The woman and the dragon as mentioned in Revelation 12 has been an important passage to ponder because of the way the Catholic church uses it. Catholicism says the woman there is Mary. Are they accurate, according to the context and comparing Scripture with Scripture? Here are the details.
Who Are The Woman and The Dragon
● A great and wondrous sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head. She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth. (Rev 12:1,2)John saw a vision of a pregnant woman clothed with the sun, standing on the moon and crowned with twelve stars. That woman is symbolic of Israel, who gave birth to the Messiah. The twelve stars are symbolic of the twelve tribes of Israel. See Gen. 37:9,10.
● Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on his heads. His tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth. The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that he might devour her child the moment it was born. (Rev 12:3,4)
Sign number two was the devil, who appeared to be an enormous red dragon. The devil tries to kill Messiah when he was born and afterwards the woman in verse 13. The devil tried to kill the baby Jesus through Herod (Mt. 2:13-16).
● She gave birth to a son, a male child, who will rule all the nations with an iron scepter. And her child was snatched up to God and to his throne. (Rev 12:5)
The male child is clearly shown to be the Lord Jesus, who will rule the nations with an iron rod. See Rev. 19:15.
By focusing in upon verses 1-5 only and going no further, the Catholic Church wrongly portrays the woman here as Mary, crowned with twelve stars and standing on the moon. Imagine that! That grave misconception is the basis for the many Mary statues in the Catholic Church of her pictured that way.
● The woman fled into the desert to a place prepared for her by God, where she might be taken care of for 1,260 days. (Rev 12:6)
See verse 14 too. If the woman is Mary the mother of Jesus, she sprouts eagle wings and flies away into the desert to be taken care of for 1,260 days, yet in the future! Obviously, the Catholic Church doesn’t connect verses 6 and 14 to the first five verses when misapplying this chapter to exalt Mary.
● And there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him. (Rev 12:7-9)
A war in heaven. Imagine that. Where the devil is there will be wars, conflicts and trouble. Michael the archangel is God’s warring archangel. He has angels under him, who fight against the enormous red dragon (the devil) and the angels under him. The devil loses the conflict and is thrown out of heaven to earth.
Some think the time frame of that heavenly war with the devil to be before the fall of man, but that is not true. After Adam’s fall, we read of the devil still going up to heaven into the very presence of God where he conversed with God about God’s servant, Job (Job 1:6-12). Hence, the timing can not be the pre-Adamic fall. It actually occurs during the great tribulation period.
NOTE: Besides all the other problems during the great tribulation, there will be a flood of demons and the devil himself that will rain down from the heavenlies to the face of the earth. (The devil is not in the lake of fire yet, but will end up there, Rev. 20:10.)
The reference to the ancient serpent is the devil tempting Eve in Eden to believe she will not die spiritually through sin—the essence of eternal security (Gen. 3:4).
● Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: “Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down.” (Rev 12:10)
The devil is called the accuser of the brothers. The devil was thrown down out of heaven.
● They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death. (Rev 12:11)
Verse 11 is one of the most important Scriptures for Christians, who are alive then, to keep in mind. Especially the last part—they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death—is vital. That same mentality is also vital during any time when persecution is intense. We must be willing to die physically, if necessary, to remain faithful to Jesus.
● Therefore rejoice, you heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has gone down to you! He is filled with fury, because he knows that his time is short. (Rev 12:12)
They rejoice here because the devil has been thrown out of heaven and down to earth. At that point, he will know his time is short. His knowledge of the future is limited. He will also be filled with fury.
● When the dragon saw that he had been hurled to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child. The woman was given the two wings of a great eagle, so that she might fly to the place prepared for her in the desert, where she would be taken care of for a time, times and half a time, out of the serpent’s reach. Then from his mouth the serpent spewed water like a river, to overtake the woman and sweep her away with the torrent. But the earth helped the woman by opening its mouth and swallowing the river that the dragon had spewed out of his mouth. (Rev 12:13-16)
The devil is going to go after Israel, who flees to the desert to escape. He is not going after Mary, who is nowhere around anymore. Hence, it is clear the woman in this chapter can not be Mary.
● Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to make war against the rest of her offspring—those who obey God’s commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus. (Rev 12:17)
The enraged devil will also go after those who obey God’s commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus. That is a perfect way to describe real Christians. Chapter 13 shows the devil will attack Christians through the antichrist and during the time frame when the mark of the beast is issued.
Alphonsus Liguori on Mary
Devotion To Mary
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