The Seven-Headed Dragon in Revelation 12 and Revelation 13
Revelation 12, when the dragon is introduced, gives a bit of a background on the history of the dragon and God’s people.
Revelation 12:1 introduces a woman wearing a crown of twelve stars, representing the twelve tribes of Israel. The woman is pregnant, and the child is understood to be Jesus, who came from the line of Israel. The woman is not a literal woman; she is called a “sign,” and women are used multiple times to represent religious systems in Revelation.
Revelation 12:3-4, when the dragon is introduced, gives some background on the dragon. It states that the dragon swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to earth. The dragon stands in wait for the woman to deliver the child—to devour it.
The “third of the stars” referred to here is usually understood as referring to the angelic host, a third of which, it is believed, followed Satan in his rebellion (and thus became demonic forces).
However, Satan fails to devour Jesus in Revelation 12:5-6.
In Revelation 12:7-9, war breaks out between Satan and his demons and Michael and the host of angels. Satan loses and is hurled down to earth. He proceeds to attack the woman again, but she is delivered (Revelation 12:13-16).
He then turns his sights to the believers: “Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to wage war against the rest of her offspring—those who keep God’s commands and hold fast their testimony about Jesus” (Revelation 12:17).
Revelation 12 summarizes, in allegorical form, the history of Satan’s attacks against Israel, his plots against Jesus, and his failure in both regards. Now, we are prepared for Revelation 13, which records what Satan will do in the end times.
In Revelation 13, a beast rises up out of the sea, and the dragon gives it his throne and great authority (Revelation 13:2). This beast is typically understood to be the Antichrist. People worship the dragon and the beast (Revelation 13:4). This is a symbolic portrayal of a future time.
Another beast rises up, a beast who acts as a sort of prophet or priest for the first beast and performs signs and wonders (Revelation 13:11-18). This beast is also known as the false prophet (e.g. Revelation 20:10).
Between the dragon, the beast, and the false prophet, Revelation 13 shows that Satan will create a sort of unholy trinity in opposition to the true Trinity.
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