THE GREAT RED DRAGON
Dr. Stephen Phinney
“Then another sign appeared in heaven: and behold, a great red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads were seven diadems. And his tail *swept away a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth so that when she gave birth he might devour her child.” (Revelation 12:3-4)
Many people are waiting for some big, red dragon to come out of the sky or out of the sea; therefore, many people review the details describing Satan in the book of Revelation as symbolic. While there are some symbols located within this passage, I’m going to spend some time talking about the original Hebrew and what the pictorial Hebrew has to say about the meaning of a dragon.
FACTS | INTRODUCTION
With the second sign, a new personage emerges on the scene: the Revelation Woman’s mortal enemy, dramatically portrayed by another sign that appeared in Heaven. Only in Revelation is Satan referred to like a dragon; before that, he was called (among many names) "a serpent” (Genesis 3:1; 2 Cor. 11:3). A dragon is far more terrifying, at least from the pictorial Hebrew perspective. Although, in organic Hebrew, the serpent is translated as “a dragon,” “a monster,” or “a sea monster” (Jeremiah 15:34). When “red” is added to his description, it communicates as “large,” “ferocious,” and “terrifying,” as the book of Revelation brings out. In our study, the bottom line is, Satan is on a blood-thirsty rampage. In the Words of Jesus, “he was a murderer from the beginning” (John 8:44).
The Hebrew word for “serpent” (Genesis 3:1) is used interchangeably in some text with the Hebrew word “dragon” (Exodus 7:9, 15). In the Garden, God referenced him as a “serpent” or a “snake" (a reptile). But in the beginning, when he was on the earth, he was not yet cast down to his belly (Genesis 3:14). But likely, he was more upright—a dragon standing upon two legs cursed to walk on all four legs close to the ground or slither like a snake. Red is a fitting color for this dragon since he attacks both woman and her child.
THE RED DRAGON
Behold—this “great red dragon” is none other than Satan himself—presented in living color. The red signifies murderous nature (Revelation 20:2; Ezekiel 29:3-4; Jeremiah 51:34). All of the descriptives that are used to describe this Revelation-dragon were previously stated in the Old Testament. The dragon is no ordinary dragon, I can assure you. But this bad boy has seven heads, ten horns, and seven crowns. What we begin to unfold in this chapter is what is predestined in Revelation 13:1. The strange-looking seven-crowned heads of the dragon refer to the powers of earthly dominions or territories. The ten horns upon these heads are classically believed to be the ten kings who will rule over the ten kingdoms of the seven territories—his final empire. Yes, I truly believe that in the end, the world will be divided into seven primary territories—most likely, the seven continents that presently exist.
By most standards, there are seven continents—Africa, Antarctica, Asia, Australia, Europe, North America, and South America. These seven continents were strategically planned post-flood, so as the waters dissipated, God made sure in the end that it resulted in seven continents. Talk about a God who is in control of all things!
REMOVING THE DOTTED LINES
It is believed that the boundaries of countries will be removed by this date and time. He, Satan, will most likely place a king in charge of each of the continents. He will then use his unseen force to manipulate these domains. It would be wise for you to watch the political activity within each of these continents—who is attempting to take charge of the entire continent and what the news has to say about it. The United Nations has had this plan for many years—placing one leader or chancellor on each continent. As soon as you hear more about “border” issues than internal affairs, the plan is well on its way. There are four phases to this development that have to occur even though the UN has its plans.
Phase One: Dropping border barriers and allowing each country to pass freely from country to country within that particular continent.
Phase Two: Uniting each countries laws to bring about unity—healthcare, transportation, domestic living, and anything else that comes under their socialistic plan.
Phase Three: Appointing a Continental Territorial Governor (horn) for each continent.
Phase Four: Appointing a World Chancellor to oversee the Seven Continents (heads).
THE TRIUNE OF THE LITTLE HORN
You have probably figured out by now that these seven continents are representing seven horns. What about the remaining three horns? Well, that’s a good question. The remaining three horns (kings) are most likely the Beast (world CFO), the False Prophet (head of world religion), and Satan (Antichrist himself), who is referred to as “little horn” (Daniel 7). These three primary positions have, do, and will continue to cause the world to prosper—money, religion, and politics.
I have heard many funky ideas regarding the “red dragon,” but only a few theologians have stayed with the primary elements of the continuous history revealed in the book of Revelation. And this keeps true to prophesy, present religious affairs and beliefs that are going on around the world and even the political events that match up with them and the future prophecies stated in Revelation—all staying in harmony with this view of our passage. In any case, it certainly is something to think through carefully.
THE DRAGON’S TAIL
“And his tail *swept away a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth so that when she gave birth he might devour her child.” (Revelation 12:4)
This creature has a feature that is a bit intimidating. As this Dragon is being tossed from Heaven, he takes his coiled tail and sweeps out a third of all the stars of Heaven and brings them down to the earth. These “stars” are not the little “twinkle, twinkle little stars.” These stars are angels—sons of God (Job 38:7).
Stars have always been a word picture that God has used to describe angelic beings. In this case, these stars are most likely the third of the angels that Lucifer was responsible for (under his charge) while he was in Heaven as an archangel. Remember that there were three archangels during Lucifer’s Heavenly positioning—Gabriel, who was in charge of God's messages, Michael, in charge of warfare, and Lucifer, in charge of praise and worship. Each archangel had the charge of one-third of each of the angels created by God in Heaven.
The picture given to us here is that when Lucifer (soon to be Satan) was removed from Heaven for rising against the knowledge of God (Ezekiel 28), he took the third of angels under his charge, and he swept them out of Heaven like a dragons-tail sweeping through the heavens.
Angels in the literal sense are “extensions of a primary light.” Even Satan was called an “angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14)—the primary light source is God Himself, and the secondary light source being the stars and the angels.
Scripture tells us that Satan (the red dragon) was once in charge of these stars (Isaiah 14:12; Ezekiel 28:12-15). Jesus’ half-brother speaks of these rebellious stars:
“And angels who did not keep their domain, but abandoned their proper abode, He has kept in eternal bonds under darkness for the judgment of the great day.” (Jude 1:6)
Peter too addressed this issue in 2 Peter 2:4:
“For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to pits of darkness, reserved for judgment.” (2 Peter 2:4)
It is difficult for us to imagine, but there was a day when this perfect creature, Lucifer, “The shining one,” became “cocky” (arrogant) about his ability to play God. He decided to overthrow God and deceived the third of angels that he was ordered by God to “hearken" unto himself, introducing evil to them as well as to Heaven. He indoctrinated these angels, dirtied their holy robes, turned their shine into dark, tarnished despair, and took them out with one sweep of his tail. These “stars” allied with him and thus became “demons,”—also known as “devils” and “spirits.”
I don’t know about you, but I have often asked the question of myself—“how many is a third?” The Word does not tell us exactly how many angels Satan led astray, but I can assure you that a third is a lot! There are enough demons on the face of the earth to harass every human three times over, and then some.
Most Greek scholars tell us that the two verbs used in this passage are in two tenses. “Swept away a third of the stars of heaven” —the verb is in the present tense, telling us the action is occurring at the time of John’s writing. The portion of “threw them to the earth” is a verb in the past tense, telling us the action has passed or has already happened.
The discovery of this goes against all human logic and Biblical reasoning. I want both of the verbs to be in past tense, but that simply is not the case. But this sheds light on the view that many of the corrupt angels departed when they did, while others continue to be deceived by him and don’t depart until the dates of this prophecy being fulfilled. I must tell you that I am not quick to believe this. The verb tenses are obvious and need to be carefully reviewed.
What we must never forget is, Satan is a very powerful and deceptive being. Jesus called him the “prince of the world” (John 12:31). Paul referred to him as the “god of this world” (2 Cor. 4:4). In any case, Jesus, Paul, and the rest of God’s teachers are right! The whole world is his domain (for now), and the entire human race, outside of the indwelt Christians, will support his Antichrist system.
THE PROPHETIC ELEMENTS OF RED
What’s up with this color RED? Remember, in chapter 6; we revealed the purpose of the “red horse” and how he came to “take peace from the earth.” Red has been noted in history as the Almighty King’s apparel color when He comes to “show off” His strength to crush and disperse the enemy. Satan is and always has been a replicator. Red describes flaming heat, the intensity of wrath, battle-weary blood; and now God uses this color to describe the mocked power of Satan in his “day of glory.” But we all know who truly deserves to wear the royal colors or red—at least I hope all of our readers do.
I don’t know too many Christians who understand the temporary power given to Satan. From the first day he deceived Adam and Eve into these questionable hours today, he has been horrifically jealous of God and His power. I am often asked why Satan is so determined to overthrow God when he can read for himself in Revelation how the whole story turns out—he loses! The answer is so simple—Satan is just as stupid on the last day as he was on the first. Who in their right mind would try to take over the kingdom and throne of the Living God (Ezekiel 28)? It is the same dilemma with all who are deceived. Fact: stupid beings never give up! In Satan’s case, not even after the final battle of Armageddon. It is for this reason that God binds him to the pit of hell for eternity. Lucifer knew the order of God (binding him to the pit of hell), but yet he continues in his constant deceptions as if he’s going to win. Lucifer knew the order of God when he was in Heaven, and this didn’t stop him from trying to overthrow God. The same is true for the end-times. Just because God wrote down all of the prophecies for us (including Satan) to read, it doesn’t mean this horrific creature will go down without a fight. Sin truly makes you stupid!
Plus—there is an element of numbers we need to keep in mind. According to the Word of God, Satan has collected one-third of all the angels and most likely 90% of the entire human race—for almost 6,000 years. I would say he is quite successful at his deception. In his eyes, according to the numbers, he’s winning.
If we take a look at Matthew 7:13-14, it says, “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction…” Now could we not read it in this way: “Enter through the narrow gate through Jesus Christ, for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction and the life of Satan.” The verse goes on to say, “…And there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.”
Jesus is telling us that the numeric value of those who go through the narrow gate is very small, and those who choose the gate of the Antichrist will be a great number! I’m a firm believer of the Hebrew tithing statistics—of course, that’s 10% and what the church is mostly known for. I believe those same percentages apply to the end-times and that 90% of the people who ever lived probably walked the broad road that led to destruction. Most likely, 10% of every person who ever lived chose the narrow way. I will not be surprised if God reveals that the 90/10 percentage was a prophetic numeric value of communicating the end-times.
God is and always will be into quality, not quantity. Satan, like most perverted leaders, is into quantity and could care less about quality. He wants members who will burden the world with disorder, anarchy, rebellion, darkness, gloom, sorrow, tears, death, hatred, murder, or any other kind of darkness that comes out of the life of Satan. Every act of darkness in his mind is a credit to his power.
Our Groom, Jesus Christ, is more than a match for Satan. Jesus is the only one who can appropriately deal with his level of darkness. Satan quickly deceives humans. Our Savior already drank from “the cup”—went to the Cross to trap Satan, was resurrected to overthrow his power, and soon will come back to take back what belongs to His Father. Satan is a defeated being just waiting for his final round in the ring of fire where he will get what he deserves for harming the Bride of Christ. When Christ comes to punish all who hurt His Bride, it will be a day of Reckoning that will not only be horrific, but it will never be forgotten throughout all eternity.
We cannot close this portion of the passage without looking at the latter part of verse four. The red dragon stands ready to devour the Woman’s Man-Child. The ugly, red dragon was not trying to destroy the Woman (Israel) but the Man-Child (Second Coming of Christ). Remember, in Genesis, when God said:
“And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise him on the heel.” (Genesis 3:15)
Well, this is the time when the prophecy is being fulfilled! I know it took a few years, but a thousand humans years is as one day to the Lord (2 Peter 3:8). In God’s reality, this only took six days—that’s not long for Him. Keep in mind that there were many battles from Genesis to Revelation between God and Satan, and each time Satan got his face rubbed into the dirt by the Living God. Why doesn’t Satan get it? Folks, it’s because “stupid is as stupid does!”
When you are deceived, you can’t understand Truth. You have to have the deception lifted from you before you can see the clarity of Truth. God is never going to lift the face-guard of deception off Satan because he is the definition of deception.
©2021 Eschatology Series | Dr. Stephen R. Phinney