General: This is a very controversial chapter. There is much symbolism and many interpretations. You will be introduced to a pregnant woman, a dragon, angels, a birth, being "caught up", rod of iron, 3-1/2 years again, Michael and war, persecution of woman, wings of an eagle given to woman, and other very questionable symbols. When this study is complete, it is recommended you rent or borrow a video or commentary of a more liberal presentation such as William Barclay's analysis of Revelation. Some do not even mention the rapture or tribulation in their study of Revelation. So you see that there are extremes. This course presentation of Revelation is prositioned as conservative and prophetic. Being prophetic, it is difficult to look at many of the historical interpretations of the symbology in Revelation as having already happened. There are many things that are happening and still need to happen in accordance with Christ's exposition of end times. Therefore, this examination is in light of prophecy.
v1-2: This chapter begins the second half of Revelations and the second half of the the tribulation. The seventh trumpet has sounded; however, the judgments will continue in chapter 15. This chapter, also part of what we have been calling the interlude, is a very controversial chapter. Now a "great wonder" appears to John. The Greek semeion for "wonder" means a sign of something miraculous or extraordinary. This also tells us to look at the vision as being symbolic, not literal. Remember where John is; he is still looking at things in or from heaven. This vision goes back in history and progresses to about now in the end times. Why would this be important? If appears God wants us to try to understand and comprehend the great signs being unveiled. Since John tells us to take this as symbolic, it infers the preceding material, unless otherwise stated, is to be taken literally. There is a great message in this vision.
A woman was seen "clothed" with the sun which means either wrapped or surrounded with bright light. We can invision the 12 stars as kind of like a diadem (man made crown). The moon seems to form a footstool under her feet. This sign is not explained in Revelation. So we have to look elsewhere in the Bible.
However, there is another symbolic woman in the New Testament. Jerusalem is called the mother of us all (Gal. 4:26). The connections for the 12 stars, sun, and the moon are brought togeter in the story of Joseph (Gen. 37:9-10). Joseph said someday his mother, father, and brothers would bow to him. The mother is Rachel in Joseph's account. In the Old Testament, the Israelis were sometimes represented as a woman (Isa 54:5-6; Jer. 31:32; Hosea 2:19-23) and even a pregnant woman (Isa 66:7-9; Micah 4:10-5:3).
Frank Shallieu in The Keys to Revelation -- says the woman represents the churches of John's time. The woman is wrapped in sun. The moon is the law. She is "above the law" as the New Testament people are. The church people were suffering in pain as the birth pain experienced by the woman. Whe is longing to be delivered from her internal abony. The false Christs were growing. It appears the woman is comparable to the white horse of the First Seal. She would come under the control of the rider bent on pursuit and conquest. --
Shallieu's "above the Law" means the new covenant of Christ takes priority over the Law. Paul says the Law binds us because we cannot live by them. You cannot follow them for salvation because you cannot follow them. However, Jesus' coming put the Law as the "indication" of sin. The new covenant was associated with grace. Unearned Grace of God is what saves us. So, although we should strive to follow the Law and repent when we do not, we are saved by the grace of God only. Again, that is because we cannot follow the Law; therefore, none of us would ever be saved if it depended on following the Law.
Most scholars believe it is Israel out of which will come the Messiah. The Genesis account is the place where the nation of Israel is revealed to Joseph in a dream. Joseph's father was the sun; his mother was the moon; the eleven stars were Joseph's brothers. Of course in Revelation, Joseph is considered the 12th star. The Woman is the true remnant of Israel. The child to be "born" is the Messiah. The child cries to say He is here coming from birth. He was also delivered in pain of birth and the pain of fright. The woman is standing on top of the moon. This could be an indication of the woman, Israel, being "
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