What does Revelation chapter 12 mean?

Question: "What does Revelation chapter 12 mean?"

In Revelation chapter 12, the woman is described as "clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars" (Revelation 12:1). Note the similarity between this description and the description that Joseph gave of his father Jacob (Israel) and his mother and their children (Genesis 37:9-11). The stars refer to the twelve tribes of Israel. So the woman in Revelation 12 is Israel.

Additional prove is that in Revelation 12:2-5, the passage speaks of the woman being with child and giving birth. While it is true that Mary gave birth to Jesus, it is also true that Jesus, the son of David from the tribe of Judah, came from Israel. In a real sense, Israel gave birth—or brought forth—Christ Jesus. Further prove for this is in 12:5 where the Scripture says that the woman "gave birth to a son, a male child, who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron; and her child was caught up to God and to His throne." Clearly, this is describing Jesus. Jesus will one day establish His kingdom on earth (Revelation 20:4-6), and He will rule it. This verse also makes reference to Jesus' ascension to heaven 40 days after His resurrection (Acts 1:9-11), speaking of the son "being caught up to God and to His throne."

When it speaks of the woman fleeing into the wilderness for 1,260 days, it is referring to the future time called the tribulation period. Twelve hundred sixty days is 42 months of 30 days each. 42 months is 3 1/2 years. Halfway through the tribulation period, the beast will set an image of himself up in the temple that will be built in Jerusalem. This is the abomination that Jesus spoke of in Matthew 24:15 and Mark 13:14. When the beast does this, he breaks the peace pact he made with Israel, and the nation has to flee for safety (also see Matthew 24; Daniel 9:27). This is the picture of the woman fleeing into the wilderness.

Revelation 12:12-17 speaks of how the devil will make war against Israel, trying to destroy her (Satan knows his time is short, relatively speaking—see Revelation 20:1-3, 10). It also speaks of how God will protect Israel while in the wilderness. This wilderness place where Israel will flee is believed to be a place called Petra. Note Revelation 12:14 where it says that Israel will be protected from the devil for "a time, times, and half a time (a time = 1 year -- 3 1/2 years).

Recommended Resource: Understanding End Times Prophecy by Paul Benware.

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Who are the twenty-four (24) elders in Revelation?

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What does Revelation chapter 12 mean?