The third vision of Revelation extends from Chapter 12 to 14; here it will be covered in three parts, the first focusing on the "woman." Despite the many interpretations out there concerning this woman, this vision seems to be quite simple:
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. Then being with child, she cried out in labor and in pain to give birth. (vv. 1-2)She is the Church, or God's people. The garland of 12 stars represents the 12 Tribes of Israel, from which she descends. The child is Jesus Christ. Recall that these vision concern the Gospel Age beginning with His First Advent.
The sun and moon are symbols of the "heavens"; this is a heavenly body, i.e., God's people. Consider the themes of the visions in light of Psalm 89:
“If his sons forsake My lawCompare this "faithful witness" with the two witnesses in Chapter 11: they are the same.
And do not walk in My judgments,
If they break My statutes
And do not keep My commandments,
Then I will punish their transgression with the rod,
And their iniquity with stripes.
Nevertheless My lovingkindness I will not utterly take from him,
Nor allow My faithfulness to fail.
My covenant I will not break,
Nor alter the word that has gone out of My lips.
Once I have sworn by My holiness;
I will not lie to David:
His seed shall endure forever,
And his throne as the sun before Me;
It shall be established forever like the moon,
Even like the faithful witness in the sky.” Selah (vv. 30-37)
And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great, fiery red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems on his heads.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. (v. 3-4)Satan then appears and attempts to devour the Child. A specific instance of this we read about in Matthew 2, when Herod ordered all 2 and under infants killed.
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. (v. 5)His ministry and Ascension.
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. (v. 6)In the above verse, we read again about the 1260 days. From the previous vision we understand that this is the length of time allotted to the two witnesses for their ministry--the Gospel being preached to all nations. We also know that the two witnesses have "powers," meaning that they are protected from death. See Second Vision (2) for a complete explanation of this.
This woman has a place prepared for her in the wilderness. This is the equivalent of that same "protection" of the two witnesses. Again, this 1260 days is the entire Gospel Age: it is the entire ~2000 years tribulation during which the Church will be persecuted, but Satan has no power to kill the truth of the Gospel.
And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer. So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.(vv. 7-9)It is the contention here that this casting down of Satan is the equivalent of the binding of Satan for 1000 years in Chapter 20. And this casting down, or binding, is the equivalent of the protection of the Gospel/Church. Matthew 12:
Or how can one enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man? And then he will plunder his house. (v.29)1 John 3:8:
He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.This casting down is surely not a geographical issue as Satan had been reported on earth several times throughout Scripture. Rather, it is based on a basic Up = GOOD / DOWN = BAD metaphor similar to "moving up in the world," or having a "high status job."
We understand from the above verses that this binding/limitation/protection was accomplished by and under the authority of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Now when the dragon saw that he had been cast to the earth, he persecuted the woman who gave birth to the male Child. But the woman was given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness to her place, where she is nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent. (vv. 13-14)Recall that 1260, 42, and time, times, and half a time are all the same time period: the Gospel Age. Note that the wilderness is not the protected place, but it is a place within the wilderness. the wilderness is the world.
So the serpent spewed water out of his mouth like a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away by the flood. But the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed up the flood which the dragon had spewed out of his mouth. And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ. (vv. 15-18)In the above, the dragon spews water from his mouth, but the earth swallows it up. This is simply an example of the Church's divine protection, and probably a parody of Satan's attempts to be like God (Genesis flood).
Satan is enraged, then goes to make war with her offspring. This is the tribulation. It is useful here to consider the tribulation period in light of the various forms of war. There is overt, violent war such as the early church endured; but there is also psychological warfare. This is a war for one's mind in an unseen battle. This seems to be the modern tactic: to corrupt and seduce one away from the truth.
Part 2 will examine Chapter 13: this section shows how Satan makes war on the Church.