The significance of this chapter lies in the fact that it portrays the victory of the people of God over Satan. The reader is once more reminded that this event occurs in a vision. Visions are by definition internal events whereby a spiritual truth is made known. Though the Christians are suffering terribly under the mad emperor they are here reminded that God will bring them into victory.
1. And a great sign was seen in heaven: a woman arrayed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars;
In 1st century Judaism Zion was portrayed as a woman. Here the image is extended, for it was Zion which gave birth to the Church. The Church was, after all, born in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost (cf. Acts 2).
2 and she was the child; and she crieth out, travailing in birth, and in pain to be delivered.
3 And there was seen another sign in heaven: and behold, a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his heads seven diadems.
Likewise, in 1st century Judaism, Satan, the enemy of the people of God is portrayed as a dragon. Here he is depicted as a beast with power. But not with ultimate power- his power is a show.
4 And his tail draweth the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon standeth before the woman that is about to be delivered, that when she is delivered he may devour her child.
The devil desires to consume the people of God.
5 And she was delivered of a son, a man child, who is to rule all the n ations with a rod of iup unto God, and unto his throne.
And from the people of God comes the Messiah- the special object of Satanís hatred.
6 And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that there they may nourish her a thousand two hundred and threescore days.
The wilderness as place of refuge for Godís people is an ancient, well established tradition.
7 And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels going forth to war with the dragon; and the dragon warred and his angels;
8 And they prevailed not, neither was their place found any more in heaven.
9 And the great dragon was cast down, the old serpent, he that is called the Devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world; he was cast down to the earth, and his angels were cast down with him.
You see, Satan is already defeated. Spiritually (for we are in the midst of a vision) we can assert that the victory has already been won -- as the next verse clearly declares.
cf. Mt 25:41 and Mt 4:1ff.
10 And I heard a great voice in heaven, saying, Now is come the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, who accuseth them before our God day and night.
Cf. Ps 41:2.
11 And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb, and because of the word of their testimony; and they loved not their life even unto death.
12. Therefore rejoice, O heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe for the earth and for the sea: because the devil is gone down unto you, having great wrath, knowing that he hath but a short time.
13 And when the dragon saw that he was cast down to the earth, he persecuted the woman that brought forth the man child.
The victory has already been won. Woe to those who do not partic ipate in the rule of Gipants in the rule of Satan.
14 And there were given to the woman the two wings of the great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness unto her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent.
15 And the serpent cast out of his mouth after the woman water as a river, that he might cause her to be carried away by the stream.
16 And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened her mouth and swallowed up the river which the dragon cast out of his mouth.
17 And the dragon waxed wroth with the woman, and went away to make war with the rest of her seed, that keep the commandments of God, and hold the testimony of Jesus:
Yet try as he might, Satan is incapable of overcoming the people of God; those who hold fast the testimony of Jesus.
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