Revelation 12 Commentary Notes

Revelation 12

Revelation 12:1–3, A great sign. According to Ernest Martin in his book The Star That Astonished the Word, in chapter 5(, this passage of Scripture tells us the exact date of Yeshua’s birth; it was the new moon or rosh chodesh of the seventh month, or Yom Teruah, the Day of Trumpets. Martin determines this based on John’s description of the sun and the moon with relationship to the woman or the zodiacal constellation of Virgo, the Virgin. Moreover, he reasons that Yeshua couldn’t have been born during Sukkot, for when Yeshua was born, every man, by Roman edict, was to be in the city of his birth for the Roman census. This activity could not have occurred during Sukkot, for at that time every male was to be in Jerusalem for that festival. According to Martin, Yeshua was born on September 11, 3 BCE.

The significance of this date for Yeshua’s birth can’t be overstated. Yom Teruah, according to Jewish tradition and based on Exodos 23:16 and 34:22, marks the date of creation and hence the beginning of the Jewish civil new year. Yom Teruah is on a rosh chodesh or a new moon signifying a renewal or new beginning. 

This is the first day and first biblical festival of the fall season,which, prophetically points to events surrounding the second coming of the Messiah leading to his defeating Satan and his henchmen and the establishment of Messiah’s millennial kingdom on earth. This is also the day that many biblical students believe that Yeshua will make his appearance in the heavens of earth’s atmosphere at his second coming and the day of the first resurrection of the righteous dead. 

Revelation 12:1–6, Woman clothed with the sun. There is a double prophetic entendré here. The woman refers both to a faithful community of Israelites (a spiritual virgin among the heathen nations of the world) who produced the Messiah, and to the glory of Elohim coming upon an Israelite virgin woman, who gave birth to the Messiah, who would then go on to defeat the devil-serpent. The same woman, or faithful Israelite community, which existed both before and after the coming of the Messiah, is persecuted and forced to flee into the wilderness. Moreover, in Jewish thought, the sun, moon and stars can also represent Jacob, his wife and his twelve sons, who became the twelve tribes of Israel as per Joseph’s dream of Genesis 37:9. Jacob and his offspring eventually became came the faithful community of Israelites out of which came the virgin woman who gave birth to the Messiah.

Revelation 12:4, Stars of heaven. In the Bible, stars can be metaphors for angels (Dan 8:10; 10:20–21), human kings or governmental leaders (Judg 5:20), the saints (Dan 12:3; Matt 13:43) and the descendants of Abraham (Gen 15:5; 22:17). So the stars here can be metaphors for good heavenly beings as well as the saints who the devil and his forces are attacking and maybe even temporarily triumphing over.

Revelation 12:6, (14), Fled into the wilderness. Wilderness is the Greek word eremos meaning “solitary, lonely, desolate, uninhabited, a desert, wilderness, deserted places, lonely regions, an uncultivated region fit for pasturage, and deserted by others.”The servants (individually and collectively) fleeing into the wilderness due to satanic persecution is a theme that has often been repeated in the long history of Israel. In every case, YHVH nourished his servants in the wilderness. This happened with Moses, the children of Israel, Elijah and other prophets, Yeshua’s parents, and the early Christians fleeing from the Romans to Pella in AD 66 (Matt 24:16; cp. Jer 31:2; Hos 2:14). This is a cycle that is likely to repeat itself again before the second coming of Yeshua. The question that remains is whether the wilderness here is a literal or spiritual one. The word eremos seems to imply a literal wilderness. In the end times, since YHVH’s people are dispersed across the globe and not in a single location as in Bible times, removing to a single geographical wilderness seems unlikely. If so, is this wilderness a figurative one—a place of spiritual isolation in the midsts of society. If this is the case, could this be the “wilderness of the peoples” of which Ezekiel speaks (Ezek 20:35) as opposed to a literal one as the case with the children of Israel (v. 36)?

Revelation 12:6, 14 , Twelve hundred and sixty days….time and times and half a time. The time of the saints in John’s wilderness hearkens back to the children of Israel wandering in the wilderness for 40 years—obviously a longer period that 1,260 days. This forty years metaphorically represents the time period between the Messiah’s first and second comings, where the saints will be wandering in the wilderness of this world, while being cared for by YHVH, while at the same time enduring persecution by Satan and his minions. Therefore, as Keener points out, the 1,260 days may be more of a symbolic than a literal number representing a time of the saints’ testing and persecution, while awaiting their final redemption at Messiah’s arrival as the conquering King of kings, when he will defeat Satan the dragon once and for all (The IVP Biblical Background Commentary, by Craig Keener, p. 794).

Revelation 12:7, Dragon. In Hebraic thought, a dragon represents evil kingdoms that persecute Israel. Of course, leading evil kingdoms are evil leaders, who are often influenced directly by Satan, the grand dragon, himself. The Bible likens dragons to sea monsters that rise up out of the sea(s of humanity). 

Revelation 12:7–11, War…the accuser. We see war occurring here on two fronts: on earth and in heaven. We also see literal battles occurring as well as legal, courtroom battles before the throne of Elohim. Satan and his minions literally oppose the saints on earth both physically and spiritually. He also opposes them, as the accuser of the brethren before the throne of Elohim—heaven’s courtroom.

Revelation 12:9, The serpent. This verse links the serpent of Genesis 3:15 (i.e. Satan the devil) whom the seed of the woman (i.e. Yeshua) would crush.

Revelation 12:10, The accuser. This indicates a heavenly courtroom scene, where Satan is the accuser of the brethren (or prosecuting attorney) before Elohim’s throne, and Yeshua is the defense attorney or legal advocate (or Great High Priest) on behalf of the saints (1 John 2:1 cp. Rom 8:34; 1 Tim 2:5; Heb 7:24–25; 9:24).

Revelation 12:11, Testimony. The saints’ verbal testimony backed up their willingness to lay down their lives for their faith. Moreover, Yeshua defense of his blood-bought saints carries more weight in the courtroom of heaven than Satan accusations against them. The legal standing that the saints have in heaven’s courtroom is totally based on their relationship with Yeshua and their testimony of Yeshua’s work in their lives and faithfulness to his Torah-word (Rev 1:2, 5, 9; 2:13; 12:17; 14:12).

Revelation 12:13, The dragon…cast to the earth. This may be a past event. (See notes at Ezek 28:16–17.) In Luke 10:18, Yeshua seems to be speaking of this event as well, although, at the same time, Revelation 11:10 seems to indicate that Satan is present in the courtroom of heaven until the very end of the age.

Revelation 12:14, Two wings. This prophecy calls to remembrance Elohim’s carrying the children of Israel from Egypt into the wilderness “on eagle’s wings” (Exod 19:4). As he safely protected and provided for the Israelites in the wilderness of Sinai, he will care for his saints similarly in the end times. The concept of YHVH protecting his people under his spiritual wings is a recurring metaphor in the OT (Pss 17:8; 36:7; 57:1; 91:1; Matt 23:cp. Jdg 9:15; Son 2:3; Isa 4:5-6; Lam 4:20).

Wilderness. Gr. eremos meaning “solitary, lonely, desolate, uninhabited, a desert, wilderness, deserted places, lonely regions, an uncultivated region fit for pasturage, deserted by others.” This seemingly literal wilderness hardly appear to be the same as “the wilderness of the peoples” of Ezek 20:35 (q.v.). 

Revelation 12:15, Water out of his mouth…flood. As Beale points out in his commentary on this verse, this metaphor can be pinned to several ideas in the OT. It can refer to an army spreading to conquer a nation (Dan 11:10, 22, 26, 40), and can relate to divine judgment (Ps 88:7, 17; Isa 8:7–8; 17:12–13; Jer 46:8; 47:2; 51:55; Hos 5:10; cf. Isa 10:22; 59:19; Mic 1:4; Nah 1:8). A flood can also be a general reference to the trials of a saint (Pss 32:6; 90:5). It can also refer to persecution of the saints by their enemies from which Elohim delivers them (2 Sam 22:5; Pss 18:4, 16; 46:3; 66:12; 69:1–2, 14–15; 124:4–5; 144:7–8, 11; Isa 43:2). Due to the context of this verse, it seems that the third idea is clearly in view (Commentary on the NT Use of the OT, by G. K. Beale et al, p. 1126). Beale’s view on the interpretation of the metaphorical water spewing out of Satan’s mouth being likened to armies persecuting the saints can be augmented also to refer “to a war of words” or propaganda against YHVH’s Word and to the saints who have allegiance to it. Certainly the idea that water from the mouth is equivalent to words is not without biblical precedence (Deut 32:1–2; Jpb 29:22–23; Isa 55:10–11 cp. John 9:6; 1 Cor 3:6–8). Tp be sure, any military action against the saints will be preceded by an antibiblical and Antichrist propagandistic war of words. In our day, we’re seeing the ramping up of this type of rhetoric worldwide including in the formerly “Christian” West.

Revelation 12:16, The earth opened it mouth. The metaphor of this verse, like those of the preceding verses, draws from OT historical events where Elohim supernaturally delivered his people from their enemies using the earth. For example, the earth swallowed Pharaoh and his army (Exod 15:12), the earth opened its mouth and swallowed the rebellious Korah and his gang of rebels (Num 16:32).

Revelation 12:17, The rest of her offspring. Not all end time believers will hear YHVH’s voice to flee into the wilderness or will be able to flee there (assuming the wilderness is a literal geographic location). Some won’t hear, and will thus miss the call. Some will be too attached to their lifestyles in spiritual Babylon to want to flee to the rigors of privation and faith in the unsettling and unknown place of the wilderness. Some will choose to stay back because they have a ministry to reach out to those who remain. Some may stay behind because they’re too old, feeble, sick or otherwise unable or unwilling to flee. This choice on their part should in no way diminish their spiritual standing before YHVH.


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