Friday, 26 February 2021
His tail drew a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was ready to give birth, to devour her Child as soon as it was born. Revelation 12:4
John now continues with his description of the vision before his eyes. In the previous verse, he described the great, fiery red dragon. He continues with that imagery now, saying, “His tail drew a third of the stars of heaven.”
Like in verse 6:13 and elsewhere, the meaning of the words “stars” is not intended to be taken literally. Rather, it is speaking of either heavenly beings, such as angels (thus these would be fallen angels), or it is speaking of humans in high positions, religious or otherwise. This is seen, for example, in Daniel 8:10. Regardless as to which is correct, John next says, “and threw them to the earth.”
Possibly these beings were in powerful, or exalted, positions and have been cast out of those positions. The dragon is probably a symbol of Satan’s power being worked out in a human government. As such, it would then mean that it has consolidated great power by removing people from their high positions. These “stars” could be either religious or political figures. Either way, the dragon has strengthened its own authority by removing these figures. In this strengthened position, it then says, “And the dragon stood before the woman who was ready to give birth.”
Again, the woman is Israel, not the church. If the dragon is speaking of an earthly system, the idea is that this great power is ready to act against Israel at the time of her giving birth. The reason for this is “to devour her Child as soon as it was born.”
Here, the translators have chosen to capitalize the word “Child,” thus they have interpreted this to indicate that it is Christ Jesus. The Greek word is teknon. It means a child, descendant, or even inhabitant. Such a child can be a fully grown person, such as is assumed to be the case in Matthew 9:2 –
“Then behold, they brought to Him a paralytic lying on a bed. When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, ‘Son, be of good cheer; your sins are forgiven you.’”
In that verse in Matthew, the word “son,” is the Greek word teknon. John uses the term numerous times in his epistles when speaking of believers in Christ. Thus, it reflects a state of being. HELPS word studies defines it as –
“…properly, a child; (figuratively) anyone living in full dependence on the heavenly Father, i.e. fully (willingly) relying upon the Lord in glad submission. This prompts God to transform them into His likeness.”
If the word “Child” here is speaking of Christ, which is the likely interpretation, it could be referring to Him at any time.
In other words, the dragon has positioned itself in anticipation of the birth of the Child. Therefore, this scene is either a look back into the past at the coming of Christ, or a look into the future when Israel is about to “give birth” to their knowledge of Christ, whom they have rejected for the past millennia. Either way, the woman is Israel, not the church. Christ wasn’t born from the church. Rather, the church came from Christ’s completed work.
As Revelation is a book of prophecy, and unless this portion of the vision is looking back to the birth of Christ, it is most probable that what is being described here is actually future. Even though Christ was literally born two thousand years ago, He has not yet been “born” into the life of Israel. However, with the coming of the two witnesses, the people have come to the point where He is coming to be understood as their Messiah.
The idea of giving birth in this manner is not unknown to Scripture. Paul uses similar terminology in Galatians 4 –
“My little children, for whom I labor in birth again until Christ is formed in you, 20 I would like to be present with you now and to change my tone; for I have doubts about you.” Galatians 4:19, 20
Life application: Satan has been at war with the message of the coming Christ since the beginning. He was prophesied all the way back in Genesis 3:15. From that time on, the devil has used every means possible to thwart this redemptive process. In His first advent, Israel rejected Him. But He promised He would return to them when they called out to Him –
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! 38 See! Your house is left to you desolate; 39 for I say to you, you shall see Me no more till you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’” Matthew 23:27-39
When Christ returns, Satan will be bound for a thousand years (Revelation 20:2). In order to stop this, he will work to again subvert the very people through whom Christ came and to whom He has promised to return. But the book is written, and the devil is not God. God’s plans cannot be thwarted!
If the scene John is describing is future, as is the likely scenario, the attempt to subvert Israel’s conversion and to stop the coming millennial reign of Christ will not succeed. This is because God has spoken. What He has determined will come to pass. There will be the promised rule among Israel, and it will be under the authority of God’s Messiah, our Lord JESUS!
Lord, the plan You have laid out in the Bible is glorious and it is one that spans the ages. From Adam all the way to the end, You are in complete control. Despite our weaknesses and failings, You have accomplished wondrous deeds by bringing many of Your wayward children home by the work of this precious Child who came and dwelt among us! Amen.