Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Church is Born

   And there appeared a great sign in the heavens, a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon was under her feet, and a crown of twelve stars on her head, 
   and having a babe in womb, she cries, being in travail, having been distressed to bear. 
   And another sign was seen in the heavens. And behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on his heads! 
   And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and cast them onto the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman being about to bear, so that when she bears he might devour her child. 
   And she bore a son, a male, who is going to rule all nations with a rod of iron. And her child was caught up to God and to His throne.
  And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she had a place prepared by God, so that they might nourish her there a thousand, two hundred and sixty days.  Rev 12:1-6 

A Difficult Delivery

  there appeared a great sign in the heavens. One of the meanings of the word heavens is (through the idea of elevation); the sky. Strong G3772.

 a woman clothed with the sun. The founder of the Christian Science Movement, Mary Baker Eddy said she was this woman. 

  Roman Catholics claim this woman is Mary, pictured as the “Queen of Heaven.”  
 It is common in Roman Catholic art to represent Mary as standing on a crescent moon with twelve stars around her head. Guzik

Many Bible commentaries agree that the woman is The Church of Christ whose function is to shine like the sun and she stands on the moon which represents the darkness (sin) of the night.
However, a much more fitting picture here is that the woman clothed with the sun represents the nation of Israel.  As we will see, there are a number of reasons why the woman cannot represent the virgin Mary or the Church of Christ.
  • Israel was the only nation in the world which worshiped Jehovah. 
  • They were the ones that were clothed with the sun.  
  • They were the ones that were in a position to give birth to The Church.

   Scripturally, this woman clothed with the sun should be identified with Israel, according to Joseph’s dream (Gen_37:9 Behold, I have dreamed another dream. And behold, the sun and the moon and the eleven stars bowed down to me.).  In that dream, the sun represents Jacob, also known as Israel, the moon represents Joseph’s mother Rachel, and the eleven stars are the sons of Israel which bow down to Joseph.  In this sign with twelve stars, Joseph is now “among” the other tribes of Israel. Guzik

   having a babe in womb.  The nation Israel is about to produce a new way of "doing religion".  She, in the person of the virgin mother, will bring forth a Son who will be the Messiah.  

  It is a very difficult delivery, she cries, being in travail.  The pain described refers to the travail of Israel at the time of Jesus’ birth (under Roman occupation and oppression). Guzik

   another sign was seen in the heavens. And behold a great red dragon ... stood before the woman being about to bear (deliver), so that when she bears he might devour her child.  Satan, the red dragon, wants to destroy Christ at His birth.  We recall that king Herod murdered all the male children of Israel who were two years old and younger. 

   1. The one boy that Satan wanted to be killed was safe in Egypt at that time.  Satan did not give up so easily.  He thought that if he could not kill Him physically 

   2. he would destroy Him spiritually.  After Christ had fasted forty days in the wilderness Satan came to tempt Him.  Then Jesus was led by the Spirit up into the wilderness, to be tempted by the Devil. Mat 4:1  All Satan needed was one victory.  Satan failed again.

  3. So he tried the physical death thing again.  Christ was preaching in the synagogue in Nazareth and the listeners did not like what they heard so they took Him to the brow of a hill to push Him over the edge.  Pushing someone off a small cliff was often the first step in the process of stoning. Once the victim fell down, they were pelted with rocks until dead. Guzik.  Christ escaped from the mob.

   4.  At Calvary Satan finally got what he had tried so hard to achieve for about thirty-three years.  His plan backfired.  What he thought was the end of The Church, before it even began, was actually the seed that caused The Church to germinate.  Christ, Himself had said Unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it abides alone; but if it dies, it brings forth much fruit. 

   And she bore a son, a male, who is going to rule all nations with a rod of iron.  These words make it obvious that the woman is not The Church because the woman gave birth to the child that will rule all nations with a rod of iron.  It was not The Church which gave birth to Christ!

  After His resurrection, Christ stayed on earth for a few weeks to encourage His disciples and then He was caught up to God and to His throne where He is safely out of Satan's reach.

  Then the woman fled into the wilderness. Persecuted by the dragon, the woman is protected by God in a prepared place for one thousand two hundred and sixty days 

   This helps us to understand with certainty that the woman is Israel and not Mary.  How could Mary possibly flee into the wilderness in this way?  History does not record that she ever went into hiding anywhere at any time and there is no Scriptural record that the virgin mother suffered persecution or that she experienced a safe, miraculous assumption into heaven.

   One thousand two hundred and sixty days: This reference to a three and one-half year period connects these events with the final seven years of the Daniel 9 prophecy.  Since Rev_12:5 describes the ascension of Jesus, and Rev_12:6 describes yet-to-occur events in the 70th week of Daniel, between these two verses lies hundreds of years (our current period).  This obvious “near-far” break in time is typical of prophecy.  Daniel’s seventy week prophecy has such a break (Dan_9:24-27). Guzik

 the woman fled into the wilderness, where she had a place prepared by God.  Bible scholars agree that these three and a half years refer to the great tribulation period.  If that theory is accepted it would seem that The Chruch moved from the area of intense suffering to a safer place.  For example, into democratic non-muslim, non-Catholic countries.

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