Thursday, 25 February 2021
And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great, fiery red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems on his heads. Revelation 12:3
John continues with the vision which began in verse 12:1. The woman clothed in the sun has cried out in labor and in pain, ready to give birth. After noting this, John continues, saying, “And another sign appeared in heaven.” This doesn’t mean a new vision, but another part of the same unfolding vision.
Being a “sign,” it is given to represent something else. In other words, the language is not to be taken as literal. Rather, what is seen is given as an allegory. Just as the woman is given as a picture of Israel, what is seen here is only a picture representing other things. As it is seen “in heaven,” it is representing spiritual matters. With that understood, John says, “behold, a great fiery red dragon.”
The word drakón, translated as “dragon,” is introduced into Scripture here. It will be seen thirteen times in Revelation. Of this word, HELPS Word Studies states –
“…properly ‘seeing one,’ used of mythical dragons (huge serpents) seeing their prey from far away; (figuratively) Satan (Rev 12:7,9) exercising his subtle (indirect) impact on heathen governments (powers) – i.e. accomplishing his hellish agenda from ‘behind the scenes.’”
As stated, this dragon can represent Satan, or it can represent the powers of Satan as worked out in governments. The same Greek word is found in the Greek translation of the Old Testament in the account of the serpent on the pole in Numbers 21. It is also used in Job 41:1, Isaiah 27:1, Jeremiah 51:34, and Ezekiel 29:3 – all in various ways. For example, in Ezekiel, it is used as a metaphor for Pharaoh, king of Egypt.
The description of it being “great” signifies that it is large and powerful. The color, translated as “fiery red,” was used in verse 6:4. This is its last use in Scripture. As seen then, the color being fiery red is overwhelmingly agreed upon to signify war, just as the planet Mars, the red planet, is a symbol of war. This probably isn’t coincidence as even from the first chapter of the Bible, the heavenly objects are meant “for signs and for seasons.” Planets and constellations are mentioned elsewhere in the Bible in this way.
Of this dragon, John next says it is “having seven heads.” The symbolism here is probably that of a group of nations. This type of apocalyptic literature was seen in the Old Testament writings, such as in Daniel 7. The dragon is a body of united governments, and the heads probably represent individual nations. From there, it says, “and ten horns.” Horns in Scripture signify power and authority. What is seen here is similar to the words of Daniel –
“After this I saw in the night visions, and behold, a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, exceedingly strong. It had huge iron teeth; it was devouring, breaking in pieces, and trampling the residue with its feet. It was different from all the beasts that were before it, and it had ten horns. 8 I was considering the horns, and there was another horn, a little one, coming up among them, before whom three of the first horns were plucked out by the roots. And there, in this horn, were eyes like the eyes of a man, and a mouth speaking pompous words.” Daniel 7:7, 8
John next says, “and seven diadems on his heads.” The word translated as “diadem,” is diadéma. This is its first use in Scripture and it will be seen three times. It signifies a royal crown. HELPS Word Studies says –
“…referring to: a) the pagan empires of ancient history which opposed God (Rev 12:3); b) the end-times coalition led by Antichrist (Rev 13:1); and c) the infinite majesty (kingship) of Christ (Rev 19:12).”
Their analysis places this account in Revelation 12:3 as ancient history. This is a possibility. As this is apocalyptic literature, it could be a panorama of past history leading into the future, or it could be events that are yet ahead in the redemptive narrative. Those options will be explored in the verses ahead. For now, the symbolism appears to be –
A great, fiery red dragon – An entity filled with satanic influence, bent on war.
Having seven heads – Comprised of seven distinct nations.
And ten horns – Under the authority of ten powerful rulers.
And seven diadems on his heads – Seven of the entities are kingdoms or nations under a single leader rule.
Obviously, there is speculation as to the structure of this beast, but this gives a general outline of what it may be comprised of.
Life application: Jesus called the devil “a murderer from the beginning…” Right from the time of the creation of man, the devil set out to kill and destroy. In the Garden of Eden, he tempted man and caused death to enter the world when man believed his lies. He continues to deceive and destroy both individuals and nations. He does it by influencing people and nations as well.
The picture given here is a corporate body that has been established on earth and which has the intent of thwarting God’s purposes for the redemption of man. This redemption was promised all the way back in Genesis 3:15 and reflects the anticipated Messiah. From the beginning, and even until today, all of the devil’s efforts are to undermine what God has done in and through Christ.
But the devil is a created being. He is finite and limited. God is infinite and unlimited. There should be no fear that the devil can steal one of the redeemed of the Lord away. Such cannot occur. Once a person is saved by the blood of the Lamb, he is forever secure. Let us trust this and not be overcome with anxiety about the wiles of the devil. Let us put our hope, trust, and confidence in the Lord’s Christ. Let us fix our eyes on JESUS!
Oh God, no matter what the devil tries and no matter how fierce are his minions who work his evil, we know that You are infinitely greater. We know that Your plans and purposes for the restoration of all things will never be thwarted. Your book is written and the prophecies are given. We can watch them unfold with great surety that all will come about as stated! Amen.