Dragon, Satan, Short Season


The Devil will be granted a final short season to persecute the saints before the end of the age – Revelation 12:12.

When Satan is expelled from heaven, a “great voice” warns that the “Dragon” is enraged since he has only a “short season” remaining to inflict harm on the followers of Jesus. He attempts to vent his rage by persecuting the “woman” who produced the messianic “son,” but he is thwarted from doing so. Consequently, he launches his “war” against her “seed.”

In the passage, the Greek term rendered “season” is kairos, meaning “season, occasion, opportune time.” Without context, it is ill-defined and refers to a period of unknown duration. “Short” translates the adjective oligos, which means “puny, small, brief, short.”

Woe for the earth and for the sea: because the Devil is gone down to you, having great wrath, knowing that he has but a short season” – (Revelation 12:12).


But to what “season” does the passage refer? The term appears first in the opening passage of the book. All those who heed the “words of the prophecy” are pronounced, “blessed…for the season is at hand.” And there, the noun has the Greek definite article or “the,” indicating a known period or “season.”

The clause in chapter 12 alludes to a passage in the book of Daniel concerning the coming “season of tribulation” when Michael will fight for the saints:

  • And at that season your people will be delivered, everyone who shall be found written in the book…shut up the words and seal the book, even to the season of the end” – (Daniel 12:1-4, Revelation 1:1-3).

The same passage from Daniel is applied several times in the book of Revelation. For example, the original reference to “everyone whose name is written in the book” becomes those whose name is “written in the Lamb’s book of life” – (Revelation 13:8, 21:27).

Unlike the book of Daniel, in Revelation, the “sealed scroll” is unsealed, having been opened by the “Lamb.” What was “sealed” in ancient times now is revealed by Jesus. The “season” prophesied by Daniel is “at hand” in John’s time, the “season” that includes “tribulation” of the “saints.”

The reference to “Michael” in chapter 12 links the verse in Daniel to the expulsion of the “Dragon” by “Michael and his armies,” and thus, the “short season” during which Satan is unleashed to persecute the “seed of the woman” is the “season of tribulation” predicted in Daniel.

And according to Revelation, it is also the period when Satan is loosed to “deceive the nations of the earth” – (Revelation 12:7-12, 20:3).


The “short season” is alluded to when the “Lamb” opens the “fifth seal” to reveal the souls of martyrs “underneath the altar.” When they petition God for vindication, they are told they must “rest yet for a short time {chronon mikron}” until the full number of their martyred brethren is gathered.

However long or short that “season” is, during it, faithful believers suffer persecution and martyrdom – (Revelation 6:9-11).

The same scenario is outlined in the imprisonment of Satan in the “Abyss” during the “thousand years,” a passage that includes several verbal parallels to the vision of his expulsion in chapter 12:

  • (Revelation 20:1-3) – “And I saw an angel descending from heaven, having the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, the old serpent, which is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, and cast him into the abyss, and shut it, and sealed it over him, that he should deceive the nations no more until the thousand years should be finished: after this, he must be loosed for a short time {mikron chronon}.
  • (Revelation 12:7-9) – “And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels going forth to war with the dragon; and the dragon warred and his angels, and they prevailed not, neither was their place found any longer in heaven.  And the great dragon was cast down, the old serpent, he that is called the Devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole habitable earth; he was cast down into the earth, and his angels were cast down with him.

In the Greek text of chapter 20, “short time” translates the same two Greek words used for the “short time” in the “fifth seal” opening. The verbal parallel is deliberate. The same set of events is presented but from different perspectives.

When Satan is imprisoned in the “Abyss,” an “angel descended from heaven” to collar him because he was no longer “in heaven,” having been “cast down into the earth.”

In this symbolic world, the “earth” corresponds to the “Abyss.” Though imprisoned, Satan is “down but not out.” He is prevented from “deceiving the whole habitable earth,” but only “until” the time of his release.

His “imprisonment” does not leave him powerless. He still persecutes the saints, and this is indicated by the description of those who reign during the “thousand years,” a group that includes the “souls of them that have been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus.” Satan is only prevented from “deceiving all the nations.”


Why the “Dragon” is not allowed to “deceive the nations” becomes clear at the end of the “thousand years” when he is released to deceive and gather them for his final attempt to destroy the “saints.” Their total annihilation is only stopped by the direct intervention of heaven. His purpose in “deceiving the nations” is not to spread false doctrines and religions among the pagan population, but to use the nations to crush the church – (Revelation 20:7-9).

The same “short time” occurs again in the vision of the “Great Harlot, Babylon” when the “Beast” is said to ascend from the “Abyss,” but only for a “short time” – “And when he comes, he must continue for a brief season – {oligon kairon}” – (Revelation 17:8-10).

Sunset - Photo by Bernd Dittrich on Unsplash

[Sunset – Photo by Bernd Dittrich on Unsplash]

The “Beast” will “ascend” one last time to wreak havoc against the saints, but only for the allotted “brief season,” and afterward, he will be destroyed in the “lake of fire.” His “ascent” was described previously when the “Beast ascended from the Abyss to make war against the two witnesses.” Likewise, the “Beast ascended from the sea…to wage war against the saints and kill them” – (Revelation 11:7, 13:1-7).

Thus, several themes recur with each mention of this “short season” – The release of Satan/Beast from the “Abyss,” the deception of the nations, and a great assault against the “saints.” Prior to this “short season,” Satan is active on the earth but unable to “deceive all the nations.” He persecutes the church but is prevented from annihilating it.

As for the duration of the “short season,” it is the same period as the “twelve hundred and sixty days” and the “forty-two months” during which the “sanctuary” and “holy city” are “trampled by the nations,” and the “two witness” give their “testimony” before the nations. Whether “forty-two months” or “twelve hundred and sixty days” is literal or figurative is a separate question.

The book of Revelation does not spare Christians from persecution and martyrdom. The letters to the seven churches demonstrate occasional if not frequent assaults against the saints by deceivers, social pressure, and governing authorities.

However, the harm that Satan can inflict on the church is restricted. He may launch his attacks only when allowed to do so by the “Lamb,” and only within the limits set by him (“it was given to him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them”).

But this allotted time will come – the “short season” – when the Devil is released to “deceive the nations” and gather them for his final effort to destroy the church, the overcoming “saints” who have the “testimony of Jesus.” Only the direct intervention of the “Lamb” and “his armies” at the last moment will prevent their destruction.

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