“…And the dragon stood before the woman who was ready to give birth, to devour her Child as soon as it was born. She bore a male Child who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron. And her Child was caught up to God and His throne.” Revelation 12:4–5

Rarely do we think of the book of Revelation as a treasury of verses for the Christmas season. However, it is undeniable that this passage is speaking of the incarnation of the Son of God, and His nativity is in view.

The dragon is Satan. He is pictured in opposition to the woman and her Seed. The preceding verses describe him, in all his blood-thirsty nature, rebelling against God and bringing down other angels with him. In his blind wrath he wants to be like God but he also wants to destroy the very God who holds his own being together (Colossians 1:16f). Such is the blindness of the sin he peddles and the poison with which he infects all his unregenerate children.

John continues to say that the dragon’s attention is completely consumed with the hope of devouring the woman’s Child. The woman is the nation of Israel, God’s chosen people. In the specific instance of the birth of the One, the unique Child, the woman certainly reflects upon Mary.

This voracious enmity goes clear back to the Garden of Eden. When Eve was deceived and Adam fell in sin, the curse of God was brought down upon the serpent, the woman, and upon the man. The serpent (Satan) heard these words: “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed, He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel” (Genesis 3:15). The word bruise means “to crush, to grind off, to deal a fatal blow.” Way back in the Garden, at the dawning of the misery of the human race, there is this first proclamation of the Gospel. The Hope for man is in the “Seed of the woman.” The virgin birth was foretold from the beginning.

It is not with mere poetic license that John paints the graphic picture in Revelation 12:4. Satan would happily devour the Son of God if he could. He would certainly want, with one swift strike, to snuff out the hope for mankind, the plan of God, and the mortal enemy of his being.

The thing Satan most fears is what John reveals in Revelation 12:5. This very Child, the Son of God, is destined to rule the nations with a rod of iron. Later in Revelation 20 we learn that this era of Christ’s rule among men will last 1000 years. It will be a just rule and it will be in the absence of Satan (he will be bound and cast into the bottomless pit for the duration). Satan will be able to do nothing, much less deceive the nations. He will be powerless and his doom will be assured by the triumph of this Child, secured by His death, burial, and resurrection.

Jesus has been caught up to God and His throne! The effect of this work of the Savior is Paul’s theme in 2 Timothy 1:9f: “who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began, but has now been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel.”

One of the impressive applications from our text in Revelation 12 is the fact that Jesus Christ, the Great Shepherd, had to become the Lamb. He had to take on human flesh and become like us so that He might save us. Never had Satan seen God so “weak” as when the Son of God took on human flesh, with a heart that beats and with a body capable of death. How Satan’s dragon-like nature must have salivated over a victory he could almost taste.

The kings and religious leaders of Israel had been called their “shepherds.” King David recognized that Jehovah is the Shepherd in Psalm 23. God is often pictured in the Old Testament as leading His chosen people like a shepherd leads his flock (Psalm 78:52, 80:1; Isaiah 40:11; Ezekiel 34:11f). And our Savior identified Himself as the Shepherd in John 10:11: “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”

Our Good Shepherd, in order to lay down His life for the sheep, had to take on flesh and become a child. Revelation 12:4f echoes the prophetic truth found in Isaiah 7:14: “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.” Also in Isaiah 9:6f, “For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the Lord of Hosts will perform this!”

No wonder Satan fears the Son, for the Son is everything he hates! May you worship the Shepherd who became the Lamb so that you might live! Trust and obey.