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What is the meaning of Revelation chapter 12?

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Revelation chapter 12 contains a description of a woman, who is clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and a crown of twelve stars atop her head. The woman is pregnant and is about to give birth. She is being pursued by a great red dragon, whose tail has swept a third of the stars from heaven and cast them to earth. The dragon is standing by the woman to catch her child when she gives birth, in order to devour the child. But when she gives birth, her child is caught up to heaven to God and His throne and the woman flees to the wilderness and is nourished by God for 1,260 days (Revelation 12:1-6), or "a time, and times, and half a time" which signifies 3 ½ years (Revelation 12:14; Daniel 9:27).

The woman in this vision represents Israel. Joseph's dream about his father, Jacob (Israel), and his mother and their children (whose names would later be assigned to the twelve tribes), is the first clue, as Joseph says that the sun, the moon, and eleven stars were bowing down to him (Genesis 37:9-11). The twelve stars represent the twelve tribes of Israel. When Israel gives birth to the male child, who will "rule all the nations with a rod of iron" and who was "caught up to God and to his throne" (Revelation 12:5) we can be sure that the child in question is Jesus Christ. Jesus ascended to God's throne in Heaven (Acts 1:9-11); He will one day rule the nations of the earth with a rod of iron (Psalm 2:7-9), and Isaiah describes him as being the child born to us, the son that is given to us, the Prince of Peace and our Mighty God (Isaiah 9:6).

The dragon spoken of in Revelation 12 is clearly Satan, who desires to destroy Israel and her child, Jesus Christ. Biblical scholars agree that the third of the stars he swept from the sky represents the angels that he tempted to follow him in his rebellion against God (Revelation 12:3-9; Luke 10:18). The time the woman spends in the wilderness, the 1,260 days, refers to the second half of the Great Tribulation, when the Antichrist breaks his agreement of peace with Israel and persecutes them (Daniel 9:26-27; Daniel 7:25).

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