Revelation 12:1-6

April 10, 2012

Chapter 12 brings us an interlude in the timeline, offering perspective on the broad sweep of prophetic forecast of the “times of the Gentiles” (Luke 21:24).

1  A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars;

A great signA particularly special occurrence since the Book of Revelation is given in “signs, wonders, miracles”.

Woman—Israel.  The Old Testament’s prophets referred to Israel as a “woman” (Isaiah 54:5-6; Jeremiah 4:31; Micah 4:9-10), but this is designating more than just Israel, but rather the “Israel of God” or spiritual Israel—the remnant, the elect, chosen of God, including both believing Jew and Gentile.  The old testament “church” gave birth to Christ (v5), and in turn, the new testament church (v17).  Both the OT and NT present the people of God as His bride/His wife to whom He is betrothed.

Clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars—This identifies the woman as Israel by referencing Genesis 37:9–11, in which Joseph  has a dream of the sun and moon symbolizing his father and mother, and stars representing his brothers, which bow down to him.  Clothed with the sunthe righteousness of God, His light.  Psalm 72:5 states that “He will endure as long as the sun, as long as the moon, through all generations”, speaking of the future rule of God’s righteous, royal son.  The moon under her feetSatan being conquered, crushed under the feet of the Ekklesia (Rom 16:20).  The only light from Satan is reflected from the glory of God; he has no produces no light in and of himself.  The Moon governs the night, the time of darkness.  An interesting side note:  The symbol of Islam is the crescent moon, and the origin of Allah is the ancient moon god of the Arabians, so if the moon in this verse symbolizes Islam, it is giving the dominant position to Christ’s body, the EkklesiaA crown of twelve starsroyal status of Christ’s bride (Isa 28:5).  We see the “woman” glorified, from God’s eternal perspective, as she will be at the end of the age.

2 and she was with child; and she cried out, being in labor and in pain to give birth.

With child—Jesus:  “For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us.” (Isa 9:6)

And she cried outThe prayers of the OT saints, as Paul in Gal 4:19: My children, with whom I am again in labor until Christ is formed in you” Exo 3:9:the cry of the sons of Israel has come to Me.” As a woman has pain in child birth, so Israel travailed at the birth of her Messiah, Jer 31:15:  “A voice is heard in Ramah, lamentation and bitter weeping Rachel is weeping for her children.”

3 Then another sign appeared in heaven: and behold, a great red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads were seven diadems.

A great red dragonSatan: “the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan” (Rev. 12:9);  Red=reckless, bloody, war (Gen 25; Nah 2; Zec 1)

Seven heads—Kings, kingdoms, worldly systems throughout the ages.  Seven=spiritual perfection, fulfillment, all that God will allow.  “The seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman sits, and they are seven kings.” (Rev 17:9,10)  The dragon has 7 heads because he is manifested on earth through these worldly power structures throughout history.

Ten Horns—Each represents a human ruler manifesting the authority of Satan.  Ten=physical, earthly, physical perfection and completion; human strength, wisdom and authority;  (Gen 24:10, 22, 55; 32:15; 45:23; Lev 26:26; Num 7; Jos 15:57; Rut 4:2; 1 Sam 17:17; 2 Sam 18:15; 1 Kin 7).  Horn=symbol of strength, authority, resistance to authority, prideful resistance, boastfully intransigent and unbending; warring. (Lam 2:3, 17; Eze 29:21; Dan 7:8; Psa 5:4,5; Jer 48:25).  The terrifying beast of Dan 7 also had ten horns, which proved to be “kings” in 7:20 and 24, 3 of whom were subdued by the “little horn” of 7:8.

Diadems—Symbol of human authority, crown; actually, a blue and white band securing a Persian turban/tiara.  Satan, up until this point still in the heavenlies but fallen, is the penultimate ruler of the earthly, human realm and has fully expanded into the vacuum created by man’s willful disobedience to his Creator.

4 And his tail swept away a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she gave birth he might devour her child.

Swept away a third of the stars of heavenOne third of the angels followed Satan in his rebellion.  Satan, a fallen angel, is called a “star” in Isa 14:12:  “How you have fallen from heaven, O star of the morning, son of the dawn!”  Rev 1:20 reports that “the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches…”

The dragon stood before the woman…when she gave birth he might devour her childSatan tried to kill Jesus after he was born; Mary and Joseph had to flee to Egypt as Herod the Great had all children under two in Bethlehem slain (Mat 2:13ff).

Verses 3-4 have also been related to the constellations Draco (the Dragon—Satan) and Virgo (the Virgin—Mary) and movements of individual stars within these constellations that may have portended the incarnation and crucifixion events during the life of Jesus.

5 And she gave birth to a son, a male child, who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron; and her child was caught up to God and to His throne.

A son, a male childYeshua, Jesus; Isa 66:7, Zec 9:9, Mic 4:10.

Who is to rule all the nations with a rod of ironJesus was to rule; this is language is taken from Psa 2: “He said to Me, ‘You are My Son, Today I have begotten You. Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Your inheritance, And the very ends of the earth as Your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron…’”

Her child was caught up to God and to His throneJesus ascended to Heaven (Acts 1:11) where He sits on the throne (Heb 1:11; 12:2)

6 Then the woman fled into the wilderness where she had a place prepared by God, so that there she would be nourished for one thousand two hundred and sixty days.

Fled into the wildernessIsrael was scattered throughout the entire world, the “wilderness”.  Moses, Elijah, Paul and most notably, the Nation of Israel fled Egypt and Pharaoh into the wilderness, where God protected and prospered them.  Spiritual Israel, the Ekklesia, was scattered from Jerusalem when the persecution started with the martyrdom of Stephen.

A place prepared by Godin the “wilderness” of the world.  When Israel left Egypt, it fled to the wilderness where God provided for them, shade by day and light by night, manna and quail.  God protected his new covenant people through the persecutions by Satan via the Jews, the Roman Empire, the Roman Church, Islam and countless others through the two millennia since Christ.

One thousand two hundred and sixty days–this could mean 1260 days, years, or it could even be a symbolic number.  Three OT precedents are examples of the “year for a day” principle, to which Historicists hold.  In Numbers 14:34, Israel must wander for 40 years in the wilderness, one year for every day spent by the spies in Canaan.  Ezekiel 4:5-6 describes the prophet being commanded to lie on his left side for 390 days, followed by his right side for 40 days, to symbolize the equivalent number of years of punishment on Israel and Judah respectively.  Daniel 9:24-27 is known as the Prophecy of the Seventy Weeks.  The passage refers to 70 “sevens” or “septets” of years—that is, a total of 490 years.

The question arises as to whether this 1260 is distinct from the 3 1/2 “times” of Rev 12:14 wherein the woman likewise flees into the wilderness, the 1260 days that the two witnesses prophesy in 11:3, or the 42 months of 13:5.  I believe these refer to the same period, a particular period of persecution also called “Jacob’s Trouble” in Jer 30:7 of the bride/wife of God made up of both OT and NT saints at the end of the age.

Here are all the biblical references to this period, starting in the Old Testament:

Dan 7:25:  “He [the little horn, the Antichrist] will speak out against the Most High and wear down the saints of the Highest One, and he will intend to make alterations in times and in law, and they will be given into his hand for a time, times, and half a time.

Dan 12:7:  “I heard the man dressed in linen [Michael], who was above the waters of the river [peoples of the earth], as he raised his right hand and his left toward heaven, and swore by Him who lives forever that it would be for a time, times, and half a time [1260 days, or years?]; and as soon as they [the Antichrist] finish shattering the power of the holy people [the remnant, the elect, the Israel of God], all these events [the tribulation and the resurrection] will be completed.”  In verse 9 Michael tells Daniel that the words are concealed and sealed until the end time.

Jam 5:17:  “Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the earth [the Israel part of the earth] for three years and six months. [the same period of testing]

Rev 11:2-3:  “Leave out the court which is outside the temple and do not measure it, for it has been given to the nations; and they will tread under foot the holy city for forty-two months [equal to 1260 days/3.5 years—the same period of trials]And I will grant authority to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for twelve hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth.”

Rev 12:14:  “But the two wings of the great eagle were given to the woman, so that she could fly into the wilderness to her place, where she was nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent.”

Rev 13:5:  “There was given to him a mouth speaking arrogant words and blasphemies, and authority to act for forty-two months was given to him.”

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Revelation 6:5-6

June 17, 2011

The Third Seal—the Rider on the Black Horse

In the first two verses of  Chapter 6, the first seal was broken by the Lamb, Yeshua, revealing the rider on the white horse—this represents the Roman Empire’s present-day (for John) high water mark, which crested in the 2nd Century with Emperors such as Hadrian, Pius and Commodus.  The second seal unveiled the red horse, representing war and bloodshed—beginning in 193 AD there was almost incessant civil war, with 32 different Emperors in a 90 year span.  The Empire was falling apart and losing territory.  By 222 AD, rampant inflation and its terrifying companion famine were becoming common.  This is the era of the black horse…

5 When He broke the third seal, I heard the third living creature saying, “Come.” I looked, and behold, a black horse; and he who sat on it had a pair of scales in his hand.

When He broke—each time Yeshua initiates the process; John is again invited by the living creature to see the result.

Third living creature—third of four, stationed around the throne of the Father.  These are described earlier in Revelation; check back for an upcoming commentary on Chapter 4.

A black horse—Black, the absence of life, joy, light; the “color” of hopelessness.  Job bemoans the day of his birth in Job 3:5: Let darkness and black gloom claim it; Let a cloud settle on it; Let the blackness of the day terrify it.  Black speaks of terror, the unknown.

And he who sat on it had a pair of scales in his hand—The ancient form of measurement that compared objects of known mass with items to be weighed, by means of balancing them.  Balances were shown on Roman coins; this was a statement of fairness & equality.

6 And I heard something like a voice in the center of the four living creatures saying, “A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius; and do not damage the oil and the wine.”

Something like a voice—John finds it difficult to exactly describe God’s voice.

In the center of the four living creatures—the Being at the center was identified in Revelation Chapter 4 as “Creator God” (v11).

A quart of wheat for a denarius—The denarius, a small silver coin, was the main coin of the Roman Empire until about 250-275 AD, around the first years of Diocletian.  A quart of wheat is about the amount needed to sustain one person for a day; likewise “three quarts of barley” could also sustain a single person, but it is inferior in taste and nutrition.  This equation then begs the question “In what year was a quart of wheat worth one denarius?”  We know when that wasn’t—the 1st Century cost (time of Jesus/John) of one quart of wheat was 1/8 of a denarius, and a typical day’s wage was about a denarius.  So John is saying, at some point in the future, after 800% inflation, food will cost 8 times what it costs you now.  Basically it will take your entire day’s wage just to eat!

This “1 denarius” price of 1 quart of wheat or 3 quarts of barley occurred during Severus Alexander’s reign from 222-235, identifying this era as the time this Seal predicts.  The denarius, though historically still in use, has almost no value by the end of the Third Century.  People were suffering economically on a widespread basis; Pax Romana was long gone.  Taxes were levied on the food items mentioned—wheat, barley, oil and wine, the prices climbed higher and higher. Agriculture was failing in various districts. The Roman armies were feeding and preying on people.  Injustice and bribery was common.

Do not damage the oil and the wine—basically, don’t touch the good stuff, or probably more accurately, the economic bottom is going to drop out and very few are going to be able to enjoy the good life; it will be out of reach, “undamageable”.

While there was famine in the mid-3rd Century, the overall sense being communicated in these verses is one of decline in the standard of living and loss of buying power (inflation); these verses picture a waning empire that lacked the confidence of the “white horse” years. Three of the four horseman have ridden out; only one remains.


Revelation 6:3-4

June 6, 2011

The Second Seal—the Rider on the Red Horse

This post will discuss Revelation Chapter 6:3-4.  In the first two verses of the chapter, the first seal was broken by the Lamb, Yeshua, revealing the rider on the white horse representing the Roman Empire’s present-day (for John) high water mark, which soon began to wane and unravel.  Picking it up in the third verse we see that a pattern emerges, first found in verse 1 and is repeated in verses 5 and 7—Yeshua breaks a seal and then one of the four living creatures invite John to “Come”:

3 When He broke the second seal, I heard the second living creature saying, “Come.”

When He broke—each time Yeshua initiates the process; John is then invited by the living creature to see the result.

Second living creature—second of four, stationed around the throne of the Father.  To be covered in an upcoming commentary on Chapter 4.

4 And another, a red horse, went out; and to him who sat on it, it was granted to take peace from the earth, and that men would slay one another; and a great sword was given to him.

A red horse—representing the next phase of the Roman Empire, the era of bloody conflict.  Red in the Bible represents struggle, warfare and murder.  The first occurrence of the word is used to describe Esau, a hunter, at his birth in Genesis 25.  The violence of shed blood shows up in Genesis 4 with the killing of Abel by Cain. 

It was granted to take peace from the earth—After the crest of its influence and territory in 116 A.D., the Empire began its slow decline.  In 180 A.D. the youthful Commodus succeeded his father Marcus during an era of unprecedented peace; there was no potential competitors to remove nor enemies to punish; he was elevated to the imperial throne at the acclamation of both the Senate and the Army. The barbarians had been granted an honorable peace, resulting in near universal joy.  This was all soon to end.

Men would slay one another—Emperor Commodus was assassinated in 193 A.D., beginning an era of almost incessant bloodshed and war lasting from 193-284 A.D.  During this period there were 32 Emperors, with constant civil war.

A great sword was given to him—the sword was the symbol of Imperial power and authority. Emperors would present swords to head of praetorian guards/governors (See Romans 13:4: “Governors bear swords not in vain”). There were power struggles that literally began tearing the Empire apart.

The four horseman are symbolic, not literal—these weren’t/aren’t four actual beings, angelic or demonic, riding white, red, black and green horses across the Earth.  They are representative of the slow motion collapse of the great power of John’s day—the Roman Empire.  Eventually this Empire will die, only to be insidiously reborn in an image of its former glory, this time in religious garb.


Revelation 6:1-2

May 17, 2011

The First Seal—the Rider on the White Horse

This post will cover the first two verses of Revelation Chapter 6.

The Historicist approach to interpretation of Revelation, under which my eschatological view falls, tries to faithfully follow the dual instructions of first verse of Revelation, verse 1:1—it tells us that the book concerns “things which must soon take place” and that they were “signified” (KJV, NKJV) to John.  The word “signified” in Greek is Strong’s G4591 σημαίνω sēmainō, which generally means “to signify or indicate by means of a sign”, in other words John saysDon’t take this literally!’  So we have in the first verse of the book two very important instructions on how to interpret it:

1.  It will happen soon, not thousands of years in the future.  We’re not waiting for a future, 7 year Great Tribulation.  Contrast that with Daniel 12:4, where Daniel was told to “seal up the book until the end of time” and that “many will go back and forth, and knowledge will increase”—this seems clearly to indicate the very end of the Age, which many (including me) believe we are approaching quickly.

2.  What is to occur will be described in signs or symbols, not literally.  So a ‘beast arising from the sea’, for instance, isn’t ‘Godzilla climbing out of Tokyo Bay.’  Most people get that one, but not many of the other symbols in the book—they want ‘stars’ to be literal stars, and so on.  So unless there is clear evidence that what is written is meant to be literal, it must be interpreted symbolically.

 So keeping John’s instructions in mind, let’s dive into one of the most exciting portions of the book that describes the unrolling of the Seals, the blowing of the Trumpets, and the Bowls being poured forth on the Earth.

1 Then I saw when the Lamb broke one of the seven seals, and I heard one of the four living creatures saying as with a voice of thunder, “Come.”

The Lamb broke—remember it is Yeshua who is in complete control.  He is called the Lamb, not because he is literally a sheep (Ovis aries), but he was given by God to take away the sins of the world (John 1:29).

Seven seals—the first on an outer scroll, with another one inside, and a third inside of that; see comments on 5:1.

Four living creatures—to be covered in an upcoming commentary on Chapter 4.

2 I looked, and behold, a white horse, and he who sat on it had a bow; and a crown was given to him, and he went out conquering and to conquer.

I looked—we need to actively take part in what God is revealing to us; don’t wait for God to tap us on the shoulder!

A white horse—the first four seals reveal four horses of different colors.  Horses represent strength, and in the Bible are used in the context of battle and martial authority and power, appearing 150 times.   Job 39:19-25  includes the following description of a horse: “…he rejoices in his strength…is not frightened…smells the battle from afar.”  White—this color is used both positively and negatively in the Bible; while it can represent purity and holiness (Ecc 9:8), it can also be a color associated with leprosy and a land stripped bare by an enemy (Lev 13:3, Joel 1:7).  Since the rider “went out conquering” and his equipment includes a bow (a weapon of war), we should deduce a negative meaning here.

He who sat on it had a bow—an allusion to battle; a purely offensive weapon.  It is a tool of God’s judgment.  Job complains “His archers surround me. He pierces my heart and does not pity…” (Job 16:13)  The sword represents the word of God (Heb 4:12) whereas the bow is used mostly in a human context, and battle (2 Sam 22:35).  A Roman coin shows Aurelius the Emperor circa 170 AD riding a horse riding to battle.

A crown was given to him—the word “crown” is Strong’s G4735 στέφανος stephanos, meaning a wreath or encircling garland for the head; a crown or reward.  They were worn by, among others, Olympic game winners, the Spartans as they went into battle and the Roman Emperor, as seen engraved on coins of that day.  This seems further to identify this rider with the political and military scene.

He went out conquering and to conquer—again descriptive of the warring nature of this rider.  Since this is the first of the series of revelations given to John, and since they were to “soon take place”, it is reasonable to look at the current events of his day, or shortly thereafter, for a fulfillment of this prophecy.  In doing so it has usually gone one of two ways—interpreting this as symbolic of the early victories of the church and its exponential growth around the Empire or as the zenith of the Roman Empire’s success; I believe it is the latter, for several reasons:

  1. All the other horses (Red, Black and Pale Green), and for that matter the remainder of the Seals, Trumpets and Bowls, represent negative developments; it would be out of place to insert a positive interpretation for this one.
  2. The other ‘rider on a white horse’ in Revelation is clearly Jesus:  “I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and wages war.” (Rev 19:11).  The first white horse represents a false & temporary worldly victory, in contrast to what the last rider brings.
  3. The cavalry/crown/bow allusion is to physical battle and political victory, not to spiritual inroads being made. Jesus describes “wars & rumors of wars” in Matt 24:6, early in the chapter that goes on to predict the downfall of Jerusalem and the temple, but it is “not yet the end.”

Some have described the high point of the Roman Empire as the reign of Nerva and his selection of Trajan in the late 90’s, just after the completion of the writing of Revelation by John.  In 116 A.D., the Roman Empire was at its greatest territorial extent.  From that point on, it began slowly to lose territory and influence.  So John very accurately describes the Rider on the White horse in victorious terms.

–  –  –  –  –

What makes Historicism a particularly difficult interpretational framework is that it necessitates some understanding of long-gone battles, politics, peoples, systems, religions—it is not user friendly in our frame-a-second, flashing, visual world.  It requires significant research and reading, something that almost no one has time for nor the inclination to do.

Another aspect to the Historicist method that one soon encounters is that the symbols can be interpreted and attributed an almost infinite amount of ways.  It’s much simpler to envision a final, 3-1/2 or 7 year future conflagration of literal scorpions and stars falling into the water, making them bitter.  There are, however, some major events that many of the prophecies foresee; these common and relatively solid interpretations will be laid out in subsequent posts.


Revelation 5

May 12, 2011

Here begins the three series of divine judgments, each broken into seven “doses”, on humanity prior to the return of Yeshua. The judgments seem to increase in severity through time; apparently the judgments begin shortly after the writing of Revelation per the first verse of the book which states that it was given to show “the things which must soon take place.”

1 I saw in the right hand of Him who sat on the throne a book written inside and on the back, sealed up with seven seals.

The right hand—representing strength and authority; the Father does not have a literal “right hand,” since He is a Spirit (John 4:24).

Him who sat on the throne—God the Father, the “first” person of the Trinity, first in role, not in importance.

A book…sealed up with seven seals—A small book or more likely a scroll (biblion), sealed inside a scroll, sealed inside a scroll…

2 And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the book and to break its seals?”

Who is worthy—a rhetorical question to those in Heaven, since Yeshua had triumphed over the enemy on the cross, but quite impactful to John, who was observing the Heavenly proceedings (4:1)

3-5 And no one in heaven or on the earth or under the earth was able to open the book or to look into it. Then I began to weep greatly because no one was found worthy to open the book or to look into it, and one of the elders said to me, “Stop weeping; behold, the Lion that is from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has overcome so as to open the book and its seven seals.”

Elders—24 in number, most likely angelic, although not specified (4:10)

The lion…from the tribe of Judah—Jesus was of the tribe of Judah; this phrase references Gen 49:8-10, where it is prophesied that the rule and the kingly scepter shall remain with Judah, resulting in obedience from all the peoples.

Root of David—Not only is Jesus the offspring of David, but also the root from which he springs! (See also 22:16)

Has overcome—by virtue of his victory over sin and death

6 And I saw between the throne (with the four living creatures) and the elders a Lamb standing, as if slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God, sent out into all the earth.

Lamb standing—Yeshua, the Lamb of God; He was standing, since He is a now a man, forever.

Seven horns and seven eyes—Seven represents Divine perfection; horns represent authority and eyes the ability to see; so Yeshua has perfect authority (omnipotence) and perfect vision (omniscience).

Seven Spirits of God—see the previous explanation—Yeshua is all-knowing and all-present, but in Spirit form. The NASB capitalizes the word “Spirits”, although capitalization does not exist in Greek. The word “spirit” (pneuma) is used as a general designation, both for man’s spirit and God’s spirit. So the sense here is nothing escapes Yeshua, as Eternal God Himself.

7 And He came and took the book out of the right hand of Him who sat on the throne.

And He came and took the bookYeshua took the book

Out of the right hand of Him who sat on the throne—The Father “sits” on the throne

8 When He had taken the book, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each one holding a harp and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.

Fell down before the Lamb—The living creatures and elders deem Yeshua the Lamb worthy of worship, in Heaven; he is coequal with God

Each one holding a harp—a musical instrument, for worship

And golden bowls full of incense—the prayers of the saints. This verse is the basis of the harp & bowl style of prayer & worship, popularized by International House of Prayer, for one.

9 And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation.

They sang a new song—even in Heaven “new” songs are being invented

Men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation—through all time, all continents, all “races”, though the Bible doens’t recognizes “races”, except for the human race.

10″You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth.”

They will reign upon the earth—the Ekklesia will function as representatives of the government of Yeshua when it is established on Earth in the coming Age.

11 Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne and the living creatures and the elders; and the number of them was myriads of myriads, and thousands of thousands, 12saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing.” 13 And every created thing which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all things in them, I heard saying, “To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever.” 14 And the four living creatures kept saying, “Amen ” And the elders fell down and worshiped.


Revelation 12:1-6

May 11, 2011

Chapter 12 brings us an interlude in the timeline, offering perspective on the broad sweep of prophetic forecast of the “times of the Gentiles” (Luke 21:24).

1  A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars;

A great sign—A particularly special occurrence since the Book of Revelation is given in “signs, wonders, miracles”.

Woman—Israel.  The Old Testament’s prophets referred to Israel as a “woman” (Isaiah 54:5-6; Jeremiah 4:31; Micah 4:9-10), but this is designating more than just Israel, but rather the “Israel of God” or spiritual Israel—the remnant, the elect, chosen of God, including both believing Jew and Gentile.  The old testament “church” gave birth to Christ (v5), and in turn, the new testament church (v17).  Both the OT and NT present the people of God as His bride/His wife to whom He is betrothed.

Clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars—This identifies the woman as Israel by referencing Genesis 37:9–11, in which Joseph  has a dream of the sun and moon symbolizing his father and mother, and stars representing his brothers, which bow down to him.  Clothed with the sun—the righteousness of God, His light.  Psalm 72:5 states that “He will endure as long as the sun, as long as the moon, through all generations”, speaking of the future rule of God’s righteous, royal son.  The moon under her feet—Satan being conquered, crushed under the feet of the Ekklesia (Rom 16:20).  The only light from Satan is reflected from the glory of God; he has no produces no light in and of himself.  The Moon governs the night, the time of darkness.  An interesting side note:  The symbol of Islam is the crescent moon, and the origin of Allah is the ancient moon god of the Arabians, so if the moon in this verse symbolizes Islam, it is giving the dominant position to Christ’s body, the EkklesiaA crown of twelve stars—royal status of Christ’s bride (Isa 28:5).  We see the “woman” glorified, from God’s eternal perspective, as she will be at the end of the age.

2 and she was with child; and she cried out, being in labor and in pain to give birth.

With child—Jesus:  “For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us.” (Isa 9:6)

And she cried out—The prayers of the OT saints, as Paul in Gal 4:19: My children, with whom I am again in labor until Christ is formed in you” Exo 3:9:the cry of the sons of Israel has come to Me.” As a woman has pain in child birth, so Israel travailed at the birth of her Messiah, Jer 31:15:  “A voice is heard in Ramah, lamentation and bitter weeping Rachel is weeping for her children.”

3 Then another sign appeared in heaven: and behold, a great red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads were seven diadems.

A great red dragon—Satan: “the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan” (Rev. 12:9);  Red=reckless, bloody, war (Gen 25; Nah 2; Zec 1)

Seven heads—Kings, kingdoms, worldly systems throughout the ages.  Seven=spiritual perfection, fulfillment, all that God will allow.  “The seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman sits, and they are seven kings.” (Rev 17:9,10)  The dragon has 7 heads because he is manifested on earth through these worldly power structures throughout history.

Ten Horns—Human leader manifesting the authority of Satan.   Ten=physical, earthly, physical perfection and completion; human strength, wisdom and authority;  (Gen 24:10, 22, 55; 32:15; 45:23; Lev 26:26; Num 7; Jos 15:57; Rut 4:2; 1 Sam 17:17; 2 Sam 18:15; 1 Kin 7).  Horn=symbol of strength, authority, resistance to authority, prideful resistance, boastfully intransigent and unbending; warring. (Lam 2:3, 17; Eze 29:21; Dan 7:8; Psa 5:4,5; Jer 48:25).  The terrifying beast of Dan 7 also had ten horns, which proved to be “kings” in 7:20 and 24, 3 of whom were subdued by the “little horn” of 7:8.

Diadems—Symbol of human authority, crown; actually, a blue and white band securing a Persian turban/tiara.  Satan, up until this point still in the heavenlies but fallen, is the penultimate ruler of the earthly, human realm and has fully expanded into the vacuum created by man’s willful disobedience to his Creator.

4 And his tail swept away a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she gave birth he might devour her child.

Swept away a third of the stars of heaven—One third of the angels followed Satan in his rebellion.  Satan, a fallen angel, is called a “star” in Isa 14:12:  “How you have fallen from heaven, O star of the morning, son of the dawn!”  Rev 1:20 reports that “the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches…”

The dragon stood before the woman…when she gave birth he might devour her child—Satan tried to kill Jesus after he was born; Mary and Joseph had to flee to Egypt as Herod the Great had all children under two in Bethlehem slain (Mat 2:13ff).

Verses 3-4 have also been related to the constellations Draco (the Dragon—Satan) and Virgo (the Virgin—Mary) and movements of individual stars within these constellations that may have portended the incarnation and crucifixion events during the life of Jesus.

5 And she gave birth to a son, a male child, who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron; and her child was caught up to God and to His throne.

A son, a male child—Yeshua, Jesus; Isa 66:7, Zec 9:9, Mic 4:10.

Who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron—Jesus will rule the literal nations absolutely; this is language is taken from Psa 2: “He said to Me, ‘You are My Son, Today I have begotten You. Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Your inheritance, And the very ends of the earth as Your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron…’”

Her child was caught up to God and to His throne—Jesus ascended to Heaven (Acts 1:11) where He sits on the throne (Heb 1:11; 12:2)

6 Then the woman fled into the wilderness where she had a place prepared by God, so that there she would be nourished for one thousand two hundred and sixty days.

Fled into the wilderness—Israel was scattered throughout the entire world, the “wilderness”.  Moses, Elijah, Paul and most notably, the Nation of Israel fled Egypt and Pharaoh into the wilderness, where God protected and prospered them.  Spiritual Israel, the Ekklesia, was scattered from Jerusalem when the persecution started with the martyrdom of Stephen.  This coincided with the conclusion of the last 7 years of Daniel’s 70 week prophecy in Dan 9:27.

A place prepared by God—in the “wilderness” of the world.  When Israel left Egypt, it fled to the wilderness where God provided for them, shade by day and light by night, manna and quail.  God protected his new covenant people through the persecutions by Satan via the Jews, the Roman Empire, the Roman Church and countless others through the two millennia since Christ.

One thousand two hundred and sixty days–Actually 1260 years.  Based on three OT precedents, this verse is best understood as an example of the “year for a day” principle.  In Numbers 14:34, the Israelites must wander for 40 years in the wilderness, one year for every day spent by the spies in Canaan.  Ezekiel 4:5-6 describes the prophet being commanded to lie on his left side for 390 days, followed by his right side for 40 days, to symbolize the equivalent number of years of punishment on Israel and Judah respectively.  Daniel 9:24-27 is known as the Prophecy of the Seventy Weeks.  The passage refers to 70 “sevens” or “septets” of years—that is, a total of 490 years.  Given these passages, the 1260 should be understood as referring to years rather than days.

The question arises as to whether this 1260 is distinct from the 1260 “days” of Rev 12:14 wherein the woman likewise flees into the wilderness, the 1260 days that the two witnesses prophesy in 11:3, or the 42 months of 13:5.  My belief is that all of these refer to the same 1260 year period and refer to the persecution of the “woman”, the bride/wife of God made up of both OT and NT saints, after the resurrection of Christ.

So if this is a literal 1260 year period, several questions arise:

  • When did it begin, or has it not begun? 
  • Did it start immediately after Jesus’ resurrection? 
  • Did it begin with the destruction of the temple in 70 AD? 
  • Has it already ended? 
  • Do all of these refer to the same period of time, or are there more than one?

While initially it appears to have started at Jesus’ resurrection based on 12:6, it must be remembered 1) that the entire book of Revelation is written in the past tense as already accomplished and 2) if there is a single 1260 day/42 month/3.5 year period, then the verses including it must be correlated as to timing.

Here are all the biblical references to this period, starting in the Old Testament:

Dan 7:25:  “He [the little horn, the Antichrist] will speak out against the Most High and wear down the saints of the Highest One, and he will intend to make alterations in times and in law.” [Roman Emperor Justinian’s “Code” written in 533 established the Roman Church as the only orthodox religion, fully taking effect in 538 with the expulsion of the Goths from Rome and the Italian Peninsula AND the Ten Commandments were reorganized to combine Commandment 1 & 2, minimizing Commandment 2 about making and worshiping graven images; this is different than the plain reading of Exodus 20 and the Jewish and Protestant understanding of the Commands ]; and they will be given into his hand for a time, times, and half a time.” [3.5 years/1260 days, i.e., 1260 years].  In 1798, 1260 years later, a new law was established by Napoleon casting off the Roman/Papal yoke and placing the Protestants in parity with the Roman Catholics.  The Pope was carted off into captivity in France, where he died, and the Papal States were divided up and became part of Italy.

Dan 12:7:  “I heard the man dressed in linen [Michael], who was above the waters of the river [peoples of the earth], as he raised his right hand and his left toward heaven, and swore by Him who lives forever that it would be for a time, times, and half a time [1260 years]; and as soon as they [the Antichrist] finish shattering the power of the holy people [the remnant, the elect, the Israel of God], all these events [the tribulation and the resurrection] will be completed.”  In verse 9 Michael tells Daniel that the words are concealed and sealed until the end time.

Jam 5:17:  “Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the earth [the Israel part of the earth] for three years and six months. [the same period of testing]

Rev 11:2-3:  “Leave out the court which is outside the temple and do not measure it, for it has been given to the nations; and they will tread under foot the holy city [the Church] for forty-two months [equal to 1260 days/3.5 years—the same period of trials]And I will grant authority to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for twelve hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth.”

Rev 12:14:  “But the two wings of the great eagle were given to the woman, so that she could fly into the wilderness to her place, where she was nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent.”

Rev 13:5:  “There was given to him a mouth speaking arrogant words and blasphemies, and authority to act for forty-two months was given to him.”


Rev 12:7-17

May 10, 2011

7 And there was war in heaven, Michael and his angels waging war with the dragon. The dragon and his angels waged war, 8 and they were not strong enough, and there was no longer a place found for them in heaven.

And there was war in heaven—in the spiritual dimension, after Christ’s victory on the cross.   John 12:31: “Now judgment is upon this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out.”  Sequentially verses 7-9 happen before verse 6, in which the Ekklesia flee into the wilderness.

Michael and his angels waging war with the dragon—Jesus, or perhaps an archangel named Michael, warred against Satan, the dragon.

The dragon and his angels waged war—the fallen angels allied with Satan; per Verse 4, 1/3 of the angels rebelled.

9 And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.

He was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him—Satan and the angels that followed him were cast out of Heaven, to Earth, after their rebellion.

10 Then I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, he who accuses them before our God day and night.

Now the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come—Now=after Christ’s victory and Satan’s defeat; Salvation by faith, power to believe, the kingdom of God demonstrated and authority to overcome has been given to the new covenant Ekklesia.

The accuser of our brethren has been thrown down—Satan.  He accused believers before God continually, but because of Christ’s victory on the cross, Satan’s accusatory abilities have been severely hampered since he is no longer allowed in Heaven.

11 And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death.

 They—the Ekklesia

Overcame him—Overcame Satan

The word of their testimony—of a changed life, of a personal walk with Yeshua

They did not love their life even when faced with death—they loved Jesus even more than their own life

12 For this reason, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them. Woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, knowing that he has only a short time.

For this reason, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them—the residents of Heaven, the “great cloud of witnesses” (Heb 12:1) applaud the exploits of the faithful Ekklesia.

Woe to the earth—Representing the “solid” portion of humanity, especially when contrasted with the sea (Pro 8:29; Isa 11:9; Luk 21:25; Rev 21:1), from which the second beast would arise (Rev 13:11); the earth is the “fruitful” portion of the earth (Gen 1:11).

and the sea—Representative of fallen humanity (Psa 65:7, Jud 1:13), teeming with monsters (Psa 148:7), from which the first beast would come (Rev 13:1).

know that he has only a short time—There is a definite end; Satan is aware that he will be locked up for 1000 years.

13And when the dragon saw that he was thrown down to the earth, he persecuted the woman who gave birth to the male child.

Dragon…thrown down to the earth—after Jesus’ victory over him (Rev 12:10,11)

He persecuted the woman—spiritual Israel, the singular people of God, His bride, including the church.

who gave birth to the male child—Yeshua the Son.

14But the two wings of the great eagle were given to the woman, so that she could fly into the wilderness to her place, where she was nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent.

But the two wings of the great eagle were given to the woman—the great eagle’s wings represent God’s provision of rescue and protection, as in Exodus 19:4:  “You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings.”  The woman—this is post-resurrection, and as such the woman here is the NT church, the Ekklesia.

fly into the wilderness to her place—the home of the Ekklesia in this world, a place of protection from the pursuing enemy, Egypt/the world; a place of dependence on God, supernatural provision (she was nourished) and nearness of His presence; a place of testing—think of Israel leaving Egypt, Elijah, Jesus and Paul.

for a time and times and half a time—representing 3 ½ years, 1260 days, 42 months and most probably 1260 years; see comments on Rev 12:6.

 15And the serpent poured water like a river out of his mouth after the woman, so that he might cause her to be swept away with the flood.

Serpent–Satan

Water like a river–multitudes of people

16But the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and drank up the river which the dragon poured out of his mouth.

Earth=death, burial of people Satan used to persecute the woman

17So the dragon was enraged with the woman, and went off to make war with the rest of her children, who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus.

 


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