The winding up scenes must be understood in the context of the history of the conflict between good and evil. The last several chapters have been describing apocalyptic events, mostly plagues and destructions. One of the greatest events associated with the Second Coming is the destruction of Satan's kingdom and the Fall of Babylon. Before we can appreciate the greatness of Satan's fall, we must understand the history of the war which has waged since before man inhabited the earth.
Thanks to Joseph Smith, we understand that chapter 12 is a flashback. Flashbacks are great literary and theatrical devices which give perspective to the present. Sectarian commentators will inevitably and erroneously place the events of this chapter in the latter-days, but the things we are about to study are almost exclusively events from the past.
Durrel A. Woolsey
In the book of Revelation we are told of a war in heaven (see Rev. 12:7). What kind of battle? What kind of war?
The war is for the souls of men. The battle lines have been drawn since Adam: evil versus righteousness. In this the final dispensation and in preparation for the Millennium, the forces of evil have intensified and united under the powerful influences of Satan. On the opposite side of the line, the kingdom of God is clearly sounding the trumpet of righteousness, as perhaps never before. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is on the offensive in the declaration of good to be good and evil to be evil. ("A Strategy for War," Ensign, Nov. 1995, 84)
Rev. 12:1 there appeared... a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet
The Joseph Smith Translation helps us to understand that the woman is "the church of God" and that the representation of the woman seen by John was a representation "in the likeness of things on the earth." (JST Rev. 12:1, 7)
What does it mean that the church is clothed with the sun and the moon is under her feet? To be endowed, or endued, can mean to be clothed or invested in. "When an Egyptian king received an endowment, he was ceremonially clothed in the robes of the holy priesthood. The clothing and paraphernalia thus received represented powers, characteristics, and attributes of the divine ones." (Milton R. Hunter, Pearl of Great Price Commentary: A Selection From the Revelations, Translations, and Narrations of Joseph Smith [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1951], 50.) When the earthly church is "clothed with the sun," it is endowed with the power and glory of the celestial kingdom; the members of the church have received their endowment and have kept the covenants which make them worthy of a celestial inheritance. The moon is under her feet because she is greater than and rules over the terrestrial order. Elder Bruce R. McConkie confirms that John sees "the Church in all its glory, beauty, power and perfection-a glory like the sun in the firmament; the Church in which there is power to prepare men to attain that celestial world whose glory is typified by the brightness of that same heavenly luminary." (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 vols. [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1965-1973], 3: 517.)
This woman is evidently the church of Jesus Christ, in her purity, and beauty and strength; and as the bride is expected to be adorned, so also was the church. ... and as the faithful wife has a right to act in her husband's name, and whatever she does, her husband (Christ) must be accountable for. She has the key of his house, and has access to his treasuries, so whatever she (the church) bound on earth, was acknowledged in heaven, and bound there; what she loosed on earth, was loosed in heaven, and whatever she did in the name of her lord, was the same as though he himself had done it-but only while she walked according to the rule und order of her lord's house, and kept herself pure, and did not forsake her first love. She had also the power to add to her household, by adopting into the family all those that were willing to come. This she did by begetting them anew, by their being born again, of the pure element of water, and then laying her hands upon them in the name of her lord, that they might receive her spirit; thus she was to be fruitful and increase, until his return, when the marriage should take place; as in "Rev. 19:1Revelations 19:7-also "Matt. 25:1Matthew 25:1-for hitherto she had been as Mary was with Joseph-espoused, but they had not come together, although the contract or covenant was confirmed. (What Is Babylon., Times and Seasons, vol. 4 (November 1842-November 1843), Vol. 4 No. 20 September 1, 1843 315 - 316.)
Rev. 12:2 she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered
Joseph Smith teaches us that the child of the woman is "the kingdom of our God and his Christ." (JST Rev. 12:7) What is the significance of this imagery? We know that the pain a woman experiences in childbirth is a consequence of the Fall (Moses 4:22). The pain and difficulty with which the church must bring forth the kingdom of God on the earth is like childbirth-painful and difficult but glorious and miraculous! The Fall had brought upon the world the consequences of mortality and the curse of Satan's temptations. Bringing forth the kingdom of God in the absence of Satan's influence would be so much easier. It would be like painless childbirth. Such was not to be the case. The war against Satan would only be won with the pain, blood, sweat and tears which only childbirth can represent.
Rev. 12:3 behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns
The dragon imagery is interesting. The dragon obviously represents Satan but the image is not pleasing. The red color represents the blood of the saints and the scarlet of sin; the seven heads would seem to represent a divided kingdom with seven heads looking seven different directions-looking for opportunities to destroy the saints, but also pulling the beast in seven different directions. The horns represent Satan's power through earthly kingdoms. In Daniel's visions, the horns represent kings of the earth (Dan. 7:24). The overall image is disturbing. Satan's kingdom must be represented as a hideous, confusing, unsavory beast.
"John sets this symbol against that of the woman, who represents poise, harmony, beauty, and life-giving creation...
"The dragon has seven crown-wearing heads and ten horns. Note the inconsistency. There are either too many or too few horns for the heads. But God is not creating an image to be pictured but is rather communicating through symbols the nature of the thing he describes. Both numbers are significant. The seven crowns are not the laurels of victory (stephanos), which the woman wears, but diadems (diadma), symbols of political domination. The scriptures never depict Satan wearing laurels because he wins no permanent victories. The seven crowned heads suggest the universality of his rule as the king of chaos. They represent Satan's pseudoclaim to royalty set against that of the King of kings and the Lord of lords, whom John describes as wearing 'many diadems' ("Rev. 19:12Rev. 19:12-'crowns' in KJV).
"The horns seem to denote the dragon's all-pervasive false sovereignty. Horns symbolize power. As discussed previously, ten represents the whole of a part but not the whole itself. Thus, the dragon has great power, but John shows that he does not have all power; some portion is lacking. This is not true of the Lamb whom John depicts with seven horns, the symbol of fullness (see 5:6). Thus, John's metaphors subtly show that the Lamb has all power and can overmaster the dragon.
"In this episode, John depicts Satan as a tremendous and frightening spiritual force working against the Church of God. But he does not work alone. John states that his mighty tail 'draws a third part of the stars of heaven' (AT), symbolic of his fallen minions. The tense John chooses, contrary to that shown in the KJV, is present. By this means John shows that the dragon draws his lackeys with him by clutching them in the coils of his tail. John has the dragon rise against God's earthly authority by attempting to destroy God's agent the moment he is born into the world. This hostile act symbolizes Satan's attempt to become king of the earth. Once again, the Seer emphasizes the issue of sovereignty and authority. The Church during the meridian of time briefly challenged Lucifer's domain by bringing forth the kingdom of God. The old dragon had to act with all his fury, bringing the entire legion of demons with him, to stop this threat to his kingdom." (Richard D. Draper, Opening the Seven Seals: The Visions of John the Revelator [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1991], 132)
Rev. 12:4 his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth
"Joseph Smith said, 'At the first organization in heaven, we were all present and saw the Savior chosen and appointed and the plan of salvation made, and we sanctioned it.'
"There were others, however, who were less noble. Many of the spirits, exercising their agency, chose to follow Lucifer in rebellion against God. (See D&C 29:36; Jude 1:6.) Lucifer, as the Lord revealed to Joseph Smith, was once 'an angel of God who was in authority in the presence of God, who rebelled against the Only Begotten Son' and 'sought to take the kingdom of our God and his Christ.' (D&C 76:25, 28; see Isa. 14:12-15.) Lucifer's proposals that 'one soul shall not be lost' (tempting as it sounds, it would nevertheless suspend our agency to choose) and that he be given God's place and glory were rejected. (See Moses 4:1-3.) War followed, and because of his rebellion, Lucifer 'was thrust down from the presence of God and the Son, and was called Perdition.' (D&C 76:25-26; see Rev. 12:7-9.)" (Donald Q. Cannon, Larry E. Dahl, and John W. Welch, "The Restoration of Major Doctrines through Joseph Smith: The Godhead, Mankind, and the Creation," Ensign, Jan. 1989, 30)
James E. Faust
Satan became the devil by seeking glory, power, and dominion by force (see Moses 4:3-4). But Jesus, chosen "from the beginning" (Moses 4:2), said unto God, "Father, thy will be done, and the glory be thine forever" (Moses 4:2). What a contrast in approaches! Wrong as his plan was, Satan was persuasive enough to entice one-third of the hosts of heaven to follow him (see D&C 29:36; Rev. 12:4). He practiced a great deception by saying, "I am also a son of God" (Moses 5:13).
Free agency, given us through the plan of our Father, is the great alternative to Satan's plan of force. With this sublime gift, we can grow, improve, progress, and seek perfection. Without agency, none of us could grow and develop by learning from our mistakes and errors and those of others. ("The Great Imitator," Ensign, Nov. 1987, 35)
Howard W. Hunter
Our Father in Heaven wanted our growth to continue in mortality and to be enhanced by our freedom to choose and learn. He also wanted us to exercise our faith and our will, especially with a new physical body to master and control. But we know from both ancient and modern revelation that Satan wished to deny us our independence and agency in that now-forgotten moment long ago, even as he wishes to deny them this very hour. Indeed, Satan violently opposed the freedom of choice offered by the Father, so violently that John in the Revelation described "war in heaven" (Rev. 12:7) over the matter. Satan would have coerced us, and he would have robbed us of that most precious of gifts if he could: our freedom to choose a divine future and the exaltation we all hope to obtain.
Through Christ and his valiant defense of our Father's plan, the course of agency and eternal aspirations prevailed. In that crucial, premortal setting, a major milestone was passed, a monumental victory was won. As a result, we would be allowed to continue to pursue what President David O. McKay once described as the "eternal principle of progress." Later Christ himself would come to earth, President McKay noted, "to perfect society by perfecting the individual, and only by the exercising of Free Agency can the individual even approach perfection." (In Conference Report, Apr. 1940, p. 118.) ("The Golden Thread of Choice," Ensign, Nov. 1989, 17-18)
Rev. 12:4 the dragon stood before the woman... to devour her child as soon as it was born
Lucifer, then, becomes a factor to be reckoned with in the persecution of the Saints. In heaven he opposed the gospel of Jesus Christ; cast out into the earth will he not oppose it there? Herein lies the real cause of the persecution of the Christians within the Roman empire. So long as the inhabitants of the earth were content with the pagan superstitions, wherein there was no power of God unto salvation; so long as they were content with conflicting pagan philosophies, wherein was no power of God unto salvation, it was a matter of indifference to Lucifer whether they worshiped Jupiter Olympus, or Isis; Apollo, or Minerva; or bowed at the philosopher's shrine of the Unknown God-all were equally barren of saving power and left the kingdom of Lucifer undiminished in its strength and numbers; left all nations in his thraldom. But when the Christ and His apostles came preaching repentance and the coming of the kingdom of heaven; making known the origin of man and his relationship to Deity; making known the purpose of God to redeem him from his fallen state; establishing His Church as the depository of divine truth, and the instrumentality for conveying to man divine instruction-then Lucifer saw cause for alarm, for it was evident that the days of his dominion were numbered; his kingdom must decline if Christianity prevailed; his sway over the kingdoms of the earth must be broken if Christ was preached: and hence in all the bitterness of hatred, with all the strength of his cunning, with all the power of his resourcefulness, and using every instrumentality he could command-corrupted human nature over which he had influence. (History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 7 vols., introduction and notes by B. H. Roberts [Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1932-1951], 3: lix - lx.)
M. Russell Ballard
The battle to bring souls unto Christ began in the premortal world with the war in heaven. (See Rev. 12:7.) That same battle continues today in the conflict between right and wrong and between the gospel and false principles. The members of the Church hold a frontline position in the contest for the souls of men. The missionaries are on the battlefield fighting with the sword of truth to carry the glorious message of the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ to the peoples of the earth. No war has ever been free of risk. The prophecies of the last days lead me to believe that the intensity of the battle for the souls of men will increase and the risks will become greater as we draw closer to the second coming of the Lord.
Preparing ourselves and our families for the challenges of the coming years will require us to replace fear with faith. We must be able to overcome the fear of enemies who oppose and threaten us. The Lord has said, "Fear not, little flock; do good; let earth and hell combine against you, for if ye are built upon my rock, they cannot prevail." (D&C 6:34.) ("Duties, Rewards, and Risks," Ensign, Nov. 1989, 34)
Rev. 12:5 she brought forth a man child, who was to rule the nations
Who is the man child spoken of? Is it the Savior? We know that the Savior will rule as king of kings and lord of lords. Elder Lund explores this interpretation:
Gerald N. Lund
...if that is the correct interpretation, there is a problem with the imagery. The woman is pregnant with, or in other words gives birth to, the man child. But if the woman is the Church and the man child the Savior, this is contrary to what we know to be true. The Church does not bring forth Christ. Just the opposite is true.
Others have suggested, since it is specified the child is male, that the baby represents the priesthood. But again we have the same problem. The Church does not give birth to the priesthood, but just the opposite.
One simple phrase added by the Prophet in this chapter brings the whole matter into perfect clearness. In fact, it becomes a key to our understanding of this whole section on the kingdoms of the world and of Christ. He changed verse 8 in the KJV to read, "And the dragon prevailed not against Michael, neither the child, nor the woman which was the Church of God, who had been delivered of her pains, and brought forth the kingdom of our God and his Christ" (JST v. 7; emphasis added).
Sometimes in the Church we use the phrase "the kingdom of God" to refer to the Church itself, but technically it has a more specific meaning. Elder Joseph Fielding Smith said:
"After Christ comes, all the peoples of the earth will be subject to him, but there will be multitudes of people on the face of the earth who will not be members of the Church; yet all will have to be obedient to the laws of the kingdom of God, for it will have dominion upon the whole face of the earth. These people will be subject to the political government, even though they are not members of the ecclesiastical kingdom which is the Church.
"This government which embraces all the peoples of the earth, both in and out of the Church, is also sometimes spoken of as the kingdom of God, because the people are subject to the kingdom of God which Christ will set up."
Now the imagery is consistent and logical. Eventually there will be a political kingdom led by Jesus Christ which will rule all nations with the word of God. That political kingdom will grow out of, and is made possible by (that is, is given birth by) the Church of Jesus Christ. And since the creation of the political kingdom of Christ signals the end to the kingdoms of the world, it is little wonder that Satan seeks to destroy the man child. During the meridian of time, the Church was not able to bring forth that political kingdom, but itself was taken into the wilderness, or went into apostasy (see JST Revelation 12:14; D&C 86:3). The man child, or the political kingdom was thus taken to heaven to await the day of the Restoration.
Such a clear and reasonable explanation of this chapter is made possible only through the JST and the instrumentality of the Prophet Joseph Smith.
(Selected Writings of Gerald N. Lund: Gospel Scholars Series [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1999], 94.)
Rev. 12:6 the woman fled into the wilderness... a thousand two hundred and threescore days
"The clarification of years in the Joseph Smith Translation rather than the King James Version days is an important one, for the number suggests the length of time the Church will be gone from the earth during the Great Apostasy-1,260 years. If we consider that the Apostasy ended in 1820 (when the silence of the heavens was broken during Joseph Smith's First Vision) or in 1830 (when the Church was formally organized), then the 1,260 year period began in A.D. 570 or 560. But we know that the world had plunged deep into apostasy centuries before that time.
"Perhaps John saw the Renaissance and the later Reformation as part of the restoration of the gospel; latter-day prophets have taught that events of these periods did indeed pave the way for the Restoration. The Renaissance began to bring light to the Dark Ages in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. A key date in the Renaissance was Gutenberg's invention of the printing press in about 1451. Less than a century later, in 1517, Martin Luther nailed his ninety-five theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany, sparking the beginning of the Reformation.
"If we count 1,260 years before Luther's protest, we get a date of A.D. 257. If we count backwards from Gutenberg, the resulting date is A.D. 191. We could likely find other dates from which to measure the end of John's 1,260 years, but all such efforts are no more than speculative. The important point is that John saw an extended period of widespread apostasy, followed by the immeasurable blessing of the restoration of the gospel (14:6). That is probably the basic and most important understanding we can come to here: the Apostasy would last a very long time." (Donald W. Parry and Jay A. Parry, Understanding the Book of Revelation [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1998], 155.)
Joseph Fielding Smith
The history of the first fifteen hundred years after the birth of Christ completely fulfills this prophetic vision. Satan in his wrath drove the woman into the wilderness, or from the earth; the power of the Priesthood was taken from among men, and after the Church with its authority and gifts disappeared from the earth, then in his anger the serpent continued his war upon all who had faith and sought the testimony of Jesus, desiring to worship God according to the dictates of conscience. So successful did he become that his dominion extended over all the known world, and every creature was forced to worship according to the manner which he prescribed. (The Progress of Man [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1964], 165 - 166.)
Rev. 12:7 there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon
We earlier discussed how chapter 12 is a flashback. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon and his angels in the pre-mortal world. However, the war continues and the fight resumes in person at the Second Coming. The Joseph Smith Translation indicates that the battle lines are drawn again after Satan has attacked the church on the earth, meaning the last days:
And there was war in heaven; Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought against Michael;
And the dragon prevailed not against Michael, neither the child, nor the woman which was the church of God, who had been delivered of her pains, and brought forth the kingdom of our God and his Christ. (JST Rev. 12:6-7)
Michael (Adam), the greatest of angels, would cast Satan into prison for a thousand years. He holds the priesthood keys discussed in Rev. 20, "he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years." That is a lot of priesthood power. Next to God, none has greater priesthood authority than Michael.
"As we ponder Adam's role, we see that Adam is a great opposer to Satan. Even before Eden, Satan was defeated and cast out of heaven to the earth by Adam and priesthood power and priesthood forces. Because of the holy priesthood, Adam will forever have ascendancy over Satan." (Arthur A. Bailey, "What Modern Revelation Teaches about Adam," Ensign, Jan. 1998, 27)
The Priesthood was first given to Adam; he obtained the First Presidency, and held the keys of it from generation to generation. He obtained it in the Creation, before the world was formed, as in Genesis 1:26-28. He had dominion given him over every living creature. He is Michael the Archangel, spoken of in the Scriptures. Then to Noah, who is Gabriel: he stands next in authority to Adam in the Priesthood; he was called of God to this office, and was the father of all living in this day, and to him was given the dominion. These men held keys first on earth, and then in heaven.
The Priesthood is an everlasting principle, and existed with God from eternity, and will to eternity, without beginning of days or end of years. The keys have to be brought from heaven whenever the Gospel is sent. When they are revealed from heaven, it is by Adam's authority. (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, selected and arranged by Joseph Fielding Smith [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1976], 157.)
Rev. 12:9 the great dragon was cast out...into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him
These wicked rebellious spirits were cast out of heaven into the earth and became the devil and his angels. Their punishment, we learn from the writings of Joseph Smith the Prophet, was that they were denied the privilege of having bodies, or in other words, they failed to keep their first estate and missed the great and important blessing of being added upon. Their punishment is great; their disappointment must have been keen. (Conference Report, April 1935, Second Day-Morning Meeting 66.)
Harold B. Lee
In order to come upon this earth, [we] had to pass a test of some kind. In the spirit world there were contending forces. There were two great sons of God , one called Lucifer, or Satan, as he later came to be known, and the other called Jehovah, or Jesus, the Savior, as we have come to think of Him. They contended with two conflicting ideas. Because Satan did not prevail, he became angry, and he was so powerful that he led away one-third of all the organized intelligences and they fell from heaven after the war. And the others who remained were there in varying degrees of faithfulness, some of whom, He said, I will make my rulers-and they must have been great, wonderful, devoted, loyal spirits. Those who passed the test and were not cast out with Satan were permitted to come here and be added upon. Now, there is the first question as to who we are. The fact that you and I are here on this earth with a physical body is an evidence that we were among those who kept our first estate. If we hadn't passed the test we wouldn't be here; we would be down with Satan trying to tempt the ones who had a body.
Lucifer succeeded in persuading one-third of all the spirits to rebel. He and they were cast out upon the earth without mortal bodies and he became Satan. (The Teachings of Harold B. Lee, edited by Clyde J. Williams [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1996], 32.)
Harold B. Lee
Satan commands a mighty force comprising one-third of all God's spirit children who were cast out with him-tangible and real although not always discernible by sight, and under whose masterful direction there goes forward constantly propaganda of lying and deceit. (Stand Ye in Holy Places [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1974], 329.)
Rev. 12:9 Satan...deceiveth the whole world
Just think of that statement for a moment, that he "deceiveth the whole world." I am sure the world does not know how often they listen to his deceptive voice in the things that they do and in the decisions that they make. At this particular point, when we look back over the history of Christianity, we ask ourselves, "How could they have crucified our Lord, the one great example unto all men?" The only answer is because they were deceived by this power of darkness. It is not only those who are wicked who listen to his voice, but also many righteous people who mean to be doing God's service... Take the history of all of the apostles. Why were they put to death? Why did the world hate them? Because they were not of the world, and the world could not fellowship these apostles.
I was in Mexico a few weeks ago, where I saw oil paintings of all of the apostles and how they were put to death. Peter, as you know, was hanged with his head downward. James was beheaded at Jerusalem, and Paul, as I have told you, was beheaded at Rome. John was thrown into a cauldron of boiling oil. Through the power of God his life was saved, and all of the apostles were put to death save John. Why? Because this power of the evil one "deceiveth the whole world," according to the word of John.
Those of us who have had considerable missionary experience know how literally that is true. (Conference Report, April 1957, First Day-Morning Meeting 15.)
Gordon B. Hinckley
That war, so bitter, so intense, has gone on, and it has never ceased. It is the war between truth and error, between agency and compulsion, between the followers of Christ and those who have denied Him. His enemies have used every stratagem in that conflict. They've indulged in lying and deceit. They've employed money and wealth. They've tricked the minds of men. They've murdered and destroyed and engaged in every other unholy and impure practice to thwart the work of Christ. (Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1997], 408.)
Rev. 12:10 the accuser of our brethren
"Satan is the archetypical prosecutor or attorney for the plaintiff. He's an accuser, a prosecutor-he never defends. Satan is an inquisitor; he finds fault, and where he finds no actual fault, he cleverly creates the appearance of fault. That is what Satan is; it's what he does; it is his essence to lie and to accuse, and his lying accusations will often seem correct to most honest, objective observers. He accused Jesus of blasphemy and treason and got most of the people to believe it. He accused the Lord's Anointed falsely and got away with it. We should not be surprised to see the Brethren in our day, the Lord's anointed in the modern Church, attacked with false accusations in the media of the world. That is what Satan does, what he has done from the beginning." (Stephen E. Robinson, Following Christ: The Parable of the Divers and More Good News [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1995], 115.)
Rev. 12:10 Now is come salvation... the accuser of our brethren is cast down
The Fall of Satan will be as great as the Fall of Babylon. It will be something to behold. The saints will rejoice when he is finally put into his place. Also, there will be an element of irony-irony that a being who had caused so much trouble would look so feeble in defeat. Isaiah saw the same day that John did. He describe Satan's appearance and the irony of his weakness as the kings and chief ones of the earth look upon him. For so many kings and dictators, Satan had been a source of power and influence. Now he was neither.
Hell from beneath is moved for thee to meet thee at thy coming: it stirreth up the dead for thee, even all the chief ones of the earth; it hath raised up from their thrones all the kings of the nations.
All they shall speak and say unto thee, Art thou also become weak as we? art thou become like unto us?
Thy pomp is brought down to the grave, and the noise of thy viols: the worm is spread under thee, and the worms cover thee.
How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!
For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north:
I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.
Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.
They that see thee shall narrowly look upon thee, and consider thee, saying, Is this the man that made the earth to tremble, that did shake kingdoms;
That made the world as a wilderness, and destroyed the cities thereof; that opened not the house of his prisoners?
All the kings of the nations, even all of them, lie in glory, every one in his own house.
But thou art cast out of thy grave like an abominable branch, and as the raiment of those that are slain, thrust through with a sword, that go down to the stones of the pit; as a carcase trodden under feet. (Isa. 14:9-19; 2 Ne. 24:9-19)
Rev. 12:11 they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony
Spencer J. Condie
We learn in the book of Revelation that during the war in heaven, those who overcame Satan and his followers did so "by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony" (see Rev. 12:7-11). A testimony was an invaluable weapon in the war in heaven, and it is an indispensable weapon here on earth.
A testimony that is continually being nourished and is continually growing will help us at every crossroad when important decisions are made. Indeed, a testimony supplants the need to make certain decisions under fire, because we already know well in advance the course of action we will take. ("Agency: The Gift of Choices," Ensign, Sept. 1995, 22)
Robert K. Dellenbach
Satan wants to stop you. He will try to distract, deceive, and weaken your desire, your righteous works, your sincere prayers, and your trust in the Lord. Do not be afraid. We have already overcome the evil one at another time and place... We had a valiant testimony in our preexistent state, and we can resist Satan and awaken that testimony again today. ("Hour of Conversion," Ensign, Nov. 1990, 24)
Rev. 12:12 the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time
Boyd K. Packer
The ultimate purpose of every teaching, every activity in the Church is that parents and their children are happy at home, sealed in an eternal marriage, and linked to their generations.
The ultimate purpose of the adversary, who has "great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time," is to disrupt, disturb, and destroy the home and the family. Like a ship without a rudder, without a compass, we drift from the family values which have anchored us in the past. Now we are caught in a current so strong that unless we correct our course, civilization as we know it will surely be wrecked to pieces. ("The Father and the Family," Ensign, May 1994, 19)
Rev. 12:14 the woman... is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time
In verse 6, we learned that the woman spent 1260 days (meaning years) in the wilderness. From this verse, we learn that the woman was nourished for "a time, and times, and half a time." What does that mean? In Daniel and Revelation, days or weeks can be used to represent years. "A time" is generally accepted to mean one year, where each of the 365 days represents a year. The number is rounded down to 360. Therefore, "a time, and times (meaning two more times) and half a time" means 3.5 times 360 years, or 1260 years.
"A time and times and half a time is strictly prophetic and Scriptural language... The term time, times and half a time can be analyzed to contain one thousand two hundred and sixty years... A time being one year, each year reckoned to contain three hundred and sixty days, each day representing one year, we have the formula: one time equalling three hundred and sixty years, times equalling seven hundred and twenty years, half a time one hundred and eighty years; in all one thousand two hundred and sixty years." (James A. Leishman, Contributor, vol. 7 (October 1885-September 1886), Vol. Vii. December, 1885. No. 3. 109.)
"Forty-two months, or three and one-half, or 1,260, belong to the wicked and apparently signify their work; the number three and one-half may mean that the work of righteousness is cut short. That number is one-half of seven, the number of perfection and completion, which belongs to God and his Saints." (Donald W. Parry and Jay A. Parry, Understanding the Book of Revelation [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1998], 138.)
Rev. 12:17 the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed
Ezra Taft Benson
We live in a day of great challenge. We live in that time of which the Lord spoke when he said, "Peace shall be taken from the earth, and the devil shall have power over his own dominion." (D&C 1:35.) We live in that day which John the Revelator foresaw when "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." (Rev. 12:17.) The dragon is Satan; the woman represents the Church of Jesus Christ. Satan is waging war against the members of the Church who have testimonies and are trying to keep the commandments. And while many of our members are remaining faithful and strong, some are wavering. Some are falling. Some are fulfilling John's prophecy that in the war with Satan, some Saints would be overcome. (See Rev. 13:7.) ("The Power of the Word," Ensign, May 1986, 79)
Gordon B. Hinckley
There is [a] war that has gone on since before the world was created and which is likely to continue for a long time yet to come. John the Revelator speaks of that struggle:
And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels,
And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven.
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 (Rev. 12:7-9).
That war, so bitter, so intense, has gone on, and it has never ceased. It is the war between truth and error, between agency and compulsion, between the followers of Christ and those who have denied Him. His enemies have used every stratagem in that conflict. They've indulged in lying and deceit. They've employed money and wealth. They've tricked the minds of men. They've murdered and destroyed and engaged in every other unholy and impure practice to thwart the work of Christ.
It began in the earth when Cain slew Abel. The Old Testament is replete with accounts of the same eternal struggle.
It found expression in the vile accusations against the Man of Galilee... That eternal war went on in the decay of the work He established, in the corruption which later infected it, when darkness covered the earth and gross darkness the people (see Isa. 60:2).
But the forces of God could not be vanquished. The light of Christ touched the heart of a man here and a man there, and vast good came to pass notwithstanding much of oppression and suffering.
There came a time of renaissance, with struggles for liberty-struggles for which much of blood and sacrifice was paid. The Spirit of God moved upon men to found a nation wherein freedom of worship and freedom of expression and freedom of agency were protected. There followed then the opening of the dispensation of the fulness of times with a visit to earth of God the Eternal Father and His Beloved Son, the Resurrected Lord Jesus Christ. This glorious event was followed by visits of angels restoring the ancient keys and priesthood.
But the war was not over. It was renewed and redirected. There was contempt. There was persecution. There were drivings from one place to another. There was the murder of the young prophet of God and of his beloved brother.
Our people fled their homes, their comfortable homes, their farms, their fields, their shops, their beautiful temple built at such tremendous sacrifice. They came to these valleys, thousands of them dying along the way. They came, as President Brigham Young said, to establish a place where "the Devil can't come and dig us out."
But the adversary has never stopped trying. Ninety years ago, in the October conference of 1896, President Wilford Woodruff, then an aged man, standing where I stand in this Tabernacle, said:
"There are two powers on the earth and in the midst of the inhabitants of the earth-the power of God and the power of the devil. In our history we have had some very peculiar experiences. When God has had a people on the earth, it matters not in what age, Lucifer, the son of the morning, and the millions of fallen spirits that were cast out of heaven, have warred against God, against Christ, against the work of God, and against the people of God. And they are not backward in doing it in our day and generation. Whenever the Lord set His hand to perform any work, those powers labored to overthrow it" (Deseret Evening News, 17 Oct. 1896).
President Woodruff knew whereof he spoke. He had then only recently passed through those difficult and perilous days when the government of the nation had come against our people, determined to destroy them. The buildings on this Temple Square, this tabernacle in which we meet tonight and the temple then under construction, were escheated to the federal government. Many citizens were disfranchised. But in faith they moved forward. They kept going. They put their trust in the Almighty, and He revealed unto them the path they should follow. In faith they accepted that revelation and walked in obedience.
But the war did not end. It abated somewhat, and we're grateful for that. Nonetheless, the adversary of truth has continued his struggle.
Notwithstanding the present strength of the Church, it seems that we are constantly under attack from one quarter or another. But we go on. We must go on. We have gone forward, and we will continue to go forward. In some seasons the issues are major. At other times they are only local skirmishes. But they are all part of a pattern. ("The War We Are Winning," Ensign, Nov. 1986, 42-43)