Revelation 12 (Part 1)
This chapter deals with two wonders which appeared in heaven: one, a woman clothed with the sun, the moon under her feet and upon her head a crown of twelve stars and ready to be delivered of a child; the other, a great red dragon having seven heads and ten horns and a tail which drew the third part of the stars of heaven. It also tells of the war in heaven.
Now, there are some things mentioned here which make it very clear that the “heaven” referred to here is not the heaven which is the eternal abode of God, and that it has no reference to the devil being cast out of that heaven.
In the first place, this dragon was in the same place where the woman was; for it is said that he “stood before the woman… to devour her child as soon as it was born.” (Revelation 12:4) This woman was in pain (Revelation 12:2). Do we suppose we shall be enduring hardships, trials, persecutions, and suffering pain in heaven? I do not (Revelation 21:3-4).
Then it says in verse 5 that “she brought forth a man child… and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne.” Could she be in heaven where God is, and still her child be caught up to God and His throne? Is God still on up above heaven somewhere so that the child would be caught up above heaven to Him? I say, No!
Verse 6 says “the woman fled into the wilderness.” Is there any wilderness in heaven where God is? The Bible does not describe it that way, but rather as a place of exquisite beauty, richness, grandeur, glory, light, etc.
Verse 11 says, “They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto death.”
This makes it perfectly clear what kind of a war it was (spiritual) and where it was by the weapons which were used. They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb. But the blood of the Lamb (Christ) was not shed in heaven. It was shed on the earth. Again it was the blood of the Lamb through which they overcame, therefore this could not possibly refer to the devil being cast out of God’s heaven because the blood of the Lamb was not shed for thousands of years after the devil is known to have been working in this earth.1 Therefore, if we were to concede that the devil were ever in heaven and cast out, we would have to exclude this Scripture as any proof of it because they could not have used the blood of the Lamb as a weapon against him way back there when it had not been shed.
[Revelation 12:8 describes Jesus as “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world,” but mankind could not claim the merits of the shed blood for overcoming grace until the gospel was preached (Luke 16:16; 2 Timothy 1:10).]
It is also said that “they overcame him… by the word of their testimony.” But it is here in this world that God’s people testify to the saving grace of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Then it is said that “they loved not their lives unto death.” Heaven is a spirit world. “God is a spirit.” (John 4:24) “And of the angels he saith, Who maketh his angels spirits.” (Hebrews 1:7) We see then that God is a spirit and His angels who dwell with Him in heaven are spirits, and we know that spirits cannot die. But this scripture is talking about people who could die, and, in fact, many of them did die.
Verse 13 says, “And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man child.” Now, there is nothing at all mentioned in the entire chapter about the woman being cast out of heaven to the earth. Then how could the dragon persecute her after he was cast out into the earth if she were still in heaven? Remember, the dragon was in the same heaven where the woman was. If he could be cast out of heaven to the earth and still have access to the woman to persecute her while she was in heaven, that would make heaven a very uncomfortable place to be. Let us hope that God is able to provide a better defense and security for His children than that.
The fact is, all of this took place right here in the earth, and the term “heaven” refers to the ecclesiastical, spiritual, or religious heaven, which is among the people right here on earth.
Further, to substantiate any such argument that this chapter refers to the devil being cast out of heaven, one would have to prove that the devil had such a physical form as a great red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and a tail long enough to draw stars out of heaven. This cannot be done, because we have no knowledge of the devil having any kind of physical form any more than we do of God having a physical form, but we do have knowledge that both of them are spirits.
In Revelation 13:2 we see that the dragon gave his power and seat and authority over to another, a beast which arose up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, etc. Now, if this dragon is the devil himself, I would like to know when and where the devil ever gave his power and seat over to another, and to whom. The fact is that this dragon was not the devil himself, but both the dragon of Revelation 12 and the beast of Revelation 13 were agents, instruments, or systems (religious systems) through which the devil operated and carried on his work.
But some may object that the Scripture says it was the devil; but Revelation 12:9 says, “And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan.” It could properly be called the devil because it was the principal system through which the devil was operating at that time. It was a devil-dominated system of religion. Paul says, “But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils.” (1 Corinthians 10:20) We see then that the devil actually had a system of religion and at least some worshipers who sacrificed to him. Therefore he—or rather his religious system through which he was operating—is spoken of as being in heaven (ecclesiastical or religious heaven) because that in the hearts of the Gentile idol worshipers whom he had deceived he was exalted to the place of God, and worshiped and sacrificed to instead of the true God.