did not publicly display anything to human eyes, for human eyes see in the Cross only defeat and weakness. The Cross was a “public display” essentially to heavenly eyes only.

Revealed God

The Cross revealed God’s character (Rom 3:25). The Cross shows that Christ “humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death” (Phil 2:8). The Father “triumphed over them through” Christ (Col 2:15), not by the mere fact that Christ died on the Cross, but by Christ remaining faithful to God’s principles of service to others while suffering to death through the most intense form of physical and mental torture. On the cross, He could not see the future and He lost His continual contact with the Father, for He cried out: “My God, My God, Why have You forsaken me?” (Matt 27:46; Mark 15:34)  But still He did not use supernatural power to relieve His pain:

“Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God …
emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant …
Being found in appearance as a man,
He humbled Himself by becoming obedient
to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Phil 2:5-8).

Jesus once said, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father” (John 14:9). Christ’s behavior, therefore, revealed God’s character to the universe as contrary to the way in which Satan depicted God.

Revealed Satan

The Cross also revealed Satan’s character and that of his “rulers and authorities” as evil murderers of their Innocent Creator, for it was the madness of the evil angels that encouraged the Jews to kill Him.

The cross, therefore, demonstrated both sides of the war in heaven for what they really are. For that reason, Satan and his angels were thrown out of heaven (Rev 12:9); they lost all credibility that they previously might have had with the heavenly beings.

To bring an end to the war God provided evidence through Christ’s death. The Cross was a decisive battle in the ongoing war in heaven.  The war in heaven was concluded on earth. The Cross was not for human beings specifically; it was for the entire universe. The Cross has all-important consequences for us as humans; but because it made an end to the war in heaven, it was equally important for all beings in God’s universe.

Rome was the greatest military power on earth at that time. Judaism (church) conspired with Rome (State) to kill the Son of God. Angry at His challenge to their sovereignty, they stripped him naked, held him up to public contempt, and before human eyes, triumphed over Him. But the paradox of the cross is that Jesus, in reality, took the spiritual powers animating these earthly powers and stripped them, held them up to contempt, and publicly triumphed over them.

War continued on Earth.

The Cross made an end to the war of words in heaven, but as Revelation 12 indicates, Satan continues the war on earth:

“… 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 has only a short time” (Rev 12:12 ).

The battleground has changed. The war has shifted from heaven to earth. Why does the war continue after the Cross? Why is God still tolerating sin?  See The Seven Seals of Revelation for a discussion of God’s glorious purpose.

Other Articles

Why does evil exist?

Why does evil exist and why does God not make an end to all evil?

Other Topics

    • All articles on this site
    • DANIEL
        • The Antichrist in Daniel 4The Antichrist in Daniel, which is the same as the beast in Revelation, arises out of the Roman Empire; it is not Antiochus Epiphanes.
        • The 490 years of Daniel 9 5Liberal scholars claim that this prophecy describes the Greek king Antiochus IV, two centuries before Christ. In Dispensationalism, the prophecy culminates in an end-time Antichrist. In the traditional interpretation, which dominated before liberalism and Dispensationalism, the prophecy focuses on Jesus Christ.
        • Is Daniel a fraud? 6Critical scholars teach that Daniel was written after the events it claims to predict.
    • REVELATION 7The ultimate purpose of this website is to explain these prophecies and, finally, the mark of the beast.
        • General Topics 8Does Revelation describe events chronologically? Must it be interpreted literally? The temple in heaven, Christ’s Return, Hear/See Combinations, and the Numbers in Revelation
        • The Seven Seals (Rev 4-7) 9There was a book in heaven that not even Christ was able to read because it was sealed up with seven seals. But, by overcoming, He became worthy to break the seven seals and open the book. Why was Jesus not “worthy” to open the book before He “overcame?” And how did His death make Him “worthy” to open the book?
        • The Seven Wars (Rev 12-14) 10This is the apex of Revelation. Revelation 12 provides an overview of history from before Christ until the end-time, Revelation 13 culminates in the end-time persecution, and Revelation 14 describes God’s response.
        • The Seven Last Plagues (Rev 15-16) 11The seven last plagues will be preceded by the end-time Christian-on-Christian persecution and followed by Christ’s return. Is the purpose simply punishment or do the plagues have a higher goal?
        • Revelation’s Beasts 12Revelation has three beasts with seven heads and ten horns each; a great red dragon (Rev 12:3), the beast from the sea (Rev 13:1), and a scarlet beast, full of blasphemous names (Rev 17:3).
        • Babylon – Mother of Harlots (Rev 17-18) 13Babylon is mentioned only once in the first 15 chapters (Rev 14:8) but the seventh and final plague targets her specifically (Rev 16:19). Then Revelation 17 and 18 are dedicated to explaining who and what she is.
        • Revelation 17 verse-by-verse
    • TRINITY
    • SALVATION
    • THE LAW
    • DEATH
    • OTHER
        • Why does evil exist? 23And why does God not make an end to all evil?
        • The church began as a Jewish sect.24Key events that transformed the church into an independent religion
        • The Return of Christ 25When? How? Has His return been delayed?
        • About Author 26I do not hold any formal theological qualifications. Since I am not part of any religious organization, I am free to present the truth as I understand it. These articles are the result of my personal studies over many years.

 

FOOTNOTES

  • 1
    God creates intelligent beings with the freedom to choose between good and evil. Evil arose from that freedom.
  • 2
    A Study of the Book of Job
  • 3
    Both Paul and also Peter refer to them. They are supernatural beings that oppose Christ.
  • 4
    The Antichrist in Daniel, which is the same as the beast in Revelation, arises out of the Roman Empire; it is not Antiochus Epiphanes.
  • 5
    Liberal scholars claim that this prophecy describes the Greek king Antiochus IV, two centuries before Christ. In Dispensationalism, the prophecy culminates in an end-time Antichrist. In the traditional interpretation, which dominated before liberalism and Dispensationalism, the prophecy focuses on Jesus Christ.
  • 6
    Critical scholars teach that Daniel was written after the events it claims to predict.
  • 7
    The ultimate purpose of this website is to explain these prophecies and, finally, the mark of the beast.
  • 8
    Does Revelation describe events chronologically? Must it be interpreted literally? The temple in heaven, Christ’s Return, Hear/See Combinations, and the Numbers in Revelation
  • 9
    There was a book in heaven that not even Christ was able to read because it was sealed up with seven seals. But, by overcoming, He became worthy to break the seven seals and open the book. Why was Jesus not “worthy” to open the book before He “overcame?” And how did His death make Him “worthy” to open the book?
  • 10
    This is the apex of Revelation. Revelation 12 provides an overview of history from before Christ until the end-time, Revelation 13 culminates in the end-time persecution, and Revelation 14 describes God’s response.
  • 11
    The seven last plagues will be preceded by the end-time Christian-on-Christian persecution and followed by Christ’s return. Is the purpose simply punishment or do the plagues have a higher goal?
  • 12
    Revelation has three beasts with seven heads and ten horns each; a great red dragon (Rev 12:3), the beast from the sea (Rev 13:1), and a scarlet beast, full of blasphemous names (Rev 17:3).
  • 13
    Babylon is mentioned only once in the first 15 chapters (Rev 14:8) but the seventh and final plague targets her specifically (Rev 16:19). Then Revelation 17 and 18 are dedicated to explaining who and what she is.
  • 14
    The conclusion that Jesus is ‘God’ forms the basis of the Trinity Doctrine.
  • 15
    For the first more than 300 years, the church fathers believed that the Son is subordinate to the Father. The Trinity Doctrine was developed by the Cappadocian fathers late in the fourth century but the decision to adopt it was not taken by the church.
  • 16
    Including Modalism, Eastern Orthodoxy view of the Trinity, Elohim, and Eternal Generation
  • 17
    Discussions of the Atonement – How does God do away with sin?
  • 18
    How people are put right with God
  • 19
    Must Christians observe the Law of Moses?
  • 20
    Must Christians observe the Sabbath?
  • 21
    Are the dead still alive and aware?
  • 22
    Will the lost be tormented in hell for all eternity?
  • 23
    And why does God not make an end to all evil?
  • 24
    Key events that transformed the church into an independent religion
  • 25
    When? How? Has His return been delayed?
  • 26
    I do not hold any formal theological qualifications. Since I am not part of any religious organization, I am free to present the truth as I understand it. These articles are the result of my personal studies over many years.