Pastor of Iglesia Conexiones, a baptist church in Jessup, MD. B.A. in Bible, B.S. English Ed., M.S. in Educational Leadership.
The War in Heaven, and The Fall of Satan
[Note to the reader. Updated on October 12, 2021 to reflect new insights]
Revelation 12:7 begins with the word and, indicating that the events that Revelation 12:7-18 are somehow related to the events in the preceding section, which is Revelation 12:1-6. John now sees a war in heaven, a war between Michael and the dragon, and between the angels each of them leads.
Who is the dragon? The text identifies the dragon as the serpent of old (Genesis 3:1), who is also called the Devil and Satan (Revelation 12:8).
Who is Michael? Michael is the only archangel (chief angel) mentioned in the Bible (Jude 1:9). He is also the prince mentioned in Daniel 10:21, the angelic chief who is tasked with fighting for Israel (Daniel 12:1).
Why was there a war in heaven? The explanation that immediately comes to mind when looking at this passage is that there was war in heaven because the male child, the Lord Jesus Christ, ascended to heaven (see my previous article). Consistent with this interpretation, we read that, through his death on the cross (and, by extension, through his resurrection and ascension), the Lord Jesus Christ destroyed (defeated) the Devil (Hebrews 2:14) and put to shame the principalities and powers (Colossians 2:15). Moreover, through faith in Jesus Christ, we too have overcome the Devil (1 John 2:13-14, 4:4).
The result of the war in heaven is that Satan and his angels are cast down from heaven to earth (v.9). By casting Satan out of heaven to earth, the salvation, power, and kingdom of God, and the authority of God’s Messiah (Christ), are inaugurated: Satan can no longer accuse “our brothers,” God’s children, for they have conquered the Devil by believing in the power of the blood of Jesus Christ (Revelation 12:10-11). This, of course, is good news for all who are in heaven (v.12), but it is bad news for those who are on earth.
Once on earth, the dragon (the serpent, the Devil, Satan) pursued the woman, which is Israel (see my previous article). However, the woman was given the two wings of a great eagle to flee to the wilderness, where she is nourished for a time, times, and half a time (an expression found in Daniel 7:25 and 12:7). This pursuit of the woman appears to be a recapitulation of the same event in Revelation 12:6, the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD.
The dragon sent a flood after the woman (Israel). The flood is most likely a reference to the Roman armies that attacked Jerusalem and continued to fight against Israel up to approximately 73 AD. See how the word flood is used in several Old Testament passages to describe armies at war (Daniel 9:26, 11:22, Jeremiah 46:7-8. 47:2).
Nevertheless, the earth helped the woman by swallowing the flood. The earth swelling up the flood is most likely a reference to the Jews being received by foreign countries, for most of them fled from Israel to surrounding countries (thus began the two thousand years diaspora).
After that, the dragon sought to destroy the rest of the woman’s children, those who believe in Jesus Christ (Revelation 12:17). Therefore, when we read the epistles, we read that Satan is to Christians an adversary who, like a roaring lion, sees to devour them (1 Peter 5:8). After all, it was shortly after the Lord’s ascension (some 30 years before 70 AD), that Satan was cast from heaven to earth.
Revelation 12, Past or Future?
We see, then, that Revelation 12 has very little to do with the future, and more to do with the past. The passage tells us how Satan began to attack Israel through Rome at the time when the Messiah was about to appear in history, how Satan tried to destroy the Messiah after he was born, how the Messiah ascended to heaven and overcame Satan, how Satan was then cast down to earth, and how Satan once again tried to destroy Israel in 70 AD.
What does this passage tell us about our own modern times? We are living after the events described in Revelation 12, during the period that Satan is actively pursuing Christians on planet Earth.
The question of how Revelation 12 relates to Daniel 12 is an important one. Are Revelation 12 and Daniel 12 taking about the same events, or are they using similar language to discuss different events? At this point, I believe that Revelation 12 is drawing from Daniel 12 to talk to about a small portion of all the events discussed in Daniel 12.
The time, times, and half time described mentioned 12:14 appear to correspond to the time mentioned in Revelation 12:6—which may be a reference to a future timeframe (see previous article).
The two wings of the eagle are probably a reference to a future intervention of God for Israel in the end-times (Exodus 19:4, Deuteronomy 32:11).
© 2020 Marcelo Carcach
Tony Muse from Texas, USA on July 28, 2020:
I agree with your assessment that the woman of Revelation 12 is Israel as the reference to the twelve stars, sun and moon relate to Joseph's dream about his family. I also agree with you that the descendants of the woman are in fact, the church, which would have been believing Jews in the early days.
This passage refers a male child (Christ) that ascended to heaven. This was an event that had already occurred when the book of Revelation was written. So that element suggests that this might not necessarily be about future events, but rather is an affirmation that Jesus was the promised Messiah, born of Israel, who died and rose again.
We know that there were only two remaining tribes of Israel at the time Jesus was born so this prophecy should be understood as symbolic. Therefore, I think that it could be a stretch to say that this is about today's Israel. The descendants who fled into the wilderness, in my opinion, represent the Christian diaspora.