Sun, Jul 23, 2000

The Woman and the Child: Revelation 12:1-6

Ministry of Pastor Joe Guglielmo teachings through the Bible, verse by verse for a better understanding of Gods Word.

THE WOMAN AND THE CHILD

REVELATION 12:1-6

As we move into Revelation chapter 12 we are once again in a parenthetical section of the book of Revelation where John is filling in some of the details of the tribulation period before he moves into the bowl judgments. Thus, in chapters 12-14 we see several interesting characters introduced. We see the woman, the dragon, the Man-child, Michael, the beast out of the sea, the beast out of the earth, and-so-on. This section will continue until we reach chapter 15, where we see the preparation of the bowl judgments, which will begin in Revelation chapter 16.

Chapter 12, for many, is another difficult portion of Scripture to understand. You see, if you misinterpret who is being spoken of, you will miss what the Lord is trying to say. In fact, this chapter is the key to what is happening to the Jews around the world. You will fully understand what is behind anti-Semitism if you understand this chapter. And as we conclude this study I think you will see that it is not as difficult to understand as some make this chapter out to be. In fact, we are going to be using one of the best commentaries on the Bible that I know of. We will use the Bible itself! You see, the Word of God will help to reveal what some of those difficult passages are all about!

REVELATION 12

VERSE 1

John opens this chapter up with a "great sign" appearing in heaven. The word "sign" is the Greek word SEMEION, and it is used some 77 times in the New Testament and generally means "an object set forth, or action done to accredit a person, or an utterance." An example of this would be the miracles that the Lord did in His earthly ministry. In John 20:30-31 we read

"And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are notwritten in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, theSon of God, and that believing you may have life in His name."

But here in Revelation we see that this word is speaking of God’s plans that are set in motion and are illustrated for us in this picture of a woman who is clothed with the sun and the moon with a garland of 12 stars around her head. In verse 3 we see another sign in picture form, a red dragon, who is in direct opposition to God’s plan.

First of all, we must identify who this woman is. The Roman Catholic Church see’s the woman as the Virgin Mary. But as we shall see, Mary is not this woman. In fact, the woman is not just one person as we are going to see. There is also Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of Christian Science, who deny the deity of Christ. She felt that she was the woman and the child is the religious system of the Christian Science. Let me say this, what they follow is neither science or is it Christian! They are also wrong as we will see. Others say that the woman is the church, but with that we see a big problem, the church, being the virgin bride of Christ, is with child! So that too is wrong.

Biblical Hermeneutics tells us that when God uses a symbol to speak forth a truth, the first time it is used sets the standard for how it is used throughout the Scriptures. If we would apply that to our study of the Scriptures, we would have less of a chance of misinterpreting what God is saying.

Remember when we started out in our study of the book of Revelation, I said that many of the idioms that are used in this book can be identified by looking back into the Old Testament. The same is true of this woman and her description. Thus, to understand who this woman is we must go back to the book of Genesis.

In Genesis chapter 37 we see the animosity between Joseph and his brothers grow. For some reason Jacob, their father, liked Joseph more than his other sons. He favored him and Joseph’s brothers knew it, and the hatred they had for Joseph grew. He had that new coat of many colors, the first tie-dye coat, that his father gave to him. And as we read in verse 5 we see this animosity about to boil over into action by what Joseph is about to say. We read "Now Joseph had a dream, and he told it to his brothers; and they hated him even more."

As you listen to what Joseph’s dream was all about, you will understand why his brothers hated him even more. Joseph’s first dream was as follows, starting in verse 7, we read "There we were, binding sheaves in the field. Then behold, my sheaf arose and also stood upright;and indeed your sheaves stood all around and bowed down to my sheaf." What made Joseph’s brothers so mad was this dream implied that his older brothers were going to bow down before Joseph. That Joseph was going to "reign" and have "dominion" over them. Thus, you can understand why their hatred continued to grow for Joseph.

But his dreams did not stop there. He dreamed another dream and told it not only to his brothers, but his father also. In verse 9 we read "Then he dreamed still another dream and told it to his brothers, and said, ‘Look, I have dreamed another dream. And this time, the sun, themoon, and the eleven stars bowed down to me." Now we don’t have to guess what the sun, the moon and the stars represent here in Genesis chapter 37, for Jacob interprets it for us. In verse 10 we read, "So he told it to his father and his brothers; and his father rebuked him and said to him, ‘What is this dream that you have dreamed? Shall your mother and I and your brothers indeed come to bow down to the earth before you?’ And his brothers envied him, but his father kept the matter in mind." Genesis 37:10-11.

Jacob tells us that the symbols of the sun and the moon represented Jacob himself and his wife Rachel. And the 11 stars represented Joseph’s 11 brothers, Joseph being the twelfth.

Now lets take what we learned from Genesis chapter 37 and apply it to the symbols used here in Revelation chapter 12. The woman clothed with the sun and the moon with the 12 stars around her head represent the nation of Israel. Out of Jacob’s son’s came the 12 tribes of Israel, Joseph plus his 11 brothers. And you will see as we move on that no other group or person can be spoken of with these symbols, only the nation of Israel.

VERSE 2

As we said earlier, the woman is with child, about to give birth. Who did the nation of Israel bring forth? Jesus Christ, not only the redeemer of the nation of Israel, but of the world. This can be documented in the genealogies of Jesus in Matthew 1:1-17, and Luke 3:1-38, which links Jesus to the nation of Israel. He had Jewish blood, as Hebrews 7:14a says, "For it is evident that our Lord arose from Judah..."

In Malachi chapter 4, in speaking to the nation of Israel, God said, "But to you who fear My name the Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing in His wings; and you shall go out and grow fat like stall-fed calves." There is healing found only in Christ who was born out of the nation of Israel.

It is interesting to note that as the woman was bringing forth this child, that she travailed in pain. Remember that during this time the nation of Israel was under Roman rule. The persecution by the Roman’s was intense and was one of the reason’s they were looking for the Messiah to come and sit on the throne of David and free them from this persecution. And as we shall see, this child was born under the most difficult times. The bondage of Rome was intense, but the force behind this persecution was not centered in Rome, and we shall see this in verses 3 and 4.

VERSES 3-4

The second sign we see is that of a "fiery red dragon" which opposes the plan of God. He is in total rebellion against God. And if you have any confusion to who this red dragon is, skip down to verse 9 which says, "So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Deviland Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him." I think there is no doubt who this character is, Lucifer, the fallen Cherub.

The word "devil," DIABOLOS in the Greek, means slanderer. And the word "Satan," SATANAS in the Greek, means adversary or opponent. His names reflect his character and his color, red, represents the result of his actions, DEATH! John 8:44 tells us that this fallen angelic being was a "murderer from the beginning." And when he speaks he spews forth lies which flow naturally from his mouth.

Now on his head were 10 horns, and he had seven heads and seven diadems or crowns. The seven heads with the seven crowns speak of the seven world empires that Satan has used to defy God. We have seen these gentile world empires so far as, Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Medo-Persian, Grecian, Roman and then the last world empire, a federation of 10 nations out of the old Roman empire, which is represented by the 10 horns here in Revelation chapter 12. This last world empire is in its formation stages right now, ready to emerge on the scene.

Also, in speaking of the dragon, it says that "His tail drew a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth..." Who do these stars represent? I believe that the stars spoken of here are angels, fallen angels. We are told in Ezekiel chapter 28 that Lucifer was created by God, and was the anointed Cherub who was in charge of the heavenly realm. But we are told in Isaiah chapter 14 that pride caused him to fall, and when he rebelled against God, he took with him 1/3 of the angelic hosts. These fallen angels are the demonic forces we read about in the Scriptures.

Like man, it seems that the angel’s have a free will to serve their creator or not. As hard as it is to believe, this deceiver was able to convince many angelic hosts to follow him, and he is leading many men and women in that same direction. We need to be wise to his devices, his schemes, and not fall prey to them.

Satan, being created by God, has limitations. He can only be in one place at a time. But like any good general, he doesn’t have to do everything himself. He has his demonic forces, fallen angel’s, to assist him in this rebellion against God.

How many angels did God create? Hebrews 12:22 says that there are "...an innumerablecompany of angels." Thus, with 1/3 of the angels siding with Satan, you can see how large his forces are. If you remember as Jesus came to the country of the Gadarenes, there was the man with a unclean spirit. When Jesus asked these demonic spirits what was their name, their response was, "...‘My name is Legion; for we are many." Mark 5:9. That was just in one man and as we move into verse 7 of Revelation chapter 12, we will see a war break out between God’s holy angels and Satan’s demonic angels.

And we see here the key to the anti-Semitism in the world today, and in the past. Satan has always been against the plan of God and he continues to do so. Here we see him ready to destroy the Christ-child as He is about to be born. And to truly understand what this is all about and get a glimpse of where spiritual warfare began, we need to go back once again to the book of Genesis.

It was after the fall of Adam and Eve, that God pronounced His judgment upon Satan. We read starting in Genesis chapter 3, verse 14, "So the LORD God said to the serpent: ‘Because you have done this, you are cursed more than all cattle, and more than every beast of the field; on your belly you shall go, and you shall eat dust all the days of your life. And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel." Genesis 3:14-15.

Way back in the book of Genesis we see God’s plan of redemption through the seed of the woman. Thus, Satan’s line of attack has been laid out, he will try to destroy the woman’s seed. This process began with Cain’s murder of Able, and thus the seed was destroyed, or so he thought. You see, Eve had another son, Seth, from which the Messiah was to come.

We can move on to Genesis chapter 6 and we see Satan contaminate the human race except for Noah and his family. We read of Noah that he "...was a just man, perfect in his generations. Noah walked with God." Genesis 6:9. Thus, God destroy’s the rest of the human race with a flood, except for Noah and his family, from which the Messiah would come. Again, Satan’s plan is foiled!

Then Pharaoh tried to destroy the Hebrew baby boys by killing them. He said to the Hebrew midwives, "...‘When you do the duties of a midwife for the Hebrew women, and see them on the birthstools, if it is a son, then you shall kill him; but if it is a daughter, then she shall live." Exodus 1:16.

But his plan was foiled again, and the one who was to lead Israel from their bondage in Egypt, Moses, was taken as a child from the river by Pharaoh’s daughter and raised in Pharaoh’s house. Not only that, but it was Moses own mother that was paid to nurse this child and care for him. God does have a great sense of humor. Think about it. The male child who was to be killed ended up in the house of Pharaoh.

Again during the time of Esther, when king Ahasuerus was king over Persia, Satan tried to destroy the Jews by the hand of Haman. We read in Esther chapter 3, "When Haman saw that Mordecai did not bow or pay him homage, Haman was filled with wrath. But he disdained to lay hands on Mordecai alone, for they had told him of the people of Mordecai. Instead, Haman sought to destroy all the Jews who were throughout the whole kingdom ofAhasuerus-- the people of Mordecai." Esther 3:5-6.

But his plot to destroy Mordecai and the Jewish people failed and the gallows which were built to hang Mordecai upon were used to hang Haman himself on. And you can see throughout the Bible Satan’s plan to destroy the seed of the woman to prevent the birth of the Messiah.

It has been said that "Satan has always known from Genesis 3:15 God’s plan - that the seed of the woman should bruise the Serpent’s head. All Satanic activities are carried under the double motive of ambition to rule and be worshiped, and hatred toward the one whom God has chosen to take the kingdom Satan has usurped."

And as you read these instances of the attempted destruction of the Jews, you will notice that the more details God gives us regarding where the Messiah is to come from, we see Satan focus his forces in that direction. Paul in Galatians 3:16 tells us this fact. He said "Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, ‘And to seeds,’ as of many, but as of one, ‘And to your Seed,’ who is Christ."

Thus we see at the birth of Christ, the host of hell rising up to destroy Him. Working through king Herod, his plan was put into action. This king, once he found out that the Christ-child was born, he attempted to locate his dwelling place by deceiving the wise men that came to see Jesus. When the wise men were warned in a dream of what was happening they fled and did not go back to king Herod. When the plan failed we read "Then Herod, when he saw that he was deceived by the wise men, was exceedingly angry; and he sent forth and put to death all the male children who were in Bethlehem and in all its districts, from two years old andunder, according to the time which he had determined from the wise men." Matthew 2:16.

But before Herod could destroy the seed of the woman, before he could destroy Jesus, Joseph his step-father was warned in a dream and they fled to Egypt where they remained until the death of Herod. Satan’s plan was foiled once again.

But on that day Jesus was crucified, almost 2,000 years ago, as the lifeless body of Jesus hung on the cross of Calvary, I’m sure there were victory celebrations in the kingdom of darkness. The seed of the woman is dead! The demonic hosts of darkness were victorious. They had finally won, or had they?

If you remember back in Genesis, Satan was only going to bruise the heel of Christ, not a death blow. As dark as that day was, Sunday morning was coming! As lifeless as the body of Christ was as it laid in the tomb, Sunday morning was coming! In Acts 2:22-24 we are told, "Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know– Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, youhave taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death; whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it."The demonic forces did not win this battle, and soon the serpent will receive his death blow, for Christ shall bruise his head!

Then if the victory has been won by Christ on the cross of Calvary, why is Satan still trying to destroy the Jews? Because, I believe that it is the Jewish people who will petition the Lord’s return. In Hosea 5:15-6:1 we read "‘I will return again to My place till they acknowledge their offense. Then they will seek My face; in their affliction they will earnestly seek Me.’ Come, and let us return to the LORD; for He has torn, but He will heal us; he has stricken, but He will bind us up." The Lord was raised in glory, but He will return as the Jews call upon Him to return as they receive Him as their Lord and Savior!

Remember what Jesus said in Matthew chapter 23, as He lamented over the failure of Israel to recognize their Messiah in His first coming. He said "for I say to you, you shall see Me no more till you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!" Matthew 23:39. If Satan destroy’s the Jews, they will not be able to petition Christ’s return. Thus we saw it with Hitler, killing over 6 million Jews, the attempt to wipe out these people. And as much as the world revolted over these atrocities, we see in Europe, the United States, the Middle East, Germany, and around the world, a dramatic increase in anti-Semitism. It seems to be out of control, and as we will see in this chapter, this kind of hatred for the Jews will grow and grow and the Antichrist will try and destroy them, to try and completely wipe them out. And this persecution against the Jews will continue until the times of the Gentiles comes to an end and the Lord returns to set up His kingdom on this earth. No longer will the Jews be trampled under foot by the gentiles! (Luke 21:24).

VERSE 5

Jesus Christ was born from the seed of the woman, from the nation of Israel. In His first coming He was born to die. He died so we may live. But in His second coming He is to rule the nations. We read in Isaiah 9:6-7, "For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and thegovernment will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called wonderful, Counselor,Mighty God, everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government andpeace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it andestablish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever. The zeal of theLORD of hosts will perform this."

Jesus Christ is coming back to sit on the throne of David to rule the nations of the world with a rod of iron. His kingdom is everlasting. Psalm 2 also speaks of Christ reigning from the throne over the nations of the world. We read beginning in verse 7, "I will declare the decree: the LORD has said to Me, ‘You are My Son, today I have begotten You. Ask of Me, and I will give You the nations for Your inheritance, and the ends of the earth for Your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron; you shall dash them to pieces like a potter's vessel." Psalm 2:7-9.

But before this takes place there was the cross of Calvary. The death and resurrection of Christ. And He was caught up to heaven, to the throne of God. Of this time we read in Acts 1:9-11, after Jesus told His disciples that they will be empowered for service, "Now when He hadspoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out oftheir sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, twomen stood by them in white apparel, who also said, ‘Men of Galilee, why do you standgazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will socome in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven."

As Christians, we await the Lords return for His bride, the church. It is then we will meet Him in the air, and what a joyous reunion that will be. But when Christ returns to set-up His kingdom, every eye will see Him as He returns in glory. Revelation 1:7 tells us, "Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen." And in Matthew 24:30 we are told"Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory."

VERSE 6

In Matthew chapter 24, Jesus said that the Jews will flee to the wilderness after they see the abomination of desolation take place. Thus, after the Antichrist enters the rebuilt temple of God and demands to be worshiped as god, the Jews will flee for their lives, not even returning home to get their belongings. It is there, in the wilderness, that God will protect them for the last 3½ years of the 7 year tribulation period, protect them from the Antichrist.

The area that they will flee to is the area of Petra, which is located today in modern day Jordan. Daniel speaks of this area and makes an interesting comment. He says that the area of Edom, Moab, and Ammon will be spared from the attacks of the Antichrist. (Daniel 11:41). Why? I believe it is the area in which the Jews will flee to and God will protect them during this time, the area of Petra.

We see in Isaiah 16:1-4 another indication of this. We read "Send the lamb to the ruler of the land, from Sela to the wilderness, to the mount of the daughter of Zion. For it shall be as a wandering bird thrown out of the nest; so shall be the daughters of Moab at the fords of the Arnon. Take counsel, execute judgment; make your shadow like the night in the middle of the day; hide the outcasts, do not betray him who escapes. Let My outcasts dwell with you, O Moab; be a shelter to them from the face of the spoiler. For the extortioner is at an end, devastation ceases, the oppressors are consumed out of the land." Sela is another name for Petra.

This area, known as Petra, was a huge commercial center during the time of Solomon. This commercial center was built on the sandstone cliffs with a narrow opening some 10-12 feet wide and it zigzags back and forth, making it very difficult to attack. Today it is a ghost town, but it can hold some 1.5 million people! Gladstone took some 7,000 copies of the New Testament and his book "When Jesus Returns" and placed them in protective cases throughout the area for those Jews who will take residence there in the tribulation period. Are they still there, we don’t know, but one day the Jews will flee their for safety!

God’s plan of judgment of a Christ rejecting world and taking possession of the earth back from Satan is unfolding quickly. Next time we will look at a war that will break out, not on the earth, but in heaven! Let me leave you this morning with these words of encouragement from Jesus as He began His earthly ministry as He quotes out of the book of Isaiah. He said

"The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon Me, because the LORD has anointed Me to preachgood tidings to the poor; he has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty tothe captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; To proclaim theacceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all whomourn." Don’t reject the Lamb of God who has come to take away the sins of the world, because He is returning as the Lion from the tribe of Judah, pouring out His wrath upon those who have rejected Him and are living in sin before Him.

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