12 As I looked, a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman came into view clothed in the radiance of the sun, standing with the moon under her feet, and she was crowned with a wreath of twelve stars on her head. 2 She was painfully pregnant and was crying out in the agony of labor. 3 Then a second sign appeared in heaven, ominous, foreboding: a great red dragon, with seven crowned heads and ten horns. 4 The dragon’s tail brushed one-third of the stars from the sky and hurled them down to the earth. The dragon crouched in front of the laboring woman, waiting to devour her child the moment it was born.
5 She gave birth to a male child, who is destined to rule the nations with an iron scepter. Before the dragon could bite and devour her son, the child was whisked away and brought to God and His throne. 6 The woman fled into the wilderness, where God had prepared a place of refuge and safety where she could find sustenance for 1,260 days.
The sign that appears in the vision is of a celestial woman who gives birth to a son. While it’s possible this could refer to Mary, the mother of Jesus, it is also possible this is a symbol of God’s chosen people. The faithful remnant of Israel is the womb that carried the Lord and delivered Him to the world. While the great red dragon does his best to destroy and devour Him, God has another plan. Since then, the dragon and his minions have done their best to harangue and persecute the woman’s children. But again he does not have the final word.
7 A battle broke out in heaven. Michael, along with his heavenly messengers, clashed against the dragon. The dragon and his messengers returned the fight, 8 but they did not prevail and were defeated. As a result, there was no place left for them in heaven. 9 So the great dragon, that ancient serpent who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world, was cast down to the earth along with his messengers. 10 Then I heard a great voice in heaven.
A Voice: Now the salvation and the power
and the kingdom of our God
and the authority of His Anointed One have come.
For the accuser of our brothers and sisters,
who relentlessly accuses them day and night before our God,
has been cast down and silenced.
11 By the blood of the Lamb
and the word of their witnesses,
they have become victorious over him,
For they did not hold on to their lives, even under threat of death.
12 Therefore, rejoice, all you heavens;
celebrate, all you who live in them.
But disaster will befall the earth and the sea,
for the devil has come down to your spheres,
And he is incredibly angry
because he knows his time is nearly over.
13 When the dragon realized he had been cast down to the earth, he pursued the mother of the male infant. 14 In order to escape the serpent, she was given the two wings of the great eagle to fly deeper into the wilderness to her own special place where she would find sustenance for a time, and times, and half a time. 15 Then from his mouth the serpent spewed water like a raging river that chased after the woman, trying to sweep her away in the flood. 16 But the earth came to her rescue. It opened its gaping mouth and swallowed the river that spewed from the dragon’s mouth. 17 As a result, the dragon was enraged at the woman and went away to make war on the rest of her children—those who keep the commandments of God and hold fast to the testimony of Jesus.
18 And [the dragon][a] stood waiting on the sand of the seashore.
- 12:18 Some late manuscripts read “I.”