A passage that is often misunderstood is Revelation 12. The passage actually describes the ascension of Jesus and his Kingdom Authority. This chapter of Revelation marks the beginning of a new cycle in the book of Revelation. To get later events in perspective, this section goes right back to the ascension.

A great and wondrous sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head. She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth. Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on his heads. His tail swept down a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth. The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth so that he might devour her child the moment it was born. She gave birth to a son, a male child, who will rule the nations with an iron sceptre. And her child was snatched up to God and his throne (Rev 12:1-5).

In this vision, the dragon represents Satan or the devil (Rev 12:9). In Joseph's dream, the sun and the twelve stars represented Jacob (Israel) and his twelve sons, so the woman is the nation of Israel (Gen 37:9,10).

Jesus is the male child, who was born of an Israelite woman in the nation of Israel. The stars that fell from the sky are the angels that fell with Satan to become his demonic servants. Satan tried to use Herod to destroy Jesus at the time of his birth, but God kept him safe. The devil also tried to destroy Jesus on the cross, but he was raised to life, and "snatched up to God and to his throne." This is a picture of the ascension. Jesus is the one "who will rule the nations with an iron sceptre", as his Kingdom is established on the earth.

When Jesus arrived in heaven, Satan's power was totally destroyed.

And there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven (Rev 12:7,8).

Satan and his angels were thrown out because they had lost their "place in heaven". This is the war in heaven that John saw. Satan only had authority in heaven as an "accuser" (Rev 12:10) He came to power through the sin of Adam. Those who sin place themselves under Satan's authority, because he has the right to accuse them before God in heaven. If he can justly accuse people of sin, he has legitimate power over them. Because all have sinned, he had a great deal of authority and a "place in heaven".

Jesus' death paid the penalty for sin, so Satan can no longer accuse God's people.

They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony (Rev 12:11).

If Christians are accused by Satan, they can testify to the fact that their sins are covered by Jesus' blood. Satan has lost his place in heaven, because he no longer has any right to be there.

The accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down (Rev 12:10).

He now has to work on the earth. He can only maintain his power by deceiving the people of the earth and preventing them from seeing what Jesus has done (Rev 12:12). He has gone to work on the earth in a great fury, but even there his time is short.

There is great rejoicing in heaven, because Jesus has inaugurated his Kingdom. His will is done perfectly in heaven.

Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ... Therefore rejoice, you heavens and you who dwell in them (Rev 12:10,12).

Satan's power and authority have been destroyed. The way has been opened for the people of God to establish his Kingdom on the earth. Because Satan has been defeated, he goes off to try and destroy the nation of Israel. Revelation 12:13-16 describes the fate of Israel after the ministry of Jesus.

When the dragon saw that he had been hurled to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child. The woman was given the two wings of a great eagle, so that she might fly to the place prepared for her in the desert, where she would be taken care of for a time, times and half a time, out of the serpent's reach. Then from his mouth the serpent spewed water like a river, to overtake the woman and sweep her away with the torrent. But the earth helped the woman by opening its mouth and swallowing the river that the dragon had spewed out of his mouth.

Satan tries to destroy Israel. This explains the ferocity of the destruction of Israel in AD 70. However, the Jews were not all killed and many were sent into exile. Being away from Jerusalem was like being in "a desert", but it also proved to be a hiding place for them. The wings of the eagle represent the Roman empire that sent the nation of Israel into exile (the desert). The Jews were spread throughout the world, so Satan has been unable to destroy them, because God intended that they be kept safe.

Israel is to be hidden in exile "out of the serpent's reach", for a "time, times and half a time". This is the length of the Times of the Gentiles when Jerusalem is trampled by them. This season will end with the fullness of the Jews: when they Return to their land and are converted (Luke 21:24). This is now getting close.

When Satan found that he could not destroy Israel, he went off to persecute the church.

Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to make war against the rest of her offspring— those who obey God's commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus (Rev 12:17).

Persecution of the church began, as Satan tried to destroy those who obeyed God's word and gave testimony to Jesus. This persecution has continued right down through the ages.

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