Every Thought Captive

Nourished In the Wilderness

And a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. She was pregnant and was crying out in birth pains and the agony of giving birth. And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads seven diadems. His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven and cast them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she bore her child he might devour it. She gave birth to a male child, one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron, but her child was caught up to God and to his throne, and the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, in which she is to be nourished for 1,260 days.

Revelation 12:1-6

Revelation 12 is a major turning point in the letter John wrote to the Church. As stated from the beginning, Revelation is not written to confuse but to encourage (1:3). Yet, it is complex because it is a comprehensive climax of the whole biblical story.

To regain our perspective since we are in the middle of John’s visions, return to chapter 1:15 where Jesus gives John a three-part outline:

1. Write what you have seen – The Vision of our Glorious King – Chapter 1  
2. Write the things which are – Letters to the seven churches – most likely under John’s ministry   – Chapters 2-3  
3. Write the things which will take place after these things; the vision of God’s judgments upon the earth and Satan – Chapters 6-20.  And finishing with the consummation of the New Heaven and Earth.

Chapters 1 through 11 focus largely on the outward struggle between the Church and the world. God’s righteous judgment is delivered on the world through seven seals and seven trumpets. After each seven, there is a reaping of souls or an opportunity to repent (7:3 and 13-14).

In Chapter 12, we are given our first glimpse of the spiritual battles behind all the evil that has occurred on earth (see Ephesians 6:12). This vision is prior to all that John has seen so far. It is the apex of all spiritual warfare; the battle between Satan and Jesus. This battle began in the garden of Eden in Genesis 3:14-16. Satan is cursed and told there will be hatred and hostility between him and the woman and her seed. Seed is identified as One who would crush Satan’s head, in other words, Christ.

From Genesis 3, the rest of the biblical story is Satan trying to stop this One from coming. He pushed sinful people, slavery, rebellions, enemies, evil leaders, yet God kept a godly line safe until it was time for Jesus to come.

This is now what Chapter 12 reveals: the battle between Satan and Jesus. John is given two visions of two people who are both identified. Mary is the one who gives birth to Jesus who will rule all nations. Satan is the great red dragon who tries to kill Jesus using the evil King Herod.

In verse 5, John is shown a vision of Jesus’ ascension, skipping over His earthly ministry which is not the focus of this revelation. So, we are left on earth with the woman representing God’s people. Mary and Joseph were literally the ones who fled into Egypt for protection, but the vision is obviously bigger than Egypt for two reasons. One, a time frame given that is symbolic of a period of protection, or even if literal, it could be the remaining time in the last phase of God’s judgment on Satan. 

The second reason, and more important, is the beauty of two connecting thoughts: “A place prepared by God” and “so that there she might be nourished.”

“A place prepared by God” is a place of blessing, peace, and care. Jesus used the same words when He told His disciples, “I go to prepare a place for you”. And here this place is defined as a place where she, which is plural, might be nourished. The word used is of a child being fed or nursed. It is also used to signify one who is lavished or being well-fed.

We are also reminded this was in the wilderness, a place where you don’t expect to be nourished lavishly. We also can recall that the children of Israel journeyed in the desert wilderness. Yet, God provided bread, meat, and water every day for two million people for forty years. He kept them safe from all disease and did not let their clothes wear out. Let the magnitude of that care sink in. This is the way God nourishes. 

So, how does this apply to us? 

God will nourish us by:

  • The deep awareness of His presence,  
  • Rich revelation from His words,  
  • Guarding our hearts with His peace,  
  • Giving His joy when we encounter various trials.  

God will protect and nourish us in whatever wilderness we find ourselves.

About the Author

Photograph of Pete Deison

Pete Deison

Pastor Emeritus

Park Cities Presbyterian Church