The prophecy of Revelation 12 decribes a woman, in heaven, who is clothed with the sun, and has the moon under her feet. There is a crown of 12 stars on her head. This woman in heaven represents the Church, as her seed are those who "keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ." (Revelation 12:17)
In Genesis 37:9, Joseph dreamed that the sun, moon and 11 stars made obeisance to him, and his father Jacob interpreted the story as representing himself, his mother, and his brothers bowing down to Joseph. This story identifies stars, and the sun, and the moon with Israel, because Jacob and his descendants received the name Israel.
The woman clothed with the sun is Israel, but not the nation Israel that exists today; it is the name that scripture applies to the people of God, the saints. When Paul wrote in Romans 9:6, "For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel," he identifies the true Israel as the Church. In chapter 11 he shows that the Gentile believers are like branches of a wild olive, that were grafted in to the olive tree that is Israel. He refers to the Church as the "Israel of God" in Galatians 6:16.
The woman travails in birth, and is confronted by the great red dragon, with seven heads and 10 horns, who tries to devour her child. The man child is destined to rule all nations with a rod of iron, a clear reference to Christ. He is caught up to the thone of God. The 12 apostles are represented by 12 stars in the woman's crown.
Paul calls the Church "the Jerusalem which is above" in Galatians 4:26, where he writes:
But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all.
In Ephesians 2:6, Paul writes of believers "sitting together in heavenly places in Christ." Daniel referred to the wise ones who turn many to righteousness as shining "stars" (Daniel 12:3). According to the promise God gave to Abraham, in Genesis 22:17, his seed will number as the stars of heaven. The seed of Abraham is identified with those who believe in Christ in Galatians 3:29:
And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.
This supports the identification of stars in John's prophecy with believers. John pictures one third of the stars being swept by the "tail of the dragon," and cast down to the earth. (Revelation 12:9) These represent those Christians who have abandoned their faith, and returned to the world. Daniel also foretold this (Daniel 11:35)
And some of them of understanding shall fall, to try them, and to purge, and to make them white, even to the time of the end: because it is yet for a time appointed.
Just as the woman's presence in heaven ties in with the identification of the saints with stars, the presence of the dragon in heaven is also significant. Is it because the adversary, and accuser of the saints lurks among them? Michael and his angels fight the dragon and his angels, so that their place is no longer found, and he is cast to the earth with his angels. But it is the saints who overcome the dragon, "by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony." (Revelation 12:11)
Revelation 12:14 says:
And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent.
After believing in Christ, the experience of believers is typified by the Israelites sojourn in the wilderness upon their deliverance from Egypt. Israel in the wilderness pictures the Christian's position in relation to the present worldly system. The reference to the wings of an eagle, and the woman's escape from the serpent to the wilderness allude to the Exodus of Israel from Egypt. The scripture says they rode "on eagle's wings." Exodus 19:4 says:
Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles' wings, and brought you unto myself.
What were these eagle's wings? What could they represent?
Revelation 4:7 has a description of four beasts that John saw around about God's throne. One was like a lion, one like a calf, the third with a face like a man, and the fourth like a flying eagle.
These same creatures are also mentioned in a vision of God that was described in Ezekiel 1:10, and in Ezekiel 10:14. Andrew Jukes, in his book "The Four Faces of Christ", discussed the symbolism of these four faces. He relates them to the different views of Christ presented by the four gospels. Christ is pictured as a ruler, represented by the lion, in Matthew; in Mark he is presented as a servant, represented by the ox; in Luke he is presented as a man, and in John's gospel, the spiritual or prophetic aspect of Christ is presented, which is represented by the eagle. The powerful wings of the eagle enable it to soar to a great height, thus it views things from above, and so, scripture uses the eagle to represent the divine perspective on things, as opposed to the human viewpoint.
Now, can there be a connection between these concepts, and the "wings of a great eagle" that empower the Church to escape from Satan, and the flood of misinformation that comes forth from his mouth, described in Revelation 12:14? Perhaps, the eagle's wings provided to the woman picture the Church learning to understand Bible prophecy. This gives God's perspective on things. John tells us in Revelation 19:10: "...for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy."
In the Exodus, Israel was brought out of captivity with a great deliverance, through Moses. For the Church to be delivered from errror, an understanding of Bible prophecy is crucial. The deliverance of Israel from Egypt was a judgement of God upon pharaoh, and similarly the Church's escape to the wilderness judges Satan, who is typified by the pharaoh of Egypt at the time of the Exodus.
So, it may be, the two wings of the eagle that enable the Church to fly to the wilderness, described in Revelation 12:14, represent new understanding of the message of prophecy, that comes from God, and which was previously hidden from us.
Copyright © 2001 by Douglas E. Cox
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