The Revelation - A Book With 7 Seals ?
/ Ewald Frank
13. Chapter 12 - The woman clothed with the sun, Christ and His Own, Satan the red dragon and his followers
- Chapter 1 - Introduction, The Day of the Lord, Origin and significance of the prophetic word
- Chapter 2 - The seven messages of the resurrected Lord, First message, Keep the first love
- Chapter 3 - The fifth message, The Reformation Age, Strengthening the weak in faith
- Chapter 4 - A glimpse into heaven
- Chapter 5 - The mysterious book with the seven seals
- Chapter 6 - The opening of the seals, The unveiling of the power of the antichrist, A general view
- Chapter 7 - The sealed from the Jews
- Chapter 8 - The seventh seal, The silence in heaven, Mercy seat becomes judgement seat, Introduction to the seven trumpet judgements, The first four trumpets
- Chapter 9 - The incomparable torment, The fifth trumpet the first woe
- Chapter 10 - An intermediate vision The open book, The Lord as the Angel of the covenant
- Chapter 11 - The second intermediate vision, The measuring of the temple and the ministry of the two witnesses
- Chapter 12 - The woman clothed with the sun, Christ and His Own, Satan the red dragon and his followers
- Chapter 13 - The visions of Daniel in review of and in connection with the Revelation
- Chapter 14 - The Lamb and the sealed 144,000
- Chapter 15 - The seven bowl judgements and the multitude at the crystal sea
- Chapter 16 - The seven bowls of wrath, The final judgements of Gods indignation
- Chapter 17 - The woman riding on the beast
- Chapter 18 - The destruction of the great Babylon
- Chapter 19 - The rejoicing in heaven over the destruction of Babylon, The marriage of the Lamb
- Chapter 20 - Binding of Satan, Completion of the first resurrection by the martyrs, The Millennial Kingdom
- Chapter 21 - Announcing of the new heaven and the new earth, The glory of the New Jerusalem, The terrible fate of the lost
- Chapter 22 - The river of life and the trees of life, The paradise-like condition during the Millennial Reign
- Appendix - The 70 weeks of Daniel and the current events with Israel in the light of Bible prophecy
The 12th chapter is being explained quite differently by Bible scholars. The interpretations about the woman referred to vary from Israel, to Mary and to the church.
In this case also, we must be very careful and take all details into consideration. If every detail does not fit itself into the over-all picture, something is not right. The explanations we have known until now do not justify the matter. Initially we find recorded:
"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.
And she, being with child, cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered." (12: 1-2).
Should someone think that this text refers to Mary and the birth of Jesus, then we must acknowledge that John on the isle of Patmos was shown future things to come and not something that had already happened. Further descriptions were also not fulfilled with Mary and Jesus. Mary did not flee into a wilderness, and Jesus was not taken up into heaven after His birth. He first accomplished the work of redemption, rose from the dead and ascended into heaven. Not even once is it said in reference to Him like with Enoch or Elijah about "rapture" or "taken away", but rather that He ascended into heaven, therefore we do have the day of commemoration "the Ascension of Christ".
In the Old Testament, Israel is repeatedly spoken of by God as the woman who was in covenant with Him (Jer. 3: 6+11; Hos. 2: 4 a. o.). God uses natural examples to convey a spiritual meaning. He says, "I will even betroth thee unto me in faithfulness " (Hos. 2: 20), and " for the Lord delighteth in thee, and thy land shall be married" (Isa. 62: 4). In Isa. 54: 5-10 the Lord says with regard to Israel:
"For thy Maker is thine husband; the Lord of hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel; The God of the whole earth shall he be called.
For the Lord hath called thee like a woman forsaken and grieved in spirit, and a wife of youth, when thou wast refused, saith thy God "
In the New Testament, we are told about the Bride and the Bridegroom (Jn. 3: 29 a. o.), and in Mt. 25 about the marriage. The woman John saw can only be the New Testament Church which most certainly originates with Israel in Jerusalem on Jewish ground. God's relation towards His people as His wife, expresses His love and His uniting with His Church (Eph. 5: 29-32). The Lord Jesus places the seed of His Word into the womb of His Church. That way we are born again and come forth as sons and daughters of God.
The sun, wherewith the Church is clothed speaks of the Redeemer Himself Who is the Sun of Righteousness. During the New Covenant we are clothed in His Light and warmth.
The moon under her feet signifies that the Church stands solemnly on the foundation of the divine Word of the Old Testament. As the moon reflects the light of the sun, so does the Old Testament reflect the light of the New Testament fulfilment of the entire prophetic word upon which the Church stands (Eph. 2: 20-22).
The crown with twelve stars denotes that the New Testament Church is crowned with the doctrine of the twelve apostles. The seven stars in the hand of the resurrected Lord were the seven angel-messengers to the seven churches (Rev. 1: 20). The twelve stars in her crown show that the Bride Church is worthy of this royal divine order and bears the true doctrine of the twelve apostles (Acts 2: 42). According to the testimony of the Scripture, the New Testament Church will return to its original teaching and practice of the apostles and will be restored, before Jesus Christ comes.
Of the woman it is said that she is travailing in birth, actually experiencing birth pains. This is again a very natural picture of a woman receiving the seed and then in due time giving birth to new life. Here we have the spiritual application. Mary was a chosen virgin to receive the divine seed, so the Word was made flesh - the Son of God was born. But she is also called a woman in Gen. 3: 15 and in Jn. 2: 4. In the same way the Church is spoken of as a chaste virgin (2 Cor. 11: 2). She became a woman as the divine seed of God's Word was placed into her. From her will come forth the man-child - the overcomers. The term "man-child" speaks of the spiritual maturity. God's plan with His Church comes to its completion, but runs parallel with Israel in its last phase. When God called Israel out of Egypt to be His Church, He used the wording "first-born son". "Thus saith the Lord, Israel is my son, even my first-born. And I say unto thee, Let my son go, that he may serve me; " (Ex. 4: 22b-23a).
In Isa 66: 7-9 we find a similar description like the one in this chapter of the Revelation: "Before she travailed, she brought forth; before her pain came, she was delivered of a man-child."
In this verse we find reference to the man-child, in the next verse we are told about the spiritual re-birth of Israel: "Who hath heard such a thing? Who hath seen such things? Shall the earth be made to bring forth in one day? Or shall a nation be born at once? For as soon as Zion travailed, she brought forth her children."
In this Scripture passage we find the two things, namely about the man-child and also about the whole country which is born at once. The gathering of the Jews takes decades, the calling out of the 144,000 years, but the revelation of the Messiah happens on one single day. At the same place and the same time they will look upon Him Whom they had pierced and receive life from God (Hos. 6: 1-3).
As soon as the man-child directly before the Rapture is born in the full stature of Christ, the seven-headed dragon comes against the Church, "who was ready to be delivered, to devour her child as soon as it was born." (Rev. 12: 4). Satan, the old dragon, was cast out of heaven (Jn. 12: 31; Lk. 10: 18) and has set up his throne, his headquarters here on earth (Rev. 13: 1-2). This speaks about the "seat" of the adversary of God, the arch-enemy of Israel and of the Church of Jesus Christ.
In reference to the woman it says, "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." (12: 5). Israel will not take part in the Rapture, because their conversion to Christ, the Messiah, happens after the taking away of the Bride Church.
It is overwhelming to see with what precision the Holy Spirit dictated the Word. The man-child is designated to rule over the nations, but will first be caught up into heaven. The precise sequence is: First the Rapture and the Wedding Supper with Bride and Bridegroom in heaven, and thereafter the reign with Christ on earth. One has to take note, that the promise to rule the nations is given to the overcomers. It is not only for the Redeemer, but also for the chosen Redeemed. "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; " (Rev. 2: 26-27a).
The key for the right understanding of this promise is in chapter 12 itself. After the Rapture of the man-child the woman, the Church, flees into the wilderness for the space of three and a half years. "And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared by God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days." (12: 6).
All through the Book of Revelation, we meet the same manner of speech which is in parables, similar to the way the Lord spoke as the Son of man in His prophetic ministry, as found in the gospels. The true meaning and significance which is hid in all the pictures and symbols will according to the desire of the Master not be revealed to all, but only to His followers for whom they are meant. Addressing His disciples, the Lord said, "Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given." (Mt. 13: 11).
"All these things spoke Jesus unto the multitude in parables, and without a parable spoke he not unto them,
That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter things which have been kept secret from the foundation of the world." (Mt. 13: 34-35).
In the moment of the Rapture, Christ, the Redeemer, takes the first-born group of the Redeemed who then experience their completion into the heavenly Glory. Satan, the accuser of the brethren, has access until that moment to the heavenly spheres. Then he will be cast out finally and thrown to earth with his angels.
"And there was war in heaven; Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon fought and his angels,
And prevailed not, neither was their place found any more in heaven.
And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil and Satan, who deceiveth the whole world; he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him." (vv. 7-9).
We are told that the archangel Michael together with the angels of God is fighting against Satan and his followers. Jesus Christ has totally conquered him on Calvary (Col. 2: 15) and will not a second time deal with him. He meets His Own who are moulded into His image in the air and takes them to the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. While going up, this last fight occurs. Satan, the accuser of the brethren, the defeated enemy, would like to hinder the going-up but is being thrown down by Michael.
No other Scripture passage shows these connections in such an explicit manner. Although the reign does not start at that moment, because first comes the Wedding Supper, it is being announced with great joy.
"And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ; for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, who accused them before our God day and night." (12: 10).
At first the overcomers are spoken of in the singular as "man-child", then the continuation is in the plural, "And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death." (v. 11). The living faith of those who really possess it is the victory in itself right up to the overcoming of death (1 Jn. 5). There are people living on earth who understand the Words of the Lord, believe them and will experience whatever He said. The true believers died with Christ and rose with Him. Their life is together with Him hidden in God (Col. 3: 3). Whosoever desires to save his own life will loose it, but whosoever looses it for His sake, will find it. One of the promises given to the overcomers is, " be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life." (Rev. 2: 10).
At the moment the overcomers are taken up, they will actually inhabit the mansions prepared for them in Glory. He that hindereth, the Holy Ghost in the Bride - the man-child, will then be taken out of the way, so the wicked can manifest himself openly (2 Th. 2). "Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! For the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time." (Rev. 12: 12).
During that phase which is timely limited, the wrath of Satan through the antichrist world institution will be directed against the woman who gave birth to the man-child which "was caught up unto God, and to his throne". This group has come to the full knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, into the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ (Eph. 4: 13). The overcomers are the Bride which is born out of the Church which as a woman have received the divine seed. There is but one Rapture of the Bride who will meet the Bridegroom and be with Him in the Marriage Supper. As the "Bride" is spoken of in the singular, so is also the man-child, but all the chosen ones belong to that foreordained group. This is the true Body of Jesus Christ composed of many members (1 Cor. 12: 12-30).
The wrath of Satan after his final fall from heaven will be terrible, "because he knoweth that he hath but a short time." That is the exact span of time between the taking away of the Bride and the ushering in of the Millennial Reign.
The first attack was towards the man-child, the second is directed against the woman, "And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman who brought forth the man-child."
"And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent." (12: 13-14). The whole picture is very clear. The Church out of which the Bride came forth will be protected and nourished under the given circumstances in the wilderness.
The term "wilderness" is known to all Bible readers in connection with the physical "sustaining" in the days of Moses, when Israel was brought out of Egypt. In Neh. 9: 21, we are told, "Yea, forty years didst thou sustain them in the wilderness, so that they lacked nothing; their clothes became not old, and their feet swelled not."
In reference to Israel the Lord said, "I found Israel like grapes in the wilderness; I saw your fathers as the first-ripe in the fig tree at her first time " (Hos. 9: 10; Jer. 2: 1-3). "Now learn a parable of the fig tree " (Mt. 24: 32). He also spoke concerning Israel which will be called in that wilderness situation, "Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak tenderly unto her." (Hos. 2: 14).
With God all things are possible. He could nourish Israel, six hundred thousand men not counting the women and children (Ex. 12: 37) forty years after bringing them out of Egypt. He is still the same. As we find written, the woman-church will be nourished for the space of three and a half years. The wings of the great eagle refer to God Himself Who bears His Own. In reference to Israel, we find written,
"As an eagle stirreth up her nest, fluttereth over her young, spreadeth abroad her wings, taketh them, beareth them on her wings,
So the Lord alone did lead him, and there was no strange god with him.
He made him ride on the high places of the earth, that he might eat the increase of the fields; and he made him to suck honey out of the rock, and oil out of the flinty rock;
Butter of cows, and milk of sheep, with fat of lambs, and rams " (Dt. 32: 11-14).
The psalmist also mentions the wings: " Yea, in the shadow of thy wings will I make my refuge, until these calamities be passed by." (Ps. 57: 1).
"He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shall thou trust; " (Ps. 91: 4).
"But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings " (Mal. 4: 2).
Satan will be very furious as he nears his total defeat: "And the serpent cast out of his mouth water like a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away by the flood.
And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened her mouth and swallowed up the flood which the dragon cast out of his mouth." (Rev. 12: 15-16). According to this text, the earthly government will step in and swallow up the flood of persecution against the Church which always comes from the religious side.
Then the old dragon turns against those called out in Israel by the ministry of the two prophets during the three and a half years. They believed and were sealed. They belong to the same godly seed and have the testimony of Jesus at that time. "And the dragon was angry with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, who keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ." (v. 17).
This third group has nothing to do with the gentiles, that is shown by the description, "who keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ." The keeping of the commandments and the law of God is only connected with Israel. The Church is in Christ and therefore totally justified by faith (Rom. 10: 4). The law-giver did not come to do away with the law, but rather faced the valid demand of the law, took upon Him all the transgressions and suffered death which is the wages of sin (Rom. 6: 23). As already mentioned, there are these three groups according to the plan of salvation: the man-child, the woman and Israel. Satan is successively furious against them.