Revelation 12:1-6: Further thoughts.
A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head. 2 She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth. 3 Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on its heads. 4 Its tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth. The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that it might devour her child the moment he was born. 5 She gave birth to a son, a male child, who ‘will rule all the nations with an iron sceptre.’ And her child was snatched up to God and to his throne. 6 The woman fled into the wilderness to a place prepared for her by God, where she might be taken care of for 1,260 days.NIV
Here are just a few more thoughts on the passage we started to look at yesterday:
- Since the seven trumpets followed on from the opening of the seven seals, it would be natural now to expect the outpouring of the seven bowls of wrath, to complete the story. However, what we have is a lengthy parenthesis from 12:1-14:20, and it shows the nature of the conflict Christ will bring to an end at His appearing. ‘’The ‘parenthesis’ thus lies at the heart of the book, in significance as well as position. It covers the whole Messianic period from the birth of Christ to the consummation.’ G.R.Beasley-Murray: ‘New Bible Commentary’’, p.1441. ‘’The dark secret is revealed; the real problem is identified; the curtain has risen on the drama-within-the-drama, the central action which forms now, the central scene in the whole book. The woman and her child are carrying the purposes of God for the world. The dragon is doing his best to snuff out those purposes before they can get under way.’’ Tom Wright: ‘Revelation for Everyone’, p.108.
- As we saw yesterday, the ‘’woman’’ represents the ‘Mother’ of the Messianic community i.e. the believing people of God through all ages – the ‘church’ in both Testaments. But as Tom Wright points out, Eve may also lie behind this figure, because she was told that her ‘’seed’’ would crush the serpent’s head (Genesis 3:15).
- Verse 6 accords with the teaching of 7:1-7 and 11:1,2. The church is kept safe from the wiles of the devil during the antichrist’s reign. There is seemingly another allusion to the Exodus story here. The people of Israel escaped from the tyrant Pharaoh by going off into the wilderness, although there they would have other challenges to face. (See also verse 13ff). ‘’The church needs to know that its present struggles and sufferings are not a sign that God has gone to sleep on the job. They are the sign that a great, cosmic drama is being staged, in which they are being given a vital though terrible role to play.’’ Tom Wright, pp.109/110.