7 And there was war in heaven, Michael and his angels waging war with the dragon. The dragon and his angels waged war, 8 and they were not strong enough, and there was no longer a place found for them in heaven. 9 And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole [d]world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. 10 Then I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying,
“Now the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, he who accuses them before our God day and night. 11 And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even [e]when faced with death. 12 For this reason, rejoice, O heavens and you who [f]dwell in them. Woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, knowing that he has only a short time.”
[d] Revelation 12:9 Lit inhabited earth [e] Revelation 12:11 Lit to death [f] Revelation 12:12 Or tabernacle
Intro to a tiny gallery
Strangely, many depictions of Michael and his angels waging war with the dragon are shown as if happening upon the stage of this world rather than in Heaven as the Bible teaches. Also, images Of the dragon are often unscriptural. Take note, too, that one of the images below is described as Michael “slaying” the dragon rather than “waging war” with him.
I wonder how the dragon’s expulsion from heaven affects his accusations against us.
A tiny gallery
War in Heaven – Apocalypse by Gebhard Fugel 15 – Kap. 12.7 Michaels Kampf
Saint Michael slaying the Dragon – Josse Lieferinxe, Master of St. Sebastian, 15th Century
Bamberg Apocalypse Folio 030v St Michael Fights Dragon
Saint Michael the Archangel – Garcia Fernandes Workshop (atr.)
12 A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars;2 and she was with child; and she *cried out, being in labor and in pain to give birth.
The Red Dragon, Satan
3 Then another sign appeared in heaven: and behold, a great red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads were seven diadems.4 And his tail *swept away a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she gave birth he might devour her child.
The Male Child, Christ
5 And she gave birth to a son, a male child, who is to [a]rule all the [b]nations with a rod of iron; and her child was caught up to God and to His throne.6 Then the woman fled into the wilderness where she *had a place prepared by God, so that there [c]she would be nourished for one thousand two hundred and sixty days.
[a] Revelation 12:5 Or shepherd [b] Revelation 12:5 Or Gentiles [c] Revelation 12:6 Lit they would nourish her for
Intro to a tiny gallery
The importance of this passage convinced me not to introduce it with a mere image. Instead I’ve appended a tiny gallery.
No painting or engraving can capture the glories or terrors of the Apocalypse. Every attempt will fail, for God’s Word alone is Truth and Eternal, and absolutely Real. Art is a gift to us when it reflects and honors His Word, for then it can delight us and remind us of the One Who is good, holy, and true – the Triune God.
A tiny gallery
Apocalypse by Gebhard Fugel (1863-1939) 14 – Kap. 12.1 Frau und Drache
Woman of the Apocalypse – from the Hortus Deliciarum by Herrad of Landsberg – 12th Century
Woman and dragon (Giusto de Menabuoi) 14th Century
Vasiliy Koren’s Apocalypse p.13 – Woman and dragon – between 1692 and 1696
The Woman Clothed in the Sun (Speculum humanae salvationis or Mirror of Human Salvation) – anonymous – originating in 14th Century
Apocalypse by Gebhard Fugel 10 – Kap. 8.7 Erste Posaune.jpg
15 Then the seventh angel sounded; and there were loud voices in heaven, saying,
“The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His [a]Christ; and He will reign forever and ever.” 16 And the twenty-four elders, who sit on their thrones before God, fell on their faces and worshiped God,17 saying,
“We give You thanks, O Lord God, the Almighty, who are and who were, because You have taken Your great power and have begun to reign.18 And the nations were enraged, and Your wrath came, and the time came for the dead to be judged, and the time to [b]reward Your bond-servants the prophets and the [c]saints and those who fear Your name, the small and the great, and to destroy those who destroy the earth.”
19 And the [d]temple of God which is in heaven was opened; and the ark of His covenant appeared in His [e]temple, and there were flashes of lightning and sounds and peals of thunder and an earthquake and a great [f]hailstorm.
[a] Revelation 11:15 I.e. Messiah [b] Revelation 11:18 Lit give the reward to [c] Revelation 11:18 Or holy ones [d] Revelation 11:19 Or sanctuary [e] Revelation 11:19 Or sanctuary [f] Revelation 11:19 Lit hail
The book of revelation in Art
Below is an illustration of the Seventh Angel from The Saint-Sever Beatus, also known as The Apocalypse of Saint-Sever, (Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale, MS lat. 8878). It is an 11th Century French Romanesque illuminated Apocalypse made at Saint-Sever Abbey. Among other things it contains the Commentary on the Apocalypse of Beatus of Liébana.
Here is a bit about Beatus of Liébana and his original commentary of which The Saint-Sever Beatus was a copy:
Towards the end of the eighth century Beatus, a monk in the monastery of San Martin de Turieno, near present day Santander, compiled a Commentary on the Book of Revelation, or Apocalypse, from the writings dedicated to the topic by such patristic authors as Jerome, Augustine, Ambrose and Irenaeus. Recognition of Beatus of Liébana has survived to our time thanks to his decision to illustrate the sixty-eight sections into which he divided the text of the Book of Revelation . . . Lacking any copy from before the tenth century, we cannot be sure of the appearance of Beatus’s original illustrations.
7 When they have finished their testimony, the beast that comes up out of the abyss will make war with them, and overcome them and kill them.8 And their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city which mystically is called Sodom and Egypt, where also their Lord was crucified.9 Those from the peoples and tribes and tongues and nations will look at their dead bodies for three and a half days, and will not permit their dead bodies to be laid in a tomb.10 And those who dwell on the earth will rejoice over them and celebrate; and they will send gifts to one another, because these two prophets tormented those who dwell on the earth.
11 But after the three and a half days, the breath of life from God came into them, and they stood on their feet; and great fear fell upon those who were watching them.12 And they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, “Come up here.” Then they went up into heaven in the cloud, and their enemies watched them.13 And in that hour there was a great earthquake, and a tenth of the city fell; seven thousand people were killed in the earthquake, and the rest were terrified and gave glory to the God of heaven.
14 The second woe is past; behold, the third woe is coming quickly.
Some Christians, including Dr. Hendriksen, believe that the Two Witnesses portray the Church in this present Gospel Age between the First and Second Coming of the Lord: its witness (ministerial and missionary), proclamation and judgements, and suffering. Others believe that they are individuals who will appear at the End of the Age. May the Lord give us light and peace about these important truths!
The book of revelation in Art
Below are illustrations from a 13th century manuscript housed in Oxford’s Bodleian Library, MS Douce 180 (The Douce Apocalypse). According to Wikimedia Commons, “The manuscript was never finished, and the illustrations are in various states of completion. Some survive as exceedingly sensitive line drawings; others have their gold leaf added, while others are partly coloured.”
Bamberg Apocalypse, Folio 027v – The Two Prophets And The Beast From Abyss
3 And I will grant authority to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for twelve hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth.”4 These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth. 5 And if anyone wants to harm them, fire flows out of their mouth and devours their enemies; so if anyone wants to harm them, he must be killed in this way. 6 These have the power to shut up the sky, so that rain will not fall during the days of their prophesying; and they have power over the waters to turn them into blood, and to strike the earth with every plague, as often as they desire.
19 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Say to Aaron, ‘Take your staff andstretch out your hand over the waters of Egypt, over their rivers, over their streams, and over their pools, and over all their reservoirs of water, that they may become blood; and there will be blood throughout all the land of Egypt, both in vessels of wood and in vessels of stone.’”
1 Kings 17:1
Now Elijah the Tishbite, who was of the settlers of Gilead, said to Ahab, “As the Lord, the God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, surely there shall be neither dew nor rain these years, except by my word.”
20 As for the mystery of the seven stars which you saw in My right hand, and the seven golden lampstands: the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.
Careful students of the book of Revelation will probably agree with Alford that chapter 11 “is undoubtedly one of the most difficult in the whole Apocalypse.” A comparison of many commentaries will reveal the widest kind of disagreement as to the meaning of this chapter.
Brethren, I regret having started this project. I see now that it’s inappropriate for a woman, and someone with limited training. Also, differences in views on eschatology cause pain and dissension. Discussion is good but most of us are so invested in our views that that is nearly impossible, except among those who hold the same ones. Incorrect and imprecise terms or ones that wound – such as “heretical” or “from the pit of hell” – add to the confusion and pain. Today, I offer an exposition by John Gill. His words show that Revelation throws light upon the long history of the Church, not merely its consummation. After this, I will finish my project using works of art and literature.
“And I will give power unto my two witnesses,…. By whom are meant, not Enoch and Elias, as some of the ancient fathers thought, who, they supposed, would come before the appearance of Christ, and oppose antichrist, and be slain by him, which sense the Papists greedily catch at; nor are the Scriptures, the two Testaments, Old and New, designed, though their name and number agree, and also their office, which is to testify of Christ; but then to be clothed in sackcloth, to be killed, and rise again, and ascend to heaven, are things that cannot so well be accommodated to them: but these witnesses intend the ministers of the Gospel and churches of Christ, who have bore testimony for Christ, and against antichrist, ever since he appeared in the world; and particularly the churches and ministers in Piedmont [Waldensian] bid fair for this character; who were upon the spot when antichrist arose, always bore their protest against him, and were ever independent of the church of Rome, and subsisted in the midst of the darkness of the apostasy; and suffered much, and very great persecutions, from the Papists; and have stood their ground, and continue to this day; and have been like olive trees and candlesticks, imparting oil and light to others. Though they ought not to be considered exclusive of other ministers and churches, who also have bore, and still do bear a witness for Christ, and against the idolatries of the church of Rome: no two individual persons can be meant, since these witnesses were to prophesy 1260 days, that is, so many years, but a succession of ministers and churches; and these are called two, both on account of the fewness of them, and because the testimony of two is sufficient to confirm any matter; and it may be in allusion to the various instances of two eminent persons being raised up at certain periods of time, as Moses and Aaron, at the deliverance of the children of Israel out of Egypt; Caleb and Joshua, at their entrance into Canaan; Elijah and Elisha in the idolatrous times of Ahab; and Joshua and Zerubbabel at the rebuilding and finishing of the second temple. Now the Angel, and who is Christ, here promises that he will give something to these witnesses: some supply the words, ‘I will give it’; that is, the holy city, or the church, to them, to be taken care of and defended; others, ‘I will give’ them a mouth and wisdom, which their adversaries shall not be able to resist, according to the promise in Luke 21:15. We supply the words, ‘I will give power’; that is, authority to preach the Gospel, and strength to profess it, and to continue to bear a testimony to it, signified by prophesying; see 1 Corinthians 14:1.”