Mystic figure, the Woman with Child, Revelation Chapter 12 Verses 1-2 (NASB)

    And a GREAT SIGN appeared in HEAVEN:
Before chapter 12, not much about the conflict with the devil has been recorded. There was a bit about evil angels (demons) in the fifth trumpet (Revelation 9:1ff), but not about Satan's conflict with God. Now we will see it.

The use of "GREAT SIGN" indicates that what John is describing is symbolic and thus chronological ordering may not be inferred here. This is the first of four "GREAT"s in this chapter.

REAT SIGN verse 1
GREAT WRATH verse 12
GREAT EAGLE verse 14

The use of "GREAT" implies this is larger than individual activity; it is more on the scale of a group/nation (even whole earth). What we are seeing here in the first nine verses of chapter 12 is a history lesson of the earth from God's spiritual perspective. It, obviously, is not the whole perspective but a mere glimpse.
    a WOMAN
    The female comes out of male and is not original creation. Hence, this WOMAN is not the original but out of someone else (Genesis 2:21-23)
    • clothed with the sun, and
      Her garments shown with the sun implying a spiritual being (cross reference Revelation 1:16).
    • the moon under her feet, and
      The moon, a reflective passive body also shines light from some other source. It, too, is submissive (under her feet).
    • on her head a crown of twelve stars;
      She wears a crown of twelve stars. It is not clear of what the twelve stars are symbolic. Perhaps they are the twelve tribes of Judah (Genesis 37:5-11, Revelation 7:4-8); or the twelve apostles (Acts 1:15-26); or even half of the 24 elders who also wore crowns on their heads (Revelation 4:4).
    • and she was with child;
It is given to women to have children with pain, Genesis 1:27 and Genesis 3:16.
    and she cried out, being in labor and in pain to give birth.
This is a very unique earthly experience. That is, there will be no pain or sorrow in heaven as Revelation 21:4 says. Thus, there seems to be a conflict with 'appeared in heaven' in the previous verse and the 'pain' in this verse. While the sign was (appeared) in heaven, the object of the symbol was on earth. We really cannot understand the linkages between heaven and earth while we are physically alive. When we get to heaven, then we will understand (if we care to ... the worship and praise session may be so overwhelming that we will not care about this kind of semantics.). Check out the clues in verses 5 and 6. The prophets in the Old Testament indicate that Jerusalem and the Israelis will be compared to these birth pangs:

Isaiah 26:11-17,18-19 Deliverance of Israel
Jeremiah 6:22-26 Rumor of invasion from the north cause anguish as childbirth pangs
Jeremiah 13:20-21-27 North invaders and an unclean Jerusalem
Jeremiah 30:4-6-9 Sound of terror. Israelis not destroyed completely but nations to where they are scattered will be
Micah 4:6-9,10-13 Distress and rescue
Micah 5:1-3-6 Bethlehem foretold; One would be born there.
"Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, © Copyright The Lockman Foundation, 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 Used by permission."

References to the Revelation of Jesus Christ are in bold italics. All other references are in bold only