Text: Rev 12:1-6
OT Text: Psalm 2
[As was noted in a prior post, it seems that the third series of judgments would have been the seven thunders (10:4), but they were "sealed up" and not made known. In their place, John received an edible scroll which leads to these seven visions. This is the first of the seven, each beginning with the phrase "and I saw" or "I looked" or "a sign appeared."]
In place of a series of seven judgments, we now have a series of seven visions. These visions show the conflict between the church and the powers of darkness. These chapters epitomize the theme of "revelation."* Through these visions, John is revealing the true conflict which lies behind the struggles that the church faces.
Fortunately, the visions are a little easier to understand because John clearly identifies the symbolism. In verse 9, John calls the dragon, "that ancient serpent who is called the devil and Satan." The male child is said to be destined "to rule the nations with a rod of iron." (12:5) This is a messianic psalm which points to Jesus. The woman has a crown of twelve stars. In a sense she represents Mary, but the inclusion of the 12-star-crown shows that she is representative of faithful Israel as a whole, which comes to include believing Gentiles. For this reason, her flight to the wilderness to escape the dragon (12:6) is a picture of the church in exile during the last days. Again, we see the reference to 3.5 years (1,260 days) which is symbolic of the church age. The dragon could not stop the birth of this child, nor prevent his saving mission. But, the believing community will continue to face the anger of this ancient serpent from their place of exile in the wilderness.
Conclusion and Application
Like the prior series of judgments, the seven visions cover the period of the church age. In this first vision, they go back to the beginning. Back to the nativity of Christ, and the spiritual conflict which quickly ensued. We will see in coming weeks that the dragon directs his agents against the church. John is revealing that there is a spiritual battle going on behind our struggle to remain faithful. We will continue with the dragon vision in the next two posts.
Two things to explore:
1.) You may have already noticed, the picture that we have been using for the online blog comes from this vision. It is from an ancient church building and it depicts the confrontation of the dragon and the woman.
2.) I attached a YouTube video from Michael Card's album about the book of Revelation. This particular song narrates the drama of these visions. There are no hokey graphics, just music and lyrics based on this passage.
* Many commentators highlight the significance of these seven visions in the book as a whole. Derek Thomas and Greg Beale call them the "key to the entire book."