Not all of the Bible is given in chronological order. Chapter 12 is a good example. It doesn't happen in the middle of that so-called "Great Tribulation." Actually, if you accept it literally, it is a capsule history of Israel, from beginning to its closing days. It is a parenthesis, and for no apparent reason was inserted between chapters 11 and 13, what would appear to future-minded Bible scholars to be half-way through the "Great Tribulation,"

Most inportantly, this chapter tells us when the great war in heaven took place, when Michael cast Satan and his angels out of heaven, and how God protected the "woman," Israel, from the great dragon.

Verse 1: The "woman" is obviously Israel, and the point in history is somewhere near the beginning of the nation.

Verse 2: This jumps to a point several thousand years later, to the time when Israel was in a prison of her own making for some 490 years, waiting for the Messiah to come and set her free (Luke 4:18,19). The Child Jesus and His mother represent Israel.

Verse 3: At about that same time Satan, sensing that his time was perhaps shorter than it's ever been, seems to have aroused from a deep sleep, and began to stir up things in heaven and on earth. There should be no mystery about the seven heads and the ten horns. Those were a picture of the Roman Empire, which had just about come to the peak of its power, and which Satan fully controlled.

Verse 4: We can only guess that Satan recruited all the rebellious angels he could to follow him. This doesn't mean that they were cast out of heaven permanently at this time; Michael the archangel will take care of that later. It only means that Satan encouraged and led their downfall. "The dragon stood before the woman..." The dragon entered into Herod the Great, pawn of Rome. He, too, was controlled by Satan, or the Dragon.

Verse 5: The Lord Jesus Christ was born. Here John momentarily jumps ahead, and touches on the fact that Jesus would become King of all nations, and would be seated in His Father's throne room (on His own throne, not on His Father's throne, and not on the throne of David.)

Verse 6: Joseph takes Jesus and Mary, and they flee to Egypt. They returned after Herod died, some three and a half years later.

Verse 7,8,9: These verses skip over the next thirty years.

Verse 10: This verse determines the time of the war in heaven. Satan had free access to heaven from earth and vice versa, to accuse the "brethren," (the Jews) before the throne of God. After he was kicked out, there came a loud voice in heaven, saying, "Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ..." Salvation came when Christ won the victory over Satan on the cross. At that time (in the days of the ten little kings of the Roman Empire) the God of heaven set up His Kingdom. There is no question as to the when of the power of His Christ. Matthew 28:18 is clear. At His resurrection, Jesus possessed total power over the whole universe, earth and all. What king, kingdom, nation, power, or principality is there that He is not the Prince of? The teaching that He is in in heaven, powerless, and "in exile," as some teachers would even say, waiting till He can come back, bring national salvation to Israel, and and set up His "Millennial Kingdom," is bad theology. Christ died on the cross 2000 years ago for the sins of the whole world, including Israel. He is not going to the cross again.

Verse 11: This chapter is all about Israel. Look up "overcome" in the letters to the seven churches. They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, AND by the word of their testimony. The Jews had to "hang on" to their faith in Christ until the end of the Jewish System, which came in the desolations of A.D.70. Before that time they could possibly fall away.

Verse 12: Obviously, it was much better to be in heaven in those times than on earth.

Verse 13: There was great persecution of the Church at the time. We shouldn't think of the Church as exclusively Gentile. In those days it was Jewish and Gentile. Satan's persecution was aimed particularly at the Jews. Gentiles just happened to be in the way, and since the Gentiles also were Christ's, Satan didn't care who got hurt.

Verse 14: Shortly after the severe persecution, we read in Acts that there was peace, and the churches grew. That lasted some thirty-five years. "Time, times, and half a time" are not limited to three years. It rather defines a period of time divisible by three and a half. "Time," therefore, might be a year, or a decade, or even a century.

Verse 15,16: I, for one, wouldn't try to formulate some kind of vivid picture of a serpent spewing water out of its mouth, or the earth breaking open and soaking up the water. This is simply saying that the devil was on a warpath against the believing Israelites, but just didn't have much luck.

Verse 17: This verse sums up verses 15 and 16. The story ends with the generation of believing Jews in that first century. Paul, in Romans, speaks of the remnant of Israel, those who loved God the Father, and who remained faithful to Him because they remained faithful to Jesus Christ. After that generation faded off the world scene, there was no more remnant of Israel. Any teaching to the contrary is, again, bad theology.

Some theologians teach that "Jews" today are still God's chosen and protected people, even though they reject Christ. That is nonsense. They see things in the Bible that aren't there, and fail to notice things that are. "Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father: [(but) he that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also]." (1John 2:23)