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A Study Of The Book Of Revelation
Lesson No. 15: Chapter 12

Date: December 3rdand 10th, 2003, Wednesday Evening Adult Bible Class
Speaker: John Phillis
Note: Much of the information for this Study of Revelation was taken from the book “Revelation Through First Century Glasses” by W. B. West. Other sources: “The Living Word, Study of Revelation, Parts I & II” by Dr. Frank Pack; “Revelation” by Jim McGuiggan; “Commentary on Revelation” by Homer Hailey; “Commentary on Revelation” by Burton Coffman; “The Book of Revelation – Spiritual Sword Lectureship, October 18 – 22, 1998”; “Commentary on Revelation” by Howard Winters; “Revelation for Christians Today” by Lonnie Woodruff; “Unlocking Revelation” by J. Stafford North.

Objective in Studying this Chapter:

1) To note the primary force behind the persecution that was about to come upon the early Christians

2) To appreciate why the persecution of the early church was so intense

THE WOMAN, THE CHILD, AND THE DRAGON (VERSES 1-6)

“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. 2 Then being with child, she cried out in labor and in pain to give birth.

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. 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. 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. 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.”

A Brief Introduction

The seven seals have been opened. The seventh trumpet has sounded as we acknowledged last week at the close of chapter 11. We now see associated with the sounding of that seventh trumpet that “a great sign appeared in heaven.”

This is introducing some rather difficult text for us to deal with. If we have seen some things that have not been very clear and somewhat confusing, and that there’s a lot of disagreement about among those who are considered to be scholars in this area, we’re getting into some real ones now! That is, what is meant here? What is this symbolism that John is relating, that John is seeing?

First of all, I think it’s important for us to always keep in mind the figurative nature here; and moreover, you see how John begins this. He says, “Now a great sign appeared in heaven…,” [verse 1a]. Well, we know, then, right from that point onward that we’re not dealing with something which is literal here. We want to attempt to understand it; we want to attempt to define it as best we can, but we’re certainly not dealing with something which is literal, because, once again, John has identified this as a SIGN—something that is representative of something else. Even though what John saw here is something that is really supernatural, it’s something that no doubt defied description, it is something that transpired 2000 years ago, or thereabouts, it is still something that we can share as we read these words. It is as if we are there to see it for ourselves. We want to attempt to understand, of course, as much about this as we possibly can.

We mentioned that, being a sign, the suggestion is that, first of all, this same word that is translated here “sign” could also be translated “miracle” or “wonder.” It was something that was phenomenal, something that was fantastic, something that defied description in human terms. But it was also representative of something, as well. We try not to have too much of a literal approach here to some of these things, albeit, I think we can understand what is being said as we look at it from the figurative point of view.

The Woman with Child (verses 1-2)

John is introducing something of a great conflict, and this conflict is going to be played out here in these next few verses. What John sees, this sign, is a woman clothed with the sun. She is radiant; she is glorious. The moon is under her feet. She’s wearing a crown of twelve starts on her head. She is regally adorned and has this regal appearance about her [“a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a garland of twelve stars,” [verse 1b].

But, there is a deep contrast which exists. In spite of this regal appearance that she has, she is crying with pain because she is with child—she is in labor to give birth to a child [“Then being with child, she cried out in labor and in pain to give birth,” [verse 2].

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