Revelation 12:1–6 (NKJV)
After the temple of God in heaven is revealed, a message concerning the covenant of God with man was sounded with great cosmic and atmospheric fanfare. Then, the next scene opens with a vision concerning a woman, her child, and the great dragon.
1 Now a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a garland of twelve stars. 2 Then being with child, she cried out in labor and in pain to give birth.Revelation 12:1-6
3 And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great, fiery red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems on his heads. 4 His tail drew a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was ready to give birth, to devour her Child as soon as it was born. 5 She bore a male Child who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron. And her Child was caught up to God and His throne. 6 Then the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, that they should feed her there one thousand two hundred and sixty days.
This section of Scripture begins with the identification of this portion of the vision as “a great sign.” This means that this sign has deep meaning and significance and should be seen and remembered. Then we see a woman, described as “a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a garland of twelve stars.” This imagery denotes some special place in the cosmos. She is often identified in scholarship as either Mary, the mother of Jesus, the church, or other heavenly beings, perhaps having an appearance as a constellation of stars. I feel confident in the likelihood of the first two, or perhaps both. Mary gave birth to Jesus, the firstfruits of the body of Christ, and–in turn–the church gives birth to new converts that come into the body of Christ. The work of each is significant and continuing, as Jesus intercedes for His people, and the church carries out the work of Christ on the earth.
The child, then, is either Jesus, or the offspring of the church, and probably–on some level–represents both. The woman is near childbirth and cries out in agony during her labor pains. The third sign is that of a red dragon with multiple heads, even more horns, and crowns. The dragging of a third of the stars of heaven to earth is indicative of the third of the angels drawn from heaven to earth when Satan was cast from heaven. This characterization makes it certain that this figure represents Satan, Lucifer, or Beelzebub. He is not only menacing, but appears to wait in front of the woman for her to give birth, so that he can devour and kill her child as soon as He is born.
While the dragon felt that his work was done, or at least certain to be completed, the child was actually taken up into heaven to God and His throne as soon as it was born, and the woman fled to the wilderness, where she was hidden by God and fed for three and one-half years. While the time she was hidden was tied to the Tribulation half-period, what we see here is a direct correlation with salvation history. Jesus is the Messiah promised to the people of God that will save them and set up His kingdom on earth. It is said here that He will “rule all nations with a rod of iron.” This characterization and description could point to none other than Jesus Christ. His ascension to the throne of God is exactly what Christ did after His death and resurrection. The serpent (her the dragon) was destined to bruise the heel of the son of woman, but the Son was to crush the head of the dragon or serpent. The dragon’s work was thwarted, and Christ prevailed. All of this is indicative of the eternal struggle between Christ and Satan, and ends again with Satan being foiled. Thank God, Satan never wins the ward. Battles will be fought, but the outcome of the war is decided before it ever comes to a head.