Sunday nights a Beaverdam find us studying the Revelation. This week, nah, probably this month, we will be in Revelation 12. There are four characters in Rev 12 that make up the "play" about the grand story of God. The Woman, the Dragon, the Male Child, and Michael, the Archangel.
For this post, let's just focus on the first character, the Woman.
Now a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a garland of twelve stars. 2Then being with child, she cried out in labor and in pain to give birth. Revelation 12:1-2 (NKJV)
The first thing we notice is that John see a GREAT SIGN in heaven. The word Great will be used extensively from here on out. It is the Greek word Mega, and yes, it is just like our word Mega. As in Super-Mega-Lo-Mart, a Mega pizza, or Godzilla vs. Mega-Godzilla. So the sign is BIG.
But it is also a Sign. Semeion in Greek; which my lexicon says can mean several things. It can mean a great wonder, or a vision. (I guess you could say that John saw this in Mega-Vision! Bwahahaha)
Or as John uses Sign in his Gospel, it can mean miracles and wonders by which God authenticates the men sent by him. There were seven "signs" in John's Gospel that Jesus performed, seven miracles if you will, which was used by John to prove to the Gnostics of his day that Jesus was in fact supernatural, that He was God.
But Sign can also mean that by which a person or a thing is distinguished from others and is known. Now we have what we are looking for. The big sign John sees is something that marks or represents something else. This is not an actual woman, (nor an actual Dragon, as we'll see later) but a sign of something or someone represented by a woman.
This is not new or difficult logic for us to understand. From where I live in Cassatt, SC, I could get on I-20 and head toward the Promised Land. (West) After 98 miles I would come to the River Savannah. As I cross the bridge, two things happen.
1) I hear harps playing and a heavenly choir singing as I enter into the Skekinah Glory that is known as Georgia (pronounced Gee-or-Gee'-ah) which is a Greek word for The Land Where God's Glory Dwells!
2) I see a blue...wait for it...wait for it...SIGN(!) A blue sign that says, "Gov. Sonny Perdue Welcomes You To The State Of Georgia."
OK. Is the sign Georgia? No. It is a something that represents the state. It is a sign that represents the reality that I am now in the Promised Land, flowing with peaches and bulldogs.
If I were to spiritualize this thought, we could think about baptism. Baptism does not save you! Despite what some denominations teach, baptism is simply a sign, a semeion. It is an external representation of an internal reality. It is a sign that we have indeed been washed, but by His blood, that we have indeed been buried, in His name, and that we will indeed be raised from the dead on "that day."
So what John sees in heaven is a representation of something, symbolized by a woman. There are four women in Revelation that falls into this category. But who is she? Let's eliminate two possibilities right away. The Roman Catholic Church says this is Mary. I can sort of understand why. She is about to give birth to Jesus, so, A+ for effort. But, she cannot be Mary for the afore mentioned reason. This is not a literal woman. Secondly, it cannot be a prophetess. Mary Baker Eddy and others have claimed this role. I say again, this is not a literal woman. And it's not the church. The church is seen as a Bride...always! This is a woman, a matron, and she is pregnant. A bride can't be pregnant because she is not married. (Yes, yes, I know. But let's not go there.) The church is to remain pure. So the church can't be the Woman.
So the other three are
1) Jezebel 2:20
I am certain that this is not her real name. Here the woman is not a sign but a literal woman. She represents paganism in the church. More aptly put for our generation would be worldliness in the church. Allowing things of the world to come into the church. An example of this, for me, would be Mark Driscoll. I have heard his apologists enough. Using profanity in a "sermon" while teaching the Bible, just for the effect and drawing in of seekers, is worldly.
2) Harlot 17:1-7
My whole life I grew up hearing that the Scarlet Woman was the Roman Catholic Church. I'm not so sure, but it is plausible. This is; however, a representation of the Apostate Church. It is the church that commits spiritual adultery against God, and abandons the clear Word of God. Want to see this in action? Tune into the History Channel and watch any show talking about religion. You'll see lots of apostates put up as "religious scholars."
3) Bride of Lamb 19:7-8
'Nough said. We are the Bride. Well, we IF you are a Believer in Jesus Christ.
OK. The forth woman is here in chapter 12. This is Israel. Israel was the chosen vessel that God predestined to deliver the Messiah. The Old Testament refers to Israel in terms of motherhood. And, the description is a dead give-away.
Now a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a garland of twelve stars.
This is a reference to Israel from Genesis 37:
9Then Joseph had another dream and told his brothers about it. "Listen to this dream," he said. "The sun, moon, and eleven stars bowed low before me!" 10This time he told his father as well as his brothers, and his father rebuked him. "What do you mean?" his father asked. "Will your mother, your brothers, and I actually come and bow before you?" 11But while his brothers were jealous of Joseph, his father gave it some thought and wondered what it all meant. Gen 37:9-11 (NLT)
And, of course, the Dragon is standing ready to destroy her. Satan has tries to destroy the woman since the first woman in the Garden. He has, and will continue to fail. Nevertheless, his attempts cause the woman (Israel) great pain. The Jews are the most persecuted people in history. And it will continue, and defiantly it will get worse. Satan's only hope is to destroy, completely wipe out the Jews. Even though the Messiah has been born, if he can destroy the Jew people, he can cause God to break a promise, and therefore deny His character. But Israel is still under the divine auspices of God. Try as he might, and boy does he, Satan cannot destroy the woman.
In an application phase, I would say that you should allow this knowledge of the woman to pay close attention to the current events that surround Israel. As I write this, Egypt is calming down from weeks of unrest. Egypt is one of the few allies Israel has in the Middle East. If she fall into extremist Muslim hands, Israel looses a serious defense partner. Our current administration does not favor Israel, despite our long standing recognition as a country of her right to exist, and defend herself. And then, follow the advice of Psalm 122:6, "Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: May those who love you prosper."
Charis and Shalom,