12:3 great red dragon. The sign of the great dragon is explained in Revelation 12:9. He is “that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan,” who has tried to destroy the woman and her spiritual seed ever since Eden. Parenthetically, in order to be used as a sign, the dragon itself must have been a real animal, well known and feared by the ancient world but now extinct (see on Genesis 1:21; Job 40:15-24; Isaiah 27:1). Though evolutionists would disagree, dragons almost certainly were dinosaurs, universally known by the nations of antiquity to exist as real creatures.
12:3 ten horns. The “seven heads and ten horns” on this hydra-headed dragon evidently represent the great kingdoms of past history and the chief current kingdoms of this final period of history, all of which have been and will be imbued with the spirit of the old serpent (I John 5:19). See notes on Revelation 17:10-12 for more specific identification.
12:4 to the earth. These “stars of heaven” are identified as Satan’s angels in Revelation 12:9. In Satan’s primeval rebellion against God, he was able to persuade a third of God’s “innumerable company of angels” (Hebrews 12:22) to follow him. They were “cast out into the earth” (Revelation 12:9) as a result (see also Isaiah 14:12; Ezekiel 28:17; Luke 10:18). Some even went to the lowest hell (II Peter 2:4) and some were bound in the Euphrates (Revelation 9:14) as a result of further specific and very flagrant sins. There are still multitudes of demonic angels, however, freely roaming the world and serving “the prince of the power of the air” (Ephesians 2:2), and these hosts will be more active and dangerous than ever in these final days.
12:4 devour her child. Ever since the Protevangelic promise of Genesis 3:15, Satan has been attempting to prevent the promised Seed from being born, beginning with his attack on Cain and Abel (I John 3:12), and even attempting to corrupt the entire human race in the days of Noah (Genesis 6:4-13). In spite of his efforts, once Christ was born, Satan tried to destroy Him with Herod’s slaughter of the babes at Bethlehem. When that failed, he then tried to corrupt Christ in the wilderness temptation, and finally tried several times to have Him slain before He could go to the cross.
12:5 rod of iron. Note Psalm 2:9 and Revelation 19:15. This clearly identifies the Lord Jesus Christ as the “man child,” and therefore as the promised Seed.
12:5 caught up. The primary reference here is certainly to the resurrection and ascension of Christ. However, the phrase “caught up” is also used in connection with the rapture of believers (I Thessalonians 4:17). Christ also promised the overcoming believers that they would also share in His rule of the nations with a rod of iron (Revelation 2:27), so this verse probably includes all those who were “in Christ” at the time of the rapture.
12:7 dragon. At this time of Jacob’s trouble, the archangel Michael will “stand up” for them (Daniel 12:1), and this will result in a great war in heaven—probably in the atmospheric heaven, which had been Satan’s domain, and where the Lord has met with His redeemed and raptured saints. There Satan and his angels then will be defeated and cast permanently down to the earth (Revelation 12:9). How this war will be fought has not been revealed, but both faithful and fallen angels have tremendous energies and powers, of which humans have little comprehension.
12:9 cast out. Appropriately, and providentially, this is the central verse in the book of Revelation. The dragon is here identified as the serpent of Eden (Genesis 3:1), as the Satan who tested Job (Job 1:6), and as the Devil who tested Jesus (Matthew 4:1). See also Revelation 20:2.
12:9 deceiveth the whole world. As the great deceiver, Satan has deceived the whole world with the great lie with which he evidently deceived himself in the beginning—namely, that God is not really the Creator, Sustainer, and Judge of all things, and that, consequently, both men and angels can reject His Word, rebel against His rule and ultimately aspire to be “gods” themselves. This lie finds its only rationale in the false premise of evolution, the idea that the universe always existed or exists independently of a Creator and is able to evolve itself into higher and higher orders of being. This lie may take the form of either atheism or pantheism, but both deny God and His revealed truth of special creation. With it, Satan has deceived the whole world, in every age and culture since the creation. Note I John 5:19; II Corinthians 4:3-4.
12:9 into the earth. Satan had long ago been cast out of his heavenly authority as the anointed cherub (Ezekiel 28:14-17), though he still has access to God as “the accuser of our brethren” (Revelation 12:10). Even that access will end when he is defeated by Michael; from then on he and his angels will be limited to the earth alone, where he will still desperately try to overthrow God.