“We are at war!”
Since the fall of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden the whole world has been racked with wars famines, pestilence, earthquakes, famine and ecological disasters of one sort or another because of the sinfulness of the human heart and because man by birth and by nature is an ardent rebel against His creator and against His laws and statutes. (Psalm 51:5) (Jeremiah 17:9) Add into the mix Satan’s activities on earth and in the realm of spirits and wicked principalities and you have the terrible situation that has existed in the world since the fall of man in the Garden of Eden. There is no doubt today that there is a war going on between the power of light and the powers of darkness, a war that goes all the way back to the Garden of Eden. Behind the scenes there is a conflict going on in the unseen spiritual realm where time as we know it on earth does not exist. This dimension is not a physical one but a spiritual realm where the Angels of God are constantly at war with the angels of Satan. We know that the answer to Daniel’s prayer was delayed 21 days because his Messiah, the Metatron (the pre-existent Jesus) had been battling with Satan who had been trying to prevent the answer to Daniel’s prayer from coming to fruition. In the end Michael came to help the Lord. (Daniel 10:12-13) The battle in the unseen and spiritual realm continues to this day and at the end of this age Michael himself will arise once again to defend Israel. (Daniel 12:1-3)
“A Battle for the souls of men and women”
Now those who do not know God or His Son our Lord Jesus Christ have no idea what is going on today in the world. All they see is war, devastation and death but do not realise that there is an ongoing spiritual war being fought for the souls of men and women, a battle between the angels of God and the angels of Satan.
“A spiritual wrestling match”
For the believer in the Lord Jesus, this battle, this wrestling match, is being fought with principalities and the powers of spiritual wickedness in high places. (Ephesians 6:12) Every true believer and follower of the Lord Jesus is at war with Satan. We are also told in the Bible that all of God’s angels are “ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation.” (Hebrews 1:14). These very powerful angels who serve the LORD our God and us as well are constantly working with us, for us and on behalf of us to throw back these angels of Satan seeking to destroy our very lives as believers. The only way we can overcome these wicked spirits working 24/7 against our spiritual and sometimes physical lives is to use the spiritual weapons God has given us to fight them off. It is “blood and guts,” “hand to hand combat” over “barbed wire terrain.” These weapons of our warfare are not carnal ones, but mighty through God to the pulling down of Satan’s strongholds in the spiritual realm. (2 Corinthians 10:4) Not only are we to put on the whole spiritual armour of God but also to wield the shield of faith and the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God. (Ephesians 6:10-18)
“Targeting Jews and Christians”
Satan’s strategy and plan of attack is aimed at two kinds of people today. These are Jews and born again Bible believing Christians. He is not concerned about the unsaved in the world because they belong to him anyway as the Bible tells us that the whole world’s value systems, its pleasures, its pursuits and ambitions are all under the power and control of the wicked one. (1 John 5:19) The ones he is concerned about are you and me who belong to the LORD and to His blessed Son our Lord Jesus Christ.
“Behind the scenes”
When you consider the breath, the depth and the scope of the Book of Revelation there is a common theme running through the whole book namely a war between God and Satan being waged in the spiritual realm. In John’s vision the Spirit of God reveals things to him both in time on this earth and in the unseen spiritual realm that is out of time. Sometimes John sees into the eternal realm and even into heaven itself yet at other times he is witnessing devastating and portentous events on earth in time. In Revelation chapter twelve we see the real conflict, we see behind the scenes as it were and what is really going on in the world of men today and what has been going on since the fall of man in the Garden of Eden when Adam gave Satan control over the hearts and minds of the whole human race. Much of the language in the book of Revelation is allegorical and not literal yet in the light of history it is not only describing spiritual realities but also relating to physical events in history where the Jews and born again Christians are concerned.
“Like two sides of the same coin”
Another thing to always keep in mind is that Israel and the Church are like two sides of the same coin, separate and distinct yet one. There is a spiritual connection. The faithful Church is an extension of faithful Israel and has not replaced Israel and the father of them both is Abraham, the father of faith, and of all who have the same kind of faith he had in God whether they are ethnically Jew or Gentile. God is no respecter of persons but He is a respecter of faith (Hebrews 11:6) And so we begin to look at this behind the scenes vision that the Lord Jesus gave to His servant John concerning what He had seen (in the past), what is now (in John’s time) and what will take place later (in the future). So we have three time frames, the past, the present and the future. The Hebrew prophets also prophesied for three time frames, namely for their own time, for the first coming of Jesus and for the Second Coming of Jesus. Sometimes they would prophecy all of these in the same breath even though the events they were speaking about could be centuries apart. So you could say that the Book of Revelation applies to John’s time, it applies to Church history and it applies to the Last Days including the Second Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Now let’s look at our text…
A Great Sign in Heaven
(Vs.1-2) “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; and she was with child; and she cried out, being in labour and in pain to give birth.”
This woman described is not a reference to Mary the Mother of our Lord Jesus as some are saying today. Those who want to support this view are those who follow the dogma of the Roman Catholic Church where Mary is concerned. They have elevated her to a position of prominence and power in heaven that is not anywhere mentioned in scripture. We will see in our text how it cannot refer to Mary. The woman described is actually a reference to Israel. In the dream Joseph had where he saw the sun and the moon and the eleven stars bowing down to him for his time it meant that Jacob (the sun?) Rachel (the moon) the eleven stars (his brothers) would bow down and pay him homage. This dream was a clear reference to Israel. The Apostle John had this in mind. There are several things we notice about this woman.
Firstly; she was “clothed with the sun.”
In the Bible we are told that the Lord Jesus Christ is “the Sun of Righteousness that arises with healing in His wings.” (Malachi 4:2) This is not only a reference to the first coming of Jesus but also a reference to the glory of the Messianic Kingdom when Israel shall be truly a light to lighten the Gentiles. The Lord Jesus Christ is the perfect embodiment of Israel, He is the Firstborn as Israel was the First born. In the Millennial Kingdom the light of His presence will fill the earth and night and day will no longer exist. (Zechariah 14:6) This is the future glory of Israel and by extension the Church who together with Jesus are destined to reign on the earth and to co- rule and reign with Him with over the nations that have survived the Time of Jacob’s Trouble.
Secondly; “the moon was under her feet.”
Just as the moon reflects the light of the sun in the same way the Church reflects the light of the Lord Jesus Christ. There is a story told of a boy in a Sunday school class who asked the class the question “what was a saint?” A boy put up his hand and said; “teacher a saint is one through whom the light shines.” The teachers asked him how he arrived at this answer. The boy replied that he has seen the image of a saint in a stained glass window in his church illuminated by the sun light shining through the stained glass of the window.
Thirdly; “She wore a crown of 12 stars.”
In the Bible stars can be metaphors for believers in both the Old and the New Testament. (Genesis 15:5) (Daniel 12:3) (Philippians 2:15) Also they do represent the twelve tribes of Israel and by extension the Church. (James 1:1) In the Old Testament Joseph had a dream which he related to his brothers and to his father and in the dream he saw the sun and the moon and eleven stars bowing down to him. In the context it was Israel. Jacob, who had his name changed to Israel, was the sun. The moon was Joseph’s mother and the eleven stars were his brothers. Joseph of course was the twelfth brother. (Revelation 7:5-8) We also need to keep in mind that Joseph is a major type of the Lord Jesus the suffering Messiah. The Lord Jesus of course was from the tribe of Judah and his brothers and sisters, namely the nation of Israel, will bow before Him in worship and adoration when He comes back to establish His Millennial Kingdom. Israel will worship their long lost brother as Joseph’s brothers bowed down before him. Zechariah tells us this. (Zechariah 12:10-14) It is clear that this Great Sign in heaven refers to Israel in its primary context and is most certainly the nation of Israel and not a reference to Mary.
Fourthly; we also notice that “she was with child; and she cried out, being in labour and in pain to give birth.”
Now we all know that there is pain in child birth and that the woman in labour suffers a lot as she goes through the painful contractions just before the baby is born. The Lord Jesus Christ was born a Jew and came forth from the Jewish nation. Yes Mary gave Him birth that is true, however, the labour pains described in the text are the trials and tribulations Israel experienced in their long and troubled history at the hands of their oppressors. Now many of their troubles were their own doing. When they walked by faith and sought to keep God’s commandments they were divinely protected but when they walked in unbelief and broke God’s commandments they were punished, Under the law of Moses there were rewards for keeping the law and penalties for breaking the law. However, even when Israel was walking with the LORD they were often attacked by their enemies. Why has Israel been persecuted more than any other nation in history? Why have they been like Jacob, who when questioned by Pharaoh of Egypt concerning his age, replied; “The years of my pilgrimage are a hundred and thirty. My years have been few and difficult, and they do not equal the years of the pilgrimage of my fathers.”
Why has Israel suffered?
The continuing text of Revelation chapter 12 tells us why Israel has suffered more than any other nation on earth. Down through history Satan has tried to destroy Israel as a nation because he knows the Bible better than anyone else and knows that the One who would reverse the Adamic curse and defeat him would come from the nation of Israel. Furthermore, Satan hates women because through a woman would come forth Israel’s deliverer and the salvation of the world. Satan foresaw that his kingdom would be plundered by Israel’s Messiah. Satan did not know when Israel’s Messiah would be born so he persecuted the Jewish people from the time they were given birth as a nation. In the Middle-East today Satan is still trying to destroy Israel and he is more furious than ever because he now knows who Jesus is and what He has done at the cross and he is mad at God, mad at the Lord Jesus and mad at Israel and the faithful Church as we will see in our next study.