“Now a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a garland of twelve stars. Then being with child, she cried out in labor and in pain to give birth.” Revelation 12:1-2.
The above has been included for context, we will now continue with Revelation 12:3 below.
“And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great, fiery red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems on his heads.” Revelation 12:3.
This dragon is easily identified by looking at verse nine where the dragon is called Satan. He is described as fiery red to show forth his blood thirsty nature.
The Lord Jesus said these things of him.
“…He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.” John 8:44.
The seven heads suggests the perfection of wisdom he possessed as Lucifer before he fell. When you read Ezekiel chapter 28 it seems to be addressed to the king of Tyre but the context soon indicates that it is Satan who is being spoken of.
“Son of man, take up a lamentation for the king of Tyre, and say to him, ‘Thus says the Lord God: You were the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty.’” Ezekiel 28:12.
“You were perfect in your ways from the day you were created, till iniquity was found in you.” Ezekiel 28:15.
“Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor…” Ezekiel 28:17a.
The last verse tells us that Satan’s wisdom was corrupted; he deserted the wisdom that God had given him and concocted his own devilish wisdom, which we would now call the wisdom of this world.
You could probably still say that he is perfect in worldly wisdom, but it is not based on the principles that God set the cosmos up with, so it can only spiral downward like a falling kite.
Seven is also the number of completion which would refer to the fact that he is completely evil. Something you will see more of as we watch prophecy play out.
As for the ten horns, they represent the ten kings who rule during the first part of the tribulation, three of these kings are killed in a war with the beast as he brings the entire earth under his subjugation.
Either way these kingdoms belong to Satan. These ten horns are also upon the beast described in Revelation chapter 13 and in Daniel 7:1-28 specifically verse 7. The ten horns are significant because for the first time a kingdom will cover the entire earth.
“After this I saw in the night visions, and behold, a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, exceedingly strong. It had huge iron teeth; it was devouring, breaking in pieces, and trampling the residue with its feet. It was different from all the beasts that were before it, and it had ten horns.” Daniel 7:7.
The seven diadems are difficult, so the best you will get is educated guesswork. Hopefully you will work on this interesting question yourselves and agree or disagree with what is said here.
The first hint is that these are diadems, which are kingly crowns, not stephanos, a victor’s crown. It would seem to mean that whatever he was king of, was literally under his authority.
One commentator said that the seven crowns represent seven kingdoms; this is agreed upon by most mainstream expositors, but what kingdoms? In this man’s opinion the seven kingdoms are seven beasts he identified in Daniel 7.
“And four great bests came up from the sea, each different from the other. The first was like a lion, and had eagle’s wings. I watched till its wings were plucked off; and it was lifted up from the earth and made to stand on two feet like a man, and a man’s heart was given to it. And suddenly another beast, a second, like a bear. It was raised up on one side, and had three ribs in its mouth between its teeth. And they said thus to it: ‘Arise, devour much flesh!’ After this I looked, and there was another, like a leopard, which had on its back four wings of a bird. The beast also had four heads, and dominion was given to it. After this I saw in the night visions, and behold, a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, exceedingly strong. It had huge iron teeth; it was devouring, breaking in pieces, and trampling the residue with its feet. It was different from all the beasts that were before it, and it had ten horns.” Daniel 7:3-7.
If you have been counting you will know that there are only four beasts mentioned, not seven.
Daniel’s vision here in chapter seven took place circa 541 B.C. verse 2 called this the Great Sea which has to mean the Mediterranean.
The reason I mention this, is that when something comes out of the sea like this, it is referring to Gentile nations which are pictured as restless like the sea, this you can see even today.
The lion with eagle’s wings is Nebuchadnezzar the Babylonian king. His kingdom began to come together when his father Nabopolassar, died in August, 605 B.C.
Nebuchadnezzar was actually on a campaign when news of his father’s death arrived forcing him to quit the field and return home to take control of the kingdom. Nebuchadnezzar was already a successful leader even before he became king.
The bear with three ribs in its mouth represents the Medes and the Persians. The three ribs may represent her first three conquests, Lydia, Babylonia (city of Babylon taken on October 13, 539 B.C.), and Egypt.
If you can imagine meeting up with a bear, you can understand the simile; the Medes and the Persians made up a ponderous army, lumbering along relentlessly, many even took along their families!
The leopard with four wings and four heads was completely opposite. Alexander the Great and the Greeks could have invented blitzkrieg (lightning war); they sometimes marched all night to catch up with an enemy that was encamped for the night. You can imagine the exclamations of surprise the next morning. The empire of the Greeks was complete by 333 B.C.
The reason for the four heads is that when Alexander died, his only heir was too young to rule, so his four generals, Ptolemy, Seleucus, Cassander, and Lysimachus, divided the conquered territories among themselves.
Finally the nondescript, nightmarish, monster, represents the Roman Empire. The story here is a little different, the city of Rome was founded in 753 B.C. yet the Romans did not exactly come rushing out of the gate, by 264 B.C. they had only conquered the boot of Italy and some of Sicily.
The Roman Empire was nearly full size by 31 B.C. and complete by 150 A.D. and fell apart around 500 A.D. The key here is that it fell apart, it was not conquered. People have wanted to put Humpty Dumpty back together again ever since.
So, how does our commentator (you remember him several paragraphs ago?) come up with seven when there are only four beasts (empires) shown?
The number seven comes by factoring in the leopard with four heads. Count them this way, one the lion, two the bear, three the leopard (with four heads), and four the monster.
If you count one head for the other three and one of the heads of the leopard, the total is four add in the remaining three heads of the leopard and you have seven.
The fly in the ointment is this; God does not necessarily count the leopard as four but one. In Nebuchadnezzar’s dream recorded in Daniel 2:31-35, the empires are shown as one each.
“You, O king, were watching; and behold, a great image! This great image, whose splendor was excellent, stood before you; and its form was awesome. This image’s head was of fine gold, its chest and arms of silver, its belly and thighs of bronze, its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of clay. You watched while a stone was cut out without hands, which struck the image on its feet of iron and clay, and broke them in pieces. Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver, and the gold were crushed together, and became like chaff from the summer threshing floors; the wind carried them away so that no trace of them was found. And the stone that struck the image became a great mountain and filled the whole earth.” Daniel 2:31-35.
The interpretation is this, the head of gold is Nebuchadnezzar the king who had this dream, and so he is the Babylonian Empire.
The chest and arms of silver represents the Medes and the Persians. The bronze belly and thighs, corresponding to the four headed leopard, is the Greek Empire.
The legs of iron are the Roman Empire, while the feet of iron and clay represents the revived Roman Empire in our future.
So it is possible that the four heads on the leopard still only represent one empire, the Greeks, which leaves us with four beasts.
The marvelous thing about this dream is that the stone cut out without hands which then destroys all the other empires, is Jesus Christ the rightful king, the Messiah.
This will happen at the end of the tribulation and the world will finally get what it claims it wants, a peaceful, Eden-like, Utopia.
The purpose of this exercise is to highlight the difficulties with interpreting prophecy; it also gives you a lot of background history and prophecy to help you understand the things that are still to come.
So, what of the seven crowns? Some believe these crowns to represent seven different aspects or periods of Roman government.
For instance Rome had six different forms of government, king, consul, dictator, decimvir (a special commission of 10 members), military tribunal, and emperor, with the revived Roman Empire being a seventh.
A simpler explanation would be that since the crowns indicate that Satan was in full control of seven different governments; what are they?
Babylon was the first great post-flood rebellion of mankind, and is the site of the languages being confused, and where almost all, if not all, idolatry can be traced back to. They would be number one.
Egypt was a world power filled with thousands of different gods. This would be number two.
The Assyrians were a horrendous lot who became the third great world power.
The Babylonians defeated the Assyrians and carried the prophet Daniel and his friends from Israel to Babylon, and shortly thereafter Daniel identified the fourth great power as the Babylonians.
The fifth great world empire became the Medes and the Persians. The Greeks became the sixth empire, and the Roman Empire became the seventh one; seven crowns.
The stupefying power of the fiery red dragon is seen in that he crushes and destroys the earth through his agent the beast who is an eleventh horn which appears among the original ten.
This little horn receives the dragon’s full support to do his own will.
“Then the king shall do according to his own will: he shall exalt and magnify himself above every god, shall speak blasphemies against the God of gods, and shall prosper till the wrath has been accomplished; for what has been determined shall be done. He shall regard neither the God of his fathers nor the desire of women, nor regard any god; for he shall magnify himself above them all. But in their place he shall honor a god of fortresses; and a god which his fathers did not know he shall honor with gold and silver, with precious stones and pleasant things.” Daniel 11:36-38.
Revelation 12:3 taken from godisrevealed.com posted on 1-2-17, updated on 8-11-22.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version, copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission, all rights reserved.