THE RAPTURE OF THE MAN-CHILD
Revelation 12:5 continues, "And her child was caught up to God and to His throne." "Caught up" in this verse differs in meaning from "caught up" as it is used in 1 Thessalonians 4. There it says that some will be caught up in the clouds, while here it says that the man-child was caught up to the throne of God. The man-child was caught up to the throne because someone is already on the throne. The Head of the church is on the throne. God’s purpose is not just to have one man upon the throne, but many men upon the throne. His original desire was to have a group of men on the throne to exercise His authority. God desires that Christ and the church together bring His purpose to fulfillment. However, the majority of the people in the church at that time will still not be able to attain the throne. Only a minority, called the overcomers, can go to the throne of God. They will be caught up to His throne because they will achieve God’s purpose.
Two things occur immediately after the man-child is caught up: "And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place there prepared by God so that they might nourish her there a thousand two hundred and sixty days. And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels went to war with the dragon. And the dragon warred and his angels" (Rev. 12:6-7). Notice the word "and," which is used twice immediately after the man-child was caught up in verse 5. Verse 6 says, "And the woman fled into the wilderness..." Then verse 7 says, "And there was war in heaven..." The fleeing of the woman into the wilderness and the warfare in heaven are both due to the man-child being caught up.
Let us look into the matter of warfare in heaven. First there is Michael, whose name is quite meaningful. Michael means "Who is like God?" This is an excellent question. Satan’s intention is to be like God, but Michael asks, "Who is like God?" Not only does Satan desire to be like God, but he also tempted man to be like God. However, Michael’s question, "Who is like God?", shakes the power of Satan. It seems as if Michael is telling Satan, "You want to be like God, but you will never make it!" This is what Michael’s name reveals to us.
Immediately after the man-child is caught up, there is war in heaven. In other words, the cause of the war in heaven is the rapture of the man-child. From this we see that the rapture of the man-child is not just a matter of some individuals being caught up, but more than that, it is to bring to an end the warfare which has been going on for ages and generations. The old serpent, the enemy of God, has been fighting against God for several thousand years. When this warfare takes place in heaven, Michael and his angels fight against the dragon, who is the old serpent. Formerly he was a serpent, but now he has changed in form to a dragon. He has steadily increased his power. However, once the man-child is caught up, not only is the dragon unable to be enlarged any further, but he is cast down from heaven. The rapture of the man-child is a transaction which causes Satan to have no more position in heaven.
What is the result of the fight between Michael and his angels and the dragon and his angels? Verses 8 and 9 say, "And they [the dragon and his angels] did not prevail, neither was their place found any longer in heaven. And the great dragon was cast down, the ancient serpent, he who is called the Devil and Satan, he who deceives the whole inhabited earth; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast down with him." The dragon’s defeat is the outcome of this battle. There was no place for him in heaven; he and his angels were all cast down to the earth.
(The Glorious Church, Chapter 4, by Watchman Nee)