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Introduction to Revelation 12

At the end of Revelation 11, the Ark of the Covenant appeared as a sign in Heaven to the Jews as a reminder of God's covenant with them. This concluded the first of two interludes that cover additional events that will occur in the last half of the Tribulation. Recall from the "Revelation Introduction," an interlude gives us more information or a different perspective to the narrative. In other words, an interlude is a background story to the narrative, with clear indications that each interlude reaches back or forward in time, and generally returns to where the primary narrative left off.

There are four interludes in Revelation that give us details about events not covered in the main storyline, as shown below:

Revelation Flow Chart

The two interludes covered in chapters 11-14 focus on events in the last half of the Tribulation, before we return to the narrative of the Tribulation judgments in Revelation 15, as shown below:

3 perspectives on the last half of the Tribulation

Revelation 12:1-4


Revelation 12:1 - Now a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a garland of twelve stars.

The interlude that begins in chapter 12 opens with a history lesson in the form of signs or symbols that explain why God will protect and save a Jewish remnant during the last 3 ½ years of the Tribulation. This Jewish remnant will enter the Kingdom Age after the Tribulation under the "new covenant" through Christ (Hebrews 8), rendering the ark of the covenant's purpose obsolete:

Jeremiah 3:16, 31-33 - "Then it shall come to pass, when you are multiplied and increased in the land in those days," says the LORD, "that they will say no more, 'The ark of the covenant of the LORD.' It shall not come to mind, nor shall they remember it, nor shall they visit it, nor shall it be made anymore.... Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah - not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the LORD. But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people."

The first sign in our history lesson is a woman who appears in heaven, clothed with the sun, with the moon at her feet, and a garland or crown of twelve stars on her head. Jacob interprets this sign for us:

Genesis 37:5, 9-10 - Now Joseph had a dream, and he told it to his brothers; and they hated him even more.... Then he dreamed still another dream and told it to his brothers, and said, "Look, I have dreamed another dream. And this time, the sun, the moon, and the eleven stars bowed down to me." So he told it to his father and his brothers; and his father rebuked him and said to him, "What is this dream that you have dreamed? Shall your mother and I and your brothers indeed come to bow down to the earth before you?"

Jacob reveals that the sun, moon, and twelve stars, with Joseph being the twelfth star, represent his family members. The sun represents Jacob, who God renamed Israel (Genesis 32:28). Joseph's mother Rachel died before he had his dream about the sun moon and stars (Genesis 35:19). This means that the moon in Joseph's dream stood for Leah, the assumed matriarch of the twelve tribes of Israel. The moon cycle also marks the months of the year and aligns with the average woman's menstrual cycle, so it makes sense that the moon represents a woman. The stars represent Jacob's sons and twelve tribes of Israel. Therefore, the sign of the woman clothed with the sun, with the moon at her feet, and twelve stars on her head represent the nation Israel, which began with Jacob and his family.

The sun clearly represents Jacob in the sign, but the sun also represents God in Scipture. The woman clothed in the sun may allude to God's protection and preservation of Israel, and His righteousness:

Psalms 84:11 - For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD will give grace and glory; no good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly.
Malachi 4:2 - But to you who fear My name The Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing in His wings; and you shall go out and grow fat like stall-fed calves.

The moon is under the feet of the sign of the woman. Putting something under the feet shows subjugation and dominion (1 Corinthians 15:27-28, Hebrews 2:4-8). Since the woman is clothed with the sun, the moon is invisible because it is close to the sun in its new phase. The sun rules the day and the moon rules the night (Psalms 136:8-9). Thus, the moon is subject to the sun, succumbing to its brightness in the sign of the woman.

The garland on the head of the woman is the Greek word "stephanos," which is a victor's crown, as discussed in Revelation 6:2. This crown also shows glory and honor:

Hebrews 2:4-8 - God also bearing witness both with signs and wonders, with various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to His own will. For He has not put the world to come, of which we speak, in subjection to angels. But one testified in a certain place, saying: "What is man that you are mindful of him, or the son of man that you take care of him? You have made him a little lower than the angels; You have crowned him with glory and honor, and set him over the works of your hands. You have put all things in subjection under his feet." For in that He put all in subjection under him, He left nothing that is not put under him. But now we do not yet see all things put under him.

As we will see in Revelation 12:5, the woman will give birth to a child who will rule the nations after he defeats His enemies. This child is the Messiah, who will receive glory and honor (Revelation 4:9-11), and rule with dominion over Israel forever on the throne of David:

Isaiah 9:6-7 - For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.
Jeremiah 33:15-21 - 'In those days and at that time I will cause to grow up to David A Branch of righteousness; He shall execute judgment and righteousness in the earth. In those days Judah will be saved, and Jerusalem will dwell safely. And this is the name by which she will be called: THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.' "For thus says the LORD: 'David shall never lack a man to sit on the throne of the house of Israel; nor shall the priests, the Levites, lack a man to offer burnt offerings before Me, to kindle grain offerings, and to sacrifice continually.' " And the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah, saying, "Thus says the LORD: 'If you can break My covenant with the day and My covenant with the night, so that there will not be day and night in their season, then My covenant may also be broken with David My servant, so that he shall not have a son to reign on his throne, and with the Levites, the priests, My ministers.

So we see that the sign of the woman in the heavens points to the birth of the Messiah through the nation Israel. Incidentally, the sign of the woman also appears in heaven as a constellation in the sky. God even said that one of the purposes for creating the luminaries was for them to act as "signs":

Genesis 1:14 - Then God said, "Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs and seasons, and for days and years....
Luke 21:25 - "And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars...."

God also said that the ordinances of the sun, moon and stars are a faithful witness to His promise to preserve the seed of Israel beyond exile and the seed of David through the Messiah eternally, which is interesting since the sign of the woman in the heavens represents the nation Israel who brought forth the Messiah:

Jeremiah 31:35-37 - Thus says the LORD, who gives the sun for a light by day, the ordinances of the moon and the stars for a light by night, who disturbs the sea, and its waves roar (The LORD of hosts is His name): "If those ordinances depart from before Me, says the LORD, then the seed of Israel shall also cease from being a nation before Me forever." Thus says the LORD: "If heaven above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth searched out beneath, I will also cast off all the seed of Israel for all that they have done, says the LORD.
Psalms 89:35-37 - Once I have sworn by My holiness; I will not lie to David: His seed shall endure forever, And his throne as the sun before Me; it shall be established forever like the moon, even like the faithful witness in the sky." Selah

God gave the stars names, and ordered the constellations, some of which He refers to specifically by name:

Psalms 147:4 - He counts the number of the stars; He calls them all by name.
Amos 5:8 - He made the Pleiades and Orion; He turns the shadow of death into morning and makes the day dark as night; He calls for the waters of the sea and pours them out on the face of the earth; the LORD is His name.
Job 9:7-9 - He commands the sun, and it does not rise; He seals off the stars; He alone spreads out the heavens, and treads on the waves of the sea; He made the Bear, Orion, and the Pleiades, and the chambers of the south....
Job 38:31-33 - "Can you bind the cluster of the Pleiades, or loose the belt of Orion? Can you bring out Mazzaroth in its season? Or can you guide the Great Bear with its cubs? Do you know the ordinances of the heavens? Can you set their dominion over the earth?"
Mazzaroth

God refers to the Mazzaroth when He points out several constellations to Job. Many believe that the Mazzaroth refers specifically to the twelve constellations that make up the Zodiac. The constellations in the Zodiac follow a path on the ecliptic centered belt of the celestial sphere as viewed from the earth. Each constellation in the Zodiac can only be seen for a season, like the Mazzaroth in Job 38:32, giving support that the Mazzaroth and Zodiac are one in the same. The Zodiac and other constellations along with the sun, moon, and other luminaries declare the glory of God because they "reveal knowledge" as they follow their paths, or lines across the celestial sphere:

Psalms 19:1-6 - To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David. The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork. Day unto day utters speech, and night unto night reveals knowledge. There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard. Their line has gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them He has set a tabernacle for the sun, which is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoices like a strong man to run its race. Its rising is from one end of heaven, and its circuit to the other end; and there is nothing hidden from its heat.
zodiac
  Source: Wikipedia

This knowledge is not uttered in speech or language, but in signs. The Bible explains what these signs mean. As already shown, Jacob explained that the sign of the woman represents Israel. The sign of the woman is found in the sky periodically in one of the constellations of the Zodiac. Before showing which constellation is the sign of the woman, it is important to first explain the history of the Zodiac to avoid confusion and stem objection over a topic that is typically considered taboo by many Christians.

While God created the Mazzaroth and the rest of the luminaries to reveal knowledge, Satan and his fallen angels took that knowledge and perverted it into what we call astrology, which is a form of divination that uses the stars to try to interpret or influence human affairs (Isaiah 47:12-14). History shows that nearly all pagan religions used astrology, worshipped the host of heaven, and believed the luminaries symbolized these deities. However, these deities are really false gods:

Deuteronomy 4:19-20 - And take heed, lest you lift your eyes to heaven, and when you see the sun, the moon, and the stars, all the host of heaven, you feel driven to worship them and serve them, which the LORD your God has given to all the peoples under the whole heaven as a heritage. But the LORD has taken you and brought you out of the iron furnace, out of Egypt, to be His people, an inheritance, as you are this day.

God allowed the Gentile nations to follow the perverted message in the luminaries, but He brought Israel out of this perversion to follow Him instead of the false gods. God also commissioned Israel to reveal His Word through the Scriptures:

Romans 3:1-2 - What advantage then has the Jew, or what is the profit of circumcision? Much in every way! Chiefly because to them were committed the oracles of God.

Thus, God's message revealed in the luminaries is also found in the oracles of God, or the Word of God. In other words, God revealed knowledge through signs in the sky before He chose Israel to share that knowledge through His written Word to the world. Incidentally, some see parallels between the twelve constellations in the Zodiac and the twelve tribes of God's chosen nation (source). On that note, it is interesting that God revealed to Abraham that some of his offspring would become God's chosen nation by pointing to the stars in heaven, which fits with God revealing knowledge to man through the heavens before moving men to pen His written Word later in history:

Genesis 15:3-5 - Then Abram said, "Look, You have given me no offspring; indeed one born in my house is my heir!" And behold, the word of the LORD came to him, saying, "This one shall not be your heir, but one who will come from your own body shall be your heir." Then He brought him outside and said, "Look now toward heaven, and count the stars if you are able to number them." And He said to him, "So shall your descendants be."

Though the original message became corrupted, the heavenly signs are still in the sky. There have been several authors who have attempted to reconstruct the original message with the assumption that Satan peppers the truth with lies, meaning that there is still truth within the corrupted message. (Click here for more on these authors.) Interestingly, though the reconstructed details differ among authors, the consensus of these authors show that the redemption story of man is clearly found in the Zodiac.

The following chart shows a summary of the possible reconstructed meanings in the signs of the Zodiac, with the redemptive story unfolding through the first advent of the Messiah, the new covenant, and the second advent of the Messiah:

Constellation
Description
Biblical Parallel
First advent of Christ
Virgo
A virgin with a branch in her right hand and an ear of corn or seed in her left hand. The Messiah is the Branch (Isaiah 11:1, Jeremiah 23:5, 33:15), who sits at the "right hand" of God making intercession for believers (Romans 8:34), who was born of the seed of a woman (Genesis 3:15) - a virgin (Isaiah 7:14, Matthew 1:23).
Libra
Scales, a pair of balances for weighing. The Messiah paid the price with His blood to reconcile all things (Colossians 1:20).
Scorpio
A scorpion who inflicts the sting of death. Serpents and scorpions represent the power of the enemy (Luke 10:19). The sting of death is sin (1 Corinthians 15:56).
Sagittarius
A horse with the head of a man with a bow and arrow pointed toward the scorpion. A horse is associated with battle (Job 39:19-25, Proverbs 21:31). The power of God's enemies are represented by serpents and scorpions (Luke 10:19). Christ conquered the sting of death and His enemies through His resurrection (1 Corinthians 15).
Redemption under the New Covenant
Capricornus
Head of a goat that is dying with a tail of a fish still swimming. A goat was sacrificed as a sin offering (Leviticus 16:15-16). The Messiah took away the need to make sin offerings by His sacrifice - His death, burial, and resurrection, which made it possible to obtain eternal life through the "new covenant" (Hebrews 10).
Aquarius
A man pouring out a container of water. The Redeemer poured out His Spirit like water on believers on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-18) and He will again pour out His Spirit on Israel (Isaiah 44:3) and all flesh (Joel 2:28) at the end of the Tribulation.
Pisces
Two fish The apostles were fishers of men (Matthew 4:19, Mark 1:17) first to the Jews and later to the Gentiles. The Messiah will multiply the number of believers like the two fish that fed the five thousand (Matthew 14:15-21, Mark 6:36-44, Luke 9:12-17, John 6:7-13).
Aries
A ram or a lamb The Messiah is the Lamb who was slain to redeem mankind (John 1:29, 1 Peter 1:18-19, Revelation 5:6), pictured in the ram who took the place of Isaac when God told Abraham to sacrifice his son (Genesis 22:13).
Second advent of Christ
Taurus
A wild ox The Lord consumes His enemies like a wild ox (Numbers 24:8, Psalms 92:9-10).
Gemini
Twins - one mortal the other immortal The Messiah is dual in nature, having the fullness of God in a mortal human body (John 1:1 & 14, Colossians 2:9).
Cancer
A crab taking a firm hold with its claws The Messiah has a permanent hold on His sheep (John 10:26-29).
Leo
A lion standing on the serpent constellation Hydra the sea serpent The lion is the king of the beasts. The Messiah is the lion of the tribe of Judah (Revelation 5:5) and the King of kings (Revelation 19:16), who will crush the head of the serpent (Genesis 3:15).
Sources: J.R. Church (Gospel in the Stars), Lambert Dolphin (Signs in the Stars), Philologos (1, 2), Parablesblog (1, 2, 3), Chuck Missler (Sign in the Heavens), Oakview Bible Fellowship (Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricornus, Aquarius, Pisces, Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo).
sphinx
  Source: Wikipedia

Today, the Zodiac begins with Aries and ends with Pisces. However, the sphinx in Egypt, shown to the right, has the head of a woman and a body of the lion, which suggests that the ancients believed the Zodiac began with Virgo and ended with Leo. In light of the redemption message, it makes sense to begin with Virgo and end with Leo - the Messiah came first through the virgin and established the new covenant (Galatians 4:4-5), and He will return to redeem the earth as the "lion of the tribe of Judah" after He opens the sealed "purchase deed" to the earth:

Matthew 1:21-23 - And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins." So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: "Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a son, and they shall call His name Immanuel," which is translated, "God with us."
Revelation 5:5, 8-9 - But one of the elders said to me, "Do not weep. Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has prevailed to open the scroll and to loose its seven seals....." Now when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song, saying: "You are worthy to take the scroll, and to open its seals; for You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation...."

The constellation Virgo appears in the sky in the late summer to early fall, during the Lord's fall feasts of Trumpets, Atonement, and Tabernacles. However, Virgo only periodically appears clothed in the sun with the moon at her feet. Interestingly, there is scriptural evidence to support the conclusion that Jesus was born in the fall during the time of the fall feasts (source). Rick Larson, author of the "The Star of Bethlehem," believes that several signs in the sky pointed to the time of Jesus' birth in 3BC (click here for video). One of the signs was the constellation Virgo on September 11th, 3BC, during the new moon, which is the date that the Jews observed the Feast of Trumpets that year. On that day, the moon was at Virgo's feet and the sun "clothed" the constellation and the moon with light, making Virgo and the moon invisible to the naked eye:

Sign of the woman
Source: Stellarium

The sign of the woman also includes a garland of twelve stars on her head. Virgo itself does not have twelve stars in the constellation to account for this garland on her head. However, there are twelve prominent stars above the head of Virgo and beneath Leo that form a rough circle, if you include the star in the head of the constellation. It is possible that this crown of stars was part of the original constellation before it became corrupted:

12 stars above Virgo's head
Source: Stellarium

Some also speculate that the constellation Coma Berenices once represented the garland of stars above Virgo's head. However, there are not twelve visibly well-defined stars in the Coma Berenices - there are only a few bright stars, but hundreds of faint stars. Also, Coma Berenices is to the left of Virgo and not above her head:

Coma Berenices and Virgo
Source: Stellarium

Another possibility is that something else appeared in the sky above Virgo's head in 3BC. Comet Shoemaker-Levy broke into twenty-one fragments before hitting Jupiter in 1994, so it is possible that a comet or other heavenly body broke up into twelve pieces above the head of Virgo when the sign of the woman appeared in heaven in 3BC.

The mystery of the crown aside, it is clear that the sign of the woman is a physical sign in the heavens, and this sign shows that the Messiah would come through the nation Israel. This sign also appeared in the sky during the time that Jesus Christ was likely born. As we will see in the next section, the Messiah physically came as the seed of the woman through Israel, as shown in the sign of the woman, but due to their disobedience, the nation suffered in travail before the promised child of redemption was born.


Revelation 12:2 - Then being with child, she cried out in labor and in pain to give birth.

John sees the woman in heaven in travail with birth pangs, as she is about to give birth to the Messiah - this is the beginning of the redemptive story of man found in the constellation Virgo, as discussed in the last section. Virgo means "the virgin." Virgo is typically pictured with an ear of corn in her left hand, which can symbolize "seed," and a branch in her right hand. The prophet Isaiah foretold that the Messiah would come through a virgin and be a branch from the stem of Jesse, which is the line of David:

Isaiah 7:14 - Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.
Isaiah 9:6-7 - For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.
Isaiah 11:1-5 - There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots. The Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon Him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD. His delight is in the fear of the LORD, and He shall not judge by the sight of His eyes, nor decide by the hearing of His ears; but with righteousness He shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; He shall strike the earth with the rod of His mouth, and with the breath of His lips He shall slay the wicked. Righteousness shall be the belt of His loins, and faithfulness the belt of His waist.

The sign of the woman shows that the Messiah would come after much travail like birth pangs. The theme of birth pangs associated with redemption begins in Genesis when the serpent deceived Eve:

Genesis 3:13-16 - And the LORD God said to the woman, "What is this you have done?" The woman said, "The serpent deceived me, and I ate." So the LORD God said to the serpent: "Because you have done this, you are cursed more than all cattle, and more than every beast of the field; on your belly you shall go, and you shall eat dust all the days of your life. And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel." To the woman He said: "I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception; in pain you shall bring forth children; your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you."

Though the serpent deceived the woman, God cursed her and said she would have great pain in bearing children for her sin. Note that the seed of the woman will "bruise" or "crush" the head of the serpent. The last constellation of the Zodiac Leo the lion shows this triumph against the serpent:

Leo Virgo Hydra
Source: Stellarium

Note in the pictures above that Leo is about to crush the head of the serpent Hydra in the sky. Likewise, Jesus Christ, the "lion of the tribe of Judah" is the promised seed of the woman who will defeat the serpent and redeem man:

Revelation 5:5, 8-9 - But one of the elders said to me, "Do not weep. Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has prevailed to open the scroll and to loose its seven seals....." Now when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song, saying: "You are worthy to take the scroll, And to open its seals; For You were slain, And have redeemed us to God by Your blood Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation...."
Revelation 20:1-3, 10 - Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, having the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. He laid hold of the dragon, that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; and he cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal on him, so that he should deceive the nations no more till the thousand years were finished. But after these things he must be released for a little while.... The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.

Job also acknowledged that the heavens show that the Lord will defeat the serpent:

Job 26:13 - By His Spirit He adorned the heavens; His hand pierced the fleeing serpent.

Incidentally, the second time labor in childbirth is found in the Bible is when Rachel bears a child and called him "Ben-Oni," meaning "son of sorrow," but his father Jacob renamed him "Benjamin," meaning "son of the right hand," as discussed in the study, "What's in a Name." Benjamin was the brother of Joseph who had the dream about the sun, moon, and stars which pictured his father, mother, and brothers (Genesis 37:9-10):

Genesis 35:16-18 - Then they journeyed from Bethel. And when there was but a little distance to go to Ephrath, Rachel labored in childbirth, and she had hard labor. Now it came to pass, when she was in hard labor, that the midwife said to her, "Do not fear; you will have this son also." And so it was, as her soul was departing (for she died), that she called his name Ben-Oni; but his father called him Benjamin.

Recall that Virgo has a branch in her right hand. The right hand is the favored hand that symbolizes strength, protection, or salvation (Revelation 1:16). Jesus is the "Branch," who is the Savior and the "right hand" of God. As shown in the sign of the woman, the Messiah came after much sorrow and travail through the nation Israel.

The reason for Israel's travail was because Satan deceived them like Eve; they did not follow God's commands, but followed after false gods instead. God warned Israel that they would suffer reproach like a barren woman (Revelation 9:5) and He would punish them with His severe judgments (Zechariah 6:6-7) if they chose to disobey His commands. In other words, Israel paradoxically travailed like a pregnant woman ready to give birth, yet suffered the reproach of a barren woman (Jeremiah 3:25, 24:9-10 , 29:18-19, 42:18, 44:8-12, Ezekiel 5:14-17, 22:4, Daniel 9:16) because they disobeyed God and followed after false gods:

Isaiah 26:17-18 - As a woman with child Is in pain and cries out in her pangs, when she draws near the time of her delivery, so have we been in Your sight, O LORD. We have been with child, we have been in pain; we have, as it were, brought forth wind; we have not accomplished any deliverance in the earth, nor have the inhabitants of the world fallen.
Jeremiah 4:1, 31 - "If you will return, O Israel," says the LORD, "Return to Me; and if you will put away your abominations out of My sight, then you shall not be moved..... For I have heard a voice as of a woman in labor, the anguish as of her who brings forth her first child, the voice of the daughter of Zion bewailing herself; she spreads her hands, saying, 'Woe is me now, for my soul is weary because of murderers!'"
Jeremiah 6:22-24 - Thus says the LORD: "Behold, a people comes from the north country, and a great nation will be raised from the farthest parts of the earth. They will lay hold on bow and spear; they are cruel and have no mercy; their voice roars like the sea; and they ride on horses, as men of war set in array against you, O daughter of Zion." We have heard the report of it; our hands grow feeble. Anguish has taken hold of us, pain as of a woman in labor.
Jeremiah 13:9-10, 21 - "Thus says the LORD: 'In this manner I will ruin the pride of Judah and the great pride of Jerusalem. This evil people, who refuse to hear My words, who follow the dictates of their hearts, and walk after other gods to serve them and worship them, shall be just like this sash which is profitable for nothing..... What will you say when He punishes you? For you have taught them to be chieftains, to be head over you. Will not pangs seize you, like a woman in labor?"
Hosea 13:9-13 - "O Israel, you are destroyed, but your help is from Me. I will be your King; where is any other, that he may save you in all your cities? And your judges to whom you said, 'Give me a king and princes'? I gave you a king in My anger, and took him away in My wrath. "The iniquity of Ephraim is bound up; his sin is stored up. The sorrows of a woman in childbirth shall come upon him. He is an unwise son, for he should not stay long where children are born.

Israel was not the only nation to suffer in travail of judgment for disobedience. God also judged Israel's neighbors for their abhorrent acts and their treatment of Israel. Like Israel, the prophets described the pain Israel's neighbors suffered like the pain of a woman in travail:

Isaiah 21:3-4, 9 - Therefore my loins are filled with pain; pangs have taken hold of me, like the pangs of a woman in labor. I was distressed when I heard it; I was dismayed when I saw it. My heart wavered, fearfulness frightened me; the night for which I longed He turned into fear for me.... And look, here comes a chariot of men with a pair of horsemen!" Then he answered and said, "Babylon is fallen, is fallen! And all the carved images of her gods He has broken to the ground."
Jeremiah 50:41-43 - "Behold, a people shall come from the north, and a great nation and many kings shall be raised up from the ends of the earth. They shall hold the bow and the lance; they are cruel and shall not show mercy. Their voice shall roar like the sea; they shall ride on horses, set in array, like a man for the battle, against you, O daughter of Babylon. "The king of Babylon has heard the report about them, and his hands grow feeble; anguish has taken hold of him, pangs as of a woman in childbirth."
Jeremiah 22:23 - O inhabitant of Lebanon, making your nest in the cedars, how gracious will you be when pangs come upon you, like the pain of a woman in labor?
Jeremiah 48:40-41 - For thus says the LORD: "Behold, one shall fly like an eagle, and spread his wings over Moab. Kerioth is taken, and the strongholds are surprised; the mighty men's hearts in Moab on that day shall be like the heart of a woman in birth pangs.
Jeremiah 49:22-24 - Behold, He shall come up and fly like the eagle, and spread His wings over Bozrah; The heart of the mighty men of Edom in that day shall be like the heart of a woman in birth pangs. Against Damascus. "Hamath and Arpad are shamed, for they have heard bad news. They are fainthearted; there is trouble on the sea; it cannot be quiet. Damascus has grown feeble; she turns to flee, and fear has seized her. Anguish and sorrows have taken her like a woman in labor.

So we see that God's judgment brings the pain of childbirth upon both Israel and the nations. The Tribulation period is also a time of judgment against Israel and the nations that will cause pain like childbirth:

1 Thessalonians 5:1-3 - But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they say, "Peace and safety!" then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape.
Psalms 48:1, 4-7, 11 - Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised in the city of our God, in His holy mountain.... For behold, the kings assembled, they passed by together. They saw it, and so they marveled; they were troubled, they hastened away. Fear took hold of them there, and pain, as of a woman in birth pangs, as when you break the ships of Tarshish with an east wind.... Let Mount Zion rejoice, let the daughters of Judah be glad, because of Your judgments.

One purpose of the Tribulation is to punish the world for iniquity:

Isaiah 13:4-8 - The noise of a multitude in the mountains, like that of many people! A tumultuous noise of the kingdoms of nations gathered together! The LORD of hosts musters the army for battle. They come from a far country, from the end of heaven - The LORD and His weapons of indignation, to destroy the whole land. Wail, for the day of the LORD is at hand! It will come as destruction from the Almighty. Therefore all hands will be limp, every man's heart will melt, and they will be afraid. Pangs and sorrows will take hold of them; they will be in pain as a woman in childbirth; they will be amazed at one another; their faces will be like flames.
Isaiah 13:9-12 - Behold, the day of the LORD comes, cruel, with both wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate; and He will destroy its sinners from it. For the stars of heaven and their constellations will not give their light; the sun will be darkened in its going forth, and the moon will not cause its light to shine. "I will punish the world for its evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; I will halt the arrogance of the proud, and will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible. I will make a mortal more rare than fine gold, a man more than the golden wedge of Ophir."

God doesn't only destroy the inhabitants of the world for their iniquity. Another purpose for the Tribulation is to make "reconciliation for iniquity":

Daniel 9:16, 20-22, 24 - O Lord, according to all Your righteousness, I pray, let Your anger and Your fury be turned away from Your city Jerusalem, Your holy mountain; because for our sins, and for the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and Your people are a reproach to all those around us.... Now while I was speaking, praying, and confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my supplication before the LORD my God for the holy mountain of my God, yes, while I was speaking in prayer, the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, reached me about the time of the evening offering. And he informed me, and talked with me, and said, "O Daniel, I have now come forth to give you skill to understand.... Seventy weeks are determined for your people and for your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sins, to make reconciliation for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy, and to anoint the Most Holy.

Daniel recognized that Israel was under God's judgment because of disobedience to God. The Jews had become a reproach like a barren woman and Daniel asked for forgiveness for the nation. So we see that God's focus during the Tribulation, or "time of Jacob's trouble," is to reconcile Israel to Himself:

Jeremiah 30:5-8 - "For thus says the LORD: 'We have heard a voice of trembling, of fear, and not of peace. Ask now, and see, whether a man is ever in labor with child? So why do I see every man with his hands on his loins like a woman in labor, and all faces turned pale? Alas! For that day is great, so that none is like it; and it is the time of Jacob's trouble, but he shall be saved out of it. 'For it shall come to pass in that day,' Says the LORD of hosts, 'That I will break his yoke from your neck, and will burst your bonds; foreigners shall no more enslave them.
Jeremiah 30:9-11 - But they shall serve the LORD their God, and David their king, whom I will raise up for them. 'Therefore do not fear, O My servant Jacob,' says the LORD, 'Nor be dismayed, O Israel; for behold, I will save you from afar, and your seed from the land of their captivity. Jacob shall return, have rest and be quiet, and no one shall make him afraid. For I am with you,' says the LORD, 'to save you; though I make a full end of all nations where I have scattered you, yet I will not make a complete end of you. But I will correct you in justice, and will not let you go altogether unpunished.'

God will reconcile Israel through judgment as He did in the past. God's four severe judgments found in the Old Testament judgments are also found in the Seal judgments at the beginning of the Tribulation, as discussed in Zechariah 6:6-7. A believing remnant of Israel will emerge through the "fire" of the Tribulation judgments, just as a remnant survived after God poured out His four severe judgments before the Babylonian exile (Ezekiel 14:21-22):

Joel 2:30-32 - "And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth: Blood and fire and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the coming of the great and awesome day of the LORD. And it shall come to pass that whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be deliverance, as the LORD has said, among the remnant whom the LORD calls."
Zechariah 13:8-9 - And it shall come to pass in all the land," Says the LORD, "That two-thirds in it shall be cut off and die, but one-third shall be left in it: I will bring the one-third through the fire, will refine them as silver is refined, and test them as gold is tested. They will call on My name, and I will answer them. I will say, 'This is My people'; and each one will say, 'The LORD is my God.'"

Micah's prophecy of this believing Jewish remnant that comes through the Tribulation and enters the Kingdom Age as a nation brings us full circle to the sign of the woman about to give birth to the Messiah in Revelation:

Micah 4:6-10 - "In that day," says the LORD, "I will assemble the lame, I will gather the outcast and those whom I have afflicted; I will make the lame a remnant, and the outcast a strong nation; so the LORD will reign over them in Mount Zion from now on, even forever. And you, O tower of the flock, the stronghold of the daughter of Zion, to you shall it come, even the former dominion shall come, the kingdom of the daughter of Jerusalem." Now why do you cry aloud? Is there no king in your midst? Has your counselor perished? For pangs have seized you like a woman in labor. Be in pain, and labor to bring forth, O daughter of Zion, like a woman in birth pangs....
Micah 5:2-5 - "But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me the One to be Ruler in Israel, whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting." Therefore He shall give them up, until the time that she who is in labor has given birth; then the remnant of His brethren shall return to the children of Israel. And He shall stand and feed His flock in the strength of the LORD, in the majesty of the name of the LORD His God; and they shall abide, for now He shall be great to the ends of the earth; and this One shall be peace.

Israel is the woman who brought forth the Messiah after a time of travail as punishment for disobedience against God. God intended to take away Israel's reproach of a barren woman when the Messiah came the first time, but as a nation they rejected Him and God absolved the nation and sent the Jews into global exile. Today, Israel still lives in reproach as a barren woman even though they have become a nation again. That said, Isaiah prophesied that Israel would enter the Kingdom Age as a nation, but not without travail globally in the form of geophysical and geopolitical turmoil, as well as travail on the Jewish people which has manifested in the form of wars, terrorism, and peace talks to divide God's land since the nation was re-established in 1948:

Isaiah 66:7-13 - "Before she was in labor, she gave birth; before her pain came, she delivered a male child. Who has heard such a thing? Who has seen such things? Shall the earth be made to give birth in one day? Or shall a nation be born at once? For as soon as Zion was in labor, she gave birth to her children. Shall I bring to the time of birth, and not cause delivery?" says the LORD. "Shall I who cause delivery shut up the womb?" says your God. "Rejoice with Jerusalem, and be glad with her, all you who love her; rejoice for joy with her, all you who mourn for her; that you may feed and be satisfied with the consolation of her bosom, that you may drink deeply and be delighted with the abundance of her glory." For thus says the LORD: "Behold, I will extend peace to her like a river, and the glory of the Gentiles like a flowing stream. Then you shall feed; on her sides shall you be carried, and be dandled on her knees. As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you; and you shall be comforted in Jerusalem."

The global travail is the birth pangs or sorrows found in the "Olivet Discourse," which are the signs that point to the time leading into the Tribulation:

 Matthew 24 Mark 13
3Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, "Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?" 3Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John, and Andrew asked Him privately,
4"Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign when all these things will be fulfilled?"
4And Jesus answered and said to them: "Take heed that no one deceives you. 5And Jesus, answering them, began to say: "Take heed that no one deceives you.
5For many will come in My name, saying, 'I am the Christ,' and will deceive many." 6For many will come in My name, saying, 'I am He,' and will deceive many."
6And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. 7But when you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be troubled; for such things must happen, but the end is not yet.
7For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. 8For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be earthquakes in various places, and there will be famines and troubles...
8All these are the beginning of sorrows. ...these are the beginnings of sorrows.

In other words, before the Messiah returns, Israel had to become a nation again followed by much travail against the Jewish state and global travail geopolitically and geophysically, and that is exactly what our generation has witnessed over the last several decades. The global travail will continue through the Tribulation, but travail will turn to joy like that following physical childbirth:

John 16:17-22 - Then some of His disciples said among themselves, "What is this that He says to us, 'A little while, and you will not see Me; and again a little while, and you will see Me'; and, 'because I go to the Father'?" They said therefore, "What is this that He says, 'A little while'? We do not know what He is saying." Now Jesus knew that they desired to ask Him, and He said to them, "Are you inquiring among yourselves about what I said, 'A little while, and you will not see Me; and again a little while, and you will see Me'? Most assuredly, I say to you that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; and you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will be turned into joy. A woman, when she is in labor, has sorrow because her hour has come; but as soon as she has given birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. Therefore you now have sorrow; but I will see you again and your heart will rejoice, and your joy no one will take from you.

It is interesting that Jesus compared His return to the joy after the labor of bearing a child, because God will reconcile Israel through the Tribulation judgments after they accept Jesus as Messiah through the Tribulation judgments, and Jesus will return shortly thereafter (Zechariah 12:10, Revelation 1:7). God will then take away Israel's reproach after He restores His relationship with them:

Isaiah 54:1-5 - "Sing, O barren, you who have not borne! Break forth into singing, and cry aloud, you who have not labored with child! For more are the children of the desolate than the children of the married woman," says the LORD. "Enlarge the place of your tent, and let them stretch out the curtains of your dwellings; do not spare; lengthen your cords, and strengthen your stakes. For you shall expand to the right and to the left, and your descendants will inherit the nations, and make the desolate cities inhabited. "Do not fear, for you will not be ashamed; neither be disgraced, for you will not be put to shame; for you will forget the shame of your youth, and will not remember the reproach of your widowhood anymore. For your Maker is your husband, the LORD of hosts is His name; and your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel; He is called the God of the whole earth.
Ezekiel 36:12-15 - "...Yes, I will cause men to walk on you, My people Israel; they shall take possession of you, and you shall be their inheritance; no more shall you bereave them of children." 'Thus says the Lord GOD: "Because they say to you, 'You devour men and bereave your nation of children,' therefore you shall devour men no more, nor bereave your nation anymore," says the Lord GOD. Nor will I let you hear the taunts of the nations anymore, nor bear the reproach of the peoples anymore, nor shall you cause your nation to stumble anymore," says the Lord GOD.'"

The global travail will also turn to joy because the Lord will redeem His creation from corruption and from the curse when He redeems the sons of God:

Romans 8:19-23 - For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body.

After the Lord takes away Israel's reproach, their joy of deliverance will continue into the Kingdom Age with no more travail in childbirth:

Isaiah 65:20-25 - "No more shall an infant from there live but a few days, nor an old man who has not fulfilled his days; for the child shall die one hundred years old, but the sinner being one hundred years old shall be accursed. They shall build houses and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit. They shall not build and another inhabit; they shall not plant and another eat; for as the days of a tree, so shall be the days of My people, and My elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands. They shall not labor in vain, nor bring forth children for trouble; for they shall be the descendants of the blessed of the LORD, and their offspring with them. "It shall come to pass that before they call, I will answer; and while they are still speaking, I will hear. The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, the lion shall eat straw like the ox, and dust shall be the serpent's food. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain," Says the LORD.

Revelation 12:3 - And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great, fiery red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems on his heads.

Source: Stellarium

John sees another sign appear in heaven in the form of a dragon. The Greek word for dragon is "drakón," which can also be translated dragon or large serpent. The serpent bruised the heel of the seed of the woman, and her seed will ultimately crush the head of the serpent, but the woman had to go through the pain of childbirth first to deliver the seed, who is the Messiah (Genesis 3:15-16). As discussed in the last section, this picture of man's redemption appears in the constellations of Leo the lion and Hydra the serpent, where the lion is ready to crush the head of the serpent. Leo represents Jesus Christ, the Messiah who is the "lion of the tribe of Judah" (Revelation 5:5). The serpent is Satan, the adversary against the seed of the woman, who is also pictured as a dragon:

Revelation 12:9 - So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.

The constellations Draco and Hercules, who represent the dragon and Christ also show the redemptive message, where Hercules is in position to crush the head of Draco the dragon, as shown to the right.

In the Old Testament Septuagint we find the Greek word "drakón" used for the Hebrew words "tannin," which is a serpent or sea monster, and "livyathan," transliterated "Leviathan" in English. Despite the common thought that many believe a dragon is a mythological reptile, the Bible shows that the Leviathan was a real formidable sea creature that has presumably become extinct:

Psalms 104:24-26 - O LORD, how manifold are Your works! In wisdom You have made them all. The earth is full of Your possessions - This great and wide sea, in which are innumerable teeming things, living things both small and great. There the ships sail about; there is that Leviathan which You have made to play there.
Job 41:1-10 - "Can you draw out Leviathan with a hook, or snare his tongue with a line which you lower? Can you put a reed through his nose, or pierce his jaw with a hook? Will he make many supplications to you? Will he speak softly to you? Will he make a covenant with you? Will you take him as a servant forever? Will you play with him as with a bird, or will you leash him for your maidens? Will your companions make a banquet of him? Will they apportion him among the merchants? Can you fill his skin with harpoons, or his head with fishing spears? Lay your hand on him; remember the battle - Never do it again! Indeed, any hope of overcoming him is false; shall one not be overwhelmed at the sight of him? No one is so fierce that he would dare stir him up. Who then is able to stand against Me?

God compared Pharaoh to the sea monster and a lion because of the havoc he caused to those around him:

Ezekiel 29:2-3 - "Son of man, set your face against Pharaoh king of Egypt, and prophesy against him, and against all Egypt. Speak, and say, 'Thus says the Lord GOD: "Behold, I am against you, O Pharaoh king of Egypt, O great monster who lies in the midst of his rivers, Who has said, 'My River is my own; I have made it for myself.'"
Ezekiel 32:2-3 - "Son of man, take up a lamentation for Pharaoh king of Egypt, and say to him: 'You are like a young lion among the nations, and you are like a monster in the seas, bursting forth in your rivers, troubling the waters with your feet, and fouling their rivers.' "Thus says the Lord GOD: 'I will therefore spread My net over you with a company of many people, and they will draw you up in My net.

Likewise, Satan the great dragon and serpent of old is also compared to a lion who seeks to devour those around him:

1 Peter 5:8 - Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.

God will judge Satan the adversary like a Leviathan, which was a multi-headed sea dragon:

Isaiah 27:1 - In that day the LORD with His severe sword, great and strong, will punish Leviathan the fleeing serpent, Leviathan that twisted serpent; and He will slay the reptile that is in the sea.
Psalms 74:10-14 - O God, how long will the adversary reproach? Will the enemy blaspheme Your name forever? Why do You withdraw Your hand, even Your right hand? Take it out of Your bosom and destroy them. For God is my King from of old, working salvation in the midst of the earth. You divided the sea by Your strength; You broke the heads of the sea serpents in the waters. You broke the heads of Leviathan in pieces, and gave him as food to the people inhabiting the wilderness.

The dragon in the heavenly sign is a fiery red color and has seven diadems, or crowns on his seven heads. Incidentally, we find the constellation Draco the dragon, which is another picture of Satan in the heavens, near the seven-starred constellation Corona Borealis that represents a crown:

Draco the dragon
Source: Stellarium

Recall from Revelation 6:4, the color red in Scripture signifies sin and bloodshed (2 Kings 3:22-24, Isaiah 1:18, 63:2-3). Thus, the color red is befitting to the dragon, as he makes war against the saints and deceives people to sin:

Revelation 12:9 - So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
Revelation 12:17 - And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.

The seven heads of the dragon are seven mountains:

Revelation 17:7, 9 - But the angel said to me, "Why did you marvel? I will tell you the mystery of the woman and of the beast that carries her, which has the seven heads and the ten horns...." "Here is the mind which has wisdom: The seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman sits."

Recall from Zechariah 6:1, mountains in Scripture are kingdoms that God used to judge the earth (Jeremiah 51:24-25, Daniel 2:34-45). God is sovereign, but He has given the dragon Satan authority over all the kingdoms of the world until Christ returns:

Luke 4:5-6 - Then the devil, taking Him up on a high mountain, showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said to Him, "All this authority I will give You, and their glory; for this has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I wish."
Revelation 11:15 - Then the seventh angel sounded: And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, "The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!"

The crowns on each head of the dragon are diadems. This type of crown signifies kingship. In other words, the seven crowns represent a king over each of the seven kingdoms:

Revelation 17:9-10 - "Here is the mind which has wisdom: The seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman sits. There are also seven kings....

There have certainly been more than seven kingdoms over the course of human history, and each has typically had more than one king that reigned over each kingdom, but the consensus among most scholars is that the dragon's seven crowns on his seven heads represent seven specific kings over seven kingdoms who oppressed the nation Israel:


Kingdom Ruling King Oppression
1. Egypt Pharaoh Bondage
2. Assyria Sennacherib Exiled the northern kingdom and most of the southern kingdom except for Jerusalem.
3. Babylon Nebuchadnezzar Exiled Judah and destroyed the first temple.
4. Medo-Persia Darius Established a decree that anyone who prayed to any god or man besides him would be cast into the den of lions, which directly targeted the Jews.
5. Greece (Seleucid) Antiochus IV Epiphanes Persecuted and massacred many Jews, attacked Jerusalem, outlawed Judaism, and desecrated the second temple.
6. Rome Domitian Revived the "imperial cult," which was the worship of the Roman emperor as a god, which led to the persecution of the Jews. He forced the Jews to pay taxes to continue to observe Judaism.
7. Future Kingdom Beast/Antichrist Will conquer Jerusalem, desecrate the third temple, and persecute and massacre most of the Jews.

At the time John wrote Revelation, Rome was in power but later fell, and the first five kingdoms shown in the chart above had already fallen, but a future kingdom is yet to come that will only last for a short time during the Tribulation:

Revelation 17:10 - There are also seven kings. Five have fallen, one is, and the other has not yet come. And when he comes, he must continue a short time.

Recall from earier, that the dragon in the heavenly sign has ten horns. As discussed in Revelation 5:6, a horn represents kings and kingdoms and sometimes can describe both the king and the kingdom at the same time. We find four horns in Zechariah 1:18-21, which represent the four kingdoms responsible for scattering Judah into exile: Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, Rome. Therefore, the four horns are four of the seven kingdoms represented by the heads of the dragon, listed in the chart above, and are different from the ten horns in Revelation 12:3 and 17:7 discussed earlier. As we will see, the seventh head of the dragon bears the ten horns and is equal to the fourth horn in Zechariah:

Dragon's horns vs Zechariah's horns

Daniel saw Zechariah's four horns as four beasts. The fourth beast has ten horns on its head like the dragon. These ten horns are ten kings:

Daniel 7:23-24 - "Thus he said: 'The fourth beast shall be a fourth kingdom on earth, which shall be different from all other kingdoms, and shall devour the whole earth, trample it and break it in pieces. The ten horns are ten kings who shall arise from this kingdom....'"

Nebuchadnezzar saw Zechariah's four horns as a statue made of four metals:

Daniel 2:31 - "You, O king, were watching; and behold, a great image! This great image, whose splendor was excellent, stood before you; and its form was awesome. This image's head was of fine gold, its chest and arms of silver, its belly and thighs of bronze, its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of clay.

The following graphic shows how the four horns correspond with the beasts in Daniel's dream and the statue in Nebuchadnezzar's dream:

4 horns who scattered Judah

The fourth kingdom is the Roman Empire, divided by the legs and the toes:

Daniel 2:41-42 - Whereas you saw the feet and toes, partly of potter's clay and partly of iron, the kingdom shall be divided; yet the strength of the iron shall be in it, just as you saw the iron mixed with ceramic clay. And as the toes of the feet were partly of iron and partly of clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong and partly fragile.
Divided Roman Empire

History shows that the Roman Empire became divided into western and eastern legs when it became too large to govern effectively, as pictured in the two legs of Nebuchadnezzar's statue. Eventually, the two legs of the Roman Empire fell, but the two feet of the statue show that this empire will return in the future as a fragile kingdom made of clay and iron divided into ten kingdoms pictured in the ten toes. The ten toes correspond to the ten horns which are ten kings on the fourth beast in Daniel's dream and on the dragon's seventh head.

While the Roman Empire corresponds to the fourth kingdom in Daniel and the fourth horn in Zechariah, it represents the sixth and seventh heads of the dragon since the old kingdom fell and a new one will arise in the future. In other words, the four kingdoms in Daniel and Nebuchadnezzar's dreams represent the last five heads of the dragon:

7 heads vs 4 Kingdoms

John will see another beast later that also has seven heads and ten horns like the fourth beast in Daniel's dream and the dragon in Revelation:

Revelation 13:1-2 - Then I stood on the sand of the sea. And I saw a beast rising up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and on his horns ten crowns, and on his heads a blasphemous name. Now the beast which I saw was like a leopard, his feet were like the feet of a bear, and his mouth like the mouth of a lion. The dragon gave him his power, his throne, and great authority.

The body of this beast has characteristics of the first three beasts in Daniel's dream, having a body of a leopard, the feet of a bear, and a mouth like a lion, and has seven heads and ten horns like the dragon, but has ten crowns instead of seven crowns. Since crowns show kingship, the ten horns have authority over all the seven kingdoms, or heads of the dragon. In fact, the passage above shows that the dragon gives the beast "his power, his throne, and great authority." Therefore, the seven heads and ten horns on the dragon and the beast both represent Satan's authority over all the earthly kingdoms:

7 heads and 10 horns

As a recap, the ten kings will exercise authority from the dragon through the beast in the last Gentile kingdom, which is the seventh heads of the dragon and the beast. The following passages show that the seventh head of both the dragon and the beast from the sea correspond to the fourth beast of Daniel's dream:

Revelation 17:9-13 - "Here is the mind which has wisdom: The seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman sits. There are also seven kings. Five have fallen, one is, and the other has not yet come. And when he comes, he must continue a short time. The beast that was, and is not, is himself also the eighth, and is of the seven, and is going to perdition. "The ten horns which you saw are ten kings who have received no kingdom as yet, but they receive authority for one hour as kings with the beast. These are of one mind, and they will give their power and authority to the beast.
Daniel 7:23-25 - "Thus he said: 'The fourth beast shall be a fourth kingdom on earth, which shall be different from all other kingdoms, and shall devour the whole earth, trample it and break it in pieces. The ten horns are ten kings who shall arise from this kingdom. And another shall rise after them; he shall be different from the first ones, and shall subdue three kings. He shall speak pompous words against the Most High, shall persecute the saints of the Most High, and shall intend to change times and law. Then the saints shall be given into his hand for a time and times and half a time.
Revelation 13:4-7 - So they worshiped the dragon who gave authority to the beast; and they worshiped the beast, saying, "Who is like the beast? Who is able to make war with him?" And he was given a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies, and he was given authority to continue for forty-two months. Then he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme His name, His tabernacle, and those who dwell in heaven. It was granted to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them. And authority was given him over every tribe, tongue, and nation.

Recall from earlier that the fourth beast in Daniel's vision has ten horns like the dragon and the beast in Revelation (Daniel 7:23-24). These ten horns are ten kings who rule over the world with the dragon's authority. These ten kings later give their kingdom over to another king, known as "the beast" or antichrist, who then receives the power and authority of the dragon

As discussed in Revelation 10:6, the "time, times, and half a time" is reference to the last half of the Tribulation, which is equal to 42 months or 3 ½ years. This shows that Daniel's fourth beast is the kingdom of the beast in Revelation, who has authority over all the kingdoms and the saints.

To summarize, the red dragon is Satan the adversary who seeks to destroy and deceive. The dragon's seven heads represent seven Gentile kingdoms that oppressed the nation Israel. The crowns on the dragon's seven heads show specific kings of the seven Gentile kingdoms. The last head of the dragon bears ten horns, which correspond to the ten horns on the last beast in Daniel's dream. The last head of the dragon represents a future kingdom initially ruled by the ten horns, who are ten kings ruling under the dragon's authority through the beast. This beast represents both a Gentile kingdom and a king who rules over the world during the last half of the Tribulation.


Revelation 12:4 - His tail drew a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was ready to give birth, to devour her Child as soon as it was born.

Our history lesson narrated through signs in heaven continues. The dragon prepares to devour the seed of the woman as soon as the child is born, but first the dragon sweeps a third of the stars of heaven down to the earth. As discussed in Revelation 6:13, the stars of heaven can describe stars, meteors, or other luminaries. In fact, a third of the physical stars become struck with darkness in the fourth Trumpet judgment:

Revelation 8:12 - Then the fourth angel sounded: And a third of the sun was struck, a third of the moon, and a third of the stars, so that a third of them were darkened. A third of the day did not shine, and likewise the night.

Notice from this verse that the sun, moon, and a third of the stars become darkened - they are not cast to the earth, which is physically impossible anyway without obliterating the earth. Therefore, the striking of a third of the luminaries in the fourth Trumpet judgment is not the same event where the dragon sweeps a third of the stars to the earth. Incidentally, the constellation Draco the dragon literally sweeps tail first, or counterclockwise over a third of the northern hemisphere's celestial sphere, which is roughly thirty of the ninety degrees on the equatorial grid centered on the star Polaris as shown below:

Draco and Polaris
Source: Stellarium

On that note, we have seen in the last few sections the physical signs in heaven represent real characters in the redemptive story of man. The woman represents Israel, the seed of the woman is the Messiah, the dragon is Satan, so who do the stars represent in the redemptive story? As discussed in Revelation 1:20, stars can also represent angels, or messengers, which can either be celestial or human. Since the dragon casts stars to earth, it is celestial angels that are in view, as we will see in later verses:

Revelation 12:7-9 - And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer. So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.

Clearly these angels are the fallen angels who chose to rebel with Satan and will join him in the lake of fire in eternity:

Matthew 25:41 - "Then He will also say to those on the left hand, 'Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels....

These fallen angels, or stars have masqueraded around as gods for millennia deceiving people into worshipping the physical stars who they believed represented these gods:

Amos 5:26 - You also carried Sikkuth your king and Chiun, your idols, the star of your gods, which you made for yourselves.
Acts 7:42-43 - Then God turned and gave them up to worship the host of heaven, as it is written in the book of the Prophets: 'Did you offer Me slaughtered animals and sacrifices during forty years in the wilderness, O house of Israel? You also took up the tabernacle of Moloch, and the star of your god Remphan, images which you made to worship; and I will carry you away beyond Babylon.'

These fallen angels continue to wage a spiritual battle under Satan's leadership:

Ephesians 6:11-12 - Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.

In short, the sign in heaven is found in the constellation Draco the dragon who literally sweeps across a third of the celestial sphere in the northern hemisphere and represents the fallen angels who rebelled with Satan and continue to wage a spiritual battle against man. These fallen angels will physically be cast to the earth in a war in Heaven during the Tribulation (Revelation 12:7-9), which shows that they still have access to God's throne in Heaven today alongside Satan. It is generally accepted that the spiritual fall of these angels occurred near the beginning of creation and rebelled with Satan, which fits chronologically before the seed of the woman was born.

As a side note, God promised Israel that they would multiply "as the stars of heaven." Since the stars of heaven are innumerable to count and they represent the angelic host also innumerable to count (Revelation 5:11), we can see that Israel's descendants would be great in number:

Genesis 26:4 - And I will make your descendants multiply as the stars of heaven....
Exodus 32:13 - Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, Your servants, to whom You swore by Your own self, and said to them, 'I will multiply your descendants as the stars of heaven....'
Deuteronomy 1:10 - The LORD your God has multiplied you, and here you are today, as the stars of heaven in multitude.
Deuteronomy 10:22 - Your fathers went down to Egypt with seventy persons, and now the LORD your God has made you as the stars of heaven in multitude.
Deuteronomy 28:62 - You shall be left few in number, whereas you were as the stars of heaven in multitude, because you would not obey the voice of the LORD your God.
Nehemiah 9:23 - You also multiplied their children as the stars of heaven, and brought them into the land which You had told their fathers to go in and possess.

Some scholars believe that Israel represents the stars in heaven instead of celestial angels based on the following passage that shows that the host of heaven represent Israel:

Daniel 8:9-10 - And out of one of them came a little horn which grew exceedingly great toward the south, toward the east, and toward the Glorious Land. And it grew up to the host of heaven; and it cast down some of the host and some of the stars to the ground, and trampled them.... His power shall be mighty, but not by his own power; he shall destroy fearfully, and shall prosper and thrive; he shall destroy the mighty, and also the holy people.

But the phrase "as the stars of heaven" in the other passages shows that God is just comparing the number of Israel's descendants to that of the heavenly host. Besides, there was never a time recorded in Scripture that Satan wiped out a third of Israel before the Messiah was born.

That said, there were several times Satan has tried to wipe out the seed of the woman to prevent the Messiah from being born and then again after He was born. In fact, the sign of the dragon in heaven shows that his intent was to devour the child as soon as it was born. Interestingly, the dragon tried to destroy the seed of the woman in each kingdom represented by the seven heads of the dragon (Revelation 12:3):

1. Egypt - Pharaoh tried to have all the Hebrew male babies killed:

Exodus 1:15-17 - Then the king of Egypt spoke to the Hebrew midwives, of whom the name of one was Shiphrah and the name of the other Puah; and he said, "When you do the duties of a midwife for the Hebrew women, and see them on the birthstools, if it is a son, then you shall kill him; but if it is a daughter, then she shall live." But the midwives feared God, and did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them, but saved the male children alive.
Exodus 1:18-22 - So the king of Egypt called for the midwives and said to them, "Why have you done this thing, and saved the male children alive?" And the midwives said to Pharaoh, "Because the Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women; for they are lively and give birth before the midwives come to them." Therefore God dealt well with the midwives, and the people multiplied and grew very mighty. And so it was, because the midwives feared God, that He provided households for them. So Pharaoh commanded all his people, saying, "Every son who is born you shall cast into the river, and every daughter you shall save alive."

2. Assyria - King Sennacherib tried to siege Jerusalem and destroy Judah, the line of the Messiah:

2 Chronicles 32:9-10, 14 - After this Sennacherib king of Assyria sent his servants to Jerusalem (but he and all the forces with him laid siege against Lachish), to Hezekiah king of Judah, and to all Judah who were in Jerusalem, saying, "Thus says Sennacherib king of Assyria: 'In what do you trust, that you remain under siege in Jerusalem.... Who was there among all the gods of those nations that my fathers utterly destroyed that could deliver his people from my hand, that your God should be able to deliver you from my hand?"
2 Chronicles 32:17, 21-22 - He also wrote letters to revile the LORD God of Israel, and to speak against Him, saying, "As the gods of the nations of other lands have not delivered their people from my hand, so the God of Hezekiah will not deliver His people from my hand...." Then the LORD sent an angel who cut down every mighty man of valor, leader, and captain in the camp of the king of Assyria. So he returned shamefaced to his own land. And when he had gone into the temple of his god, some of his own offspring struck him down with the sword there. Thus the LORD saved Hezekiah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem from the hand of Sennacherib the king of Assyria, and from the hand of all others, and guided them on every side.

3. Babylon - Certain Chaldeans tried to have the Jews killed who did not bow down to worship Nebuchadnezzar's statue:

Daniel 3:1-3 - Nebuchadnezzar the king made an image of gold, whose height was sixty cubits and its width six cubits. He set it up in the plain of Dura, in the province of Babylon. And King Nebuchadnezzar sent word to gather together the satraps, the administrators, the governors, the counselors, the treasurers, the judges, the magistrates, and all the officials of the provinces, to come to the dedication of the image which King Nebuchadnezzar had set up. So the satraps, the administrators, the governors, the counselors, the treasurers, the judges, the magistrates, and all the officials of the provinces gathered together for the dedication of the image that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up; and they stood before the image that Nebuchadnezzar had set up.
Daniel 3:4-7 - Then a herald cried aloud: "To you it is commanded, O peoples, nations, and languages, that at the time you hear the sound of the horn, flute, harp, lyre, and psaltery, in symphony with all kinds of music, you shall fall down and worship the gold image that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up; and whoever does not fall down and worship shall be cast immediately into the midst of a burning fiery furnace." So at that time, when all the people heard the sound of the horn, flute, harp, and lyre, in symphony with all kinds of music, all the people, nations, and languages fell down and worshiped the gold image which King Nebuchadnezzar had set up.
Daniel 3:8-11 - Therefore at that time certain Chaldeans came forward and accused the Jews. They spoke and said to King Nebuchadnezzar, "O king, live forever! You, O king, have made a decree that everyone who hears the sound of the horn, flute, harp, lyre, and psaltery, in symphony with all kinds of music, shall fall down and worship the gold image; and whoever does not fall down and worship shall be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace.

4. Medo-Persia - Haman tried to have all the Jews killed:

Esther 3:8-10 - Then Haman said to King Ahasuerus, "There is a certain people scattered and dispersed among the people in all the provinces of your kingdom; their laws are different from all other people's, and they do not keep the king's laws. Therefore it is not fitting for the king to let them remain. If it pleases the king, let a decree be written that they be destroyed, and I will pay ten thousand talents of silver into the hands of those who do the work, to bring it into the king's treasuries." So the king took his signet ring from his hand and gave it to Haman, the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, the enemy of the Jews.
Esther 3:11-13 - And the king said to Haman, "The money and the people are given to you, to do with them as seems good to you." Then the king's scribes were called on the thirteenth day of the first month, and a decree was written according to all that Haman commanded - to the king's satraps, to the governors who were over each province, to the officials of all people, to every province according to its script, and to every people in their language. In the name of King Ahasuerus it was written, and sealed with the king's signet ring. And the letters were sent by couriers into all the king's provinces, to destroy, to kill, and to annihilate all the Jews, both young and old, little children and women, in one day, on the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is the month of Adar, and to plunder their possessions.

5. Greece - Antiochus IV Epiphanes is the little horn who trampled some of the "host of heaven" which is the "holy people," or the Jews when he attacked Jerusalem and desecrated the temple:

Daniel 8:9-11 - And out of one of them came a little horn which grew exceedingly great toward the south, toward the east, and toward the Glorious Land. And it grew up to the host of heaven; and it cast down some of the host and some of the stars to the ground, and trampled them. He even exalted himself as high as the Prince of the host; and by him the daily sacrifices were taken away, and the place of his sanctuary was cast down.
Daniel 8:22-24 - As for the broken horn and the four that stood up in its place, four kingdoms shall arise out of that nation, but not with its power. "And in the latter time of their kingdom, when the transgressors have reached their fullness, a king shall arise, having fierce features, who understands sinister schemes. His power shall be mighty, but not by his own power; he shall destroy fearfully, and shall prosper and thrive; he shall destroy the mighty, and also the holy people."

6. Rome - King Herod killed all the baby boys in Bethlehem after the seed of the woman was born to try to destroy the Messiah:

Matthew 2:13-16 - Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, "Arise, take the young Child and His mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I bring you word; for Herod will seek the young Child to destroy Him." When he arose, he took the young Child and His mother by night and departed for Egypt, and was there until the death of Herod, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying, "Out of Egypt I called My Son." Then Herod, when he saw that he was deceived by the wise men, was exceedingly angry; and he sent forth and put to death all the male children who were in Bethlehem and in all its districts, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had determined from the wise men.

7. Revived Rome - During the Tribulation, the dragon will try to destroy the woman who represents Israel and her other offspring:

Revelation 12:17 - And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.

To recap, the dragon drew a third of the stars in heaven to earth which shows that a third of the angels rebelled with Satan. All seven kingdoms, or heads of the dragon have attempted to destroy the seed of the woman before the Messiah came, and after He was born. Now Satan's goal is to destroy both the woman (Revelation 12:13) and the rest of the woman's offspring, who are followers of the Messiah, as we will discuss in detail in Revelation 12:17. The reason Satan has tried to destroy the seed of the woman is because he does not want to lose his power and authority over the nations when the Messiah returns and defeats the kingdoms of the world setting up His own kingdom, as we will discuss in the next section.

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Revelation Flow Chart:

Revelation Flow Chart

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