This rebellion at the end of the Millennium is often overlooked in the joy of considering Christ's wonderful rule. Satan's influence is so powerful he can influence millions of people to follow him seemingly overnight. Having drawn away a third of the angels from God (Revelation 12:4; Isaiah 14:12-14) and overcome Adam and Eve, he has wielded almost total control over man.
His present power will be greatly magnified very shortly when he is cast down to earth to begin the Great Tribulation. He would deceive the very elect if it were possible (Matthew 24:24). It is no wonder Peter instructs us to be sober, to be vigilant, to resist Satan in faith that Christ might establish us in the end!
Holy Days: Feast of Tabernacles
Compare the language here with Daniel 10:5-21—spirit beings fighting and being cast down, even as humans fight. Only when humans fight, the loser is cast down in defeat and death. With the angelic beings, they are cast down in defeat, but there is no death.
How, then, is essence cast down? Arguments that posit spirit to be essentially insubstantial begin to become ridiculous. How does one cast down smoke, if we can think of essence in terms of smoke? Did Michael and his angels find big fans and blow the demon essence toward the earth? No, these verses give every indication that these spirit beings have substance. They are spirit, but they are substantial, tangible (that is, "capable of being perceived especially by the sense of touch"; synonyms are "palpable," "substantially real," "material").
Gabriel touched Daniel, and he was aware of feeling a hand touch him on the shoulder. Another time a hand touched him on the lips, and he was able to speak. The hand had substance.
John W. Ritenbaugh
Image and Likeness of God (Part 3)
The Devil will again go on the offensive against God with the same results: He is cast back down to earth. In his anger over his defeat, he will savagely persecute God's people and gather the armies of man to fight against Christ when He comes. He and his human agents will be soundly defeated, and Satan will be bound in the bottomless pit for a thousand years.
Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Basic Doctrines: Satan's Origin and Destiny
The nation of Israel is symbolically referred to throughout the chapter. In verse 1, Israel is described as a Woman clothed with the sun and moon and wearing a crown of stars. Tying the symbols to Joseph's dream in Genesis 37 confirms the Woman's identity. In the next verse, Israel is the Woman about to give birth.
In verses 3-4, the Child she is about to bear is the focus of the great red Dragon's—Satan's—murderous intent. Verse 5 identifies her child as the Messiah, Jesus Christ, the One born to rule all nations. In verse 6, the Woman who gave birth to Christ, Israel, flees to a place God prepared for her. That place is, I believe, where the Israelitish nations are located today.
Note that by verses 7-9, time has progressed to the end, when God throws Satan and his demons out of heaven for good. Verses 10-11 allude to the church by mentioning people overcoming the Dragon by the blood of the Lamb. At no time, however, is the Woman of the early verses of this chapter, Israel, indicated to be converted.
But where is the church located? Verse 17 provides a hint, mentioning "the remnant of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ." Verse 13, which follows the interlude involving the Dragon being cast to earth, clarifies the object of the prophecy up until verse 17: "Now when the dragon saw that he had been cast to the earth, he persecuted the woman who gave birth to the male Child." The Woman who gave birth to the Messiah is specifically named. She cannot represent the church because the church did not give birth to the Messiah, but the nation of Israel did. Thus, the people of Israel are the object of the Devil's persecutions.
In verse 14, no break in the narrative occurs to indicate the Devil's focus changes. It is Israel, persecuted by Satan, who is given two wings of a great eagle to fly to her place from the face of the serpent. In the past, we have always applied verse 14 to the church, but there is nothing to indicate any change in subject has taken place! Again in verse 15, the serpent spews a flood from his mouth to destroy the nation of Israel. Likewise, the nation is helped by means of the earth swallowing the flood in verse 16.
It is not until verse 17 that the church comes directly into the picture, identified as "the rest of her [the Woman's] offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ," the Messiah born to the Woman in verse 5. Israel, the nation, does not keep the commandments of God, nor does it have the testimony of Jesus Christ. Even as the Messiah was born of the Woman and definitely kept the commandments of God, so also does the remnant of her offspring, who are now clearly distinguished from her.
Putting verse 17 together with verses 7-12, the church, the Woman's offspring, will undergo some measure of persecution within Israel before the Woman—Israel—flees in verse 15. Otherwise, why would verse 11 say they "overcame . . . by the blood of the Lamb" and "did not love their lives to the death"?
Verse 17 clearly states that the Dragon leaves the Woman who fled and heads toward some other geographical location to persecute those who keep the commandments. In other words, the Woman who fled and her offspring that keep the commandments are, at the time verse 17 occurs, at different locations.
John W. Ritenbaugh
The Beast and Babylon (Part Four): Where Is the Woman of Revelation 17?
By these verses, time in the prophecy has leapt forward to the end time. The red dragon being cast down did not happen anciently. That is an end-time event. So just that quickly, in the space of one or two verses, time moved from BC to AD almost two thousand years.
John W. Ritenbaugh
Where Is the Beast? (Part 4)
These verses give us a play-by-play of end-time events centered on the spiritual remnant. Satan, enraged that he has been cast down to earth, will seek to persecute the elect, a small group of believers under God's personal protection. Who comprises the faithful, protected remnant, and where are they protected?
In Isaiah 33:14, "the sinners in Zion" pose a question: "Who can survive the coming persecution?" God supplies the answer in verse 15—the righteous will survive it—and in verse 16, He explains where He will protect them—in a mountainous fortress where they are supplied food and drink. Verse 17 may indicate that the King, Jesus Christ, will teach them in the place of safety.
It is interesting to note that the letters to the Thyatira, Sardis, and Philadelphia churches in Revelation 2 and 3 mention a remnant: "the rest in Thyatira" (Revelation 2:24); "a few names even in Sardis" (Revelation 3:4); and implied in the direct promise, "I also will keep you from the hour of trial" (Revelation 3:10). Laodicea, though, must go through the fire (Revelation 3:18-19).
Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Although written in a prophetic sense, these verses probably also describe what happened when Hêlêl attacked God's throne in pre-history. God and His angels, led by Michael, cast the former Hêlêl—no longer a “shining one,” but now called Satan the Devil, the Deceiver, the Adversary, the Opposition—along with his angels, back to the earth, evidently causing great destruction all over the galaxy. And here they have remained.
Jude 6 records, “And the angels who did not keep their proper domain [the earth], but left their own abode, He has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day.” God has bound them to the earth while they await their ultimate judgment. Though no place was found in heaven for them anymore, the book of Job says that Satan can present himself before God's throne on occasion. Earth, however, is their habitation. While only as free as God allows them to be, they can still deceive and prey on mankind.
The Bible and human history fill in what has happened since. It is evident that from creation, mankind has been living side by side with millions of demonic opponents led by the chief adversary, Satan the Devil. Apparently, this was part of God's plan for His children. He wants us to choose His way, to overcome and grow despite being surrounded by evil.
Richard T. Ritenbaugh
The Binding of Satan
Chapter 12 is another inset chapter, in which John sees another wondrous vision. Its events do not follow those in chapter 11 at all: Chapter 11 ends with the blowing of the seventh trumpet and the announcing of the return of Jesus Christ, while chapter 12 suddenly introduces a brand new vision. Rather, chapter 12 is a highly condensed history of the true church within Israel, the woman.
God begins the record all the way back in the time of Jacob. In Genesis 37:9, Joesph dreams that the sun, moon, and stars all bow to him. Revelation 12:1 borrows from that vision to help us understand that the true church has its roots in Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph. It is, first of all, an Israelitish church, but its real roots are in heaven—where the sun, moon, and stars are. God is figuratively, symbolically pointing in the direction of the origins of the true church.
Chapter 12 unfolds a highly condensed history of that church. It takes us through the rebellion of Helel (who became Satan) and Jesus Christ being born of the woman. We find the Dragon attempting and succeeding in killing the Child, who is, of course, Jesus Christ. However, He is resurrected, so no really serious damage occurs to the Child born of the woman—Israel.
In verse 6, the woman flees into a wilderness. This takes us in time sequence up through the Middle Ages—through the Inquisitions, Crusades, and tribulations of the times where the church hid in the mountains, hills, and Alpine valleys of central Europe. Then, in verses 7-12, the narrative digresses somewhat, showing us something yet to occur: a war in heaven between Satan and his demons and Michael and the angels.
At the end of the chapter, we find the church again experiencing another, far more intensive tribulation that will be not only intense but much encapsulated in time. One part of the church will be protected, and another part will undergo a great deal of persecution.
John W. Ritenbaugh
Revelation 10 and the Laodicean Church
Other Forerunner Commentary entries containing Revelation 12:7:
1 Peter 3:18-20