to EndTime Issues
John Quincy Adams noted in an address to the military on October 11, 1798:
“We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and
religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry, would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as
a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly
inadequate to the government of any other.”
Through judicial activism, open challenges to our Constitution and Washington’s growing power devoid of
moral leadership, the “strong cords” that have bound this nation together, are being broken. Integrity and
religious principles have become subservient to Federal power and to unbridled defense of contrived human
The foundation has been laid for another step – restriction of freedom through legislated standards. The
end result of this is the tyranny outlined in Revelation 13. Its preceding chapter is a great “preface” to
what lies just ahead. We begin special studies on that missive.
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An Elevated View of the “Woman”
Part I – Revelation 12
Revelation 11:15-19 ends a distinct series of eschatological prophecies that began in 10:1. In that finale
the seventh trumpet sounded, Christ received His kingdom (11:15; cf. Daniel 7:14, Revelation 10:7), and a
choir of 24 redeemed elders sang a beautiful victory anthem, revealing that redemptive history had closed.
The open temple, exposing the Most Holy, was devoid of activity, signifying that all mediatorial work had
ceased. Revelation 18:16 repeats the same theophany noted in 11:19 – dramatically announcing earth’s end.
Both represent the same time period.
In John’s apocalyptic book, messages are often repeated. With each new “cycle,” information is expanded,
and new details elevate God’s holy insights. All mushroom into an amazing saga that anticipates our
immediate future. The churches, seals and trumpets all contribute very distinct missives oriented to God’s
As we move into Revelation 12, God again initiates one of those new series of visions. This “block” of
communiques, covering chapters 12 through 14, is filled with special symbols, themes and clocks, detailing
the last war between Christ’s followers and Satan’s – the saints and the wicked!
Revelation 12 – Preface to 13 and 14
The structure of this chapter gives us insight into God’s thinking priorities relative to the good versus
This is the chapter 12 “story outline” of how God’s pure church
- Ideal church – woman symbol (vs 1)
- Christ child imagery validates its ideals (vss 2-3, 13)
- Woman–church flees (into wilderness) from the dragon (vs 6)
- Saints (brethren/members) of that church described (vss
- Woman persecuted – flees (into wilderness) from Satan (vss 13-14) (same time as #3)
- Nature of persecution (vss 15-16)
- All-out war against woman’s children (vs 17) (later detailed in Revelation 13)
- Characteristics of the remnant (vs 17; cf. 10-11)
Noting this sequence and structure helps to understand the two timing statements within chapter 12 –
how to associate them with chapters 11 and 13, where similar “clocks” are
(vs 6) represents a “three-and-a-half-year” period the woman is in the “wilderness” (vs
6). This is the same period as 11:3, which God allotted for the gospel to go to planet earth.
Time, times, half
(vs 14) is a critical time of “final opportunity” for God’s church. This is based
on feast cycles that end at Atonement – deliverance. This coincides
period of 42 months of 11:2 and 13:5, when persecution is rampant and replicates
Daniel 12:7’s details.
The 1260 days and time, time, half a time
represent the same
three-and-a-year period frequently noted in Daniel and Revelation. It is the “time appointed’ at the “time
of the end” presented in Daniel 11:35 and 12:4 and 9. This is, now, how the seer begins:
“And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under
her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars” (Revelation 12:1).
“And there appeared a great wonder in heaven;” (vs 1)
The word for “wonder” is also translated as a “sign.” The sign (semeion –
G) is a divine missive,
signaling that major apocalyptic timing issues are about to commence. For this woman it announces that
God’s church is cleansed from sin, has complete Christ-like purity, at a distinct point in time,
immediately preceding the consummation (Luke 21:11, 25; Acts 2:19).
of two wonders in this chapter is called a
sign” that John notes in the heavens (ouranos –
representing the visible sky he could observe. The “great”
image is contrasted
elsewhere with the “great” dragon (12:3, 9), the “great” city (11:8, 16:19, 18:16-17), “great” Babylon
(14:8, 16:19, 17:5, 18:2-3) and the “great” harlot (17:1, 19:2). Shortly, God calls the dragon in the same
sky another sign – but not
a “great” sign.
Again, how did God portray this “great sign?”
“a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve
stars” (vs 1)
The first Biblical allusion to a “woman” being a community of God’s people came in Genesis 3:15. That was a
prophecy anticipating the conflict between Satan and the woman (God’s people). God later depicted a
woman–bride as Zion (Isaiah 61:10; 62:3, 5) and, when with a crown of beauty, “restored Israel” (Isaiah
60:19-20). She had been a barren woman, but now gives birth (Isaiah 54:1). Paul reminded the Corinthian
church that God espoused them as a bride to Christ (II Corinthians 11:2; cf. Hosea 2:19; Jeremiah 4:31;
Micah 4:10, 5:3; II John 1). Thus, this woman imagery is a “great sign” to God, because she belongs to Him.
This pure woman will later be described as His “wife,” who “hath made herself ready” (Revelation 19:7b) for
marriage to the Lamb.
This lady represents God’s people – the body of Christ – symbolizing a community of Godly, loyal
She is the “Lord’s chosen church.”
will emerge into a
body of holy people just before the end comes.
“clothed with the sun,” (vs 1)
This stellar brightness echoes the beauty of Christ’s glory (1:16, 10:1, 21:23, 22:5). It reveals this
woman’s heavenly association.
Later, this bride is “granted” the gift of being “arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine
linen is the righteousness of saints” (Revelation 19:8).
“I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the
garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself
with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels”
“At the end of time God’s Church “will be ‘a happy, united family, clothed with the garments of praise and
thanksgiving – the robe of Christ’s righteousness.”
“Those who receive Christ as a sin-pardoning Saviour are clothed with His garments of light. He takes away
their sin and imparts to them His righteousness. Their joy is full.”
“Christ has made us ambassadors to make known his salvation to the children of men, and if we are clothed
with the righteousness of Christ, and are filled with the joy of his indwelling Spirit, we shall not be
able to hold our peace. The truth will be poured forth from hearts all aglow with the love of God. We shall
long to present the attractions of Christ, and the unseen realities of the world to come. We shall reflect
the bright beams of the Sun of Righteousness.”
This woman is arrayed with the sunlight of Christ’s holiness – His righteousness – described elsewhere as
beautiful, white raiment.
“and the moon under her feet,” (vs 1)
This word for “moon” is selene
(G). It is used mainly in the New Testament in an eschatological
context (cf. Luke 21:25, Revelation 21:23, I Corinthians 15:41). In ancient times it represented
idiomatically “something that wanders” (because it moved across the heavens).
on an object also means having dominion over
With this as the only celestial body assigned to planet earth and with the woman standing on it, the moon
is no longer capable of movement. The church, symbolically, has dominion over all earthliness at the end of
time. Evil can no longer influence her. She has “victory over the world.”
“and upon her head a crown of twelve stars” (vs 1)
The crown is stephanos
(G), which is one of victory. A battle was won. Again, she is the victor.
This illustrates when
has been rewarded for
her victory (2:10; 3:11; 4:4, 10; 14:14). This crown reveals that the church has risen above all opposition
to her faith.
The “twelve stars” are generally assumed to represent the twelve tribes of spiritual
that make up God’s last-day church (the 144,000 – Revelation 7:4-8; cf. Galatians
3:26-29; Ephesians 3:4-9; Romans 1:28-29, 10:12).
Stars in prophecy represent leaders of God’s people. In the Old Testament the little horn magnified himself
to the “host of heaven” and cast down some of the host and stars to the ground (Daniel 8:10). These
celestial “objects” are later defined as “the mighty and the holy people” (8:24). Earlier in Revelation,
Jesus told John that the “stars” (“the mystery of the seven stars”) in His right hand were “the angels of
the seven churches” (Revelation 1:20). This refers to their leaders (Matthew 11:10, Luke 7:24, James 2:25).
The 144,000, made up of those twelve tribes, are God’s last-day leaders in finishing the gospel work. All
the collective symbols of this woman suggest that
she is that body of
Later, she is described in greater detail as the 144,000 in 14:1-5. There, she is identified as a virgin,
symbolic of the “community of the faithful” who are saved, embodying the purity of that community that had
witnessed through an untainted faith.
It is important to note that from this verse alone we can conclude that this is an end-time church:
- She has gained a victory over the world.
- She is clothed with the righteousness of Christ.
- She has already been given a crown of victory.
- That crown is made up of twelve “stars” or leaders of God’s people.
- The imagery parallels the sealed “church” of Revelation 7.
Again, does this represent the church that is initially depicted as the 144,000? The weight of
evidence suggests that this is
the portrayal we are to observe!
“And she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered”
The Roman Catholic Church has gone out of its way to try to prove that this is Christ’s mother, Mary. There
is no Biblical basis to affirm that she was such a morally perfect “mother.” Furthermore – there is no
inspired Scripture to show that Mary had dominion over the earth. Only Catholic tradition asserts such
claims, including other Marian dogma, such as the Immaculate Conception.
This is a pivotal verse, however, to guide our end-time understanding. The focus is on a “community of
faithful” – an end-time group of believers who have been
victorious over Satan.
But why then is she declared as “with child” and in “labor pains?” Note: Her imagery doesn’t start with a
“pregnancy,” per se. The vision – the “great sign” – begins
with her crying out
in pain, ready to “deliver.”
Fortunately, there are helpful illustrations elsewhere to draw upon:
In John 16:19-22 Christ compares the grief
of his disciples over his impending
death to “a woman about to give birth [who] has sorrow.” But then joy
the birth of a man child (His resurrection). In John 16 the disciples represent the mother, the messianic
community. This connection is echoed by noting that both John 16:22 and Rev. 12:2 allude to
prophecies in Isaiah 26 and 66, where a woman in labor brings forth the rebirth of the nation Israel (Isa.
These are Christological metaphors, moving forward God’s redemptive
This “corporate understanding” expands in other Old Testament illustrations, representing Israel as a
pregnant mother whose birth pangs
are the deliverance from foreign captivity and
oppression (Isaiah 26:17-18 LXX; Micah 4:9-10, 5:3; cf. Hosea 13:13).
There is additionally something unique about John’s descriptive imagery. The word for
is from the verb basanizo,
which reflects a form of torment.
The New Testament uses this word for suffering under persecution
(Matthew 8:6, 29; 14:24; Mark 5:7, 6:48; II Peter 2:8).
In Revelation it is used for suffering inflicted by satanic powers (9:5) or by God’s judgments (11:10,
14:10, 20:10). This appears to be our key to unlock this travailing woman. Basanizo
in the Biblical narrative, as referring to a woman suffering
– except here!
Intriguingly, this word and its cognates are used in extrabiblical literature
for distress of God’s people under persecution (e.g., 2 Mac.
Collectively, her cry, travail and pain of deliverance depict this end-time church as suffering
persecution, called “birth pangs.” But this travail will result
in a birth. It is
anticipated that she will deliver a man child. The 144,000, under great difficulty, will “bring forth” a
“creation” after its kind.
Understanding this “Child” from the Chapter’s Introductory Structure
The victorious church is about to give “birth” to a “man child.” The dragon stands before the woman, who is
ready to be delivered, to devour her child as soon as it was born. “And she brought forth a man
(12:4b, 5a). Though we hear an immediate echo from Mary giving birth to Jesus, with
Herod killing the little children, trying to eliminate Him, the story is
end-time metaphor, a “great sign!” Who, then, is this child?
This persecuted church, representing a spiritually restored
body of believers,
“delivers a baby.” Conflict exists as to who
is, having been birthed by
a “community of faith.” Scholars suggest three
possibilities. Carefully look at these – they all have merit:
- A special remnant of believers
- The historical Christ child
at this church giving birth to a “child of salvation” has its
precedence in the book of Isaiah.
The setting is when God’s people, Israel, the “community of faith,” fail to bring forth salvation to the
land. “As a woman with child and about to give birth writhes and cries out in her pain, so
were we in your presence, O Lord. We were with child, we writhed in pain, but we
gave birth to wind. We have not brought salvation to the earth; we have not given birth
to people of the world”
(Isaiah 26:17-18 – NIV).
Then, in verse 20, to those remaining loyal (“Go, my people, enter your rooms and shut the
doors behind you; hide yourselves for a little while until his wrath has passed by.”
the closets or rooms suggest the wilderness of Revelation 12. “Go my people” suggests a paternal directive
to protect the faithful from persecution. “Seek the protection I have provided for you.” God says, “Hide
for a little moment.” This alludes to fleeing to the wilderness for 1260 days or time, times and a half of
time in Revelation 12:6 and 14.
let’s look at the lady, giving birth to a special
group of people. The dragon wasn’t successful in hurting the man child –
therefore, he again turned against the woman or church. “And the dragon was wroth with the woman”
The word “remnant” (loipon –
G) is masculine and would coincide with the “man child” imagery.
The man child, therefore, can be seen as the corporate eschatological body of saints, the remnant, who will
be saved. Isaiah matured this concept:
Isaiah 66:7: She travailed, she brought forth … she gave birth to a male (zakar
Isaiah 66:8: Zion travailed, she also brought forth her sons (plural).
The singular “male” and the plural “sons” both refer to “Israel” – God’s people.
The concept of a remnant
being saved (Romans 9:27)
is throughout the whole Bible.
the most frequent application of the pregnancy and man child is that it
represents Christ. This brings us to the helpful structural imagery in this chapter. Though we will look
later at the other “sign in the sky” – the red dragon – its portrayal is instructive:
- Revelation 12 clearly reveals that the dragon is in an end-time setting – BUT
- It reviews the history of Satan, beginning at the time when there was
“war in heaven” (vss 4, 7).
- Then forwarding to his hostilities against the Christ child (vs 4).
- Finally, his end-time panic (vs 12) and war against the remnant (vs 17).
This same format is used with the “woman clothed with the sun” (vs 1). She is symbolic of the end-time
church, the 144,000, later seen on Mt. Zion – who births the remnant. But
story begins with the birth of Christ. Thus, we have, again, a sweeping history that draws on more than one
When we see the amazing spectrum of how God designs these messages, the elevating spiritual themes raise
our thoughts into a higher and more beautiful plane. The man child draws us to Christ, instructs us as to
what we may become through redemption and sets the standard for God’s final church – a woman clothed in the
righteousness of Christ, who bears witness to planet earth!
“And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her
child was caught up unto God, and to his throne” (Revelation 12:5).
God’s church, shown as pure and holy, had its historical basis in Jesus, the Christ child. The imagery is
rich, with God first declaring Him, “Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee” (Psalm 2:7). God’s
love for us was partly defined by sending His “only begotton Son” into the world (John 4:9; cf. John 1:18).
That “Son” came into the world through a maiden of Nazareth, Mary. Gabriel told her not only what His name
should be but, again, noted that He would also be called the “Son of the Highest” (Luke 1:31-32). Then
Gabriel announced, “that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.”
Daniel was told that his name would also be “the Son of Man” (7:13). Isaiah embellished this one hundred
years earlier in a prophetic metaphor where a woman named Zion gives birth to “sons.” This stunning imagery
of her children (plural) suggests that the “remnant of her seed,” as noted here in Revelation 12:17,
fulfilled that Old Testament prophecy! That is
the prophecy we see being reviewed
The historical basis
of this end-time church reflects on the Christ child that
remained untainted by the dragon – Satan – and was “caught up
unto God, and to
his throne” (vs 5). That fulfilled Christ’s own prophecy that “the prince of this world cometh, and hath
nothing in me” (John 14:30). It alludes to the “two witnesses,” who “ascended up
to heaven in a cloud” at the end of time (11:12).
Not only was Christ “caught up” to God and His throne, but we are also told that He was to “rule all
nations with a rod of iron.” This was prophesied by David in Psalm 2:9, ruling from Mount Zion (2:6). Since
we have more than one meaning to Revelation 12, could we also find God’s church in partnership with the Son
insuch an iron rule?
To that Thyatiran church, filled with evil, a promise to its anticipated remnant:
“And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations:
And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken
to shivers: even as I received of my Father”
(Revelation 2:26-27). The overcomers are described in
masculine terms, sharing the same rule with Christ.
The conviction will deepen that the “man child” is primarily
symbolic of the
of her seed. That is why Daniel made precision clear that the “kingdom
which shall never be destroyed” belongs to both
Christ (7:14) and the saints
(7:22). We have moved from the birth to the ascension, to the parousia,
in one fell swoop, now
noting that this “iron rule” in 19:15 will not occur until the eschaton.
(To be continued)
Mounce, Robert H.; The Book of Revelation
(Wm. B. Eerdmans
Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1977), p. 231.
Osborne, Grant R.; Revelation
(Baker Book House; Grand Rapids,
MI), p. 456.
White, Ellen G.; The Review and Herald,
February 26, 1914.
White, Ellen G.; The Great Controversy,
White, Ellen G.; A Call to Medical Evangelism and Health
White, Ellen G.; The Signs of the Times,
March 4, 1889.
Mare, W. H.; Pictoral Encyclopedia of the Bible,
vol. 4, p. 273.
Beale, G. K.; The New International Greek Testament Commentary; The
Book of Revelation
(William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan –
1999), p. 627.
White, Ellen G.; Christ’s Object Lessons,
Beale, op. cit.,
Beale, op. cit.,
Thayer Lexicon – basaizo.
Beale, op. cit.,
Osborne, op. cit.,
Franklin S. Fowler, Jr., M.D.; Prophecy Research Initiative © 2012
EndTime Issues…, Number 134, February 9, 2012
Click here to go to PRI’s website: endtimeissues.com