Saturday, 02 September 2017 17:04

80. A woman, a dragon and a child: the child who was caught up to God * Revelation 12:5-6 - Part 3 of 3

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5 And she brought forth a male child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne.

6 And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and three score days.

 

PART 3

 

*** Background ***: The woman was in labor. She was about to give birth and the dragon was standing in front of her, waiting for the child to be born. The dragon wanted to destroy the child. (Revelation 12:1-4). As we saw in the previous two studies, the pregnant woman is the Israel church. It was from that nation that the Messiah would be born. The dragon is Satan, waiting for the Messiah to be born. He wanted to place his attack as soon as possible.

*** The child was born ***: As prophesied, a male child was indeed born. There are many prophecies in the Bible concerning the birth of Christ such as the ones we see in Micah 5:2-4; Isaiah 7:14. "And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots. But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked." (Isaiah 11:1-4). Isaiah 9:6 says: "For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace." Jesus is the male child Revelation 12:5 is referring to. Christ is the fulfillment of the first prophecy about the messiah written in Genesis 3:15 (see study #78).

*** He would rule the nations with a rod of iron ***: In order to understand this verse, we need to look at a few verses in the Bible. There are three important elements in this section of Revelation 12:5: "the male child", "the nations", and the “rod of iron". Let's read Psalm 2:7-12:

"I will declare the decree: the LORD has said unto me, You are my Son; this day have I begotten you. Ask of me, and I shall give you the nations for your inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron; you shall dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel. Be wise now therefore, O you kings: be instructed, you judges of the earth. Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him."

- The male child: All the verses we are studying point to Jesus as the male child. The Bible leaves no doubt about the interpretation of this first element.

- The nations: In this text of Psalm2:7-12, we see the same three elements of Revelation 12:5: the son, the nations, and the rod of iron. In this Psalm, we learn that the Son will break the nations unless they repent and decide to serve the Lord (Psalm 2:11). Now we know that 'the nations' are those people who do not yet serve God.

- The rod of iron: The rod is the instrument Christ would use to break the nations, so they could see clearly the decision they have to make: to trust Him or not (Psalm 2:12). Revelation 19:15 tells us what is this rod of iron that He uses on the nations: "And out of his mouth goes forth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God." The Rod of iron is the sharp sword that comes out of Jesus' mouth. Remember John's description of the glorified Christ in Revelation 1:16? And how Jesus introduced Himself to the church of Pergamum in Revelation 2:12? Jesus has a sharp sword that comes out of His mouth. He uses it to smite the nations and bring them to repentance. This sword is the Word of God, which is now contained in the Bible. Hebrews 4:12 says: "For the word of God is living, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart." (See studies #9, #17 and #18).

*** The child was caught up unto a God ***: At a first glance, it seems that the child was born and was immediately caught up to God as a baby. But when we look closely to Revelation 12:5, we start to see the progression of events. The Messiah was born into the Jewish nation. He then spread His Truth during His ministry, calling people to repentance. Finally, he died and resurrected. He went back to Heaven and was caught up to the Father and His throne. In Revelation 4 and 5 (studies #28-36), we see Christ’s arrival in Heaven, as the Lamb who was slain. He was worthy to sit down on the throne, at the right side of the Father. The expression "caught up unto God" reminds us of another expression we see in Daniel 9:26, where the "Messiah [would be] be cut off, but not for himself". This verse in Daniel is talking about the time when Christ would die, sealing the fate of sin forever.

*** What happened to the woman after she gave birth ***: Revelation 12:6 says: "And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she had a place prepared by God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and three score days." It is clear that after giving birth the woman ran away from the dragon. But what does that mean? As we've mentioned many times before, in Bible analogies, 'woman' is always a reference to the church. The pregnant woman was a reference to the Israel church. Christ was born from the line of David, from the tribe of Juda (Mateus 1:1-2). The woman after she gave birth still continues to be a symbol for God's church. But keep in mind that she became a symbol for the church of a different time period from the one when she was pregnant. We saw that the son had returned to Heaven by the time the woman ran away from the dragon. At that point, God's church was not made up of Israelites alone. Anyone who accepts Jesus becomes part of God's family. "For you are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ's, then are you Abraham's descendants, and heirs according to the promise." (Galatians 3:26-29). Revelation 12:6 is not a reference to the original Israel church. After Christ's death, anyone who accepts Him as Savior can be included. The woman after giving birth is a symbol for the worldwide Church. This Church is formed by those who remain faithful to the iron rod message of Jesus.

- She fled to the wilderness: The dragon was now persecuting the woman in such intensity that she needed to run away into the wilderness. The Christian church had to run away just like the ancient Israelites had to flee from Egipt into the wilderness (Exodus 13:17; Exodus 16:21). And just as God had provided a land for the Israelites, He had also prepared a place for the woman. This period of hardship would last for 1260 days (Revelation 12:6). Once again, we see this prophetic time period. We saw this period in Revelation 11:2-3 when the faithful people of God (represented by the two witnesses prophesying in sackcloth) suffered oppression in the hand of those who do not follow God's Truth (see studies #16, #20, #68, #71 and #72). Revelation 12:14 makes it clear that this period of 1260 prophetic days (or 3.5 prophetic years, which equals to 1260 literal years) is identical to the expression "time, times, and half a time": "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". Daniel 7:25 also talks about this, when he mentions a power that would "wear out the saints of the most High" for "a time, times and half a time". (See also Daniel 12:7).

All of these references to 1260 years seem to point to the same period of time. The focus of this passage in Revelation is not on the exact length of time the Church would suffer, but that God would protect His faithful people from spiritual death. This period corresponds to the Dark Ages, a time when Christians suffered terribly. We know that this period was to end before the Second Coming of Jesus. This is because after this initial persecution, he would go on to persecute "the remnant of her offspring" (Revelation 12:17).

*** Overview ***: The emphasis of Revelation 12:5 seems to be in the fact that the Messiah completed His mission. The dragon was powerless and unable to devour the Son in any point of Christ's life on Earth. The dragon was ready to devour, and yet, the Son came and went flawlessly. After Jesus's death and resurrection, the identity of the faithful church changed. It was no longer a matter of being genetically linked to Abraham. The connection now was done through Christ's blood. Anyone who truly accepts Him becomes part of the Church. After giving birth, the woman became a symbol for the Christian Church. Christians suffered terrible persecution during the Dark Ages, a period that lasted about 1200 years. This time of suffering parallels the 3.5 years Christ suffered during His ministry on Earth. God, in His infinite love and mercy, cared for His people during that difficult time, by sustaining and nourishing them spiritually. Like Jesus, they may have suffered and faced death. Jesus warned us about the persecution we would suffer for following His Word: "But they will treat you like this on account of My name, because they do not know the One who sent Me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin. Now, however, they have no excuse for their sin. Whoever hates Me hates My Father as well. If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin; but now they have seen and hated both Me and My Father. But this is to fulfill what is written in their Law: ‘They hated Me without reason.’ When the Advocate comes, whom I will send you from the Father—the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father—He will testify about Me. And you also must testify, because you have been with Me from the beginning.” (John 15:21-27, Berean Study Bible). We must keep on testifying and live according to God's instructions. We must trust that God will continue to nourish us here on Earth while He is preparing a place for us in Heaven. Jesus said: "These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world". (John 16:33, New American Standard Bible).

   
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