The Dragon

But what is the real nature of this man, the Antichrist, and the world government that he heads? The book of Daniel has much to say about what he does physically, and in the book of Revelation we get chilling insights as to what is going on in the spiritual realm.

First, let's look at some great events that Saint John, the author of the book of Revelation, observed and recorded happening before the arrival on the scene of the Antichrist and his satanic anointing.

Now a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a garland of twelve stars. Then being with child, she cried out in labor and in pain to give birth. And 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. Then the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, that they should feed her there one thousand two hundred and sixty days.—Revelation 12:1–6

The woman in this vision is obviously giving birth to Jesus Christ. The first interpretation to come to mind is that she is Mary, the human mother of our Lord when He was on Earth. But things get a bit confusing with this interpretation when it says the woman fled into the wilderness for 1,260 days.

Several times the Bible refers to the second half of the Antichrist's seven-year reign as the Great Tribulation. "Then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be" (Matthew 24:21). Daniel talked about this time when he wrote, "At that time Michael [the archangel] shall stand up, the great prince who stands watch over the sons of your people; and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation, even to that time" (Daniel 12:1).

The Bible even tells us several times how long this Tribulation period will last, using several different yet synonymic terms: "three and a half years," "42 months," or "1,260 days" (Daniel 7:25; 9:27; 12:7; Revelation 11:2–3; 12:14; 13:5).A

If these 1,260 days where "the woman" flees into the wilderness are the Tribulation period—which it seems they are—then the woman described above could not be Mary, as she long ago left this world for her heavenly reward. So the identity of this woman must have a different interpretation. Could this woman symbolize the believers of all time, the people of God, into whose lineage Jesus was born? This seems to be a viable interpretation, as during the 1,260 days of Tribulation the true Christians will be in the "wilderness" of this world. They will be outcasts, persecuted by the Devil and the Antichrist government forces, and many will be on the run and not able to live in the cities that will be the centers of Antichrist domination.

Aside from the great red dragon's identity being revealed in the next verses of Revelation 12, we also get corroboration that this is the "time of trouble," because again it mentions the Archangel Michael who goes to war with the evil forces of the spirit world. "And war broke out in Heaven: Michael [the archangel] and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in Heaven any longer. So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the Earth, and his angels were cast out with him" (Revelation 12:7–9). At this time Satan is cast out of Heaven with a "third of the stars of Heaven," these "stars" being his demons, the angels who have been in rebellion with him against God and who are now cast down to Earth with him.

These Scriptures can be shocking for some, as they infer that Satan and his demons are presently allowed in Heaven. In the book of Job there is a surprising confirmation for this when we are taken to a scene in the courts of the Lord. Job 2:1 says: "There was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan came also among them to present himself before the Lord." Although Satan is in rebellion against God, he still appears before Him in the courts of Heaven accusing the saints day and night. In Revelation, after Satan is finally cast out, it states: "Then I heard a loud voice saying in Heaven, 'Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down'" (Revelation 12:10).

The heavenly voice then warns: "Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and the sea! For the Devil has come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has a short time" (Revelation 12:12). So begins that short three-and-a-half-year Tribulation period, the worst in world history, in which the Devil rampages across the face of the earth. No longer able to soar into the heights of Heaven and accuse us before God, he has been cast down to the earth, confined here, and later to be chained and confined to the darkness of the Bottomless Pit.

Back to Saint John's vision of the woman and the dragon: "Now when the dragon saw that he had been cast to the earth, he persecuted the woman who gave birth to the male Child. But the woman was given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness to her place, where she is nourished for a time and times and half a time [three and a half years], from the presence of the serpent" (Revelation 12:13–14). Although the true believers have to flee into the wilderness during the time of Tribulation, still they are being kept and fed, and away from most of Satan's venomous attacks.

"And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ" (Revelation 12:17). In those last three and a half years Satan will no longer be able to go before the court of God accusing the believers on earth before God in Heaven, but he's going to be right here, face to face with them, not only accusing them, but persecuting and trying to kill them.

Notes

A. At the time that the book of Revelation was written, there were several competing calendars in use in the world. The Jews had one that John, being Jewish, possibly followed. There was the official Julian calendar that the Romans followed, and there were others followed by the Greeks and Egyptians. All these differed in the number of days in a month (the number of days in a month differed from month to month, as it still does now) and the number of days in a year. This would no doubt have led to considerable difference as to what a month or year may have meant in actual terms of number of days. So it seems that the Lord nailed it down to 1,260 days so there would be no confusion.

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