WOMAN AND THE DRAGON, Part 1
another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great, fiery red dragon having seven
heads and ten horns, and seven diadems on his heads. 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.
She bore a male Child who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron. And her
Child was caught up to God and His throne. Revelation 12:3–5
great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun giving birth to a
child. This sign is the first system of religion in the series of systems of
religion of chapters 12–14. This woman symbolizes the church Jesus built as it
came into existence on the Day of Pentecost. This event is significant for 2
reasons: (1) The church is clothed in the righteousness of Christ through New
Testament salvation. With advent of the church the Holy Spirit for the first
time since creation actually indwelt believers cleansing them from sin and
enabling them to life holy lives. (2) The advent of the church completes the Old
Testament dispensation and ushers in the gospel dispensation with the New
woman is crowned with a garland of 12 stars that we recognize as the 12 Apostles
of Jesus. From our previous lecture we learned that the Apostles died martyr
deaths during persecutions faced by the early church. This leads us to the next
system of religion that appears, which is a great, fiery red dragon.
3 says that another sign appeared in heaven. The coordinate conjunction
“and” synchronizes what follows with what precedes giving both parts equal
value. Verse 1 starts with the word “now” indicating that the woman
immediately appears in the vision. Verse 2 starts with the word “then”
indicating that after she appears she begins to be in labor. Understanding the
child to be the great hosts of converts to the church, this could only happen
after the church came into being. The church began with the 120 disciples on the
Day of Pentecost. Then, after Peter preached the first sermon the church
increased by 3000 and continued to grow.
“and” in verse 3 places what follows at the same time as the woman appeared.
So, at the very moment the woman appeared the red dragon appeared with the very
purpose of destroying the child. This scene calls to mind the prophecy of
Genesis 3:15 where God pronounced the judgment of enmity between the serpent and
I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed;
He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.
this judgment is a Messianic prophecy, it also evokes thoughts of the conflict
between the church and the Christ-less religions she battled throughout history.
In those battles Satan’s religions delivered many serious and hurtful blows to
the visible aspect of the church, but in all cases, the church Jesus built
always bruised his head—a death blow that spoiled his purpose.
red dragon is a religious system that appeared as a consequence of the woman’s
appearance. When the church Jesus built appeared a religious influence appeared
opposing the church determined to destroy the very host of believers that were
being born again into the kingdom of God, the church of God.
is this red dragon? Some teachers of the church-historic interpretation of the
Revelation reach back into the prophecies of Daniel to identify this dragon. The
7th chapter of Daniel speaks of four beasts that represent the
histories of the world dominating empires of Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Rome.
Verse 7 pictures the Roman Empire: “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
the church came into existence during the time of the Roman Empire so we are
sure that Daniel’s prophecy actually reaches into the Book of Revelation to
this degree. However, there are differences between the fourth beast of Daniel
and this red dragon. The dragon of the Revelation is fiery red in color whereas
no color is ascribed to Daniel’s beast. Daniel’s beast is described as
dreadful, terrible, and exceedingly strong but it is not called a dragon. Verse
9 of Revelation 12 also calls the dragon that serpent of old.
there are some similarities. Daniel’s beast has 10 horns and so does the
dragon of the Revelation. The little horn that came up later on Daniel’s beast
made war with the saints and prevailed against them and the dragon of the
Revelation stood before the woman to devour her child.
dragon of Revelation 12 appears in the heaven of the vision therefore it cannot
be the political Roman Empire. Since the woman is the system of religion built
by Jesus this red dragon appearing in heaven is also a system of religion. Adam
Clarke recognized this:
dragon here is a symbol, not of the Roman empire in general, but of the HEATHEN
Roman empire. This great pagan power must have, therefore, been thus represented
from the religion which it supported.
it only as the heathen Roman Empire is not completely correct as the symbol
covers more than just Rome. The religion of the Roman Empire was paganism, which
we could call a religion without Jesus. Jesus is the head of the church He built
and He is the king in the kingdom of God. Any other form of religion cannot have
Jesus as its head or as part of its system. This red dragon represents all forms
of religion without Christ or do not allow Him His rightful place in the church
and oppose the church He built. As soon as the church of God was birthed into
existence on the Day of Pentecost there was a host of religions with no Jesus
that were moved to come against it with the fiercest of persecutions attempting
to destroy it.
Very First Persecution
very first persecution began in the early dawn of the history of the church.
Matthew chapter 2 records the visit of the wise men with Herod the Great. Herod
the Great was the king over Judea appointed by Mark Antony. He was an Idumaean
by birth and was only a nominally religious Jew. Unger’s Bible Dictionary says of Herod “he was a heathen in
practice and a monster in character.”
the wise men approached Herod and asked about the baby that was born king of the
Jews, Herod was troubled. Who is this that is going to challenge my kingship?
Having sent the wise men to Bethlehem Herod began to plot how to illuminate this
new-born king. While Herod plotted, an angel appeared to Joseph telling him,
“Herod will seek the young Child to destroy Him.” (Matthew 2:13)
wise men were supposed to come back to Herod but they were told by and angel not
to return to him but to go home. This infuriated Herod.
Herod, when he saw that he was deceived by the wise men, was exceedingly angry;
and he sent forth and put to death all the male children who were in Bethlehem
and in all its districts, from two years old and under, according to the time
which he had determined from the wise men. (Matthew 2:16)
baby Jesus, Messiah, grew to become our Savior and the founder of His church,
and as its founder He is the rightful and only head of His church. So from the
very first moment of the possibility of God’s church, the head of that church
was persecuted by this godless tyrant who looked upon himself as the head of the
Jews, God’s people at this time in history. Without realizing it, his goal was
to keep Jesus from being the head of the church.
First Conflict With the New Church
woman of Revelation appears in the spiritual heaven and gives birth to a host of
converts. The church was established and began functioning on the Day of
Pentecost and in its very first day received 3000 converts after which “the
Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.”
miracles happened during the early days of the church’s ministry that upset
the leaders of the Jewish religion. Acts 4:4 describes the first conflict of the
as they spoke to the people, the priests, the captain of the temple, and the
Sadducees came upon them, being greatly disturbed that they taught the people
and preached in Jesus the resurrection from the dead. And they laid hands on
them, and put them in custody until the next day, for it was already evening.
However, many of those who heard the word believed; and the number of the men
came to be about five thousand.
and John were thrown in jail overnight. The Jewish religion was a religion
without Jesus and felt threatened by the Jesus they had crucified. The Jewish
leaders did not know what to do with Peter and John and were afraid of the
growing size and influence of this new church. Hoping to crush this new church
they decided in verses 17–18,
so that it spreads no further among the people, let us severely threaten them,
that from now on they speak to no man in this name. And they called them and
commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus.
chapter 5 tells that “believers were increasingly added to the Lord,
multitudes of both men and women.” Feeling more threatened by the Church, the
Jewish religion was becoming more and more like a great fiery red dragon bent on
devouring and putting an end to that church. The leaders of this Jesus-less
religion once again retaliate in Acts 5:17–18,
the high priest rose up, and all those who were with him (which is the sect of
the Sadducees), and they were filled with indignation, and laid their hands on
the apostles and put them in the common prison.
sent an angel in defense of His church. He opened the door of the jail and told
the apostles to go out there and keep preaching the gospel.
6:7 reports the phenomenal growth of the church. “Then the word of God spread,
and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great
many of the priests were obedient to the faith.” The example of the Christians
and the power of the gospel were so effective that even some of the Jewish
priests came to the faith. This was unacceptable to the leaders who wanted to do
away with Jesus and His church.
the end of chapter 6, this red dragon spirit was so agitated and filled with
hate against the church of God that it lashed out against it and took out its
wrath on a godly man by the name of Stephen, stoning him to death.
the first taste of blood, the red dragon spirit launched a full scale
persecution against the church. Acts 8:1, “At that time a great persecution
arose against the church which was at Jerusalem.” The red dragon chose its
hero in a man by the name of Saul. Verse 3, “As for Saul, he made havoc of the
church, entering every house, and dragging off men and women, committing them to
this fiery red dragon, this serpent of old, it appeared it was being successful
in bruising the heal of Jesus by persecution His church but in doing this he was
only setting up the mortal blow that would bruise his own head.