The purpose of the book of Revelation is to bless and encourage you (Revelation 1:3).
It is not intended to scare you - but it does contain warnings and exhortations.
It does not hide reality - yes things are as bad as they seem.
It gives us the ability to peer from this present state into another present state which is just as real.
It reminds us that while citizen's of Heaven we are living 'in Rome' (whatever that is for each of us).
It reminds us that we should not be suprised when we meet suffering, opposition (we don't cry "Hail Caesar").
It reminds us to be fixed on the heavenlies, peer into that, Jesus on the throne. See Colossians 3:2.

Revelation is more poetry than prose, it contains a lot of poetry.
Revelation is not linear in fashion or nature.
Revelation has begining and end, but it is not linear, it doubles back on itself (with different images, perspective).

Chapter 11 ended with the blowing of the 7th trumpet.
Its the end, its finality - but we are only half-way through the book!

Revelation 12

Here we get doubled back to the Genesis garden scene, the birth of Jesus, the ministry of Jesus.
It reminds us of those things and packages them in a different way.

Verses 1-6

Three major players introduced at this point.

The woman
Clothed with sun, moon under feet, crown of 12 stars.

Need to understand the full story of God - remember account of Joseph 37:9.
11+1 = 12 sons of Jacob, this woman is a picture Israel.
In Rev 12:1 we are told it is a sign, an image which is supposed to convey something much grander.
There is a greater reality at play here - even greater than the nation of Israel.
Who is the woman who gave birth to a male child ruler? Mary, the mother of Jesus.
Where do we see a woman waging war with a serpent (v9)? Eve, in the garden.
Genesis 3:15 Enmity between the serpent and the woman.
The dragon makes war against the rest of the woman's offspring - the church!

Who is the woman? - the Kingdom of God, Jew and gentile together.
The 144,000 pictured in a different way.

Great red dragon

The dragon is great, as depicted by the heads, horns and crowns.
Power, authority and reign depicted here.

In Rev 12:9 description changed to that of a serpent, and given name - devil or Satan.
In Rev 12:3 we are told it is a sign, so again there is a bigger reality at play here to.
Revelation chapter 13 expands on this in more detail.
In Rev 13 we have 2 beasts who are getting their power from Satan.
However, you don't see Satan, you see the beasts - unholy trinity.
The dragon symbolises all that opposes God and God's people - everything.

Are we marked (empowered) by Satan (through the beasts) or by Jesus?

Male child

This is Jesus.
Made clear in verse 5 where child is caught up to God and his throne.

What word is missing in description of male child? - it is not a sign.
Not a sign because Jesus is the reality - we need to see Jesus.
There is no literal woman, no literal dragon, but there is a male child.

The dragon attempts to devour Jesus. When did this take place?
Bethlehem - actions of Herod.
In the wilderness - temptations.
When he entered Jesus.

Where is the woman, the people of God?
1,260 = three and a half years, 30 months?
Are these literal periods of time or are they a type of time? A horrifying time.
A time prophecised by Daniel and brought to fruitition by the Greek empire 200yrs BC.
1,260 here symbolises a time of suffering, a limited of time of suffering.
It refers to the whole time the church is in the world, caught up in crunch of clashing kingdoms.
This period starts with the ascension of Jesus (v5) and will continue until his second coming.

He has not returned for 2,000 years - don't think period, think type.
What marks this period of time? - tribulation for his people
And a promise to nourish / sustain them even when appearances suggest otherwise.
Wilderness as place of nourishment - reminds of us of the Exodus (led and nourished).
Compare Rev 12:14 with what God said to Moses in Exodus 19:4 - eagles wings.
Was that wilderness journey free from trials and tests?
Enemies, temptation, idolatory, giants - a return to Egypt looked very promising!
We are not free from such, but there is also nourishment and direction, God walking with us.

Verses 7-11

Here we see the same things from a different vantage point (Heaven) - we are not jumping ahead.
We see here what takes place as a result of Jesus' work in the heavenlies.
These verses describe what went on at a cosmic level, in the heavenlies.
Satan is thrown down - statement repeated six times for emphasis.

Michael was not victorious on his own, he was victorious by the work of Jesus on earth (v11).
Rev 12:11 maintain testimony of God's goodness in face of apparent evidence to the contrary.

Verses 12-17

What is the disposition of Satan now - he is furious.
The one who opposes the people of God on their wilderness journey is furious.

Why is Satan so furious?

His time is short
He knows it and so do his demons Matthew 8:29.
Satan's future is set, he knows it and they shudder.
Satan is so sure of God's word that his chief aim is to have you not believe it.

His territory is diminishing
As the Gospel goes out, Jesus builds his church, and the gates of hell cannot prevail Matthew 16:18.
Luke 10:18 Satan is no longer in Heaven.

His success is limited
God is sovereign.
Satan is on a leash and will be eternally bound.
Satan's battle is against God, and he goes after God by way of God's people.
We are the body of Christ Acts 9:5 Attacks on the church are attacks on Jesus.

How does Satan wage this war, his tactics?

He deceives
He such a liar / deceiver that he has deceived himself that he can win this battle again God.
We had a tendency to think the same way! We buy into the same idea.

He accuses
The very name Satan means 'accuser'.
It is more than a name, it is his very nature, he empower accusation.

He kills
The dragon is the colour of blood.
We easily speak words of death, to others and ourselves.

How do we overcome (Rev 12:11?

The blood of the lamb
This reminds us of Rev 5.
Accusations against us are true - but no longer mine because of the cross.
We need to keep our eyes on the blood of the lamb.
I am worthy because of what Jesus had one for me - need to preach Gospel to myself!

Their testimony
This is not our personal testimony, but the testimony of Jesus (Rev 12:17).

Love not out lives even unto death
We overcome the same way Jesus did
Victory comes by death
Threat of death no longer holds any fear - not the worst thing that can happen.

This chapter answers the question.
Why are things so bad even though we are God's people. Jesus is victorious and Satan is conquered?

This chapter also demonstrates that the worst things get the closer Jesus is.
Do you see him coming - "Come Lord Jesus".

Further Reading

Hebrews 13:9-16
Zechariah 4:2-14
Matthew 24:9-22
Luke 1:31-35
Revelation 15:1-5