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Revelation 12

SUMMARY.--The Vision in Heaven. The Woman Clothed with the Sun. Her Offspring. The Great Red Dragon. The Conflict in Heaven. The War on the Woman's Seed. Her Seed Caught Up. Her Flight into the Wilderness. The Flood Cast by the Dragon. The Earth Helping the Woman.

      5. And she brought forth a man child. If the reader will turn to verse 17 he will learn that the remnant of the woman's seed is "those who keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ." The offspring of the woman, the "woman's seed," then refers to the saints. The man child is a symbol of the faithful members of the Church. But how shall they rule all nations with a rod of iron. The Greek says "rule as shepherds with a rod of iron." This implies a firm and permanent, but tender and loving rule, not a stern rule. In 2:27 it is promised that whosoever overcometh shall rule the nations with a rod of iron. In 19:15 the same thing is stated of the Word of God. This is accomplished through the saints. They shall yet possess the earth. Every knee shall bow, and every tongue confess. The kingdoms of the earth shall become the kingdoms of the Lord and his Christ. The man child, the woman's seed, the saints, shall have a complete, an undisputed, a resistless dominion. And her child was caught up. This figure always means a glorious exaltation. It signifies that God will protect the saints and give them victory. This was probably fulfilled when Christianity triumphed over Paganism in the fourth century.

      6-9. And the woman fled into the wilderness. The flight into the wilderness is alluded to again in verse 14 . There it belongs in order. Under that verse the meaning will be more fully considered. 7. And there was war in heaven. The woman had been seen in heaven, and there she is seen to be assailed. She has, however, a champion who fights her battles. It must be remembered that Michael, the woman, the man child, the dragon, the conflict, and the casting down of the dragon are all symbols. This symbolism indicates the defeat of the dragon in his attempt. He is not only vanquished, but humiliated, "cast down." The first mighty attempt of Satan to "abolish the Christian name from the earth," signally fails. We have already written enough to show the reader that this represents the facts of history. Pagan Rome, the dragon, struck at the heart of the Church. Blood flowed in rivers, the blood of the saints, but the grandeur of their lives and the heroism of their deaths struck fear and conviction to the hearts of their enemies. Each martyr called forth an army who were ready to die for Christ. God exalted the man child, caught it to his bosom, protected it, and Pagan Rome went down. The dragon prevailed not. Baffled, he is cast to the earth.

      10-12. Now is come salvation, etc. We have next the songs of triumph sung in heaven. "Now is come salvation and strength and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ. For the accuser of our brethren is cast down," etc. These songs of triumph are always heard when the symbolism portrays any great triumph of righteousness. See Revelation 7:12 Revelation 11:15 . The triumphant songs here seem to exult over the overthrow of Paganism in the fourth century. 11. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb. This shows how the victory indicated in verse 8 was won. It was won by the blood of Christ and the faithfulness of the saints. "They loved not their life even unto death." They were willing to give their lives for Christ. 12. Woe for the earth and for the sea. Not an imprecation but a prediction. Satan, cast down, will take another form to do his wicked work.

      13, 14. The dragon . . . persecuted the woman. In some other form, not as a Pagan power defying Christ, but perhaps garbed as an angel of light, he still persecuted the woman. 14. There were given two wings, etc. The meaning is that means were given to the persecuted church to flee into the wilderness, into a place where she would be hidden from view. The Church would disappear from sight. There she would be a time, and times, and half a time, or a year, two years and half a year, three and half years, forty-two months, 1260 days. See verse 6 above Revelation 11:2 Revelation 11:3 . This period we found under chapter 11 to begin in A. D. 533, and to extend to about the close of the last century.

      15-17. And the serpent cast out . . . a flood. He resorted to persecutions in order to drive the true Church off of the face of the earth. 16. The earth helped the woman. In some way the flood of persecution was so hindered that it failed to accomplish the object. I believe this refers to the hindrances often interposed by secular powers to stay persecution. The Hussites protected themselves under Zisca by force of arms; the German princes protected Luther; the edict of Nantes gave French Protestants a rest. These were times when "the earth" drank up the flood. 17. And the dragon waxed wroth. Was angry at his defeat. He continued the warfare by asking to destroy the woman's seed. I believe that this vision reveals the persecution of the true Church, first by Pagan, and then by Papal Rome, a persecution that results in the apparent disappearance of the true Church from the earth. Though not visible to the eye of the historian during this period, yet the true Church, fed of God, survives in the hearts of the hidden and persecuted saints. The period of her exile began about 533, in the reign of Justinian, and ends about the beginning of the nineteenth century. Before the end of the period, the Divine measure, the reed of the apostles, was used to measure the temple, altar and worshipers, and, as the result, over three-fourths of a century ago, the true Church began to appear as a visible body, once more in the world.

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