|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 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, seems strained.
|• 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
|• Joanna Southcott,
who even announced the birth date for the child -- and literally failed to
|• Aimee Semple
McPherson, founder of the Foursquare Gospel churches, frequently referred to
herself as this woman.