Revelation 12:  The Woman in the Wilderness

Back to the Goodnews

By David A. DePra

The Book of Revelation is NOT primarily a catalogue of physical, historic events which have either taken place or are going to take place in the world.  Rather, the book of Revelation is exactly what the very first verse of the Book says:  It is a revelation OF the Person of Jesus Christ.  But note what that means:   It is not just a revelation that Christ gives -- but it is an unfolding, an uncovering -- which is what the word, “apocalypse,” means -- it is an uncovering of the very Person, Jesus Christ.


In this book, we have given to us a spiritual vision which God gave to the Apostle John.  Note that:   The Book of Revelation is a SPIRITUAL vision.  John says, “I was in the spirit on the Lord’s day.” (Rev. 1:10) This is a spiritual vision which God gave to John of the :Person of Jesus Christ in His redemptive work in His people -- all leading to the eternal restoration of Jesus as Lord over all.  


So the Revelation of Jesus Christ is exactly that:  A spiritual revelation of Jesus.  This should not be a surprise, for corresponding to the revelation found in this book is God’s present purpose of bringing His people into an inward realization of the Person of Jesus Christ. 


The Woman Gives Birth


All of this serves as a background in reading any part of this Book of Revelation.  That is certainly the case in reading chapter 12.  I have to approach chapter 12 from the standpoint that this is part of a spiritual vision -- a spiritual revelation given to John, by God through Jesus Christ.  


We can begin exploring this chapter by reading the very first verse:


And there appeared a great wonder in heaven, a woman clothed with the sun and the moon under her feet and upon her head a crown of twelve stars.  And she being with child and travailing in birth, cried out and pained to be delivered.  (Rev. 12:1-2)


Later in this chapter, in verse 5, it says:


And she brought forth a man child who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron and her child was caught up to God and to His throne.  (Rev. 12:5)


Skipping down to verse 5 helps establish right up front that this woman is the Body of Christ -- the church.  This must be understood in order to grasp what God is revealing in this chapter.  Christian people – who collectively comprise the Body of Christ -- give birth to this man-child -- Who is clearly Jesus Christ.  


The NT continually speaks of the purpose of God in birthing Christ IN His people – of the purpose of God in bringing believers into an inward realization of His Son.  Thus, in this spiritual vision, this woman is a collective representation of all those in whom Christ is being realized, in whom, Christ is being birthed.  


Christianity is, “Christ in you, the hope of glory.”  (Col. 1:27)  But in order for Christ to be realized within His people, there will be suffering and struggle.  It will be as a woman in labor pains, about to give birth.  Indeed, Paul, in Galatians, said:


My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you.  (Gal. 4:19)


The word, “formed,” in this verse, means, “to be inwardly realized and expressed.”  Revelation 12:1-2 uses similar symbolism.  Paul says in Galatians that he travailed like a woman about to give birth – he travailed so that believers would come into an inward realization and expression of Jesus Christ. That is the spiritual birth that is likewise pictured in Revelation 12.  Of course, God Himself plants the birth of Christ in His people -- that happens when we are saved; born from above; joined to the Lord and made one spirit with Him.  But we are here dealing with spiritual symbolism – whereby Truth is often given in a number of different expressions. Revelation 12 and Galatians 4 are two of those.


Here in Revelation 12, we see that a woman gives birth to a man-child -- who is to rule all nations with a rod of iron – thus, her child was caught up to God and to His throne.  This is a spiritual picture of the church giving birth to, and coming into, an inward realization of Jesus Christ.  That fact forms the foundation upon which the remainder of the chapter is built.


The Called Out ONES


With that foundation in mind, let’s read again the first few verses:


And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars:  And she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered.  (Rev. 12:1-2)


Even though here, in Revelation 12, the woman represents the collective body that births Christ, nevertheless this must happen in individuals if it is to be real.  We remember that the Greek word translated, “church,” in the NT, means, “called out ONES.”  This points to the Truth that the birth being pictured by the woman is the same birth that must be taking place in the individuals that comprise the woman – in the individuals that comprise the Body.  There is no, “called out group.”  There is only the, “called out ONES.”


Just as individuals must birth Christ and realize Him, likewise those individuals who give birth must suffer the birth pangs.  We know that for Christ to be formed within, to be birthed within, it does exact from us suffering.  It does exact from us birth pangs.  Absolutely.  Christ cannot be formed within you unless there is a work of the cross and suffering.  Life in Christ can come only from our death in Him.  Childbirth certainly is a type and a shadow of that -- and is used as symbolism here.


The Body of Christ


Now, often when the Bible uses a woman in symbolism – certainly in the Book of Revelation -- the woman always represents a church.  That is the case even if what is being pictured is a false church. In Revelation 12, the woman pictures the true church.  But we do have to discard the idea of, “the true church,” as a church we can see.  There have always been churches who fancy themselves as THE true church.  No.  There has never been such a thing.  This particular woman represents genuine believers throughout history, regardless of geographical location, in whom Christ is formed.


The body of Christ consists of more than just those who are in Christ right now in our present day – or who have lived during any one point in time.  The Body of Christ, the Bride of Christ, the New Jerusalem -- these are some of the many names God uses to refer to the church – this has been an ongoing living organism in Christ which God has been building since the beginning of God’s dealings with humanity.  If you read the book of Hebrews you will see that even the people in the Old Testament who had faith in God are included as well -- even though the experience they had in this life was not that of a birth from above.  Nevertheless, by anticipation and by faith, they were able to come into a relationship with God and be numbered among those who, when all is said and done, are considered to be the Body of Christ.  Hebrews says, “These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but viewed them from afar and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims upon the earth.”  (Heb. 11:13)


Jesus said, “And I will build My church…”  He is not talking about building an organization -- but is saying that He will build, “the called out ONES,” who constitute the church.  In effect, the church is comprised of individuals who are to be built up in Christ.  Christ is building Himself within individuals who have realized Christ.


This woman of Revelation 12 is comprised of those – since the beginning -- who have had some of God’s work of being built up in Christ taking place within themselves – so that they have come to know Him.  They have come to realize Him in an inward way.  All who have at least begun to come into an experiencing of Jesus can be considered to be part of the woman.  They are considered – despite all of their failures -- to be giving birth to this man-child.  


There have been those who have actually tried to attach a specific year that fulfills Revelation 12.  They have tried to name the woman.  Indeed, so much of the book of Revelation has been subjected to this type of nonsense.  But the book of Revelation is a spiritual vision – it is an unfolding of the Person of Jesus Christ as that unfolding applies in His people – resulting in the restoration of Jesus as Lord of all.


The Dragon


And there appeared another wonder in heaven, and behold, a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns upon his heads.  (Rev. 12:3)


We are told in this chapter that the dragon is Satan, the devil.  Satan is pictured as another wonder in the heavenly or spiritual realm.  John’s vision goes on to reveal:


And his tail drew a third part of the stars of heaven and cast them to the earth.  (Rev. 12:4)


Most often in Revelation, ”stars,” refer to angels -- whether fallen angels, or the good angels who are still loyal to God.  There is reason to believe that when Satan fell through sin against God that he took a third of the angels with him -- who are now the demons under him.  You can do with that as you please as to whether or not it is true -- I am persuaded that it is true.  One indication is right here where it says of Satan that, “his tail drew a third part of the stars of heaven and cast them to the earth.”


The next phrase brings the dragon face to face with the woman:


And the dragon stood before the woman who was ready to be delivered in order to devour her child as soon as it was born.  (Rev. 12:4)


Satan always wants to destroy whatever God is bringing to birth – certainly spiritually – but even physically.  Satan certainly tried to do that when Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary.  He tried to do it through Herod.  You can be sure that in our personal Christian lives -- if God has gotten us to the place where something of Christ is about to be birthed in us -- you can be sure that Satan wants to destroy God’s efforts before it can get any traction. 


This is cause for discernment -- but it really ought to be encouraging to know that many of the trials and sufferings in our lives may be an indication that God is about to do something spiritual in our lives -- and we are being subjected to Satan’s attacks to try to prevent that.  The good news is that if we hold to God by faith, if we stand n His finished victory, God wins every time -- and we will see victory in Him.  But this verse in Revelation 12 – that the dragon seeks to devour the man-child -- is just another indication those who are growing in Christ have a target on their back.  Indeed, we may find Satan standing, “before the woman,” in the sense of personally standing in the way of the believer’s walk in Christ.


Now how does he do that?  He cannot really touch that which is born of resurrection life in Christ.  So what Satan tries to do is deceive US into abandoning what is birthed – by getting us off the track. We will see a little bit about that as we go on.  He tries to bring in substitutes as objects of our faith; as the focus of our attention.  The primary substitute for Christ that Satan offers is ourselves.  Satan loves any believer’s preoccupation with SELF.  Satan will try to deceive us into thinking we are being birthed into a new and improved person.  We are not.  Christ is being birth and formed IN US.  It is, “Yet not I, but Christ.”  But these are the devices and wiles of the devil.  


So, here in Revelation, Satan stands in front of the woman and is ready and eager to devour this child as soon as it is born in anyone of us.  But as is the case regarding the birth, so it applies to this work of Satan -- this is an ongoing picture throughout the church age.  Individual believers are always in the process of birthing the man child, Jesus Christ -- but Satan is always trying to destroy what God desires to do in those same individuals.


Caught Up to The Throne


And she, [the church], did bring forth a man child who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron.  And her child was caught up unto God and to His throne.  (Rev. 12:5)


This is an obvious picture of Jesus Christ – through His redemptive work – ascending and being seated in His throne in the heavenlies at the right hand of God.  He is declared Lord of all.  But the finished work of Christ, and His ascension to the throne as Lord of all, forms the foundation of what Jesus Christ is able to do in His people.  Believers are one in spirit with the Christ who sits on the throne – and so as Christ is birthed and formed in the believer He figuratively continues to be caught up to the throne.


Can we see what is going on here?  That which is accomplished by Jesus Christ in us is not of this world.  It is of Christ Himself – of the spiritual realm of God – of the very life of Christ.  It did not originate HERE.  It does not belong HERE.  It cannot be contained HERE.  It cannot be dragged down into this earthly realm – although religious people try.  No.  That which is accomplished in believers via the spirit of God is of Christ Himself – who is already on the throne – and thus, belongs there with Christ on His throne.  This is what is suggested by the picture of the man-child being caught up unto God and to His throne – as applied to the work of God in believers.


All that is of God must be caught up to the throne – because all that is of God is Christ and He is seated there.  Indeed, believers are seated IN Christ:


Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)  And hath raised [us] up together, and made [us] sit together in heavenly [places] in Christ Jesus.  (Eph. 2:5-6)


The fact that what is of God in us must be caught up to the throne testifies to the fact that NONE of it is of us, and ALL of it is of Christ.  Likewise, it shows that all that God is doing in His people will ALWAYS glorify Jesus Christ as Lord – for it is caught up to His throne.


Born From Above


It is absolutely essential that believers gain an understanding of what constitutes the NEW BIRTH – and likewise realize what does NOT constitute the new birth.  Jesus said, “Ye are from below; I am from above: ye are of this world; I am not of this world.”  (John 8:3)  That has NOT changed simply because Jesus Christ lives in us – He has not changed because we are made one with Him in spirit.  Jesus Christ in us continues to be from above.  But since we are IN HIM – that same thing can be said about us – we are IN this world, but no longer OF it.  Indeed, we are seated in Christ in the throne in which He is seated. 


If Jesus Christ is not OF this world – therefore, “Christ in us,” is not of this world.  But we are joined to Christ in spirit – that joining results in the new birth; results in the new creature in Christ Jesus.  Can we see that this means we are no longer of this world if we are IN HIM?   His life has been birthed in us -- and so by very definition – if Christ is our life (Col. 3:4) then the life of the new birth is heavenly in nature.  


The new creature in Christ Jesus is NOT of this realm – it is NOT a new and improved earthly nature.  It is NOT a, “fixed up,” old man in Adam.  No.  Rather, the new creature in Christ is from out of Christ into believers from the outside of them.  The new creation is the very life essence of Jesus Christ made one with humanity. 


This becomes clearer if we see the division between soul and spirit in each believer.  Our human spirit is joined to the Lord and made one spirit with Him.  (I Cor. 6:17)  Our natural man and physical body remain, in this age, outside that spiritual union.  Thus, our life in Christ is not of this realm – does not belong here – but our earthly nature does remain of this realm.


Follow that through -- it is only our spirit that is united with Christ in resurrection union.  The new creation in Christ is the resurrection union of our human spirit with the Living Christ – we are eternally joined to Him in spirit, and so wherever He is, so we are in spirit.  And therefore, because that which is of Christ does not belong here – by its very nature and constitution – it must be continually caught up to God; it must continually abide from out of Christ and His throne.


It is vital to see the nature of life in Christ if we are to understand the symbolism of Revelation 12.  We must see that God is birthing Jesus Christ in believers – and that this is of the very life of Christ Himself.  That is heavenly or spiritual in nature.  It is wrought of God in Christ – and because it is of Christ – it is figuratively caught back up to Him as part of Him.  That which is of Christ in believers remains of Christ.  We are simply caught up with Him.


The Woman in the Wilderness


Revelation 12:6 occurs AFTER the child is born and has been caught up to God and to His throne.  It says:


And the woman fled into the wilderness where she has a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there, a thousand, two hundred and three score days.  (Rev. 12:6)


Our understanding of this verse is dependent upon whether we understand the new birth.  We must see that if we are born from above that we are no longer of this earthly realm – but are of Christ Himself in the heavenlies.  For once we do understand this nature of the new birth we will realize that to be united with Christ in resurrection union – all the while we remain physically in this earthly realm, burdened with our earthly nature – that this really is, figuratively speaking, like fleeing into a wilderness where we are being spiritually fed of God – awaiting the bodily resurrection at the coming of Christ. 


How many understand that when you and I are born from above in Christ, it results in, if I can use the figurative language again, in Christ being birthed in us?  We are progressively, “birthing the man-child,” as we gradually come into an inward realization of Jesus Christ.  This is all of ANOTHER LIFE -- the life of Christ.  But because life in Christ is not of this earthly realm – the earthly realm in which we continue to dwell -- we are very much in a wilderness – we are not where we used to be, but we are not where we will eventually be.  We are IN CHRIST – but we are not yet OUT of this earthly realm.  Thus, we need a place in Christ to which we can FLEE and be FED – until Christ returns.   


The picture of a wilderness is right on.  A wilderness has NO resources for life of its own.  Thus, even though living in an earthly realm, believers are not supposed to live as those drawing from the earthly realm the resources needed for spiritual life.  We are to live in this earthly realm – but in a wilderness – a wilderness prepared by God wherein we can be FED with Jesus Christ as our daily bread.


When saying we must not draw from the earthly realm for resources, I am not talking about jobs, or earning money to buy food, or that kind of thing.  I am talking about what our life IS -- what is the core or essence that constitutes our life.  Where is our FAITH? -- I mean really?  What FEEDS us?  What are we hungry for?  What drives us?  Do we just feed off of what makes us feel good?  Do we just feed off of what feeds our ego -- or from what makes us feel secure from the world?


God wants us to live out from Christ.  He wants us to live out from the heavenlies where we are seated with Christ.  That is where we belong – it is where we ARE if we are IN HIM.  Thus, despite the fact that believers are IN this world, and must deal with this world, and must move and live physically in this world – we are spiritually attached or joined to the One who is not of this world.  We are to feed from Christ as our bread.


We are talking about being in this world but being totally detached from it because we are attached to Jesus Christ by faith.   There are many things that both Jesus and Paul said that relate to this Truth.   All of us fall very short of it but it is central to what it means to know Christ and walk with Him.  It is NOT a how-to.  It is not a one-two-three step plan that you learn how to do by following certain principles or guidelines.  You and I will learn to live out from Christ as we are born from above and only to the extent that we come into an inward realization of Christ.  We have to know Him and then we will begin to know and understand all of these other realities which pertain to Him. 


Much of this corresponds to the experience of Israel when God brought them out of Egypt.  They went into the wilderness.  God fed them each day.  They were OUT of the old, but not yet INTO the new.  But by faith, they had to live as if they were in the new.  In like manner, we are OUT of the old Adam race, but not yet bodily resurrected.  Yet we are raised in Him spiritually.  Until all of this is resolved at the end of the age, the church must flee to this place prepared by God in Christ wherein we can be fed – despite all that is dead around us.


That, in essence, is what we are being told here.  As soon as Christ is birthed or realized by human beings, immediately the woman (the one giving birth) flees into the wilderness to a spiritual abiding place prepared by God because she, the woman, the church, believers, know that they are no longer citizens of this earthly realm.  They do not want to be.  It is not a geographical fleeing -- but a fleeing to Christ, by faith.  


This place -- prepared of God -- reminds of what Jesus said, “I go to prepare a place for you.”  It is not just a place in heaven after we die, but a place in Himself in which we now live, knowing Him as our life and the object of our faith.   This is the place to which believers go and flee from out of this world -- simply because we now know Christ and have come to realize Him.  


Fleeing into this wilderness place prepared by God goes hand in hand with realizing Christ.  The one results in the other.  If we are born from above, God still has a lot of work to do in you and me.  But, in our hearts, we are not going to want to be of this world any more.  We have to be in it, and take care of business here to a certain extent, but we know Him and know that He is not of this world.  We want to learn how to live as those who are seated in Christ in the heavenlies.  By definition, this is going to cause us to know and to desire to live in and out from the place prepared of God – where we can be fed in Christ.  We will be caught up with Him to the extent that we will know we do not belong here.  


The “Time” in the Wilderness


The birthing of the man-child, and the fleeing into the wilderness, as well as the woman being fed there by God – these are not one time events pertaining to the Body of Christ – but rather, they are on-going spiritual pictures of what God is doing all throughout the church age in believers.  We flee to a place IN CHRIST where we can live in this world -- though not of it. 


But note that it says that this woman is fed there a thousand, two hundred, and three score days.  That is 1260 days.  If you know anything about how Bible prophecy uses years and days, and what they mean, you will understand that a prophetic year is 360 days.  So, this 1260 days is talking about three and one half years.  


Most prophecy chart experts would like to tell us that this 3 1/2 years is the second half of a seven year tribulation -- or perhaps some other literal interpretation.  I do not accept any of that and do not believe that it is what God is speaking about here at all.  I think what is represented by the three and one half years is the church age in its entirety.  


Now how do I derive that from three and one half years?  Well, for one thing, it says in Daniel that the ministry of the Messiah was to be a week.  But something happens in the midst of the week: 


And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease.  (Dan. 9:27)


Here we are told that the ministry of the Messiah would be one week – prophetically.  The ministry of Jesus lasted 3½ years (a prophetic one-half week) and His earthly ministry ended when He sacrificed Himself -- which caused the sacrifice and oblation to cease forever.  No other sacrifice was ever again necessary.  But that left unfulfilled the second half of the week that was necessary to, “confirm the covenant.”   That second half of the necessary week is the spiritual 3½ years, or 1260 prophetic days of Revelation 12 – it is spiritually it is fulfilled by the church age. 


The earthly ministry of Jesus was a literal 3 ½ years.  But the spiritual ministry of Jesus, which fulfills the remaining 3 ½ years, is fulfilled spiritually -- it is not a literal period of time – but a spiritual reality in His people.  Thus, we have the entire week that confirms or fulfills in Christ the covenant of grace.  And that second half of this week – the church age – the work of God in His people – is noted as the age (prophetically 1260 days) during which God must feed His people in the wilderness with the realization of His Son.    


The symbolism is unmistakable.  Those who are in Christ, who have birthed Him, so to speak, in whom He is formed, are taken, by that very new birth, from out of this world and into the heavenly places.  But because we continue to physically live in this earthly realm, all the while living spiritual out from Christ, it is like a wilderness.  We are, as it were, in-between – born from above spiritually, yet still awaiting full redemption through the bodily resurrection.   Another way to say this is that we are in a wilderness because we cannot rely on earthy resources and must live in and out from Christ in heaven.  




And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels,  And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven.   And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceives the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.


This passage begins a picture of the finished work of Jesus Christ.  It is showing how Jesus Christ brought to complete and utter defeat the Devil and all of his minions.


This cannot be limited to a chronological progression, but once again is a spiritual picture.  There are, of course, layers of this -- and sometimes digressions.  Note that in verse 7 it says, “And there was war in heaven.”  This is an amazing statement that there could even been war in heaven and that God would allow it.  Michael and his angels fought against the dragon.  You would think that God would just wave His hand and that would be the end of it -- but God allowed and is allowing something to be played out here.    


“There was war in heaven.  Michael and his angels fought against the dragon and the dragon fought and his angels and the dragon prevailed not.  Neither was their place found anymore in heaven.”  This is something you can look up in Jude 6 -- that these demons used to be angels.  It is unmistakable that they deserted their place in heaven by following Satan – and as we noted earlier – a third of those angels followed Satan.   And it says, “And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent called the devil and Satan, which deceives the entire world.  He was cast out into the earth and his angels were cast out with him.”  


One thing we see from this passage is that, based upon the finished work of Jesus Christ, Satan no longer has access to the heavenlies – access to where believers dwell in Christ?  Can we see that? If you are in Christ, seated with Him in the heavenlies, the devil cannot touch you.  Not the new creation in Christ.  The devil can’t attack that.  The devil cannot corrupt that.  He has been cast out of all of that.  The Devil is fully and forever defeated with regards to the new creation – because the new creation is IN CHRIST – and the victory over the Devil was sealed in Christ.


But what the devil does have is a certain access to the earthly realm.  Indeed, in this passage we see that he is cast out of heaven down to the EARTH – or earthly realm.  Yet the earthly realm includes more than the physical globe we call, “earth.”  It includes ALL that is natural – including the earthly nature of believers.  This points us back to the essential of understanding the separation in each believer between the natural and spiritual.  The Devil cannot touch your union with Christ.  But if he can deceive us into opening ourselves, he can wreak havoc in and through our earthly or natural man.  


Herein we see how Christians can be deceived, and even fall into terrible sin.  Indeed, this is why Christians are even able to suffer IN the will of God.  It is because we continue to have an earthly nature.  We continue to carry the old man in Adam.  And because of that the Devil can not only make an approach, but initiate spiritual and physical attacks.


Now, of course, the Devil can do nothing except what God allows.  But God will allow plenty – He will allow the Devil to make an approach and attack so that we might be brought into a greater weakness in ourselves – all unto the opportunity to put our full reliance upon Christ.  The Devil might be used of God to do the very work needed to bring us to the place where Christ becomes our life.


So this is one of the passages that tells us -- even though we are in Christ – that the devil has a certain amount of ability to influence our earthly dimension, our emotions, and our earthly makeup.  He cannot force himself upon us, but will seek to use our ignorance, unbelief, and blindness to deceive us into giving him place.  Unbelievers have to give him access as well but they do so much more by instinct and by what comes naturally -- they hardly understand what is happening.  But Christians ought not to be that blind -- although some are.


The Bible reveals in this passage, and in others, that the Devil is limited to the earthly realm.  That is why he is called, “the god of this world.”  (II Cor. 4:4)  That is why it is said that he is the prince of the power of the air -- the spirit that works in the sons of disobedience.  (Eph. 2:2)  The devil’s entire kingdom is now is limited to the earthly -- including the psychic realm – which is a major dimension of the human makeup. 


Now, if we take the fact that the Devil has been cast down to the earthly realm – and has access to believers only on that earthly or psychic level – and if we apply this to Revelation 12, things begin to make sense.  For we have seen that those in whom Christ is formed are living in a wilderness place prepared by God – a place wherein they can be fed by Him.  The devil has access to the earthly nature that is present with us, but believers are to lose and put that aside that under the work of the Cross and become occupied with Christ as our life.  That is victory.  So this is a tremendous picture of resurrection in Christ.  It is a tremendous picture of what it means to be in Christ and how the victory there is complete.  


“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.”  (Psalm 23:5)  This verse applies directly to what we are reading in Revelation 12.  There may be a wilderness and enemies all around us.  But God has prepared a place in the midst of this – Christ will be our Living Bread.


Now, if the devil was cast out into the earth and his angels were cast out with him – this shows the obvious – that the Devil is alive and active?  We must never forget that -- and Paul continually harps on it.  If you are in Christ there is a target on your back.  He cannot touch your relationship with Christ -- but he can try to deceive you into compromising with Christ.  He can try to blind you and to snuff out anything that God wants to do.  He can deceive you into following him in a way that will shipwreck your faith.  He can’t make that happen -- but he can try to deceive you by using your earthly nature to influence you along that line.  This is how Christians get off the track.  


Salvation and Victory and Overcoming


The Devil is then shown as being cast down into the earth.  In verse 10 we read a proclamation of this:


And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.


Note the word:  NOW.  What does the word NOW signify?  Well, NOW is the result of something – it is the result of the Devil being cast out of the heavenlies.  And the result is the complete victory in Christ.  “Now is come salvation and strength and the kingdom of our God in the power of His Christ, for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.”  


Next there is another result – having to do with believers who are in Christ.  In verse 11, it says of those brethren:


And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony and they loved not their lives unto the death.  (Rev. 12:11)


This would merit an entire message -- but here we see that the way you overcome the Devil is first, “by the Blood of the Lamb” -- by taking your place in His cross and being crucified with Him.  The victory is finished by the cross of Christ and by the blood of the Lamb.  But now you have to take your place in His death and let that death become effective in yourself.



Some folks think that all we need to do for victory is proclaim what Christ has done.  Well, that certainly is the basis – without the Truth that Christ was crucified FOR us we have nothing.  But Paul knew Christ was crucified for him, and yet he said, “I am crucified WITH Christ.”  (Gal.  2:20)  Indeed, Paul also wrote, “We are planted together WITH Him in the likeness of His death.”  (Rom. 6:5)  He said, “We are baptized into HIS death.  (Rom. 6:3)  Thus, what Christ did FOR us is the foundation for all – it is only because of what Christ did FOR us that we can be joined to Him in His death – but make no question, there is no victory unless we are crucified WITH Him.  That is how we overcome, “by the Blood of the Lamb.”


“The word of their testimony,” is the second thing mentioned as the means of overcoming the Devil.  This speaks of Christ within the believer -- in a living way.  Christ is the WORD or LOGOS of God.  HE is therefore, “the word of our testimony.”  He is our living way.


This shows that religion ABOUT Christ has no power or resurrection life in it – “the word of our testimony” is really another way of saying Christ is our life, and that we are at least in the process of coming into an inward realization of Christ -- Christ in us is our testimony – He defines us. 


Finally, it says of these who have overcome the Devil by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony – it says that, “they loved not their lives unto death.”  In other words, they obeyed the command of Jesus when He said:


If any [man] will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.  For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.  (Matt. 16:24-25)


A simple way to say the same Truth is that we must ask God, “to do whatever it takes,” to bring us into the fullness of Christ.  No conditions attached.  That commitment would be what it means to begin to lose your life – to not love your life even if it means death.  Then, of course, we must walk with Christ as He does do, “whatever it takes.”


Those three things:  Taking our place in the death of Christ, coming into an inward realization of Christ, and asking God to do whatever it takes to make this all real and alive – that will overcome the enemy.  If we lose the earthly life into the hands of Jesus Christ, then the ground of the enemy – the earthly realm in us which could give place to the Devil – will be swept out from under him.  You will be set free from sins if you lose the life in which all sin is rooted.  You will not be deceived if you surrender the nature that can be deceived – and if you relinquish any notion of owning yourself.  The Devil will have no place in the old nature in which to base his deceptions.


A Proclamation

Therefore rejoice, [ye] heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knows that he hath but a short time.  And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man [child].  And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent.  And the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood.  And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed up the flood which the dragon cast out of his mouth.  And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.



Verse 12 begins with, “therefore” -- which refers to the victory just proclaimed – the victory won by Christ and won for His people.  “Therefore rejoice you heavens” -- speaking of the heavenly realm – and would refer to those who are born of that realm.  Again -- these are believers who have birthed Christ and fled into the wilderness – they are the collective heavenly man.


But then it says, “Whoa to the inhabitants of the earth and of the sea.” These are those who are OF the earthly – not yet born from above.


Herein we again see the division.  Everything that God is pictured as doing in Christ is cause for rejoicing -- if you are born from above in Christ -- because you know that He is your life and your eternity, and you know that is secure in Him and that He has the victory.  You should REJOICE.  But if you are still an inhabitant of this earth – still OF this world -- not living in and out from Christ by faith, then there is a woe pronounced because you have no place in Christ to which you can flee.


Christ is our hiding place and our way of escape.  A way of escape is not a place or a way out of a trial.  A way of escape is a matter of living in Him – and being fed of Him -- despite all of the death surrounding us.  


How many understand that you have real victory when you can walk through death and it does not move you.  This is real victory and God will allow Christians to be exposed to death in that way because it is the only way for His victory to become an experiential victory in us.  You can’t go around proclaiming victory when you never face the enemy.  You cannot do that.  Oh, you can proclaim His victory and that is good, but you, yourself, do not have a personal experience of victory. Your faith is not real unless it is tested and proven.  The Bible is very clear about this again and again.


So, “Rejoice you heavens -- and those that dwell in the heavenlies -- but woe to the inhabitants of the earth and of the sea for the devil is come down unto you -- and this earthly realm -- having great wrath because he knows he has but a short time.”  The devil wants to do as much damage as he can.  You have heard of that expression,  “scorched earth policy,”  That is when a retreating army, knowing that it is defeated, burns everything as they retreat in order to destroy it -- in order that the victor will not have anything of value out of their victory.  That is Satan.


Jesus Christ has already defeated the Devil.  But for right now, the Devil is allowed a certain amount of freedom within this earthly realm.  Yet even that freedom – if we yield to God – will be used by God to the glory of His Son.  We see this in Psalm 76:10:


You will make even the wrath of man to praise you and the remainder you will restrain.


What God is saying here is that He will let the devil do only that which God will use and the remainder of what the Devil wants to do -- that God will not allow and will restrain it.   So if God allows the Devil to pour out wrath and destroy many things – God will work good into that in the end if we turn to Him.  God will use the devil, if we turn to Christ, to ultimately set us free from the flesh.


Isn’t that what happened with Job?  It is what happened with Paul.  He had a thorn in the flesh.  Paul said that God gave him this thorn in order that he would not be puffed up due to the abundance of revelation.  Paul wanted to be free of this thorn, but eventually came to rejoice that he was weak. He could then experience what it meant for Christ to be his strength.  Is that not victory?  We can proclaim Christ as our strength until we are blue in the face -- but are we I living in Him AS our strength?  


This cannot happen on paper -- and the only way it can become experiential is for me to be exposed to powers beyond my ability to handle on my own.  Then if my heart is right with God, I will experientially understand and realize what it means to turn myself to God and experience Him as my strength.


So, God will allow Satan to do things.  He will sometimes allow Satan to do things in the natural life in order that we might learn Christ and know what it means to live from out of Him from the heavenlies.


It says in verse thirteen, “And when the dragon saw that he was cast out upon the earth, he persecuted the woman who had brought forth the man child.  And to the woman was given two wings of the great eagle that she might fly into the wilderness.”  This picture points UPWARD – again, to the heavenlies.  The woman is being taken into the wilderness via heavenly workings.  This is another picture of God carrying the people who are in Christ to that place prepared so that they might be fed in Christ -- “That she might fly into the wilderness, into her place where she is nourished for a time, times and half a time from the face of the serpent.”  


And again, we have, “a time, times and half a time,” which adds up to the three and one half prophetic years, equal to the one thousand, two hundred and sixty days.  The woman remains there, in the wilderness -- she is nourished there, as it says, from the face of the serpent.  


Now, of course, the serpent can continue to try to deceive and do things to thwart the purpose of God.  In fact, in verse fifteen, it says, “And the serpent cast out of his mouth water as of a flood after the woman, and she was carried away into the wilderness.”  The picture there is that he might cause her to be carried away by this flood – instead of finding Christ as her hiding place.


This is really quite remarkable in its figurative language.  Notice that this water as a flood is cast out of the mouth of the serpent.”  Pardon my crudeness but it is like he is vomiting it up.  I think that this flood coming out of the serpent’s mouth is all of the spiritual forces the enemy is able to produce in the earthly psychic realm -- including lies, fear, and spiritual influences -- that we may not even be able to put out finger on.  God’s people experience those things all the time.  These things cannot touch our lives in Christ but they can affect our earthy nature, our emotions.  Have you ever had something psychic happen to you where you could barely bring yourself to pray? Or, you get up one morning and the day is just a mess and you can’t even think straight?  There is something opposing you, and yes, some of that could be yourself, or that you ate something that did not agree with you.  But Satan is capable of causing such conditions, and his purpose is often to get us occupied with ourselves – or it is to perhaps to get us to stop believing and resting in God.  Again, this is not a matter of Satan being able to touch our place in Christ -- but is a matter of Satan trying to deceive us into moving from that place onto a lower level – trying to carry us away with a flood of psychic waves, or with emotional conditions.


Isn’t it a fact that when our emotions are stirred up, or when our fears rise up, that it is easier to begin to abandon faith in Christ and to begin to be carried away in the direction dictated by our emotions?  These things can seem like a flood that is coming in.  Again, it cannot touch our lives in Christ but the intent of the enemy is to get us to move from Christ through deceit and to get us to move our focus onto ourselves -- onto our emotions and our earthly natures. This is what the enemy has always tried to do -- and I believe that is what is being pictured here.  He uses all of this junk that issues out of his mouth, which can be so powerful and influential, that it is like a flood that would sweep away everything in its path -- a tsunami, spiritually speaking.  


Now it says in verse 16: “And the earth helped the woman and the earth opened up her mouth and swelled up the flood which the dragon cast out of his mouth.”  So you have that which was intended to sweep away the woman being swallowed up, or absorbed, as it were, by the earth.  How strange.  What does this picture in type and shadow?


I am reminded of 1 Corinthians 15:54, where it says, “And when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, death is swallowed up in victory.”  The enemy will seek to pour out his wrath and out of his mouth will come that which has access only to the earthly realm.  And God will open up the earthly realm TO the Devil.  But the earthly realm is already dead and powerless in the death of Christ.  Thus, the earthly is swallowing up all the Devil can spew forth unto no avail for him – because the believer is no longer of that realm, but has been raised in Christ.  The death of the woman – and all the Devil can bring upon that dead earthly nature – is swallowed up in the victory of resurrection life in Christ.


The woman has been both crucified and raised in Christ.  Thus, her death in Christ has been swallowed up in His victory.  This means that spiritually speaking her corruption has put on His incorruption.  Thus, the flood of the enemy – which can only access the corrupt and the earthly – is swallowed up by the earthly that is already crucified with Christ.  It cannot touch the resurrection life that has emerged from being crucified with Him.  Thus – death and the flood of the enemy that has access to that which is death – is swallowed up by His victory.  


As we have seen, the enemy continues to have access to our earthly nature.  The flood that the enemy produces is intended to sweep us away -- by using that earthly nature.  The enemy will spew forth what he thinks will carry us away and get us occupied in that earthly realm.  But instead of mounting a fight against the Devil, we are to yield to God.  If we do, the flood of the enemy cannot reach us.  We are risen in Christ.


We see this played out in the story of Job, don’t we?   Job’s earthly nature in that earthly realm was subject to Satan.  Boy was it ever!  But because Job surrendered to God and believed God, he got through to the point where the flood of the enemy could no longer move him.  His earthly nature was, figuratively speaking, crucified with Christ.  Thus, the flood was swallowed up by his earthly nature down into his death in Christ.  What emerged was victory.  So all the death in the history of Job was swallowed up in the victory which God obtained in him.  So it is in our lives and so it is here in Revelation twelve.  


The Remnant of Her Seed


Going on the verse 17:  “And the dragon was wroth [angry, in other words] with the woman and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ.”  


Now, so far in this chapter, we have seen that the woman who gives birth to the man-child represents the collective body of people in Christ -- who have had Christ formed in them -- who have come into an inward realization of Christ -- to where it can be said that they have birthed Christ and manifested Him.  They are those who have come into a realization of what it means to be in resurrection union with Him and are seated with Him in the heavenlies.  But now, in this verse 17, our attention is called to another group of people who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.  These are referred to as, “the remnant of her seed.”


Clearly, “the remnant of her seed,” is ANOTHER group than those represented by the woman -- because when it says that the dragon fails to get through to the woman he is angry and turns and goes to make war with this, “remnant of her seed.”  So this remnant is not included in the woman who is in the wilderness being fed with Christ, and thus, are not among those who are living from out of Christ. 


So who are those who constitute this, “remnant?”  They may be in Christ, but they have not come into any inward realization of Christ.  Christ may be in them, but He is not yet their personal Lord.  They DO obey God and have the testimony of Christ to a certain extent.  But they obviously have not yet come into the fullness in Christ that God has for them.  For if they had done so, they would be of the woman in the wilderness – living out from Christ.


So, it is said that the enemy – having failed to sweep away the woman with the flood which has come out of his mouth -- will go and try to make war with this remnant.  He cannot move those who have come into a realization of Christ from that heavenly position.  But apparently, he can still move these others; this remnant.  


Now, I do not believe that what we are seeing here is a dividing line between one group of Christians and another group – one that is set in stone and is eternal.  Rather, I believe that this is a picture of an ongoing and fluid condition that has been going on since the beginning.  There have always been those who progressively have come into the fullness of Christ.  But there have always been those who have not come into this fullness -- and yet profess Christ.  This does not mean that everyone cannot come into fullness.  Those who have not can still come into fullness.  But this is a figurative snapshot of the spiritual condition of the Body of Christ at any given time.


We are being shown here that when the Devil discovers that he cannot move certain ones from their position in Christ -- because they have surrendered to God -- he is going to turn his attention to those who still might be moved from their position in Christ.   It is simply talking about that possibility. He is not condemning the people in verse 17 and is not saying that they have lost out forever.  It is simply giving the fact that a group of people like this are always going to exist.  The devil is going to turn his attention there.  And the Truth is, God will use the war Satan makes with this remnant as a vehicle to bring them into the fullness He has for them – if they will yield to Him. 


This is a principle in this that we can apply within an individual.  If Satan cannot defeat us on one level – because there we have been set free and given ourselves to Christ – he will turn and try to get us on another level.  He tried that with Jesus in the wilderness – he tempted Jesus on three separate levels.  So, don’t think of this as God condemning or excluding anyone.  No.  Rather, this is a spiritual picture of things which exist in the Body of Christ at any given moment.  


So, this is Revelation 12.  It is a picture of what has been going on, spiritually speaking, in the church age and even before.  There is this tremendous working of God where He is building the people who constitute His church.  He is seeking and travailing as a woman about to give birth, through His servants, like Paul, that Christ might be formed; that Christ might be birthed in people.  This is so that those believers might be seated in Him and live in and out from Him in the heavenlies. We are given a glimpse into the spiritual reality that goes on as these things happen.

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