VERSE 7 “And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought…”
How did this happen?
There was a great struggle (war) in the religious world (the ecclesiastical heavens) between the Papacy (who applied the title of Michael to itself, “Michael” means “One Who as God”), this false Michael with its followers, waged war with pagan Rome and its religious interests.
VERSE 8 “…but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer.”
The dragon did not win. Papacy did. Pagan Roman religion disappeared — no room was found for it in heaven (the religious world).
VERSE 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.”
Rome, and all subsequent civil power, no longer exercised any religious authority. The emperor gave the Pope the title “PONTIFEX MAXIMUS” (Chief Religious Ruler) — a title only the former emperors had worn. Now civil power (the dragon) was cast to the “earth” (a secular rule only). Note the 4-name entity here: “dragon, serpent, Devil, Satan.” This has been discussed in the treatment of Rev 20:2 where this symbol also represents a purely civil power. (No doubt, however, under the dominion of the literal Devil.)
VERSE 10 “Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, “Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down.”
The result of this rise to power of the Roman Catholic Church was the loud boast in heaven (the religious world) “We are the kingdom of God on earth! We have conquered pagan religion! They who have persecuted us are now beneath our power.”
VERSE 11 “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.”
Naturally, Papacy attributes the victory to Jesus. Papacy also attributes it to its martyrs whom it venerates. Thus they claim the victory due to the martyrdom of those “accused” (Verse 10) and to their life-stones (“the word of their testimony”), and also to their willingness to love the church over life itself (“loved not their lives unto the death”). Papacy will always be thenceforth willing to ask others to sacrifice for the maintenance of church power.
VERSE 12 “Therefore rejoice O heavens, and you who dwell in them! Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and the sea! For the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has a short time.”
The rejoicing continues IF you are part of the apostate church (“ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them”) IF you are not, WOE! The false church quickly took on the power of the persecutor, and if used the dragon (civil power) to enforce its persecuting power. Throughout the 1,260 years of Papal dominance, the earthly princes readily obeyed Papal dictates knowing that the rule of the church seemed endless, but that of the civil princes, only a “short time” — unless, of course, they obeyed.
VERSE 13 “Now when the dragon saw that he had been cast to the earth, he persecuted the woman who gave birth to the male Child.”
The civil power relished its job of cooperating with the man of sin in putting down all “heresies.” Heresies, of course, were truths promulgated by the “woman” (covenant, the true church) and those being developed under her.
VERSE 14 “But the woman was given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness to her place, where she is nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent.”
The Dark Ages (3 1/2 symbolic years) were pictured by the 3 1/2 year period in the life of Elijah when there was no rain (Water is a symbol of truth) See also Amos 8:11. The true church (the women) was fed during this time by the two wings (Old and New Testament writings) of a great eagle. The eagle is far-sighted and represents WISDOM. This wisdom, of course, is the Bible itself which sustained true Christians all during the 1,260 years of Papal persecution. Notice she is hidden from “the face of the serpent.” Face is a symbol of favor. She was OUT OF FAVOR with the civil authorities. (Serpent and dragon are the same character as is shown by comparing Verses 15 and 16.).
VERSE 15 “So the serpent spewed water out of his mouth like a flood after the woman that he might cause her to be carried away by the flood.”
Elements of the civil power were tired of being under the thumb of the Pope. They revolted. They revolted by what history calls the “Age of Enlightenment.” There was a large and dramatic spread of TRUTH (water) — so much truth that it was a flood. This was a flood designed in large part, to do away with the oppression of religion (false or true, it made no difference). This movement was centered in France and erupted into what we know as the French Revolution. Among other things, it OUTLAWED RELIGION.
VERSE 16 “But the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed up the flood which the dragon had spewed out of his mouth.”
Things didn’t quite work as expected. The earth (society everywhere) liked the idea of truth. Revolution spread everywhere. But many also liked religious truth also. By accepting revolutionary trends, the world actually opened the way for religious freedom. This helped the woman. Since 1799 A.D. Papacy has been unable to control the rapid rise of religious truth — seeking and investigation. In terms of the Elijah picture: it rained everywhere!
VERSE 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.”
Religious truth is always a threat. This final verse indicates that before the church is completed the civil power will yet “make war” with the remaining members of the true church.
NOTE: The first phrase of Rev 13:1 belongs in Chapter 12. It reads, (in its corrected translation), “And he (the dragon) stood upon the sand of the sea” (Chapter 13 then begins, “And I saw a beast…”) the sand of the sea is a symbol for the great masses of humanity. The civil powers (the dragon) yet dominate the masses until the Lord will overthrow their selfish ruler-ships.
NOTE: A number of brethren feel uncomfortable with the suggestion that the woman represents the Sarah Covenant. One reason for this uneasiness is that it opens the way for the common misapplication of the man-child’s being Jesus — an interpretation which ruins Chapter 12 and which makes a reasonable interpretation of it impossible. That such a misinterpretation is possible, however, is not a good reason for dismissing the possibility that the woman is the covenant. Nevertheless, EITHER interpretation of the woman (Sarah Covenant or True Church) is quite workable and will not do violence to a good interpretation of the chapter.
Excerpts taken from the New Albany Notes on Revelation.