The Church and the Dragon

WELCOME TO The Bible Instructor Study # 9

This is the ninth study in a series of presentations designed to reveal how God will purify the SDA church and empower it for the finishing of the Gospel work in all the world.

Introduction: This study shows the struggle between God’s ever living church and Satan, primarily in the New Testament dispensation. It focuses on Satan’s failures, notwithstanding his apparent successes, to destroy the church and climaxes in his efforts to flood the church with unconverted people and the Lord’s intervention in purifying the church by removing the unconverted.

Prayer Thought

SDA Bible Commentary Vol.7 p. 974
“Satan’s Masterpiece of Evil.–Those who love and keep the commandments of God are most obnoxious to the synagogue of Satan, and the powers of evil will manifest their hatred toward them to the fullest extent possible. John foresaw the conflict between the remnant church and the power of evil, and said, “The dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.” {7BC 974.6}
“Only Two Parties Upon Earth.–There are only two parties upon this earth–those who stand under the bloodstained banner of Jesus Christ and those who stand under the black banner of rebellion. In the twelfth chapter of Revelation is represented the great conflict between the obedient and the disobedient [Rev. 12:17; 13:11-17 quoted] (MS 16, 1900).” {7BC 974.8}

Revelation 12: 1, 2, 5
1. And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars:
2. And she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered.
5. And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and [to] his throne.

What Does A Woman Represent in Scripture?

Jeremiah 6: 2
“I have as the symbol of a church, a virtuous woman representing a pure church, a vile woman an apostate church.” {GC 381.1}

Which Church does the Woman of Revelation 12 represent?
It was the Jewish church that brought forth Christ, “the man child.” It could not be the Christian church for this church was formed years after His birth. After living a perfect life and being victorious over Satan, Jesus ascended on high after His death and resurrection – Rev. 19:15; Isa. 11:4

What is depicted by the Woman being clothed with the sun?
Psalm 119: 105
“Thy word [is] a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.”

What Does the Moon under Her Feet Represent?

Great Controversy p. v “During the first twenty-five hundred years of human history, there was no written revelation. Those who had been taught of God, communicated their knowledge to others, and it was handed down from father to son, through successive generations. The preparation of the written word began in the time of Moses. Inspired revelations were then embodied in an inspired book. This work continued during the long period of sixteen hundred years–from Moses, the historian of creation and the law, to John, the recorder of the most sublime truths of the gospel.” {GC v.2} The period of oral tradition.

What Does her Crown of 12 Stars Represent?

  • Matthew 19: 28
    “And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”
  • The Authority and Government of the church
  • Thus the 12 Patriarchs, 12 tribes, 12 apostles and later the 144,000 (12 thousand out of each tribe).

Revelation 12: 3, 4, 9
3. And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads.
4. And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born.
9. And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.

Who is the Dragon?

The Devil / Satan (verse 9)
What do his seven heads indicate?  

“The number 7 indicates completeness…” AA 585.3, and heads denote religious bodies (Rev. 17: 9; 13: 3). Thus Satan controlled all the churches at the time of Christ’s birth.
What do his ten horns indicate? 

Ten denotes universality (ten virgins, ten toes of Daniel.2 image) and horns represent civil powers (Dan. 8: 20-22). Thus Satan controlled the civil government of that day

What do the seven crowns upon his head depict ?

While the dragon ruled both civil and religious worlds, he crowned the religious. Thus the church held the scepter; the church sat on the dragon’s throne
What is meant by the dragon casting a third part of the stars of heaven to the earth with his tail?  

Testimonies Vol. 3 p. 115
“Satan in his rebellion took a third part of the angels. They turned from the Father and from His
Son, and united with the instigator of
rebellion…” {3T 114.2}.

The stars represent the fallen angels. They voluntarily followed Satan in rebellion. Had he forced them, the symbol would depict him using his claws instead of his tail.

What is meant by the Dragon standing ready to devour the man child as soon as it was born?

Satan waited for the coming of the Messiah, Jesus, and tried to destroy Him. The decree Herod made to destroy all male children under two years old (Matt. 2: 16-18) illustrates this. His failure to do so represents Satan’s FIRST DEFEAT.

Revelation 12: 7-9, 13
7. And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels,
8. And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven.
9. And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
13. And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man [child].

When was Satan cast out?

  • Shortly after the resurrection of Christ, Satan was cast out of heaven and thus sustained his SECOND DEFEAT.
  • Desire of Ages pp. 833, 834
    “All heaven was waiting to welcome the Saviour to the celestial courts. As He ascended, He led the way, and the multitude of captives set free at His resurrection followed. The heavenly host, with shouts and acclamations of praise and celestial song, attended the joyous train. {DA 833.2}
  • Desire of Ages p. 761
    “Satan saw that his disguise was torn away. His administration was laid open before the unfallen angels and before the heavenly universe. He had revealed himself as a murderer. By shedding the blood of the Son of God, he had uprooted himself from the sympathies of the heavenly beings. Henceforth his work was restricted. Whatever attitude he might assume, he could no longer await the angels as they came from the heavenly courts, and before them accuse Christ’s brethren of being clothed with the garments of blackness and the defilement of sin. The last link of sympathy between Satan and the heavenly world was broken. {DA 761.2}
  • He was not cast out immediately after he rebelled or even when he caused Adam and Eve to sin, for in the time of Job he had access to heaven. – Job 1:6, 7; 2:1, 2.
  • According to Rev. 12: 13 he was cast out before he went to persecute the church, for when he realized that he was cast out he persecuted the woman. This was at the time of Acts 8: 1.
  • The incident of Rev. 12: 4, the dragon drawing down the stars, took place before the Lord was born, and the incident of Rev. 12: 9, the Lord casting down the dragon, took place after His resurrection.

Revelation 12: 10-12
And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.
And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.
Therefore rejoice, [ye] heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.

Satan Dropped Down with Great Wrath

  • Prophets and Kings p. 585 “Satan’s accusations against those who seek the Lord are not prompted by displeasure at their sins. He exults in their defective characters; for he knows that only through their transgression of God’s law can he obtain power over them.” {PK 585.3}
  • God’s people should recognize the voice of the Spirit of Christ, which strives for obedience to God’s Word as well as discern the spirit of Satan, which excuses sin and sympathizes with the sinner.
  • The faithful overcome Satan “by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony.” They love “not their lives unto the death.” Rev. 12:11.
  • Revelation 12: 6, 14
    6. And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred [and] threescore days.
    14. And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent.

The Church Flees

  • The church fled her home (Jerusalem) and went into Gentile land (wilderness).
  • God fed (nourished or sustained) the church in Gentile land for 1,260 years (538-1789 AD)
  • Her two wings represent two periods of church history:
    (i) From Adam to the cross
    (ii) From the cross to the end of the world.
    This proves that God has only one true church in all ages.

The Serpent’s Flood

  • Revelation 12: 15
    “And the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood.”
  • What is meant by “water as a flood”?
    Revelation 17: 15
    “And he saith unto me, The waters which thou sawest, where the whore sitteth, are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues.”
    Isaiah 17: 12
    “Woe to the multitude of many people, [which] make a noise like the noise of the seas; and to the rushing of nations, [that] make a rushing like the rushing of mighty waters!
  • After recognizing that persecuting and slaying the Christians failed to stop the spread of Christianity, Satan changed his strategy. He tried to destroy the church within by infiltrating it with the unconverted, casting a flood of water (people) after the woman. This became prominent with Constantine and has continued up to our time. See GC 385, 42, 43;
  • Review and Herald January 10, 1893
    “But great care should be exercised in accepting members into the church; for Satan has his specious devices through which he purposes to crowd false brethren into the church, through whom he can work more successfully to weaken the cause of God.” {RH, January 10, 1893 par. 2}
  • Early Writings p. 228
    “I saw a very large company professing the name of Christ, but God did not recognize them as His. He had no pleasure in them. Satan seemed to assume a religious character and was very willing that the people should think they were Christians. He was even anxious that they should believe in Jesus, His crucifixion, and His resurrection. Satan and his angels fully believe all this themselves, and tremble. But if this faith does not provoke to good works, and lead those who profess it to imitate the self-denying life of Christ, Satan is not disturbed; for they merely assume the Christian name, while their hearts are still carnal, and he can use them in his service even better than if they made no profession.” {EW 227.2}
  • Review and Herald May 21, 1901
    “Many of those whose names are registered on the church books are not Christians. They have not a genuine experience.” {RH, May 21, 1901 par. 8}
  • Testimonies Vo. 6, p. 371
    “The Lord does not now work to bring many souls into the truth, because of the church members who have never been converted and those who were once converted but who have backslidden.” {6T 370.3}
  • Christ Object Lessons pp. 315, 316
    “Daily the church is being converted to the world.” {COL 315.3}

Help For The Woman

  • Revelation 12: 16
    “And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed up the flood which the dragon cast out of his mouth.”
  • This is Satan’s THIRD DEFEAT
  • Numbers 16: 31-33
    31. And it came to pass, as he had made an end of speaking all these words, that the ground clave asunder that [was] under them:
    32. And the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed them up, and their houses, and all the men that [appertained] unto Korah, and all [their] goods.
    33. They, and all that [appertained] to them, went down alive into the pit, and the earth closed upon them: and they perished from among the congregation.
  • Nahum 1: 15
    “Behold upon the mountains the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace! O Judah, keep thy solemn feasts, perform thy vows: for the wicked shall no more pass through thee; he is utterly cut off.”
  • Isaiah 52: 1
    “Awake, awake; put on thy strength, O Zion; put on thy beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city: for henceforth there shall no more come into thee the uncircumcised and the unclean.”

Testimonies to Ministers pp. 372, 373
“Page after page might be written in regard to these things. Whole conferences are becoming leavened with the same perverted principles. “For the rich men thereof are full of violence, and the inhabitants thereof have spoken lies, and their tongue is deceitful in their mouth.” The Lord will work to purify His church. I tell you in truth, the Lord is about to turn and overturn in the institutions [SEE APPENDIX.] called by His name. {TM 372.4}

Testimonies Vol. 1, p. 190
“Many, I saw, were flattering themselves that they were good Christians, who have not a single ray of light from Jesus. They know not what it is to be renewed by the grace of God. They have no living experience for themselves in the things of God. And I saw that the Lord was whetting His sword in heaven to cut them down. Oh, that every lukewarm professor could realize the clean work that God is about to make among His professed people!” 1T 189.2}

Testimonies Vol. 1 p, 198
“Angels keep a faithful record of every man’s work, and as judgment passes upon the house of God, the sentence of each is recorded by his name, and the angel is commissioned to spare not the unfaithful servants, but to cut them down at the time of slaughter. And that which was committed to their trust is taken from them.” 1T 197.1}

Warring against the Woman’s Remnant

  • Revelation 12: 17
    “And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.”
  • The Dragon is wroth with the Woman, the 144,000, who remain after the destruction of his flood, but he cannot harm them because they are sealed. Thus he wars against the “remnant of her seed” the Great Multitude, those still in Babylon (Rev. 18:4). This brings the “time of trouble such as never was” Dan. 12:1, the mark of the beast decree (Rev. 13: 15-17).


Now is the time for all to decide either to be swallowed up by the earth — cast into the fire — or to be delivered by Michael, our Prince. Let us therefore choose deliverance rather than defeat. “O love the Lord, all ye His saints: for the Lord preserveth the faithful, and plentifully rewardeth the proud doer.” Psa. 31:23.