The Messianic Son

In Chapter 12, John saw a new “sign” in the heavens, the Woman “clothed with the sun, and the moon beneath her feet.” She was wearing a “crown of twelve stars.” She was pregnant and about to give birth to one identified as “son.” He appeared in fulfillment of the Messianic promise in the Second Psalm, the King and Son of God who was destined to “Shepherd the Nations.”

Satan was symbolized by the “Great Red Dragon.” He was ready to devour the child as soon as he was born. However, the Son was “caught up to the Throne of God” before the “Dragon” could strike. This image represents the commencement of the final stage in the age-old war between God and Satan.

Alone at Dusk - Photo by Mohamed Nohassi on Unsplash
[Photo by Mohamed Nohassi on Unsplash]

  • (Revelation 12:1-2) – “And a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman arrayed with the sun, and the moon beneath her feet, and upon her head, a crown of twelve stars; and she was with child and is crying out, being in pangs and in anguish to bring forth.”

The noun translated as “sign” or sémeion is related to the verb sémainō. It is translated as “signify” in the first verse of the Book (“and he signified”). Thus, the “Woman” in the Heavens was symbolic, not real or literal - (Revelation 1:1).

The description of the “sun and the moon beneath her feet, and her crown of twelve stars” alludes to Joseph's dream in Genesis when he saw the sun, moon, and eleven stars rendering homage to him. The twelve stars represented the Tribes of Israel, and Joseph was symbolized by the twelfth star - (Genesis 37:9).

The background from Genesis means this “Woman” represented the covenant community, the people of God. Possibly, both the Old and New Testament communities were intended. Similarly, in the vision of “New Jerusalem,” the “names of the Twelve tribes of Israel” and the names of the “Twelve Apostles of the Lamb” were found on the city’s gates, walls, and foundations, representing the saints from both testaments - (Revelation 7:4-8, 21:12-14).

The “crown of twelve stars” was a victor’s “wreath” or stephanos in distinction from the seven “crowns” or diadems worn by the “Dragon.” Elsewhere, victory “wreaths” are associated with victorious saints - (Revelation 2:10, 3:11).

The woman’s labor pains symbolized the tribulations of the covenant community caused by the attacks of the “Dragon.” His persecuting efforts culminated in the birth of the “Son.” The image echoes the fall of Adam after his wife was deceived by the “Serpent”:

  • (Genesis 3:15-16) - “And enmity will I put between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed. He will crush your head, but you will crush his heel. To the woman he said, I will increase your pain of pregnancy. In pain, you will bear children.”

The passage utilizes the Messianic prophecy in the Book of Isaiah - “A the height above...a virgin shall be with child and shall bring forth a son.” Likewise, in the present vision: “A Great sign in the heaven, a woman…with child…and she brought forth a son” - (Isaiah 7:10-14). Thus, the “Son” was none other than the Messiah of Israel as promised in the Scriptures.

  • (Revelation 12:3-4) – “And there appeared another sign in heaven, and behold, a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads, seven diadems; and his tail is drawing the third part of the stars of heaven and cast them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to deliver, that as soon as she brought forth, he might devour her child.”

In Ezekiel, Pharaoh was compared to the “Great Dragon that lies in his rivers,” and to “the Dragon in the seas.” The image of “seven heads” reflects the character of Leviathan. God “broke the heads of the dragons on the waters” and “crushed the heads of Leviathan” - (Ezekiel 29:1-3, 32:2, Psalm 74:13-14).

The God of Israel promised to “punish Leviathan, the swift Serpent, and Leviathan, the crooked serpent.” In Revelation, the association of the “Dragon” with Pharaoh is appropriate since imagery from the Exodus of Israel and her sojourn in the wilderness is used in Chapter 12 when the Dragon pursued the “Woman” into the wilderness. The association of “Leviathan” with the “Sea” is found in Chapter 13 when the “Dragon” summons the “Beast from the Sea” - (Isaiah 27:1, Revelation 12:6-17).

The “Ten Horns” of the “Dragon” connect it to the “fourth beast” of the Book of Daniel that Daniel saw “ascending from the Sea.” It likewise had “ten horns” and “devoured,” and it also represented an imperial power that persecuted the “saints” - (Daniel 7:7-21).

The downfall of the “third of the stars” alludes to another vision in Daniel when the figure of the “Little Horn… cast down some of the stars to the earth and trampled upon them,” the same “Little Horn” that appeared on the head of the “Fourth Beast” that “ascended from the Sea”- (Daniel 7:8, 8:10).

The “seven heads” of the Dragon symbolize his control over the political powers of the Earth. The “Seven Diadems” represented his claim to universal sovereignty over the nations. Its red color stressed his violent nature, just as the “red horse” in the “Second Seal” was authorized to “take peace from the Earth and make men slay each other.” The Dragon or Satan waged constant war against the people of God - (Revelation 6:1-8).


The “stars” may represent angels, righteous men, or both. Elsewhere in the Book, they symbolize “messengers” or “angels.” Regardless, the verse ends with the “Dragon” poised to “devour” the child.

  • (Revelation 12:5) – “And she brought forth a son, a male, who was to shepherd all the nations with a scepter of iron; and her child was caught away to God and to his throne.”

The Woman “brought forth a son, a male” (eteken huion arsen). The Greek clause is from the Septuagint version of Isaiah 66:5-8 where “Zion” represents a female figure who “brought forth a male” (Greek - eteken arsen). The term “Son” or huios is added to the original clause to leave no doubt about his identity. He is the Messianic “Son” destined to “Shepherd all the Nations with a scepter of iron”:

  • (Psalm 2:6-9) - “Yet I have installed my king on Zion my holy mountain. Let me tell of a decree; Yahweh said to me: You are My son; I, today, have begotten you. Ask of me and let me give nations as your inheritance, and as your possession, the ends of the Earth. YOU WILL shepherd them with a sceptER of iron, as a potter’s vessel you will dash them in pieces.”

The “Son” was born from the community of believers, presumably Israel. His identity is explicit in verse 10 - “Now has come the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ” – (Acts 13:33, Hebrews 1:5, 5:5, Revelation 19:15).

Satan’s attempt to destroy the child failed when God “seized him toward His Throne.” Previously, the Lamb’s installment on the Throne was linked to his sacrificial death. Now, the vision portrays his enthronement following his Death and Resurrection - (Revelation 1:5, 3:21, 5:5-10).

  • (Revelation 12:6) – “The woman fled into the desert where she has a place prepared of God, that there they should nourish her a thousand, two hundred and sixty days.”

The Woman’s flight mirrored Israel’s escape from Egypt. She symbolized the covenant community of saints formed around the “Son.” Following his exaltation, the Assembly began the greater Exodus into the “wilderness” and journey to the Promised Land, “New Jerusalem,” while being pursued by the “Great Red Dragon.”

The woman was on the Earth, no longer “in the Heavens.” The victory of the “Son” did not remove the saints from Satan's attacks. However, God protected and “nourished” her in the wilderness.

The “wilderness” was not devoid of evil. The “Great Harlot Babylon,” for example, was seen in it by John in Chapter 17. The “place prepared for her” indicated the same reality as the “sealing” of God’s servants in Chapter 7. God enabled the Woman to endure the onslaughts of the Dragon - (Revelation 7:1-8, 11:1-2, 17:3).

She was nourished for the “twelve-hundred and sixty days.” This is the equivalent of the period described elsewhere as a “time, times, and half a time,” and the “forty-two months.” In Revelation, numbers are symbolic. The Book uses three different numeric figures to refer to the same period - (Daniel 7:25, 12:7, Revelation 11:2, 13:5-7).

The chronological reference links the flight of the “Woman” to the “trampling of the holy city by the nations” in Chapter 11, the ministry of the “Two Witnesses,” and the “war against the saints” by the “Beast from the Sea” in Chapter 13. Her wilderness sojourn occurred over the same period – (Revelation 11:1-4, 13:4-7).

Dragon floodwaters - Photo by Ryan Moulton on Unsplash
[Photo by Ryan Moulton on Unsplash]

Her “
nourishment in the wilderness” is a further link to the “Two Witnesses” whose ministry resembled the activities of Elijah the Prophet. He was provided for in the “wilderness” when God dispatched “ravens to feed him by the brook Cherith” - (1 Kings 17:3-6, Revelation 11:5-6).

The start of the “twelve-hundred and sixty days” coincided with the exaltation of the “Son to the Throne” and the expulsion of Satan “to the Earth.” In view is the reality that began with the Death, Resurrection, and Enthronement of the messianic “Son,” the “slain Lamb.”

Whether the period of “twelve hundred and sixty days” terminated at some point in the past or is still underway remains to be seen. It points to a limited period of intense “warfare” or persecution waged by the “Dragon” against the covenant community, the “saints.”

Though protected, the “Woman” is not yet safe from the attempts of the “Dragon” to destroy her. However, when his attacks fail, he will turn to wage war on the “rest of her seed, those who have the Testimony of Jesus.”

  • The Shepherd King - (The Lamb’s reign commenced with his Death and Resurrection. Since then, he has shepherded the nations toward New Jerusalem)
  • Shepherding the Nations - (Jesus is the promised ruler from the line of David, the King who is shepherding the nations to New Jerusalem – Revelation 12:5)
  • Jesus Reigns - (Jesus triumphed over his enemies through his Death and Resurrection, therefore, he now reigns from the Messianic Throne)



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