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  • JAMIESON-FAUSSET-BROWN - REVELATION 12
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    CHAPTER 12

    Re 12:1-17. VISION OF THE WOMAN, HER CHILD, AND THE PERSECUTING DRAGON.

    1. This episode (Re 12:1-15:8) describes in detail the persecution of Israel and the elect Church by the beast, which had been summarily noticed, Re 11:7-10, and the triumph of the faithful, and torment of the unfaithful. So also the sixteenth through twentieth chapters are the description in detail of the judgment on the beast, &c., summarily noticed in Re 11:13, 18. The beast in Re 12:3, &c., is shown not to be alone, but to be the instrument in the hand of a greater power of darkness, Satan. That this is so, appears from the time of the eleventh chapter being the period also in which the events of the twelfth and thirteenth chapters take place, namely, 1260 days (Re 12:6, 14; Re 13:5; compare Re 11:2, 3).
    - great--in size and significance.
    - wonder--Greek, "sign": significant of momentous truths.
    - in heaven--not merely the sky, but the heaven beyond just mentioned, Re 11:19; compare Re 12:7-9.
    - woman clothed with the sun . . . moon under her feet--the Church, Israel first, and then the Gentile Church; clothed with Christ, "the Sun of righteousness." "Fair as the moon, clear as the sun." Clothed with the Sun, the Church is the bearer of divine supernatural light in the world. So the seven churches (that is, the Church universal, the woman) are represented as light-bearing candlesticks (Re 1:12, 20). On the other hand, the moon, though standing above the sea and earth, is altogether connected with them and is an earthly light: sea, earth, and moon represent the worldly element, in opposition to the kingdom of God--heaven, the sun. The moon cannot disperse the darkness and change it into-day: thus she represents the world religion (heathenism) in relation to the supernatural world. The Church has the moon, therefore, under her feet; but the stars, as heavenly lights, on her head. The devil directs his efforts against the stars, the angels of the churches, about hereafter to shine for ever. The twelve stars, the crown around her head, are the twelve tribes of Israel [AUBERLEN]. The allusions to Israel before accord with this: compare Re 11:19, "the temple of God"; "the ark of His testament." The ark lost at the Babylonian captivity, and never since found, is seen in the "temple of God opened in heaven," signifying that God now enters again into covenant with His ancient people. The woman cannot mean, literally, the virgin mother of Jesus, for she did not flee into the wilderness and stay there for 1260 days, while the dragon persecuted the remnant of her seed (Re 12:13-17) [DE BURGH]. The sun, moon, and twelve stars, are emblematical of Jacob, Leah, or else Rachel, and the twelve patriarchs, that is, the Jewish Church: secondarily, the Church universal, having under her feet, in due subordination, the ever changing moon, which shines with a borrowed light, emblem of the Jewish dispensation, which is now in a position of inferiority, though supporting the woman, and also of the changeful things of this world, and having on her head the crown of twelve stars, the twelve apostles, who, however, are related closely to Israel's twelve tribes. The Church, in passing over into the Gentile world, is (1) persecuted; (2) then seduced, as heathenism begins to react on her. This is the key to the meaning of the symbolic woman, beast, harlot, and false prophet. Woman and beast form the same contrast as the Son of man and the beasts in Daniel. As the Son of man comes from heaven, so the woman is seen in heaven (Re 12:1). The two beasts arise respectively out of the sea (compare Da 7:3) and the earth (Re 13:1, 11): their origin is not of heaven, but of earth earthy. Daniel beholds the heavenly Bridegroom coming visibly to reign. John sees the woman, the Bride, whose calling is heavenly, in the world, before the Lord's coming again. The characteristic of woman, in contradistinction to man, is her being subject, the surrendering of herself, her being receptive. This similarly is man's relation to God, to be subject to, and receive from, God. All autonomy of the human spirit reverses man's relation to God. Woman-like receptivity towards God constitutes faith. By it the individual becomes a child of God; the children collectively are viewed as "the woman." Humanity, in so far as it belongs to God, is the woman. Christ, the Son of the woman, is in Re 12:5 emphatically called "the MAN-child" (Greek, "huios arrheen," "male-child"). Though born of a woman, and under the law for man's sake, He is also the Son of God, and so the HUSBAND of the Church. As Son of the woman, He is "'Son of man"; as male-child, He is Son of God, and Husband of the Church. All who imagine to have life in themselves are severed from Him, the Source of life, and, standing in their own strength, sink to the level of senseless beasts. Thus, the woman designates universally the kingdom of God; the beast, the kingdom of the world. The woman of whom Jesus was born represents the Old Testament congregation of God. The woman's travail-pains (Re 12:2) represent the Old Testament believers' ardent longings for the promised Redeemer. Compare the joy at His birth (Isa 9:6). As new Jerusalem (called also "the woman," or "wife," Re 21:2, 9-12), with its twelve gates, is the exalted and transfigured Church, so the woman with the twelve stars is the Church militant.

    2. pained--Greek, "tormented" (basanizomene). DE BURGH explains this of the bringing in of the first-begotten into the world AGAIN, when Israel shall at last welcome Him, and when "the man-child shall rule all nations with the rod of iron." But there is a plain contrast between the painful travailing of the woman here, and Christ's second coming to the Jewish Church, the believing remnant of Israel, "Before she travailed she brought forth . . . a MAN-CHILD," that is, almost without travail-pangs, she receives (at His second advent), as if born to her, Messiah and a numerous seed.

    3. appeared--"was seen."
    - wonder--Greek, "semeion," "sign."
    - red--So A and Vulgate read. But B, C, and Coptic read, "of fire." In either case, the color of the dragon implies his fiery rage as a murderer from the beginning. His representative, the beast, corresponds, having seven heads and ten horns (the number of horns on the fourth beast of Da 7:7; Re 13:1). But there, ten crowns are on the ten horns (for before the end, the fourth empire is divided into ten kingdoms); here, seven crowns (rather, "diadems," Greek, "diademata," not stephanoi, "wreaths") are upon his seven heads. In Da 7:4-7 the Antichristian powers up to Christ's second coming are represented by four beasts, which have among them seven heads, that is, the first, second, and fourth beasts having one head each, the third, four heads. His universal dominion as prince of this fallen world is implied by the seven diadems (contrast the "many diadems on Christ's head," Re 19:12, when coming to destroy him and his), the caricature of the seven Spirits of God. His worldly instruments of power are marked by the ten horns, ten being the number of the world. It marks his self-contradictions that he and the beast bear both the number seven (the divine number) and ten (the world number).

    4. drew--Greek, present tense, "draweth," "drags down." His dragging down the stars with his tail (lashed back and forward in his fury) implies his persuading to apostatize, like himself, and to become earthy, those angels and also once eminent human teachers who had formerly been heavenly (compare Re 12:1; 1:20; Isa 14:12).
    - stood--"stands" [ALFORD]: perfect tense, Greek, "hesteken."
    - ready to be delivered--"about to bring forth."
    - for to devour, &c.--"that when she brought forth, he might devour her child." So the dragon, represented by his agent Pharaoh (a name common to all the Egyptian kings, and meaning, according to some, crocodile, a reptile like the dragon, and made an Egyptian idol), was ready to devour Israel's males at the birth of the nation. Antitypically the true Israel, Jesus, when born, was sought for destruction by Herod, who slew all the males in and around Bethlehem.

    5. man-child--Greek, "a son, a male." On the deep significance of this term, see on Re 12:1, 2.
    - rule--Greek, "poimainein," "tend as a shepherd"; (see on Re 2:27).
    - rod of iron--A rod is for long-continued obstinacy until they submit themselves to obedience [BENGEL]: Re 2:27; Ps 2:9, which passages prove the Lord Jesus to be meant. Any interpretation which ignores this must be wrong. The male son's birth cannot be the origin of the Christian state (Christianity triumphing over heathenism under Constantine), which was not a divine child of the woman, but had many impure worldly elements. In a secondary sense, the ascending of the witnesses up to heaven answers to Christ's own ascension, "caught up unto God, and unto His throne": as also His ruling the nations with a rod of iron is to be shared in by believers (Re 2:27). What took place primarily in the case of the divine Son of the woman, shall take place also in the case of those who are one with Him, the sealed of Israel (Re 7:1-8), and the elect of all nations, about to be translated and to reign with Him over the earth at His appearing.

    6. woman fled--Mary's flight with Jesus into Egypt is a type of this.
    - where she hath--So C reads. But A and B add "there."
    - a place--that portion of the heathen world which has received Christianity professedly, namely, mainly the fourth kingdom, having its seat in the modern Babylon, Rome, implying that all the heathen world would not be Christianized in the present order of things.
    - prepared of God--literally, "from God." Not by human caprice or fear, but by the determined counsel and foreknowledge of God, the woman, the Church, fled into the wilderness.
    - they should feed her--Greek,

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