Understanding the Scriptures
|Travailing (v. 2)||In labor pains|
|Devour (v. 4)||Eat up (in this case, to destroy)|
|Prevailed (v. 8)||To gain the victory|
|Inhabiters of the earth (v. 12)||People who live on earth|
|Wrath, wroth (vv. 12, 17)||Anger, angry|
|Nourished (v. 14)||To be given what is necessary to stay alive|
|Time, and times, and a half time (v. 14)||This refers to three and one-half years|
|The remnant (v. 17)||The rest, those who are left|
Revelation 12:1–6, 13–17—The Woman and the Man Child
The Joseph Smith Translation for Revelation 12 helps us understand that the woman John saw represents “the Church of God” and the man child represents “the kingdom of our God and his Christ” (JST, Revelation 12:7), who “was to rule all nations with a rod of iron” (JST, Revelation 12:3), or the word of God. Christ Himself set up this kingdom when He lived on earth. Apostasy drove it “into the wilderness” for centuries, which means it was not a governing influence in the lives of God’s children on earth for a period of time. In the last days, however, the keys of the kingdom of God have again been restored to the earth and will be fully used when Christ comes again and reigns on earth throughout the Millennium (see D&C 65).
Revelation 12:3–4, 7–17—A Red Dragon with Seven Heads, Ten Horns, and Seven Crowns
The dragon is identified in Revelation 12:9 as Satan, the devil. The heads represent his knowledge, the horns represent his power, and the crowns represent his rule or control over those who allow themselves to be overcome by him. Notice that according to verse 4 he “drew the third part of the stars of heaven.” Modern revelation helps us understand this represents those who followed him in the premortal life and were not permitted to obtain a body and continue their eternal progression (see D&C 29:36–38; Abraham 3:23–28).
Revelation 12:7–11—“War in Heaven”
The Prophet Joseph Smith said, “The contention in heaven was—Jesus said there would be certain souls that would not be saved; and the devil said he would save them all, and laid his plans before the grand council, who gave their vote in favor of Jesus Christ. So the devil rose up in rebellion against God, and was cast down, with all who put up their heads for him” (History of the Church, 6:314; see also Moses 4:1–4; Abraham 3:23–28).
The war between good and evil was not over after Satan’s defeat in the premortal life. Revelation 12:17 tells us that he continues to war against the Saints of God (see also D&C 76:28–29). President Ezra Taft Benson said, “We live in that day which John the Revelator foresaw. … Satan is waging war against the members of the Church who have testimonies and are trying to keep the commandments” (“The Power of the Word,” Ensign, May 1986, 79).
Studying the Scriptures
Do two of the following activities (A–C) as you study Revelation 12.
What’s in a Name?
List the five different names or titles referring to Lucifer in Revelation 12:1–10 and explain what each teaches us about him so that we may be warned about him and avoid his influence. You may want to use the Bible Dictionary for help.
Reading About Yourself in the Scriptures
Write a paragraph that explains what you learn about yourself from Revelation 12:11 and how what you did then could help you now.
How can you apply these teachings and principles in your life today?
The Prophet Joseph Smith taught that “all beings who have bodies have power over those who have not. The devil has no power over us only as we permit him” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 181). He also stated, “Wicked spirits have their bounds, limits, and laws by which they are governed” (History of the Church, 4:576). President James E. Faust, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, testified that there is “an ample shield against the power of Lucifer and his hosts” (“Serving the Lord and Resisting the Devil,” Ensign, Sept. 1995, 7).
Find examples in Revelation 12 that show the truth of what the Prophet Joseph Smith and President Faust said.