The Revelation of John: Chapter 12 – part one

30 Jul

I am continuing on with Revelation. In this series I have been comparing John’s vision with books with similar prophecies, such as Daniel, as well as section 77 of the Doctrine and Covenants, which gives interpretations to a selected portion of the images of the Revelation. I also rely heavily on the Joseph Smith Translation (JST – given in red).

See also chapter one,  two, three, four, five, first five seals, Sixth Seal I, Sixth Seal II, Seventh Seal Opens, First Four Trumpets, Fifth Trumpet, Sixth Trumpet, Ten, Witnesses, Seventh Trumpet

I have decided to include the complete text of the chapter in this article so that the significant corrections made by Joseph Smith are readily apparent to the reader. Only 2 of the 17 verses do not have changes, and one verse has been placed in a different sequence (given in blue). As you read this pay attention to these changes.

Also, this chapter ran a bit long and so I have divided it into two articles.

Chapter 12:

Verses 1-3

And there appeared a great sign in heaven, in the likeness of things on the earth; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars.

And the woman being with child, cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered.

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 his throne.

The word wonder here is changed to sign, meaning that these things are a representation of things on earth.
The woman is the church and the child is the kingdom of God (see verse seven below). So, the Kingdom of God will come out of the church. Also, the church is clothed in the sun, which is most commonly a symbol of celestial glory. This would suggest that it is through the church that one prepares for the Celestial Kingdom.

The moon represents the terrestrial kingdom, and is placed beneath the woman’s feet, suggesting that other churches, which can only bring their followers to the terrestrial, are under or below the true church.

The twelve starred crown would suggest the Twelve Apostles who lead the church. It could also refer to the apostles of Christ who were told that they would judge the twelve tribes of Israel.

Verses 4-5

And there appeared another sign in heaven; and behold, a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads. 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 delivered, ready to devour her child after it was born.

And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she had a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore years.

The dragon is Satan, as stated later in the chapter. The seven heads and ten horns are very similar to Daniel 7: 7-8. In both cases these represent earthly kingdoms. These kingdoms would be under the power of Satan.

The third part of heaven that the dragon casts to earth is a reference to the spirits that sided with Satan in the pre-existence.

The rest of this is speaking of the church that was organized by Christ. As the church spread it was preparing to bring forth the Kingdom of God. However, because Satan had set the worldly kingdoms to destroy it the Lord took the church off the earth and the result was the great apostasy. This would last 1260 years.

Now, the exact year in which the church was taken is a matter for speculation.If one places the end as the reorganization of the church in 1830, than the beginning would be in 570. This year does seem to have a significance in history as the year the Lombards conquered Rome and ended forever the western Roman Empire. It was just after this that the Catholic church, under Gregory the Great, rose to great political power in Europe. The timing would seem to fit.

Verses 6-8

And there was war in heaven; Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought against Michael;

And the dragon prevailed not against Michael, neither the child, nor the woman which was the church of God, who had been delivered of her pains, and brought forth the kingdom of our God and his Christ.

Neither was there place found in heaven for the great dragon, who was cast out; that old serpent called the devil, and also called Satan, which deceiveth the whole world; he was cast out into the earth; and his angels were cast out with him.

We know that Michael is Adam, who lead the armies of heaven in this war and was the one who eventually cast Satan out. Now, this was not a war waged with weapons. This was a war of words fought over ideas and ideologies. Those involved were spirits and could wage no other kind of war. Satan continues to wage this war on the earth where he uses all forms of thought and philosophy to destroy the souls of men.

All that has been seen up to this point has been a kind of illustration of what the saints have faced on the earth. The first five verses showed us the worldly kingdoms that will eventually become Christ’s, as we saw in chapter 11. The next three show us who Satan is.


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