Witnessed in Heaven Revelation 12
We are trained to look at Revelation from an earthly view. Why? That is the only angle people have been taught to observe. Is there a view of Revelation we are missing? Of course there is. John was shown visions in Heaven. Everyone in Heaven understood each and every symbol and vision. No one in Heaven had any trouble understanding what John was shown. After every vision John had a bewildered look on his face.
Revelation 12:1-6 NLTse (1) Then I witnessed in heaven an event of great significance. I saw a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon beneath her feet, and a crown of twelve stars on her head. (2) She was pregnant, and she cried out because of her labor pains and the agony of giving birth. (3) Then I witnessed in heaven another significant event. I saw a large red dragon with seven heads and ten horns, with seven crowns on his heads. (4) His tail swept away one-third of the stars in the sky, and he threw them to the earth. He stood in front of the woman as she was about to give birth, ready to devour her baby as soon as it was born. (5) She gave birth to a son who was to rule all nations with an iron rod. And her child was snatched away from the dragon and was caught up to God and to his throne. (6) And the woman fled into the wilderness, where God had prepared a place to care for her for 1,260 days.
John made it very clear where this vision originated, in Heaven. There is no doubt about it, John saw that woman in Heaven. That shows a close connection the woman has to Heaven. Then John saw a huge red dragon in Heaven? What is a red dragon doing in Heaven? We have to remember where sin and the devil originated. Why is that important?
If Heaven has to be reminded where sin originated, what about us? Angels not only witnessed the conflict between Christ and Satan, they were a part of that war in Heaven. They had to choose a side. There was no middle ground, no waiting around to see the outcome before choosing a side.
Is this how Heaven views Christianity, “a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon beneath her feet, and a crown of twelve stars on her head.” First of all, why does Heaven view Christians as women? Some Christian denominations look at women as second class. Not many, but a few denominations. She is first of all clothed with the sun. It can’t be a real woman, it has to be a series of symbols. She is also standing on the moon. Why the moon?
I’ve seen a lot of worldly views on those symbols. Preachers like to present this one like there is one interpretation, their interpretation and no other. But ask them where they got their interpretation from. John made it clear where that vision came from, and previous chapters not only told us where interpretations some from, but how scripture confirms each symbol.
For one thing, why is the woman on the moon and not on earth? There has to be a reason for her position. Later she is fleeing to the wilderness, which is obviously on earth. Does that show us how the woman represents people who are not in this world, but close to it? What about the timing? First the woman is standing on the moon, clothed with the sun, then after giving birth, finds herself fleeing to a place God prepared for her in the wilderness. If the woman is clothed with the sun, it would be rather difficult to hide, especially at night.
If we look at light and darkness in the simplest terms, we can see, the more light a Christian has, the harder it will be to hide. Or we can look at aspects from previous stories in Revelation related to the protection Jesus offered. The more light we have, the more we need to rely on His protection.
When the light of the sun is on a dark planet, it will stand out. We can see that when we look at the physical aspects of the vision. Angels can see exactly where that woman is, and what she is doing. They can be there is an instant when she needs help, and does she need help.
The woman also has twelve stars in a crown on top of her head. She is not set up to hide anywhere. The dragon has a third of the stars in the sky on his side. This is turning out to be a battle of light, and the woman seems to be out gunned.
The woman gave birth to a son who was taken away from that dragon and brought up to God’s throne. Why was the child taken up and not the woman?
Most Christians are rather good at looking at this vision and figuring out most of the symbols. The dragon is Satan. The woman represents God’s followers. The stars the dragon cast down to the earth are Satan’s followers, and the child is Christ. Now how does the Bible explain those symbols?
When we look at women in the Bible, we have this woman and two others. The other women opposed God. The woman at the beginning of Revelation 12 has a few things in common with Jesus. She was clothed with the sun. In chapter 1, Jesus’ face shined like the sun. In Revelation chapter 10 we find an angel with a face like the sun.
The woman had a crown with twelve stars. Jesus has seven stars in His right hand. Those stars represent seven angels sent to the churches. Now we are beginning to see how the Bible pieces things together.
There are other stars. The stars the dragon cast to earth. Revelation chapter 6 told us about stars falling to earth. Are those the same stars? The timing doesn’t seem to align. Could the stars in chapter 6 be a reminder, or a warning of a concentrated attack by Satan’s followers?
Chapter 10 told us about a star named bitterness that fell from the sky into the water making the water bitter. Other parts of that chapter shared the number one-third. We see how one-third of the trees and grass were burned. We can see how this war that began in Heaven was restricted to this world.
Revelation chapter 9 gives us the key. A star was used to describe an angel who came to this world to open a bottomless pit and release a portion of Satan’s army. We know what stars represent in certain stories, angels. It has been confirmed twice in Revelation.
Crown is another symbol used to identify the woman. In Revelation chapter 2, Jesus promised a crown of life to His faithful followers. In Revelation chapter 4 we are told the elders around God’s throne also have crowns. But Revelation chapter 9 tells us those locusts commanded by Satan also have crowns. There are two sides to the symbol. Because the woman’s child was taken to God’s throne in Heaven, we know the crown is used in the same context as those people who are close to God.
That dragon also had seven crowns on his seven heads. Who is that dragon? This great dragon–the ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, the one deceiving the whole world–was thrown down to the earth with all his angels. (Revelation 12:9 NLTse). This story clearly identified the dragon as Satan, the devil.
The moon is another symbol to look at. In chapter 6 the sixth seal was opened and the moon became blood. That was the second reference to Revelation chapter 6 we found in chapter 12. A third of the stars and the moon turning to blood shed a little light on chapter 12. Would the woman still be standing on the moon when it turned to blood? Does a bloody moon indicate the beginning of the woman’s flight into the wilderness for 1,260 days? Are those stories related by more than the symbols they contain?
Revelation 12:7-12 NLTse (7) Then there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon and his angels. (8) And the dragon lost the battle, and he and his angels were forced out of heaven. (9) This great dragon–the ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, the one deceiving the whole world–was thrown down to the earth with all his angels. (10) Then I heard a loud voice shouting across the heavens, “It has come at last– salvation and power and the Kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers and sisters has been thrown down to earth– the one who accuses them before our God day and night. (11) And they have defeated him by the blood of the Lamb and by their testimony. And they did not love their lives so much that they were afraid to die. (12) Therefore, rejoice, O heavens! And you who live in the heavens, rejoice! But terror will come on the earth and the sea, for the devil has come down to you in great anger, knowing that he has little time.”
The word, “then,” indicates a series of events. It shows how one event has to follow another. Did Jesus have to return to Heaven before Satan and his followers were restricted to this planet? It seems the war in Heaven didn’t happen until after Jesus died and returned to Heaven Did Heaven have to see Satan carry out all his plans before war could be declared? Did God have to wait until Satan provided undisputed proof how far he would go to obtain the power he lusted over? If we look at how the sequence was recorded, it would lead us to that conclusion.
The story about Job and a few other stories in the Bible show us how Satan went back and forth between this world and God’s throne for a time. We have no idea, except for this sequence and a few other stories that help put a time line together.
There had to be two events with the devil and his agents. First they were allowed access to this planet. Genesis showed how Satan came to this planet and tempted Eve. Was Satan restricted to this planet at that time? Other stories in the Bible, like those in the Gospels, tell us about demons in this world. We know devils were on this planet at that time, but were they restricted to this planet? How long was Satan and his agents allowed to go between Heaven and earth?
This vision supplied a lot more information. Satan and his angels used to accuse people in front of God’s throne 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Judgment began at the end of Revelation chapter 11 and God’s Sanctuary was opened. Satan and his angels had to be cast of of Heaven and the Sanctuary before cleaning could begin.
Some chapters in Revelation provide a series of events over a vast period of time, while other chapters provide a step by step process over a more specific time period. We have to be able to recognized time periods in Revelation and how some information overlaps. We see the same style of writing in Genesis where creation was explained, and later the author went back and added more details about the same event. That style of writing is common throughout the Bible.
Some people criticize the Bible based on the fact, writers recorded some events in different orders. Biblical writers have a tendency of recording events in the order they happened, or are going to happen. But they still use the style of recording certain details after a certain event or story is introduced. Inspired writers do that to emphasize certain details. That’s why we have to read the previous story, so we can see the author’s view. If the author had a reason for placing one story after a particular story, while another author used a completely different story to introduce the theme shows how God is willing to work with us where we are. Some events caught John’s attention more than they stood out in Matthew’s mind. When we have a book like that, the Spirit can present the same concepts, ideas, and lessons in a variety of ways to different people in different generations, or periods of time.
Can you imagine a war in Heaven. Was it a real war with weapons? Were angels involved in hand to hand combat? Can you imagine that scene John saw? Huge angels fighting against one another. Where did the war take place, in the Sanctuary, or some remote battlefield? Is that war and battlefield described in the Bible? What was it like? Why didn’t John describe that war? Was it a violent war like we see on earth, or a word of words. Jesus was described as having a two edged sword in His mouth. Is that telling us it was a war of words?
Looking back at the previous story we see judgment began in Heaven. The Ark containing the Ten Commandments was presented as evidence and was the center of attention. Who stood as a witness? What better place to begin judgment than at the origin of sin, Satan and his followers. There is an interesting story in the Bible that helps explain the scene John witnessed.
The LORD spoke to Moses after the death of Aaron’s two sons, who died after they entered the LORD’s presence and burned the wrong kind of fire before him. The LORD said to Moses, “Warn your brother, Aaron, not to enter the Most Holy Place behind the inner curtain whenever he chooses; if he does, he will die. For the Ark’s cover–the place of atonement–is there, and I myself am present in the cloud above the atonement cover. “When Aaron enters the sanctuary area, he must follow these instructions fully. He must bring a young bull for a sin offering and a ram for a burnt offering. He must put on his linen tunic and the linen undergarments worn next to his body. He must tie the linen sash around his waist and put the linen turban on his head. These are sacred garments, so he must bathe himself in water before he puts them on. Aaron must take from the community of Israel two male goats for a sin offering and a ram for a burnt offering. “Aaron will present his own bull as a sin offering to purify himself and his family, making them right with the LORD. Then he must take the two male goats and present them to the LORD at the entrance of the Tabernacle. He is to cast sacred lots to determine which goat will be reserved as an offering to the LORD and which will carry the sins of the people to the wilderness of Azazel. Aaron will then present as a sin offering the goat chosen by lot for the LORD. The other goat, the scapegoat chosen by lot to be sent away, will be kept alive, standing before the LORD. When it is sent away to Azazel in the wilderness, the people will be purified and made right with the LORD. “Aaron will present his own bull as a sin offering to purify himself and his family, making them right with the LORD. After he has slaughtered the bull as a sin offering, he will fill an incense burner with burning coals from the altar that stands before the LORD. Then he will take two handfuls of fragrant powdered incense and will carry the burner and the incense behind the inner curtain. There in the LORD’s presence he will put the incense on the burning coals so that a cloud of incense will rise over the Ark’s cover–the place of atonement–that rests on the Ark of the Covenant. If he follows these instructions, he will not die. Then he must take some of the blood of the bull, dip his finger in it, and sprinkle it on the east side of the atonement cover. He must sprinkle blood seven times with his finger in front of the atonement cover. “Then Aaron must slaughter the first goat as a sin offering for the people and carry its blood behind the inner curtain. There he will sprinkle the goat’s blood over the atonement cover and in front of it, just as he did with the bull’s blood. Through this process, he will purify the Most Holy Place, and he will do the same for the entire Tabernacle, because of the defiling sin and rebellion of the Israelites. No one else is allowed inside the Tabernacle when Aaron enters it for the purification ceremony in the Most Holy Place. No one may enter until he comes out again after purifying himself, his family, and all the congregation of Israel, making them right with the LORD. “Then Aaron will come out to purify the altar that stands before the LORD. He will do this by taking some of the blood from the bull and the goat and putting it on each of the horns of the altar. Then he must sprinkle the blood with his finger seven times over the altar. In this way, he will cleanse it from Israel’s defilement and make it holy. “When Aaron has finished purifying the Most Holy Place and the Tabernacle and the altar, he must present the live goat. He will lay both of his hands on the goat’s head and confess over it all the wickedness, rebellion, and sins of the people of Israel. In this way, he will transfer the people’s sins to the head of the goat. Then a man specially chosen for the task will drive the goat into the wilderness. As the goat goes into the wilderness, it will carry all the people’s sins upon itself into a desolate land. “When Aaron goes back into the Tabernacle, he must take off the linen garments he was wearing when he entered the Most Holy Place, and he must leave the garments there. Then he must bathe himself with water in a sacred place, put on his regular garments, and go out to sacrifice a burnt offering for himself and a burnt offering for the people. Through this process, he will purify himself and the people, making them right with the LORD. He must then burn all the fat of the sin offering on the altar. “The man chosen to drive the scapegoat into the wilderness of Azazel must wash his clothes and bathe himself in water. Then he may return to the camp. “The bull and the goat presented as sin offerings, whose blood Aaron takes into the Most Holy Place for the purification ceremony, will be carried outside the camp. The animals’ hides, internal organs, and dung are all to be burned. The man who burns them must wash his clothes and bathe himself in water before returning to the camp. “On the tenth day of the appointed month in early autumn, you must deny yourselves. Neither native-born Israelites nor foreigners living among you may do any kind of work. This is a permanent law for you. On that day offerings of purification will be made for you, and you will be purified in the LORD’s presence from all your sins. It will be a Sabbath day of complete rest for you, and you must deny yourselves. This is a permanent law for you. In future generations, the purification ceremony will be performed by the priest who has been anointed and ordained to serve as high priest in place of his ancestor Aaron. He will put on the holy linen garments and purify the Most Holy Place, the Tabernacle, the altar, the priests, and the entire congregation. This is a permanent law for you, to purify the people of Israel from their sins, making them right with the LORD once each year.” Moses followed all these instructions exactly as the LORD had commanded him. (Leviticus 16:1-34 NLTse).
The high priest entered to Most Holy compartment where the Ark was only once a year. There were two goats involved in the ceremony. One goat was an offering to God. The other goat took on the sins of the people and was led into the wilderness. In Revelation chapter 12, the earth was referred to as a wilderness. Satan and his angels were cast down to this world. For Satan to be cast down to this world, there had to be a trial before God could sentence them to a life of isolation. When the judgment process began, Satan and his angels were first on the docket. Once they were removed from the courtroom, God could begin judging the dead.
The Ark was front and center in the courtroom. Angels already saw what Satan did to Jesus. All of Heaven saw how Satan had Jesus beaten, wiped, and hung on a cross. Heaven saw how the high priest tried to force the decision on the government. Heaven saw how Jesus’ trial was fixed, and how every step was orchestrated. Now Heaven could see how God conducted a trial.
Even though Heaven saw what Satan did to Jesus, God waited nearly 2000 years before calling Satan into His courtroom. There was never a trial in Heaven before. All God had to do was call His Son Jesus as a witness. As soon as Jesus stood in front of the Judge, and all the angels, Satan’s fate was sealed. Court records showed how Satan sinned in Heaven, attempted to murder Jesus many times, and finally succeeded. Satan had no defense. He had plenty of time to prepare a defense, but there was none. Evidence was overwhelming. Sins committed in Heaven were placed upon Satan and he was cast down to earth, never to see Heaven again.
Now God could begin judging this world. First the dead, then the living. In the mean time, Satan’s fury was unleashed upon this world. Wars became deadlier. Men developed weapons no one imagined. Satan was given leeway to deal with this planet like never before. In one sense we call it the industrial revelation. In reality it is mankind learning more effective ways to kill one another.
Revelation 12:13-18 NLTse (13) When the dragon realized that he had been thrown down to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child. (14) But she was given two wings like those of a great eagle so she could fly to the place prepared for her in the wilderness. There she would be cared for and protected from the dragon for a time, times, and half a time. (15) Then the dragon tried to drown the woman with a flood of water that flowed from his mouth. (16) But the earth helped her by opening its mouth and swallowing the river that gushed out from the mouth of the dragon. (17) And the dragon was angry at the woman and declared war against the rest of her children–all who keep God’s commandments and maintain their testimony for Jesus. (18) Then the dragon took his stand on the shore beside the sea.
Satan wasn’t happy about being restricted to this dismal planet. He wanted a lot more than this tiny planet to rule, he wanted the Universe. It took Satan some time to realize he lost the ability to travel between earth and Heaven. Satan wasn’t happy about loosing that ability. Satan lost a lot more. He began to loose the shine and light he had in Heaven. Satan was beginning to deteriorate, change, and face the consequences of sin like everything else in this world. Satan lost eternity and knew his time was short.
When the dragon was let loose on the world, the woman was protected for a time, which is a time prophecy equal to 1260 years. This same time period is found in the previous chapter. And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they will be clothed in burlap and will prophesy during those 1,260 days.” (Revelation 11:3 NLTse). Are they the same time period? People trample the holy city for the same time period. But do not measure the outer courtyard, for it has been turned over to the nations. They will trample the holy city for 42 months. (Revelation 11:2 NLTse). In the next chapter we see a beast given authority for the same time period. Then the beast was allowed to speak great blasphemies against God. And he was given authority to do whatever he wanted for forty-two months. (Revelation 13:5 NLTse). Are all of these prophecies covering the same time period? If they aren’t, they either have to be literal days and months, if they were concurrent years, we have a long time to wait for Jesus.
During those 1,260 years, Satan is running loose, trying to destroy the woman. The woman is hiding in the wilderness. God has two witness delivering a message or messages to this world most people don’t agree with. During that time nations trample the holy city, and a beast is given authority to do whatever it wants to do. If they are all pointing to the same time period, and persecution of that woman, she doesn’t stand much of a chance.
The prophets have the ability to defend themselves. That may be why the woman is hiding and the message is still getting out. There are two classes of people or witnesses Satan has to deal with. God is not using one front to attack Satan, but hitting him from multiple sides. If anyone tries to harm them, fire flashes from their mouths and consumes their enemies. This is how anyone who tries to harm them must die. They have power to shut the sky so that no rain will fall for as long as they prophesy. And they have the power to turn the rivers and oceans into blood, and to strike the earth with every kind of plague as often as they wish. When they complete their testimony, the beast that comes up out of the bottomless pit will declare war against them, and he will conquer them and kill them. (Revelation 11:5-7 NLTse).
The woman and the two prophets are protected from the beast and dragon for the same 1260 years Then the two prophets are killed and taken to Heaven. What happens to the woman after the witness go to Heaven and her protect period passes?
The bottomless pit is opened after the fifth trumpet is blown. Four other angels are released and a 200 million man army showed up after the sixth trumpet was blown. Between the sixth and seventh trumpet, John is given a message to deliver, the holy city is overrun, the two prophets testify for 1260 years, and after that are killed. When the seventh trumpet is blown, the Heavenly Sanctuary is open, the Ark is seen inside, and judgment begins.
After John saw the Sanctuary opened in Heaven, he was shown another vision taking him back over a time period of earth’s history that took place during the time of Jesus’ birth and life on earth. After Jesus’ death the woman was sent to the wilderness for 1260 years. Details that fit into the previous stories are given in Revelation chapter 12.
Now all we have to do is figure out a few events on earth that happened after Jesus’ birth, or we should say the time between when John wrote Revelation and when the Sanctuary was opened in 1844 to find out how those prophecies were fulfilled. But I’m not going to do that. So many people did that already. I’m looking at a better understanding of Heaven, and pointing out how the Bible shows related stories. The main theme I am looking for is how Heaven viewed all those visions and symbols.
After the devil faced trial in Heaven, God gave John and the angels a review of what the devil did. It is like we are seeing evidence presented during Satan’s trial. The woman was taken away on two wings. Angels have wings. Revelation explained how some beings in Heaven have wings. The dragon sent a flood out from his mouth. The mouth often refers to the war of words raging around us. Maybe the flood refers to the 200 million man army in Revelation chapter 9. They had horses with fire coming out of their mouths. “All who keep God’s commandments and maintain their testimony for Jesus.” It is clear the dragon declared war on everyone who sides with Jesus. Some refer to that as a church.
The woman is identified by her children. “all who keep God’s commandments and maintain their testimony for Jesus.” They are people who follow Jesus, often referred to as a church in the loosest term. Some claim to be a type of remnant church, without knowing what that term means. If you look it up you’ll see how a remnant was no better than the other people who followed God to a limited degree. The majority of people were misled, but God stuck with them, and tried to teach them. Only a remnant, or small group heard God’s messages to one degree or another, and took steps to reestablish communication with God.
The dragon took a stand on the shore beside the sea. The angel in Revelation chapter 10 had one foot on the land and the other on the sea. The devil has some control, but not as much control as Jesus. That may explain why stories about God’s remnant never seemed to completely return to God, but decided to make only a part of the journey.