June 2, 2018

Gems in Revelation - Part 142


Gems in the book of Revelation

Part 142 - Revelation 12:1-6
The woman, her child and the dragon.

Chapters 12-14 constitute the central story of the book of Revelation and a mighty strange story it is. More even than the rest of the book, it is concerned with the context to which John was writing. It is about the small fellowships in the Roman Empire either suffering persecution or fearful that they will do so very soon. That means it is difficult for us to understand and get any good teaching out of it unless we too are under persecution or liable to be so soon. Probably the majority of you who read this are not in that situation - but some of you are. So my job is particularly difficult: to find any good things for both sets of you. But let’s see what we can do.

The easiest identification is the boy child who must be Jesus, identified by the reference to Psalm 2: 9. The woman must be those who believed in Israel. She is a sign and the description and subsequent event mean she cannot be Mary the mother of Jesus, although that Mary had the great privilege of representing the holy nation in bearing Jesus. The dragon is also known as Satan. He is cast down from Heaven (12: 10), an event to which Jesus refers when he says

He saw Satan fall like lightening from heaven (Luke 10: 18). (There are an amazing number of references to the Old Testament and the Gospels in these chapters. We will look at just some of them.)

We are seeing again, as we have done many times in this book, that all the problems of earth, particularly those affecting whole nations, are but pale reflections of the troubles there are in heaven. We see nation colliding with nation driven on by leaders who think theirs should be the greatest so that they are the greatest. It all looks very earthy. Revelation teaches us that there is another higher realm in which such things also happen.

The church was under attack from the Roman authorities and the future would probably be even worse. But the church would find refuge in the wilderness, not the real wilderness, as Israel had done centuries earlier when they fled from Egypt and Pharaoh. It had been an ordeal then and it would be in the next few years but as Israel for all its struggles and weaknesses had successfully come through the wilderness to reach the Promised Land so the people of God that John was writing to would come through all their difficulties to be with the Lord eventually.

And how long would it take? 1,260 days is three and a half years (with 360 days in a year - oops!). A complete period of time was seven years so this was a shortened version of what it might have been. This was an encouragement, for them, for us. Persecutions never last forever and the church often emerges from them stronger than it was when they started.

That is the encouragement that you must take from these verses if you are in a part of the world where there is persecution now. If you are in a part of the world where there is no serious persecution you must pray for your brothers and sisters where there is and be prepared to give them practical aid whenever possible.

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