Keeping in mind God's revelation through Daniel, we now turn to the Revelation of Jesus Christ. At some point around 96 AD, while John was on the Island of Patmos, he received the Revelation from an angel of God. In the first two verses of chapter one, we are told that it was given to show things that "must soon take place." In other words, the Revelation was given to predict events that would begin occurring about the time John copied it down (96 AD) Furthermore, he was also shown other major events that would occur throughout history from that time until the second coming of Jesus Christ and the setting up of the Kingdom of God. The very first description in Revelation 12 of a woman in heaven, clothed with the sun, the moon under her feet, and crown of 12 stars on her head indicates to us that events in this and other chapters cannot be taken literally. Back in the first verse of chapter one we are clearly told that the Revelation was "signified", which means it was given in signs or symbols. Therefore we should expect to find many symbols used throughout the Revelation and we must carefully look into their meaning.
Women in the Bible are sometimes used to represent religious systems (see 2 Corinthians 11:2; Ephesians 5:23; Isaiah 47:7-9; Ezekiel 16). Therefore, the "woman" in Revelation 12:1 can be taken to symbolize the Christian religious system after the time of John. The "male child'' of verse 5 then, would be a great Christian leader brought forth to rule the world. If we look back in history to 320 AD, we find the great historical event described in Revelation 12. The Roman Empire at this time was ruled and dominated by pagans. A great leader arose named Constantine, who was converted to Christianity. His goal was to conquer the Roman Empire and he determined to make it Christian. However, the pagan military power of the empire strongly resisted him as depicted in symbols by "the Dragon and his angels" (the pagans) fighting against "Michael and his angels" (the Christians). Eventually Constantine, in the name of Christ, defeated the pagans and the entire Roman Empire almost overnight was converted to Christianity.