We should note that this scene in
Revelation starts in Chapter 11 at verse 19;
the chapter and verse markings are
relatively arbitrary and are not part of Scripture. Unfortunately, sometimes we are misled by this.
This is a new scene in heaven. John is now about to describe a new series
of visions, and so we expect to see some
introduction. Virtually all
commentators see this as NOT being in sequence; it is a flashback. The more modern writers see it more clearly,
I suspect because it is now a much more
familiar literary device.
The identity of the woman is much
disputed. There are three primary
theories, two of which may be synthesized
into what I believe is the right answer.
• The Roman Catholic church holds that this is
Mary. I reject this because of the
symbolic nature of the passage. If the woman is literal, the dragon is too
-- and show me the dragon.
• Most futurists hold that this is
Israel. Recall that in their timing the
church has been raptured -- and they are
therefore very reluctant to see the church in anything. It is, however, the clearest of the “single” explanations. We shall see what problems this causes with
the 1260 days.
• Many (but not all) historicists hold that
this is the church. I suspect that the
reason is that they wish to give no ground
to the futurists. This view has a
number of problems, the largest of which is
that the church did not give birth to Christ (the obvious man child) but the
other way around. The “solution” to this difficulty is to
remember that the church will reign with Christ, thus will be given the rod of iron, and this is really the
collection of believers. This, to me,
• A good synthesis of the two views above is
to view the woman as the “True Israel”
-- those who truly follow God. This is appealing for two reasons:
It neatly solves the dilemma of a
character who both gives birth to the Christ (Israel) and then is persecuted for 1260 days immediately after.
It also confirms the idea that the
church is in fact connected to the true Israel.
Sun, Moon, and Stars We have already
referenced in an earlier lesson the passage in Genesis 37:9-10 where these figures are used of people; in that instance, Joseph’s father, mother and brothers.
The fact that there are 12 stars must be construed as being either the twelve tribes or the twelve Apostles -- or both. In either event, the “True Israel” would
There have been a number of
interesting women who were convinced that they were this woman (though not nearly as many as there are men who
are the two witnesses). Among them are
• Mary Baker Eddy, founder of Christian
Science, who said that Christian Science was the man child, she the woman and the dragon the “mortal mind”
attempting to devour the truth.
• Joanna Southcott, who even announced the
birth date for the child -- and literally failed to deliver (1815)
• Aimee Semple McPherson, founder of the
Foursquare Gospel churches, frequently referred to herself as this woman.