The object in your mirror is nearer than it appears
Verses 3-4: The “dragon” is identified as Satan (in verse 9). His “red” color shows his murderous character (compare John 8:44). His “seven heads” and “seven crowns” depict the completeness and universality of his power and influence (but compare Psalm 74:14). His “ten horns” show Satan’s connection with the fourth beast (of Daniel 7:7, 24), and with the Beast from the sea (in chapter 13:1-10 of Revelation). The “third part of the stars of heaven” are the fallen angels who followed Satan in his original rebellion against God (Isaiah 14:12-15; Ezekiel. 28:12-16; 2 Peter 2:4; Jude 6). At the time of the birth of Christ, Satan was ready to kill Him (compare Matthew 2:13-18).
Revelation 12:3 “And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads.”
“Great Red Dragon”: The woman’s (Israel’s) mortal enemy is the Red Dragon, Satan. He appears as a dragon 13 times in this book. Red speaks of bloodshed (John 8:44) just as does the red horse in the four horsemen of the Apocalypse.
We see here “ten horns” which symbolize an identifiable world power. We can assume these world powers oppose Christians, Jews, and those who rebel against their rule.
“Seven heads … ten horns … seven crowns”: Figurative language depicting Satan’s world influence. (Daniel 7:7, 20, 24). Satan has and will rule the world until the seventh trumpet blows (Revelation 11:15). He continuously seeks to destroy the descendants of Jacob whose offspring are the promise of Abraham (Daniel 8:24). He desired to kill the woman (Israel) before she could bring forth the child (Jesus) through the Tribe of Judah. The crucifixion has happened. Satan now seeks to devour souls taking as many as possible with him to eternal doom.
These seven are heads of evil governments. This world power through these earthly kingdoms comes from Satan himself via antichrist. The ten horns are likely a reflection of reflection of the Old Roman Empire. Like it has always been, there will also be those who cause trouble for him even outside of Israel or believers.
His ten horns show Satan’s connection with the fourth beast (Daniel 7:7, 24), and with the Beast from the sea i.e., identified within the population of the world in Revelation 13.
Revelation 12:4 “And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman, which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born.”
The third part of the stars of heaven”: Satan’s original rebellion (Isaiah 14:12), resulted in one-third of the angelic host joining his insurrection. Note that angels are often identified as stars. What raises legitimate curiosity is how Satan (then called Lucifer) could convince 1/3 of heaven’s angels to follow him. We do not know the answer to this. We call these fallen angels, “demons”. They serve Satan and play an important role in the judgments of the Tribulation. Demons are spirits!
“Devour her child”: Unable to prevent the virgin birth of Christ, Satan tried to kill the child in a general massacre of male children commanded by Herod (Matthew 2:13-18). Study Note: Satan himself could not destroy the baby child, Jesus. Satan wanted to prevent the “man-child” from accomplishing his mission, God’s plan of salvation through the blood of Jesus. How do we know this? Jesus did die as a man on the cross at Calvary. Satan tried to prevent the cross, not Jesus himself.
Satan used Herod to try to kill Jesus. That was not God’s plan, so Jesus was protected until the time of the cross. The birth of the church comes through Jesus. Satan has tried to devour or compromise it ever since. Being religious is not a true believer. Scripture repeatedly says that judgment will be according to man’s works (O.T.: Proverbs 24:12; Jeremiah 17:10; 32:19; N.T.: Matthew 16:27; Romans 2:6; 14:12; Revelation. 2:23; 22:12)
Verses 5-6: The “man-child” is Jesus Christ. He will rule all nations from Jerusalem as the Messiah (Revelation 19:15; Psalm 2:7-9). The “wilderness” represents anywhere outside Palestine. During the last half of the Tribulation period (1,260 days, or three and a half years), Israel will take refuge where God will care for his chosen. Chronologically (verse 6 probably occurs after verses 7-12). It is parallels verse 14.
Revelation 12:5 “And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and [to] his throne.”
KNOWLEDGE NOTE: (understanding the sequence of Revelation 12:5) Jesus was born the man child. In the Millennial age, he will set up his kingdom on earth. Before this, Jesus ascended from the Mt. of Olives returning to heaven to wait for the time assigned by God the Father for him to return setting his feet on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem. The throne identified in Revelation 12:5 is on the right hand of God the Father in Heaven.
During Jesus’ earthly, Millennium Kingdom, his iron rod rule is not the end judgment. It is the setting up of his earthly kingdom. Satan is bound with no earthly influence. When a man or woman sins during the Millennial Kingdom, it sets the stage for the End Time Great White Throne judgment. To sin against the rule of Jesus is part of the judgment at the Great White Throne. The “Rod” sets the conditions for the world during the Millennial Reign. In other words, the ROD distinguishes between right and wrong. It reinforces right and punishes wrong (Zechariah 14:18).