The Great Controversy Between Christ and Satan

Book of Revelation – a series presented by pastor Michael Walker

Lesson #13 – Revelation, chapter 12

Chapter 12

In this chapter we shall now come to the pinnacle of this prophetic book. The Book of Revelation reveals the great controversy between Christ and Satan. Chapter 12 portrays the entire drama from beginning to end in just 17 verses. Even though Satan seeks throughout the ages of this world’s history to destroy Christ and His faithful people in order to establish his own kingdom, he fails to succeed. Christ wins the battle: He stands victorious and reigns forever!

1. Concerning Jesus and His Church (vs. 1-6)

vs. 1-2  

The vision commences by introducing “a great wonder in heaven” of a woman about to give birth to a child. This woman and her child belong to heaven. The prophetic symbol of a pure woman represents the true Church of Christ: Jeremiah 6:2; Hosea 2:19,20; 2 Corinthians 11:2; John 3:29Revelation 19:7,8. [Later, the Book of Revelation draws attention to an impure woman representing the fallen, apostate church: Revelation 17:3-6].

The pure woman is clothed with the sun – represents her clothed in Christ’s righteousness: Malachi 4:2; Revelation 19:8. Jesus is “the Light of the world” (John 8:12), Who sheds His light upon His followers, making them “children of light” (Luke 16:8). She stands on the moon that represents God’s Law (Covenant) as revealed in the Old Testament, and is a transcript of His character (Psalms 89:34-37). Just as the moon reflects the light of the sun, so God’s Law reflects the light of His character. She has a crown of 12 stars. This crown (Greek: stephanos = a crown of victory) which is distinct from a diadema = a kingly crown. In numerology, 12 is a kingdom number – e.g. 12 tribes, 12 apostles, etc. She was suffering the birth pangs of her child – the “man child” (v.5), i.e. Jesus, the promised Messiah: Genesis 3:15; Galatians 3:16; 4:4.

v. 2     

After that first Messianic promise given in Eden at the outset of the fall of humanity, God’s people had been earnestly waiting and longing for the arrival of their Redeemer: Isaiah 26:17.

vs. 3-4  

The dragon represents Satan (v. 9). The 7 heads and 10 horns with crowns upon his heads are also identified with the beasts that are mentioned in Revelation 13:1 and 17:7-12, where they are clearly warring against Christ and His Church. We are therefore confident that these represent political           powers through which Satan carried out his warfare. This conclusion is supported by the fact that the crowns (diadema) signify earthly rulers.

Pagan Rome was the political power when the Messiah was born; and Satan’s intent was to destroy Him. Herod tried to exterminate Him (Matthew 2:1-20). People of Nazareth tried to throw Him over the cliff (Luke 4:16-30). All attempts to get rid of Him failed as ‘His time had net yet come’. After His crucifixion, their attempt to keep Him in the tomb failed.

v. 5     

Jesus ascended to Heaven (Acts 1:9) to God’s throne. His strong and powerful dominion over the nations is depicted by a “rod of iron”: Revelation 19:13-16 c.f. Psalms 2:8,9.

v. 6       

With Jesus out of his reach, Satan turns his attention on the Church in the attempt to usurp Christ’s kingdom. God prepared a place for His Church in the wilderness (Gk: eremos) – i.e. a desolate place of seclusion where God protected and preserved His Church from extinction. 

2. Concerning the Great Controversy (vs. 7-12)

v. 7     

Strange though it may seem, war started in Heaven when Lucifer, a prominent angel, rebelled and attempted a coupe d’état to usurp the throne of God: Ezekiel 28:12-19; Isaiah 14:12-15. By his cunning and deceitful arguments he persuaded 1/3 of the angels to his side (v. 4); c.f. “stars” symbolize angels (Revelation 1:20).

“Michael” means ‘One Who is like God’. This can only refer to the One Who is like God and that is Jesus.

The Bible makes this clear: Jude 9 refers to Michael as the Archangel. 1 Thessalonians 4:16 the voice of the Archangel will raise the dead to life. John 5:26-29 it will be the voice of Jesus that raises the dead. Whenever Michael appears in apocalyptic prophecy, He is defending or delivering His people (c.f. Daniel 10:13,21; 12:1). 

vs. 7-9 

In this scene, Michael is defending His Kingdom and its subjects, so He casts the rebels out: Luke 10:18, 2 Peter 2:4; Jude 6.

vs. 10-12 

Satan, which means “accuser”, is now conquered. When Jesus went to the cross, the whole universe looked on and witnessed the true character of God in contrast to that of Satan and his government: John 12:31-33; Colossians 2:15. Through His cross, Christ wrought reconciliation in heaven and on earth: Colossians 1:20. This is Why He was the only One found worthy, because He “prevailed” and has taken the Book of Human Destiny in His hands (Revelation 5:5-14).

“Not until the death of Christ was the character of Satan clearly revealed to the angels or to the unfallen worlds. The archapostate had so clothed himself with deception that even holy beings had not understood his principles. They had not clearly seen the nature of his rebellion” – E. G. White, The Desire of Ages, p. 758.

Having lost the battle, Satan intends to bring down as many with himself as possible! For this reason, he directs his warfare against the Church.

3. Concerning Satan’s Attack on the Saints of God (vs. 13-16)

vs. 13-14  

Following the severe persecutions of the Early Christian Church by pagan Rome, Satan changed his method of attack and brought corruption into the church; and then used the official church, of what then became known as ecclesiastical Rome, to attack those faithful to Christ by force and persecution. In this way he sought to destroy Christ’s true Church!

v. 14 

“Eagles wings” – no doubt a reference to God’s watch care and deliverance – a terminology familiar to the Hebrew people of which God likened their deliverance from Pharaoh during their bondage in Egypt to being borne away on eagle’s wings (Exodus 19:4).

This now picks up from Revelation 12:6 with reference to the 1,260 years in the wilderness prepared by God where the Church was nourished and cared for. Such places as the regions in Cappadocia in Turkey, the Piedmont Valleys in Northern Italy, the Pyrenees between France and Spain, and the New World opened up as a haven for religious freedom. 

v. 15   

“Water” symbolizes people and multitudes (Revelation 17:15). The dragon’s “mouth” undoubtedly refers to satanically inspired false teachings, which can be of numerous kinds – e.g. false and counterfeit doctrines to divert from true Bible teachings; human philosophy to undermine the teachings of God; the theory of evolution to lead the world into disbelieving in the existence of God; and higher criticism to destroy confidence in the accuracy and reliability of the Scriptures.

All these things have followed on from the close of the 1,260-year prophetic period.

v. 16   

“The earth . . . opened her mouth and swallowed the flood”. From the ground, a whole new aspect of science emerged following the discovery of the ‘Rosetta Stone’ in 1799 from which the ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics could be deciphered. Until that time, very little could be understood from the ancient monuments and virtually nothing from their inscriptions. Now the archaeologist could proceed and from these ancient inscriptions, a whole new world of archaeology opened up confirming the historical accuracy of the Bible record.

Since the discovery of the famous ‘Dead Sea Scrolls’ in 1947, further confirmation has gradually come to light that has swept aside and dispelled the opposing theories of many sceptics, in that they prove the accuracy of the Bible manuscripts and also draw attention to the accurate fulfilment of Biblical prophecy, thus revealing that divine revelation did take place!

4. Concerning Christ’s Last-day Remnant Church (v. 17)

“The remnant of her seed” – this has specific reference to Christ’s faithful people in these last days of earth’s history. God has always had a faithful remnant; but now, in the Great Controversy, Satan is to manifest his wildest and fiercest attack upon the Remnant of Christ’s seed. 

It should be carefully noted: A remnant has two things, namely: (a) it is what remains of the greater part; and (b) it is identical with the original. This means that Christ’s Remnant Church will adhere to the same teachings as the Early Christian Church whose doctrines are contained in the entire Bible. 

In this prophecy, Christ reveals two identifying features of His Remnant Church, namely: They keep the Commandments of God and they have the testimony of Jesus.

The Commandments of God

God’s 10 Commandments have been under attack by Satan throughout history.

“From the beginning of the great controversy in heaven it has been Satan’s purpose to overthrow the law of God. It was to accomplish this that he entered upon his rebellion against the Creator, and though he was cast out of heaven he has continued the same warfare upon the earth. To deceive men, and thus lead them to transgress God’s law, is the object which he has steadfastly pursued. . . . In seeking to cast contempt upon the divine statutes, Satan has perverted the doctrines of the Bible, and errors have thus become incorporated into the faith of thousands who profess to believe the Scriptures. The last great conflict between truth and error is but the final struggle of the long-standing controversy concerning the law of God. Upon this battle we are now entering – a battle between the laws of men and the precepts of Jehovah, between the religion of the Bible and the religion of fable and tradition” – E. G. White, The Great Controversy, p. 582.

This battle becomes the topic of Revelation 13. God’s Last Warning Message is to be proclaimed by the Remnant, and it Is outlined in Revelation 14, where those who respond to God’s call are identified as the saints of God who “keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus” – Revelation 14:12.

The Testimony of Jesus Christ

This is identified as “the spirit of prophecy”: Revelation 19:10. The prophetic Gift in the Remnant Church does not replace the Bible, but it confirms the Bible and promotes its teachings; and it also gives  relevant messages of Instruction and guidance to His Church. The manifestation of this prophetic gift is understood to be the lesser light leading to the greater light of the Bible. 

The full video presentation is available below:

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