What does Revelation 14:1-5 mean to us now?

 

Being blameless and of faith has a resound that benefits us and reaches to Heaven and God’s ears. There is a direct link to how we are accountable to one another and how we are enticed into sin. This also directly relates to our faith and spiritual growth in Christ. If we are tempted or get caught up in sin, we must realize our need and call to repent, and seek Christ’s forgiveness. Being faithful and pure sexually means you are a person of faith and conviction, while to be unfaithful and in contrast, being loose sexually means we are loose with our relationship to God. This will result in personal and relational devastation and chaos. Sex causes a bond and is meant for a sacred occasion. When it is misused, it is devastating to all involved and greatly affects our faith and how we run our churches. This is also the reason sexual abuse is so devastating for people! The victim is bonded to his or her attacker in a perverse way, so the act stays in the mind as he or she keeps living it out.  

In the case of abuse or mistakes, we have to be diligent to seek forgiveness and repentance. And, if needed, we should seek professional counseling to overcome the experience through God’s grace, love, and forgiveness (Gen. 2:24-25; 34:1-3, 8; Prov. 5:15 -22; Rom. 8:12-17; 1 Cor. 6: 12-20; 7:3-5; 2 Cor. 10:5-6; Eph. 1:3; 2:4-10; 5:21-32; Col. 3:1-4; Heb. 13:4; James 4:4). 

Real worship comes from our gratitude and faithfulness to the Lord; it must never be pretentious! In our planning of worship, we must allow the Spirit to direct us. It is OK to compose, plan, and rehearse our praise and music, but we should not allow our worship to be a performance or a show of personalities. Rather, we are called to be an offering of praise to the main and only audience, who is Christ our Lord 

Questions to Ponder: 

  1. Christians, who focus on Christ, will be able to follow Him as He leads and loves. How has this been so for you? How can you be better at it?
  1. Why do some Christians allow themselves to be easily led by manipulations or showman personalities and not by the Truth of the Word? How is this like the way the beast will deceive people?
  1. If tough times really hit your church, will their allegiance be to the Lord and marked by Christ or to something else? Do you think that there is no excuse for being manipulated when the Truth is in us by both the Spirit and in writing contained in the Word?
  1. What can you do to make sure that your faith and deeds will not be deceived? How does Christ give you hope and victory? What can you do to see His hope more clearly in times of stress and discomfort?  What can you do to improve your loyalty, faith, and allegiance to the Lord and be marked by Christ? How will your faithfulness and Fruit be used?

 © 2007 R. J. Krejcir Ph.D. Into Thy Word Ministries http://www.intothyword.org

The Four Main Views of Revelation 14:1-5

 

The Preterist view: They see this passage as a description of the powers of Heaven being greater than the combined forces and associates of evil. The Dragon, Beast of the Sea, and the Beast of the Land try to eliminate the Church but are no match for Christ or we who are in Christ. The primary themes of victory for the faithful and judgment for those who are evil are shown, and when Christians choose to associate themselves with evil and evil’s ways, woe to them! When Christians choose to rebel, there are consequences that are eternal. The Early Church prevailed against the savage assaults from Nero and the Roman Empire. Some see this as a duplicate scene in chapter seven, but with more detail. The song is a song of redemption and only those who are redeemed can sing it. The virginity is not seen as sexual or physical; rather, it is seen as being faithful and refusing to bow to manipulations and temptations from evil. The purpose of the apocalypse is to allow the fruition of faith, the encouragement and growth of the Church, and show that faith, victory, and hope in Christ will prevail against all those who oppose Christ.

 The Futurist view: They see this as events taking place as the Great Tribulation as its closes and the Church Millennial Age begins. They see this passage as a glimpse of the conflict of good versus evil and how the Good of Christ prevails. Others in this camp see it as extra information or an index describing an overview of events of the Tribulation. Some see the 144,000 as Jewish believers; others see it as faithful Christians or more informing information to chapter seven. Mount Zion is seen as literal or a synonym for heaven. Virgins and no lie are seen as faithfulness and the willingness to confess and turn from sin, and first fruits as offerings to God. Others see those people who were raptured as the ones who return to earth after the Tribulation. 

The Idealist view: They see this as a voice from Heaven, the 144,000 who are the people God has redeemed giving testimony and praise to God. They also see this passage as a duplicate scene found in chapter seven, just adding more details. The rest of the passage deals with the contrast of loyalty and allegiance to the beast or to Christ. Then, new song can only be sung by those whose joy is in the Lord. They see this passage as pastoral, as giving hope and comfort to the struggling early Christians so we today can have patience and endurance. 

The Historicist view: They see this passage as the struggle of the Church trying to reform against the evils of the Medieval Catholic Papacy. Even though its early reformers (such as Wycliffe) were killed, the Church still prevailed and their work still lived on for Christ’s glory. Their faith was a song of testimony and faithfulness to countless generations. The images in this passage represent the triumph of the faithful giving eternal glory to God and encouragement to the Church. They see the 144,000 not as an actual number of any particular people being saved, but rather as representative of those whose faith is in Christ. Virgin represents the spiritual decline after the Reformation when the reforming Church was struggling to stay faithful against persecutions and a loss of energy. Others see the new song as the declaration that Christ is our Rightfulness. Virgin is seen as people refining from sexual immorality and being morally pure, which glorifies God.

What does 144,000 mean?

 

            144,000 is a symbol, meaning that the numbers are beyond counting or unfathomable to man (Rev. 1:1; 2:20; 22:6). This denotes how Israel returned from the Babylonian captivity to inherit the land (Ezek. 48). This also alludes to us, the Church, who are the inheritors (Rom. 11:1-36; Rev.12).  In Rev Chapter 7, it is set in twelve series of 12,000. Twelve, like most numbers in Revelation, is not an actual number nor is 12,000 or 144,000; rather it refers to “fullness.” Twelve is also found, in various Jewish sects and in the Dead Sea Scrolls, to mean “the people of God.” Then the “12” is magnified as to 12 multiplied by 12 to mean complete fullness or God’s bountiful provisions and blessings. This is a symbolic Jewish metaphor for being “servants of God,” just as the key phrase previous to this symbolizes. This also means that He is the Provider. The debate over the numbers centers on whether they represent the entirety of saved souls or just those who just are “restored” Jews. Nonetheless, the term “servants of our God” makes it more understandable (Ezek. 9; Matt. 10:30; Rev. 9:4; 14:1-5; 21:8; 22:15). 

Remember, the context is also about worship and church leadership. Jesus is the ONE who is qualified and able to judge and, by his grace, to give us a reprieve. It is amazing of all the convoluted theories on this number that ignore Jewish customs, apocalyptic metaphors, and of course, the context and Old Testament that tell us the meaning. Many commentators see this passage as just pertaining to actual Jewish tribes or a group of Jewish believers who convert during the period of tribulation. 

We are not told exactly who and what these 144,000 are. Possibly, it is because it is not important, as the reason and purpose of pointing to Christ and showing us opportunities to get our priorities in line with His are far greater. We can either honor His name by living lives worthy to be in Him, or we can reject His offer of salvation and reconciliation and do as we want; and we can “want” ourselves all the way from judgment to hell. The bottom line meaning is that God keeps His promises to individuals and to people groups, as He here confirms. 

The point of this passage tells us that God is at work even when all seems lost¾and then it gets even worse! God is still there, even in tribulations, no matter how short or great His love and grace are carrying us through it! The purpose that John has in mind, and what God calls us to in the context of this passage, is the obvious: Beware! Judgment is coming! And now, here is some grace. Here is a quiet time so you can assess where your priorities and direction in life will be, but there is not much time.  

For more see https://biblicaleschatology.org/rev-7/

Exegetical look into Revelation 14:4-5

 

  • Not defile themselves with women means keeping oneself free from sexual immorality. Wrong sex at the wrong time with the wrong person hurts both us and others, and defiles us before God. It destroys relationships when we are called to make good ones. This is also a call not to be involved with things that are worldly or pagan.
  • Pure/virgin refers to being chaste spiritually while giving a physical example, as in faithful with our sexuality. In Jewish culture, it referred to the call of purity for priests (Lev. 15:16-18; Deut. 23:9-11). Here it is a call to be faithful in our daily lives, relations, and relationships with others. The contrast is fornication with the beast or faithfulness to God. We cannot have friendship with God and still seek the evil ways of the world; it is our choice—either One or the other (Ex. 34:15; 1 Cor. 1:8; 6:15-20; Heb 13:4; James 4:4).
  • They follow. This is an image of sheep following the care of the shepherd. Here, Jesus is the Shepherd who loves and cares for us; we follow Him from our faith and gratitude, staying on His path (Matt. 19:21; Mark 8:34; John 10:4; 14-15; Rev. 7:17; 13:17).
  • The expression, First fruits, gives the image of faithfulness as an offering of the best we can be; “my utmost for His Highest” before the Lord is an expression of our true devotion to God. It is used as a term for the first Christian converts who exercised real, extreme faith and who were willing to cut off their family and cultural ties, and face persecutions. In the Old Testament, the Jews offered God the first of their harvest, which was the best, before they partook of the labor and toil of their cultivation. Here, it is a call to cultivate our faith and offer it up before our Lord as obligatory as well as a form of worship (Ex. 22:29; Lev. 2:12-16; Deut. 18:4; Neh. 10:35, 37, 39; Prov. 3:9). For us, it is more of the freewill verity of faith to declare our confidence of faith and holiness to God. It is also a means of conviction to others as people see our faith. The Spirit uses that to be a testimony (Lev 23:9-14; 2 Kings 4:42; Jer. 2:3; Rom. 11:16; 16:5; 1 Cor. 15:20).
  • No lie/no guile, meaning falsehood, refers to standing for ethics in God’s truth—nor engaging in false teaching, manipulating others for personal gain or skewed agendas, or theological falsehoods, keeping them and/or refusing to yield to real Truth. (Ex. 1:19-20; Is 53:9; Jer. 38:25-27; Rom. 1:25; 1 Pet. 2:21-22; 3:8-11; 2 Pet. 3:3-18; 1 John 2:22; Rev. 3:9).
  • Blameless/without fault means to be at peace with God because we are “bought” by Christ’s redemption. As Christians, we can have peace with God as a result of being justified by faith. By the same token, we can still sin, disappoint, and displease God even though we are saved. He calls us to live according to His requirements, and if we refuse, we need to take heed. Our salvation is secure but we are still accountable for our actions for we will receive commendation and rewards when He returns (Matt. 5: 33-37; Rom. 5:1; 1 Cor. 3:10-15; 6:11-20; 2 Cor. 5:10; Eph 1:3-14; 1 Pet. 1:19; Jude 24, 25).

Exegetical look into Revelation 14:1-3

 

  • Lamb. This is an image of Jesus Christ, the sacrificial Lamb of God who redeems the sins of humanity. Christ is the ultimate depiction and application of this-Jesus Saves (Gen. 17:3; 22; Ex. 12:3; 2 Chron. 7:3; Is. 53:8; Mark 3:11; 10:45; John 1:29; 3:16; 1 Cor. 6:20; 2 Cor. 8:9; Heb. 12:22-24; Rev. 5:6)!
  • Mount Zion refers to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem and/or the city of Jerusalem, the representations of Hope and sacredness, which are the most holy and sacred places in Judaism. Before Jerusalem was Israel’s city, it was a pagan fortress that was taken over by David; he established it as the capital (2 Sam. 5:7). Thus Zion, the pagan name, becomes a synonym for Jerusalem and a symbol as the eternal dwelling place of God. This is also an image of great comfort in that Jesus Christ has victory over evil and corruption (1 Cor. 15:24-28; Rom. 8:19-21; Gal 4:26; 2 Thess. 2:8; Heb 12:22-24; Rev. 11:19; 14:6-18; 19:11-16; 21:2), and will physically and spiritually rule over all of the earth (Matt. 19:28; Luke 22:28-30; Rev. 20:1-10). This also refers to the restoration of the faithful—from captivity for the Jews, and the promise of Christ’s second coming for Christians as Jesus rules from His throne in Zion/Jerusalem (Is. 2:2-4; 65:17-25; Zeph. 3:11-13; Zech. 9:9-10; 14:16-21; as well as 4 Ezra). Jesus in His glory, is seated on the throne, and the righteous (those who accepted Christ) will be clothed with authority by His righteousness to inhabit the New Kingdom (Dan. 7:22; Matt. 19:28; 25:34; Luke 12:32; 22:28-30; 1 Cor.  6:2; Rev 2:5; 21:2-3), fulfilling the Kingdom of God on earth (Matt. 16:18-19; 26:29; Mark 14:25; Heb. 8:11).
  • Jesus Saves is a symbol, meaning that the numbers are beyond counting or unfathomable to man. (Rev. 1:1; 2:20; 7:1-8; 22:6) This denotes how Israel returned from the Babylonian captivity to inherit the land (Ezek. 48). This also alludes to us, the Church, who are the inheritors (Rom. 11:1-36; Rev.12). 
  • His name…written on their foreheads is a contrast of allegiance to the beast versus to Christ (Rev. 13:16-18). It refers to the loyalty of the faithful and the contrast of the disloyalty of those who desire evil over the Way of God. God sees and protects those who are His (Rev. 3:12; 7:3-8; 13:16; 22:4).
  • Sound from heaven…rushing waters. This image is from Ezekiel, a display of God’s splendor, purity, and overwhelming elaborations, magnitude, and majesty. These words, as in any human language or thought, are insufficient to convey who God is or what Heaven is like (Rev. 5:6; 14:14; 19:11-13). Obviously, this is a figurative, not a literal description of Heaven (Ezek. 1:24; 43:2; Rev. 1:15).
  • Loud peal of thunder is the symbolic representation of God’s mighty power coming to deliver His people. It is also hope, a glimpse into the awesome majesty and power of God. This is not to be scary; rather, it refers to God’s Supremacy and Authority and our duty to heed His voice and reverence Him with our allegiance and continual faithfulness. (Ex. 19:16-19; Job 37:5-6; Psalm 18:11-15; 77:18; Ezek. 1:4-13, 24-28; 43:2; Dan. 7; 10:6; 1 Tim. 6:16; Heb. 12:18-29; Rev. 4:5; 8:5; 11:19; 16:18; 19:6).
  • Harpists playing their harps. A reference to worship and praise to God (Rev. 5:8; 15:2).
  • Harps were small, bowed, stringed instruments used in Jewish worship (not to be confused with the large, modern European harps from the 12th century), and were considered the most beautiful musical instruments of that time; here, they are presented as an image of something used to praise God with sincerity and reverence (1 Chron. 25:1-6; 2 Chron. 5:12; 29:25; Neh. 12:27; 1 Sam. 10:5; Psalm 33:2).
  • Sang a new song refers to the theme of our deliverance. This also compares to “ascents” of the soul, like the Psalms of Ascent (Psalms 120 to 134) as describing mystical experiences or encounters with God (2 Cor. 12:2-4). This is also an image of “being caught up” with our encounter with God, or meeting God as He is our life transforming and our true conviction for our faith and practice. It does not mean a “rapture” as in flying up in the air to meet God (Ezek. 2:2; 3:14, 24: 8:3; 11:1-24; Luke 17:30-35; John 14:2–3; Philip. 3:21; 1 Thes. 4:17).
  • No one can learn it refers that this song is an image of real music for those who are redeemed. This is also an image of an offering of gratitude for our salvation and used to express our deliverance or blessing. Here, it denotes being inspired by the Spirit and/or being spontaneous in worshipping Christ, the opposite of something “canned,” or obligatory (Psalm 33:1-3; 40:1-3; 96:1-6; 98:1; 144:7-9; 149:1; Is. 42: 8-12; 2 Cor. 12:2-4; Rev. 5:8-9; 14:3).

Revelation 14:1-5

Introduction 

The Followers of the Lamb

Imagine this incredible scene! John now sets his eyes on The Lamb, standing on Mount Zion. Hope and victory are seen! Christ is there with those who are loyal to Him in faith and deeds, who have not allowed themselves to be deceived. Their focus is Christ and they follow Him as He leads and loves. They have been faithful and have kept themselves from sin even through the toughest of circumstances and temptations. John not only sees His Lord and great Hope, he also sees some of the wonders and sounds of things to come. John sees that Faith is tangible as God’s majesty is shown in is splendor and power. Yet, it was smooth and soothing, a great comfort and reassurance. The mark of the beast was rejected and the mark of Christ was received. The result was faithfulness and glory to Christ the Lamb. The faithful fruits that we display are also the encouragement others need and a testimony of conviction to those who struggle. Beware that there will be judgment for those who scorn righteousness and the precepts and plans of God. 

How would you feel and think if you set your eyes on The Lamb standing on Mount Zion?  How does Christ help you with your dependability to His precepts and call? 

This passage uses agricultural images given to an agrarian people living in a city. John receives another vision and gives it to us with a play on words (Ezek. 10:1; 44:4; Dan. 10:5). The call here is to be faithful or be harvested for judgment, because God wants the best for Himself just as He offered His best to us. Continuing the theme of allegiance, this is about the contest and contrast of the mark of loyalty versus disloyalty. Will our loyalty and faith be to ourselves and/or evil, being easily led by manipulations, or will our allegiance be to the Lord and marked by Christ? Previously, the Dragon and the Beast, representing evil and disloyalty has manipulated and twisted truth and deceived people. Then, in Chapter 13, evil’s intentions are made fully known and clear, so there is no excuse. There is no excuse of manipulation or deception; evil is what evil does and you either follow it or God. This passage refers to those who are saints, people who are the elect, saved by grace—the redemptive work of Christ. These are the people who are sealed by their faith, motivated by their devotion and trustworthiness to Christ, and marked by the flow of their faithfulness and Fruit. This is not some esoteric, metaphoric number or flutter for speculation. It is quite clear; it is us, those who are Christians, all who have ever been and will be—Christianity in completion and in unity with Christ. In this passage, these followers, the 144,000—all of faithful Christianity who are consecrated to give worship and praise to God on Mount Zion (Ezek. 9:3-f; Rev. 5:10; 7:4-8).

 This passage testifies to the fact that our faith is our benefit. When we are faithful and keep ourselves from sin—even through the toughest of circumstances and temptations—we persevere into greater use and maturity. How has this been so for you? What prevents this from happening?

What does Revelation 12:1-6 mean to us now?

 

In this passage, we see God, who cares and protects, and satan, who seeks to destroy. We see God, who sends a good King, and satan, who seeks to kill that King so he can be a bad king. This passage is very clear in its Jewish imagery as it is reminiscent of the struggle of satan who refuses to submit before God, who seeks to usurp God’s rule and plan, who desires to influence and control the world for evil, and who hates righteousness and all things of God. This is also a picture of the incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ who comes to earth as a child; satan vehemently seeks to prevent His birth and destroy His redemptive plan and work. The woman is often seen as Israel who is called to mother and birth righteousness and be the example of God to the world (Psalm 2:9-12). 

In this passage, we also see God, who deeply loves us and has a plan, even against the most heinous evil powers, persecutions, and disruptions of liberty and life. God is in control! As a Christian, we are a deeply and truly loved child of God; we are accepted in Him and we have a plan that is in Him; thus, we have no need or reason to freak, fear, or to stress, for He is in control and is Sovereign. Satan cannot buffet against Him nor can he buffet against us when we are in Christ. 

Questions to Ponder: 

  1. What do you think the images in this text are, such as a large red dragon with seven heads and ten horns wearing seven crowns? Why do most Christians prefer to speculate instead of researching to see what these images meant to the original audience and language?
  1. Why do you suppose John also uses the style of a Greek play and the mythology of the Greek gods?
  1. How and why does understanding the literature and metaphors—what the 1st century Jew saw—gives us a richer meaning of what the text (God) is seeking to communicate with us today?
  1. What happens when we refuse to interpret Scripture in the light of its context and word meanings or see that some of these imageries are deeply rooted in Judaism? (Remember, we can disagree, but never divide over these non-essential issues, and always discuss in love and respect.)
  1. How do you see the relevance of this passage to your life? How would you contrast satan’s opportunist ways versus God and the righteous people of faith?
  1. Why does the Church struggle to stay faithful? What are the things that cloud our seeing His desire to lead His church in His precepts?

 

© 2006 R. J. Krejcir Ph.D. Into Thy Word Ministries http://www.intothyword.org

The Four Main Views of Revelation 12:1-6

 

The Preterist view: There are two prevailing views in the veracity of this passage. One sees it as the continual destruction of Jerusalem; Babylon represents Jerusalem as viewed from the throne room of God, while the Church is in conflict with worldly principles. The other view sees Babylon as Rome, the great persecutor of the saints, while the judgments still wage against Jerusalem. The woman is seen as the faithful Jews escaping Jerusalem. The Dragon is the beast from Daniel representing Old Testament Babylon. The birth of the child is seen as the birth of the Church, not the birth, life, or work of Christ. The Desert is the Jews’ escape, prior to the destruction. Others see this passage as the miracle of the safety of the Christians who all escaped the fall of Jerusalem. 

The Futurist view: They see this passage as the middle of the Great Tribulation where the antichrist breaks his contact with Israel, shuts down the Temple, and becomes the “abomination of desolation” in Matthew 24. (However, this is not from the text, but speculation.) Others in this camp see this as an interlude when God is giving other descriptions of important events prior to the great judgment or outside of the timeline. The woman is seen by Catholics as Mary in her post- “assumption” (the Catholic view is that Mary is partially divine and exulted, because she is Mother of God, was assumed body and soul into the glory of heaven.) role. Others in this camp see her as representative of the Church, or people who are faithful, or the professing Church. Male child is seen as the promise to overcome, or the Church triumphant. Others see it as Jesus and His Jewish heritage. The stars are a reference to Joseph’s dreams; others see this as the holiness of Christ. Few in this camp see the dragon as Satan; rather, they see it as a metaphor for the Roman Empire or an incarnation of the Beast of Chapter 13. The stars, in reference to the Dragon, are not considered literal stars; rather, they are seen as perhaps asteroids, airplanes, a look back to Satan’s revolt against God, or the evil political forces of the day. Devour is seen as Satan’s failed attempt to stop Christ. (It is interesting to note that their theories are very contradictory of one another.) The Desert is seen as the persecution of the Jews in the last days (with great debate on how, when, and where they will be refuges to, and concerned only with their speculations about the text). 1,260 days is seen as the last half of the Tribulation or the time of the persecution of the Jews. (It is amazing how one can read a passage and totally miss the point, or read in what one wants to see and ignore what is actually there.) 

The Idealist view: They see this passage as a metaphor and story of the birth of Christ, the slaughter of the babies in Bethlehem, and the coming of His Kingdom and His ascension. Thus, this passage is not prophetic; rather, it deals with what has already taken place during our Lord’s life on earth and satan’s unsuccessful attempts to intervene and destroy Christ and His work. As with the Historicist view, the Idealists also see this passage as dealing with the internal affairs of the church and its struggle to stay faithful. The woman is faithful Israel, stars are Joseph’s dreams, the labor is the pains of the persecuted Church, The dragon is the evil political rulers, the stars are the rebellion of satan, and the child is Jesus, His birth, and the One who frustrates Satan’s plans. The Desert is God’s power, control, faithfulness, and care for the Church. 

The Historicist view: They see this passage as another interlude to give us insights and information of events that have already taken place or covered prior in Revelation. Many see this as the struggle of the inward status and affairs of the church, its battle of inward corruption and missed opportunities and liberalism or apostate-ism, or becoming more secular and less spiritual. The woman is seen as the vision of the true and righteous Church, its promise, mission, and success. Giving birth is about the political struggles of the Church; the sun and stars are seen as the Romans and other outside influencers. Male child is seen as the children of the Church and the dragon is an image of Rome and/or satan or any persecutor. The stars are seen as the period of Rome in 313 A.D.—the great persecutions before the conversion of Rome. The child was snatched up is seen as the conversion of Rome in 324 A.D. and the rod of iron as the dominion of the Church afterwards.

Exegetical look into Revelation 12:1-6

 

  • Sign. Usually means something seen in the sky or an astronomical event. Here, it is an illustration, conveying an event that is unexpected and astonishing. As with most symbols and metaphors in Scripture, it is an expression with the intention of pointing to something beyond it (Luke 21:11, 25; Acts 2:19).
  • A woman. This refers to righteousness and motherhood (as Israel is portrayed as mother to the race), faith, and to the Christ. It is possibly a reference to “The Madonna,” Mary, the mother of Jesus. It was a very powerful symbolic image in ancient cultures, especially Judaism. This would have been a comfort to the struggling Messianic community. Classically, some, especially the Catholics, see this as Mary and the drama of the incarnation of Christ prior to His arrival on earth. (It is interesting to note that the Christian Scientists see this woman, her spirit, as the founder of their cult.) Is. 62:5.
  • Clothed. Referring to dignity and exalted Israel, or, to God’s glory.
  • Sun, with the moon. These are Jewish references to Abraham and Sarah, referring to the birth of the people of Israel, their hope, and blessings to come.
  • Twelve stars. This is a symbol of the 12 tribes of Israel and refers to Joseph’s dreams. In conjunction with the woman and context, it is clearly referencing Israel. Some see this as satan’s rebellion (2 Pet. 2:4; Jude 6). This term or passage has nothing to do with astrology or the zodiac, other than it uses similar imagery for illustration sake but not as substance (Gen. 37:9-10; Lev. 19:26-28, 31; 20:6; Deut 18:9-14; Is. 8:19; 47:12-13; Jer. 10:1-2).
  • Pregnant. In contrast, a virgin meant someone who is faithful, and a prostitute meant someone who is pregnant and not married, denoting unfaithfulness. This is meant to contrast the heavenly with the evil, faithful and heavenly Jerusalem versus the harlot and oppressor Babylon, reviled in Israel for its destruction of the Temple, the theft of the Ark, and the captivity of the people (Is. 7:14; 9:6; 26:18-19; 54:1; Micah 5:3; John 16:21; Rev. 17:5; 21:2). 
  • Pain. As in struggle, good versus evil, our will versus God’s will, satan’s opportunist ways versus God and the righteous people of faith. This can also mean the suffering of waiting for the Messiah to come and/or waiting for the second coming.
  • Give birth refers to the birth of the Messiah; it also denotes being saved, either as faithfulness, or being saved by Christ. It also meant for Jews, the captives of Babylon, traveling back to Israel to rebirth the nation and Jerusalem (Is. 54:1-4; 66:7-13; Micah 4:10; 5:2-3; Rev. 12:17).
  • Red dragon…. The term “dragon” literally means “serpent” or “sea monster” such as the leviathan, and symbolizes monstrous evil (common in Canaanite and Mesopotamian myths), and Heracles and his battle with the hydra. A dragon is also a description of satan who is the enemy of God, who is a terrifying and destructive beast, and who seeks the total devastation of God’s people. This image is not meant to terrify us, but show us how he works so we can beware and defend. This was also a metaphor for Babylon and the enemies of Israel and God. It is very unwise to read in meanings that are not there to this and other metaphors (apocryphal book “Bell and the Dragon;” Gen. 3:1-15; Psalm 74:13-15; 89:9-10; Is. 27:1; 30:7; 51:9; Ezek. 29:3; Luke 10:18; 11:14-23; John 12:31; Col. 2:15; Rev. 12:7-9; 13:2; 20:2).
  • Seven heads. This represents domination, and also refers to astuteness and universal wisdom (Rev. 13:1).
  • Ten horns and seven crowns is the image of great power as well as battle and warfare, depicting how satan rises up to battle God, but he is sent to everlasting torment in Rev. 20:10!
  • Tail swept a third of the stars is a Jewish metaphor for the power of Heaven fighting on behalf of Israel. This also meant pouring rain and rebellion. This also referred to satan’s betrayal and rebellion and the fall of 1/3 of the angels under him. This metaphor also meant to sin or to fall into sin and be corrupted. For us, it can mean the rebellion against Christ (Judges 5:20; Is. 24:21; Dan. 12:3; Rev. 8:10).
  • He might devour her child. Satan was unable to prevent Christ’s incarnation and redemption, thus, he seeks to manipulate and destroy His followers (Matt. 2:13-18; Luke 4:28-29).
  • Gave birth …a son. Referring to deliverance, this metaphor also pointed to Augustus in Greek thought, and to a savior in Judaism and early Christianity. This theme was a great comfort to the early persecuted Church. This, in the early Church, referred to the Messianic enthronement of Jesus Christ, His birth, death, resurrection, and Lordship (John 16:21).
  • A male child. This is a perhaps a recoding of the fulfillment of Micah 5:3: Therefore Israel will be abandoned until the time when she who is in labor gives birth and the rest of his brothers return to join the Israelites. It refers to Christ’s incarnation, His role as Messiah and Savior, and how His triumph and accomplishments certify this fact (Is. 7:14; 9:6). As Jesus’ words state, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks (Matt. 23:37-39).
  • Rule all the nations… Iron scepter. Meaning the coronation of a divine leader who will conquer evil. This doesn’t mean oppression or dictatorship; rather, it refers to a caring shepherd, and at the same time, God’s strength, authority, and right to rule (Rev. 2:27; 11:15; 19:15).
  • Child was snatched up to God. May refer to the ascension of Christ. In Greek myths, children were taken and hidden from their enemy until they were old enough, trained to defend themselves, and could go after their oppressors. The image here is that our God protects, and desires us to mature, be trained up, and be ready to defend (Psalm 2:6-9; Is. 9:6-7; Micah 5:3; Acts 1:9; 2:33; Heb. 1:1-3; 12:2).
  • Desert/Wilderness means “spiritual refuge,” and refers to how the people of God, after the Exodus, wandered for 40 years, their faithfulness and betrayal, and the grace of God. Also, their waiting for their inheritance of the Promised Land. In the Early Church, this was referred to as the period between Jesus’ first coming and His second coming. The Jews were expecting a deliverance from the Romans by a second Exodus (Hosea 2:14).
  • Taken care of means spiritual protection, as God promises His protection to a persecuted Church (Rev.13:5).
  • 1,260 days perhaps refers to the great tribulation of Daniel, but more likely is a metaphor for trials and troubles. This does not mean a literal number but a type of trouble such as persecution (Dan. 9:2-24; Rev. 11:2).

Revelation 12:1-6

Introduction 

The Women and the Dragon 

John now sees a most significant event as a women clothed in the brightness of the sun is standing on the moon and wearing a crown of stars; she is pregnant and in the pains of labor. Then, he sees a large, red dragon with seven heads and ten horns, wearing seven crowns. This dragon strikes down one third of the stars and throws them to earth, desiring to devour the baby to whom the woman is giving birth. The woman gives birth to the child who is to lead all nations, and he is taken away by God so the dragon cannot get him. The woman flees to the wilderness where she is cared for by God for a time. 

This passage is written in the style of a Greek play depicting the mythology of the Greek gods such as the struggle of Leto giving birth to Apollo and Python and the Egyptian account of their gods  Isis and Typhon as she gave birth to Horus.  John is using Jewish apocalyptic language. Understanding the literature and metaphors—what the First Century Jew saw—gives us a richer meaning of what the text (God) is seeking to communicate with us today. John uses this captivating style to show the struggle as God gives birth to Israel, Israel giving birth to Jesus, while Jesus is being opposed by Satan. This section also starts the “Third Cycle” of John’s Revelations/visions (Rev. 12:1-14:20). These images deal with spiritual warfare, the conflict of good and evil, of light and dark, rooted in history and with ramifications for the future. These passages also deal with symbolism that is deeply rooted in Judaism as well as the plan and work of our Lord and the heralding of His Second Coming. The application is our being and remaining faithful to our Lord and continuing our witness and maintaining character in the midst of persecutions. We are also called to bear Fruit in and with His light as His witnesses against the dark forces, to a corrupt and conflict- ridden world with all its trappings of contradictions and confusion (Eph. 6:10-20). 

How can you be better at remaining faithful to our Lord and continue your witness with character in the midst of the stresses of life? What about if things get real bad, such as persecution?