Among the 13 chapters which form the first section of Revelation, Chapter 12, is one of the most complete units. Being able to interpret it correctly is the key to interpreting the remainder of Revelation. It might even be wise for a student to begin with Chapter 12 and then work both directions to understand the remainder of Revelation. The following is a relatively complete exposition of Chapter 12.
However first before we begin it is important to possess the “Key” to understanding this Chapter:
“To have the proper perspective and interpretation of the drama unfolded in the Twelfth Chapter of Revelation, one must realize from the outset that, this chapter is the record of events as viewed in or through the eyes of orthodoxy (the church nominal, more specifically Papacy) that is to say as it was perceived by them, not as the true Church perceives it.
Understand we are not here saying that it is presented as (we) Bible Students view it, but rather as God has presented it, as seen through the eyes of the Professing Church (from the church nominal perspective).
“The events were viewed (by the false church) as something wonderful, indeed as God’s overruling providential care in granting His professed Church an astounding victory over the world, the flesh, and the devil. That Constantine, the ruler of the mighty Roman Empire, would espouse Christianity and make it the religion of the realm was truly a surprising development. However instead of viewing the emperor’s nominal acceptance and adoption of Christianity as the religion of the empire in its proper light—that is, as being a most baneful and dangerous influence (an amalgamation of church and state), being a trap and an ensnarement of the true brotherhood—Christianity’s adherents, for the most part, considered this development a harbinger of better things to come and did not recognize it as an artifice and stratagem of the Adversary, (The Master Deceiver) who now would assume the role of an angel of light (Matt 4:8,9; John 5:43; 2 Cor 11:14).” “The Keys of Revelation“, Page 293
VERSE 1 “Now a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a garland of twelve stars.”
In the religious world (the ecclesiastical heavens) appears a sign (see margin) — a sign of a change from the Jewish Age to the Gospel Age. We see a woman (A woman can be the Church if she’s a virgin, the false church if she’s a harlot, or a covenant (Gal 4:24). This woman is the “Sarah Covenant” (“The New Jerusalem” Covenant of Gal 4:26, the “Covenant of sacrifice” of Psa 50:5). Some call her the Grace Covenant. She is the Covenant under which the Church is developed. She is clothed with the sun (the Gospel) but has the moon (the Jewish Law and prophets) as a foundation. Her head (the part which thinks, which leads and directs) is crowned by the 12 light-bearers (the Apostles).
“Which things are symbolic. For these are the two covenants: the one from Mount Sinai which gives birth to bondage, which is Hagar—.” Gal 4:24
“But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all.” Gal 4:26
“Gather my saints together unto me; those that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice.” Psa 50:5
“Then spoke Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that follows me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” John 8:12
“While ye have light, believe in the light, that ye may be the children of light. These things spoke Jesus, and departed, and did hide himself from them.” John 12:36
“Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid.” Matt 5:14
VERSE 2 “Then being with child, she cried out in labor and in pain to give birth.”
She wants to be delivered of her true seed (the Wheat class). Unfortunately, as we shall see, and as we know from Jesus’ parable, there will also be a false seed (Tares). That her seed is plural may be seen by the reading of Verse 17 where it refers to the “remnant of her seed.”
“And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.” Rev 12:17
VERSE 3 “And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great, fiery red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems on his heads.”
Another sign of the changing age occurs; a great red dragon. A dragon is a civil power; the red dragon actually became the official symbol of pagan Rome, after their symbol was the eagle. This dragon is almost certainly the civil power known as pagan Rome on its way out of power. Paul refers to it in 2 Thess. 2:7 as “he who now restrains.” The New American Standard reads. “…he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way” In short: Pagan Rome fought the development of Christianity (false as well as true), but pagan Rome was to disintegrate, making way, as Paul points out, for the “mystery of iniquity” …the Tare Class which would dominate Christianity and make Babylon such an anti-Christian institution. This dragon has seven heads (forms of government) and 10 horns (supporting powers). The Antichrist will eventually dominate these 10 powers. Thus we saw in Rev 11:13 that a tenth part (France) fell in the French Revolution. The crowns upon the heads show Rome’s sovereignty during its seven stages.
VERSE 4 “His tail drew a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was ready to give birth, to devour her Child as soon as it was born.”
The tail of this dragon is likely Constantine as he was the LAST emperor in Rome; he moved the Imperial capital to Constantinople setting up great changes in history. Constantine, now embracing Christianity, and being chief religious ruler of the empire, called the Council of Nice which drew to it one third of all the bishops (stars, teachers) of heaven (the Christian religious ruler-ship). It is almost at this point that Babylon is born. The bishops are “cast…to the earth” – that is to say, they now become primarily embroiled in earthly power-grabs and political maneuvering. Their spirituality is lost. The dragon, wishing to use newly-born Babylon (the Wheat-Tare mixture) to strengthen Rome, is ready to devour (consume) this “new” religion for political reasons (political opportunism).
VERSE 5 “She bore a male Child who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron. And her Child was caught up to God and His throne.”
The child of the covenant (which was supposed to be true Christianity) turns out to be a “man-child”, “the man of sin” which, during the Christian age, would rule all nations with total dictatorial authority (a rod of iron). This is the clear history of the Roman Catholic Church during what most scholars call the Dark Ages. This “child” (the Papacy) was exalted to being “God on Earth” (Compare 2 Thess 2:3, 4)
“Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sits in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.”
VERSE 6 “Then the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God that they should feed her there one thousand two hundred and sixty days.”
Consequently the true covenant (and the true seed mentioned in Verse 17) had to flee into a condition of mind-separateness, away from this symbolic “city” (government, Great Babylon) which persecuted her. (Rev 17:18). Here for 1,260 years (from 539 A.D. when the Pope had obtained dominance in the city of Rome until 1799 A.D. when the French Revolution ended with the embarrassing capture of the Pope by Napoleon) the true saints fed on whatever truth God let to be known in the midst of the darkness.
Excerpts taken from the New Albany Notes on Revelation.
Continued with next post.