這一章第一次出現seimeion ｢奇象｣或sign 這個字，約翰在他的約翰福音裡，常用上這字，通常翻作｢神蹟｣，跟其他叁本福音所用的｢神蹟、異能｣dunamis 的字不同。這字表示主所行的神蹟奇事背後，有更深的意思。在本書13:13-14 這字翻作｢奇事｣，是撒但所行的奇事。這裡稱之為｢大異象｣或｢大奇事｣mega seimeion ，是靈界戰爭中的大事。
This is the first time that the word “signs” ( seimeion ) appears in this chapter. John uses this word many times in his Gospel of John, usually translated into “miracle”. It is different from the word “miracle, wonders” ( dunamis ) used in the other three Gospels. This word shows that the miracles and wonders done by the Lord have a deeper meaning. In Revelation 13:13-14, this word is translated into “signs”, which are done by Satan. Here it is called “great signs” (mega seimeion ), which is a major event that happens during the war in the spiritual realm.
Revelation has a total of 22 chapters; most of the things seen in the first 11 chapters are prophecies and visions, like what people see on videos nowadays, similar to a movie. In chapter 12, John sees strange signs from the spiritual realm; we should use a spiritual point of view to look at these historical events.
In fact, the things that happen on the earth often have another reality behind them. For example, when Jesus was born, on the earth people saw that it was Herod the Great who was seeking to kill Jesus, but in the spiritual world, it was actually Satan who was seeking to kill Him. The reason why Job was suffering, we could say, was because the Sabeans and the Chaldeans had stolen his livestock, or because of the violent wind storm that took away the lives of his sons and daughters . But from the spiritual world point of view, it was Satan who was conspiring to harm him. Both statements are correct, because Satan is the evil mastermind behind the scenes; the violet winds and the actions of the wicked people that we see happening on the earth are just scenes that are apparent.
From the beginning of chapter 12 until verse 5 of chapter 14, there are a total of 7 visions of great signs. The way to understand this chapter is to look at each character individually. Understanding the characters will help us understand the events that happen in the spiritual realm, the spiritual warfare.
THE GLORIOUS WOMAN: THE FIRST GREAT SIGN
1 A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head.
This woman represents the Israelite Church from the Old Testament; the way we see it, she had to face many problems. But in God’s eyes she is a glorious church. She is adorned with nature, the sun, the moon, and the stars.
驟眼看來，以色列只是個小民族。但實際上她在神的眼中，在撒但與眾天使的眼中，是神的大作為。神要在這毫不起眼的人中，建立起偉大的教會。她頭戴12 星的冠冕，有12 支派或12 個兒子，人數不多，卻是宇宙中的大角色。以色列是最早期的教會。
At a glance, Israel might look like a small nation. But, in reality, in God’s eyes and in the eyes of Satan and all the angels, she is God’s great accomplishment. God wanted to establish a great church among this unremarkable group of people . She wore a crown of twelve stars on her head, twelve tribes or twelve sons, not a great number of people, but she played a big role in the universe. Israel was the church in its earliest stage.
神與他們立了一個約，稱為｢舊約｣，所以她是舊約教會。舊約時代眾先知已經預言，另外有一群人，稱為｢其馀的人｣( 中文聖經多翻作｢馀剩的人｣) 。那就是新約教會的人。主耶穌也說過：｢我另外有羊，不是這圈裡的。｣指到那些外邦的新約教會。
God made a covenant with them which the “Old Testament”, thus she is the church from the Old Testament. During the Old Testament times, many prophets prophesied about another group of people, called “the remnant”. Those are the people from the church of the New Testament. Jesus Christ once said: “I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen.” He was speaking about the gentiles from the New Testament church.
2 She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth.
Jesus Christ was born at the time that Israel was in pain and going through many difficulties. In fact, in the history of the church we can see that while the church was expanding and getting established, it was already suffering persecution. The church was already in pain at the time when Christ was born. Christ was born out of Israel, and out of a suffering church. That is why a great sign appears out of this glorious woman, which is Christ coming out of her. The crown that she is wearing is not a royal crown, it is a “victor’s crown”. Even though she suffered all kinds of persecutions, as she seemed to be defeated and overpowered, in reality, Christ is the One who is victorious.
ENORMOUS RED DRAGON: THE SECOND GREAT SIGN
3 天上又現出異象( 奇事) 來，有一條大紅龍，七頭十角，七頭上戴著七個冠冕。… 9 大龍，就是那古蛇，名叫魔鬼，又叫撒但。
3 Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on its heads… 9 the great dragon… that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan.
A “dragon” was a kind of dinosaur from ancient times. Dinosaurs had great strength and could cause great injuries. Their bodies were enormous. They could shoot water and fire because they had two cavities in their heads which contained two kinds of chemicals, when the chemicals were mixed together what came out of the dinosaur was like fire, which could set off flames and burn things up.
Chinese people in ancient times believed dinosaurs to be of good luck hoping these powerful creatures would help China and not be their enemies. Therefore Chinese called themselves “Descendants of the Dragon”. Furthermore, China is a communist country, and red is their national color . So in the eyes of Christians from the Western world, China became the enormous red dragon from Revelation and Satan’s country. Actually, the enormous red dragon mentioned in the Bible is completely different from the dinosaur that the Chinese people admire. Do not confuse one thing with the other. It is clearly stated in this passage that the “enormous red dragon” is Satan; it is not a country or any ethnic group on the earth. Bible commentators must not make the mistake of confusing one thing with another.
The Bible uses the dragon and the ancient serpent to represent Satan, but not all dinosaurs are Satan, not all serpents are the devil. Actually, the dragon and the ancient serpent are merely symbolic terms. Satan was originally an Archangel, his name was Lucifer , and he was a most powerful angel. But because he was arrogant, thought too highly of himself, and wanted to make himself like God; he took one third of the angels, rebelled against God and established his own empire. That is why verse 4 says: “And its tail swept away a third of the stars of heaven.” It had seven heads and ten horns, and on its heads were seven crowns. The crowns were royal crowns. He is the highest commander-in-chief among the fallen angels.
The horns on his head are his assistants who are under his authority; they also have great power and great authority because each horn had a crown. They could attack and harm the Church of God. His name was “Satan” which means “enemy” , because he is God’s enemy, he is an enemy of the Church and he is also our enemy.
“That ancient serpent,” the one which tempted Adam and Eve, he was called “devil” which means “the accuser.” That word was used at that time to describe a telltale, someone who maliciously revealed private matters behind people’s back. Those who belong to God are often accused by him. The devil is in heaven, and even inside our hearts, before the throne of God. He is constantly accusing us so that our consciences feel guilty. We are unable to lift up our heads to serve the Lord. We feel that we are so inadequate, how could we possibly be a servant of God? How could I be fit to serve the Church with such filthy hands? That is how he could attack the Church of God effectively. Attack those who serve the Lord.
THE WOMAN GAVE BIRTH TO A CHILD: THE THIRD GREAT SIGN
4 龍站在那將要生產婦人面前，等她生產之後，要吞喫她的孩子。5 婦人生了一個男孩子，是將來要用鐵杖轄管萬國的。她的孩子被提到神寶座那裡去了。
4…The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that it might devour her child the moment he was born. 5 She gave birth to a son, a male child, who “will rule all the nations with an iron scepter.” And her child was snatched up to God and to his throne.
這個男孩，明顯就是指基督，因為祂｢是將來要用鐵杖轄管( 牧養) 萬國的。｣古代的君王都有一根杖，象徵他們的王權。這裡描寫這位男孩，這位基督是將會管理萬國，成為萬王之王的。
This child obviously refers to Christ, because he “will rule (shepherd) all the nations with an iron scepter.” The kings in ancient times had a staff which symbolized their royal authority. Here, it says that this male child, Christ, will rule the nations and will become the King of Kings.
Satan knew about the plan of salvation of God, which was to send His Son to this world. Satan had been waiting to annihilate Him from the very beginning, when He was born, when He was preaching the Good News, when He was crucified. All those in authority wanted to kill Him including the priests, the scribes, the Pharisees, etc. Their plan seemed very successful; Christ was crucified and died. But at the end, Christ resurrected from the dead and ascended to heaven to God’s throne.
TOOK REFUGE IN THE WILDERNESS
6 婦人就逃到曠野，在那裡有神給她豫備的地方，使她被養活1260 天。
6 The woman fled into the wilderness to a place prepared for her by God, where she might be taken care of for 1,260 days.
The word “wilderness” appears twice in chapter 12, particularly referring to the Old Testament Church hiding in the wilderness. After the Israelites left Egypt, they went into the wilderness to be trained. In the New Testament prophecies, past events are often brought up again to foretell of things that will happen in the future. The wilderness is a desolate place where people are tested and disciplined; it is also a relatively safe place.
When the Israelites were tested, they also received God’s special protection. From here we could see that after Christ ascended to heaven, the Old Testament Church seemed to have gone into hiding, this period of time is called the time of the Gentiles; this is the time when the New Testament Church appeared.
When the Israelite Church was in the wilderness, it was when they were dispersed into different parts of the world, temporarily enjoying a quiet life. They were still under God’s care; thus, she was “taken care of (provided for)”. They were in exile for 2,000 years, yet they studied and taught the Bible in synagogues all over the world. They kept their faith secretly but steadily.
這種暫時隱藏的平靜，只有1260 天。這個數字可以解釋為災難期的一半時間。在這段外邦人的日期中，撒但主要工作是對付新約教會，就是外邦教會。但到外邦人日期的後來，撒但也再積極地想消滅以色列教會。牠再回來逼迫以色列教會，是在｢地盤戰｣輸掉之後。13 ｢龍見被摔在地上，就逼迫那生男孩的婦人。｣
The temporary tranquil hiding place was only for 1,260 days. This figure could be interpreted as half the time of the tribulation. During this time of the Gentiles, Satan’s main task is to attack the New Testament Church, which is the Church of the Gentiles. But, by the end of the time of the Gentiles, Satan will once again actively try to destroy the Israelite Church. He will persecute the Israelite Church once more after losing the “territorial battle”. Verse 13, “When the dragon saw that he had been hurled to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child.”
THE NEW TESTAMENT CHURCH TRIUMPHS
7 Then war broke out in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back.
The war in heaven between the angels and the Devil is also the war on the earth between the Church and Satan. Not only does it happen at the same time, but it is a matter that involves two sides. If we only look at the Church on the earth, sometimes we might not be able to see clearly which side will win. In 2000 years, the Church has survived wicked governments and enemy attacks, it is like a tug of war, a win lose situation. But in reality, from heaven’s point of view, the Devil is gradually losing ground because the Gospel continues to spread to the ends of the earth at a very fast rate. This is a territorial battle, a territorial battle in heaven and on earth. Originally Satan was a very powerful angel but after his fall he fought with the Archangel Michael and little by little Satan had to retreat in defeat. The dragon mobilized all the demons to make war against all the angels to take control of the territory but they were all defeated.
The Gospel overcame the darkest regions and spread all over the world. Satan’s circumstances are clearly seen in this book.
10 Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: “Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Messiah. For the accuser of our brothers and sisters, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down.
The voice came from heaven; this tells us that the circumstances have changed. Former generations who belonged to the Lord have been accused by Satan. Job, Joshua, Zerubbabel, they all have been accused by him. They make people’s conscience feel guilty so that they are afraid to serve the Lord. During the end times, Satan will not be able to continue to accuse people because he has been hurled down. He had lost his place before the throne of God and lost his status as an accuser in the hearts of the believers because all the records of the sinners who were saved by grace had been revoked.
SATAN ‘ S DEFEAT
8 天上再沒有牠們的地方。9 牠被摔在地上，牠的使者，也一同被摔下去。11 弟兄勝過牠是因羔羊的血和自己所見證的道…
8 … and they lost their place in heaven. 9 The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him. 11 They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony…
In the end, was it the Archangel Michael who defeated him or was it our brothers? We say that the battle on the earth reflects the battle in heaven. On the earth our brothers triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb. At the same time the angels are fighting against Satan in heaven. The Archangel triumphed because the brothers triumphed over him. The brothers triumphed because the angels triumphed.
When Jesus spoke to his disciples about prayer in Matthew chapter 16 and 18, He said: “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. The keys of the kingdom of heaven, is the secret to defeat Satan through prayer and spreading the Gospel to establish God’s Kingdom.
Paul said in Ephesians chapter 6: “Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. In the past 2,000 years, the difference between the Old Testament and the New Testament Church, seen from a spiritual point of view, has been that the Old Testament Church had been in hiding in the wilderness while the New Testament Church has been fighting on the front lines to spread the Gospel to the ends of the earth. The New Testament Church has been victorious, it has accomplished God’s plan and has made all angels be part of the battle to attack Satan’s empire.
A BATTLE MUST BE FOUGHT IN ORDER FOR VICTORY TO TAKE PLACE
11 They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.
Without a battle there is no victory. To hide is a passive way to survive; in the end, the Church that was originally hiding also had to fight during the great tribulation, they will become the martyrs in the last days. After Satan was hurled down to the earth, he still wanted to persecute the Old Testament Church, he is constantly reminded that Israel is God’s chosen people and wants to eliminate her, which would be the same as destroying God’s plan. As a result, unwittingly it let the New Testament Church established the territory for the Kingdom of Heaven.
新約教會得勝的方法：( 一) 靠羔羊的血：藉著主的血洗淨了天良，不再怕牠的控告。( 二) 作主的見證人：見證主的道，讓主的道傳開到外邦人中。( 叁) 肯捨己、背主的十字架：不怕死、不怕苦，以受苦的心志作為兵器，就能得勝那惡魔。
The way the New Testament Church triumphed over Satan was: (1) by the blood of the Lamb: The Lord’s blood cleansed people’s conscience; there is no need to be afraid of Satan’s accusations. (2) By the Word of their testimony: They testified the Word of the Lord, so that it would spread among the Gentiles. (3) Willing to sacrifice, taking up the cross of the Lord: Not afraid of dying, not afraid of pain, using the willingness to suffer as a weapon, that is how to overcome the evil one.
SATAN ‘ S FINAL DESPERATE STRUGGLE
12 Therefore rejoice, you heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has gone down to you! He is filled with fury, because he knows that his time is short.
After the dragon lost the battle, he was hurled to the earth; he had lost his place in heaven. He could no longer accuse believers or cause any more damage in the most holy place, in the hearts of people. He was hurled down to earth to stir up havoc in land and sea, spreading darkness and gloom in the religious and political world. Everyone in the world will be affected. Many disasters will be widespread; it will affect people’s body and soul.
RESTORATION OF THE NATION OF ISRAEL – THE FOURTH GREAT SIGN
13 龍見被摔在地上，就逼迫那生男孩的婦人。14 於是有大鷹兩個翅膀賜給婦人，叫她能飛到曠野，到自己的地方。
13 When the dragon saw that he had been hurled to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child. 14 The woman was given the two wings of a great eagle, so that she might fly to the place prepared for her in the wilderness, where she would be taken care of for a time, times and half a time, out of the serpent’s reach…
“The place prepared for her”, is the land of Israel. She will get special help and be restored in her own place and she will be protected like in ancient times. Exodus 19:4: “You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself.” What God did in the past, He will for sure do it again during the end times.
15 Then from his mouth the serpent spewed water like a river, to overtake the woman and sweep her away with the torrent.
“From his mouth the serpent spewed water like a river”, this symbolizes his evil speech; the way he plans to destroy God’s chosen people through distorted wicked words and malicious curses. All the countries that want to destroy the nation of Israel, all her enemies surround her like a torrent to attack her. Since the restoration of the nation of Israel in 1948 until this very day, all her enemies have been trying to drown her with curses and military artillery.
16 But the earth helped the woman by opening its mouth and swallowing the river that the dragon had spewed out of his mouth.
Amazing signs continue to happen. It was the “earth”, their faith, their trust in God that helped them to cope with such an attack. This small nation was not destroyed even under the wrath of her surrounding enemies.
SATAN ATTACKS ALL THE CHURCHES OF THE EARTH DURING THE END TIMES
17 Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to wage war against the rest of her offspring—those who keep God’s commands and hold fast their testimony about Jesus.
Not only did it attack Israel, but at the same time it also attacked the Gentile Church of the New Testament. During the end times, there will still be a group of Gentiles who faithfully testify for the Lord, those are “the rest of her offspring”. The conflict of the ages is upon the churches of the whole earth.