Sign Language

The Dragon, The Woman and The Child

“And a great sign appeared in heaven:

A woman clothed with the sun,

and the moon under her feet,

and on her head a crown of twelve stars;

and she was with child;

and she cried out,

being in labor

and in pain to give birth.

And another sign appeared in heaven:

and behold,

a great red dragon having seven heads

and ten horns,

and on his heads were seven diadems.

And his tail swept away a third of the stars of heaven,

and threw them to the earth.

And the dragon stood before the woman

who was about to give birth,

so that when she gave birth

he might devour her child.

And she gave birth to a son,

a male child,

who is to rule all the 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 there

she might be nourished

for one thousand two hundred and sixty days.

And there was war in heaven,

Michael and his angels

waging war with the dragon.

And the dragon

and his angels

waged war,

and they were not strong enough,

and there was no longer a place found for them in heaven.

And the great dragon was thrown down,

the serpent of old

who is called the devil

and Satan,

who deceives the whole world;

he was thrown down to the earth,

and his angels were thrown down with him.

And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying,

“Now the salvation,

and the power,

and the kingdom of our God

and the authority of His Christ

have come,

for the accuser of our brethren

has been thrown down,

who accuses them before our God

day and night.

“And they overcame him

because of the blood of the Lamb

and because of the word of their testimony,

and they did not love their life

even to death.

“For this reason,

rejoice, O heavens

and you who dwell in them.

Woe to the earth

and the sea,

because the devil has come down to you,

having great wrath,

knowing that he has only a short time.”

And when the dragon saw that he was thrown down to the earth,

he persecuted the woman

who gave birth to the male child.

And the two wings of the great eagle

were given to the woman,

in order that she might fly into the wilderness

to her place,

where she was nourished for a time

and times

and half a time,

from the presence of the serpent.

And the serpent poured water

like a river

out of his mouth

after the woman,

so that he might cause her

to be swept away with the flood.

And the earth helped the woman,

and the earth opened its mouth

and drank up the river

which the dragon poured out of his mouth.

And the dragon was enraged with the woman,

and went off to make war with the rest of her offspring,

who keep the commandments of God

and hold to the testimony of Jesus.”

Sign of the woman, sign of the dragon and Jesus, in all his glory.

Finally, something that we can really sink our teeth into. That is, some of the imagery is clearly spelled out for us; still, in order to get the full picture, we must dig deep, using the CAGED method.

Context

Author, Audience, Aspirations

Genre

Expository exegesis of examples

Divide rightly the word of truth

Chapter 12 is different from all the other chapters, in that it isn’t a progressive turning up of the heat, nor is it an interlude in the action. In fact, as we peel back the layers of imagery, we’ll see how incredibly action packed this text is. Also, it appears to be a historical account with allusion to the present–1st century, and the future. It appears to be a re-telling of past events in an apocalyptic manner, where there is more than meets the eye. Then ends with what a follower of Christ can expect–but I am getting way ahead of myself. Let’s examine the text as it is presented to us, considering the context and genre, the author’s aspirations to his audience and with extensive expository exegesis of examples, consulting our Old Testament tutor.

“And a great sign appeared in heaven…” Notice the words; a great sign, not a small sign or a pretty big sign but a great sign–I believe this to be significant. That’s how we use language after all, or should. Oftentimes, modern posters of social media, will use inappropriate and disproportional words to describe something that is nominally above average. Words such as, “best ever,” “amazing,” “awesome” and yes, “great.” Great has nearly lost its meaning. I will point out the Greek when I think it helps, and I think it helps. The transliterated Greek word is “Mega.” This is a great sign–not simply in importance but also in scope–more on this as we move along. John’s description of a “great sign,” would pique the interest of the first century church. They would understand the context. What is the great sign?

“A woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars; and she was with child; and she cried out, being in labor and in pain to give birth.” Now, astrologically speaking–without going into the details because it was a flawed hypothesis– an event that, with a great (mega) stretch of the imagination, resembling this sign, happened in the “heavens” last September. With much fanfare and anticipation, people bought books–much like they did before the 4 blood moons– and the flawed frauds made money. In both cases, as I predicted, nothing happened. I only mention it now as a warning to use a hermeneutical method to read the Bible, please; especially Revelation. I can’t say it enough; I love beating the proverbial dead horse. The woman doesn’t represent stars in heaven, she represents a truth and a reality. Not a billboard found in the sky but actual people and events. Let’s zoom in and consult our Old Testament tutor.

A woman: clothed with the sun, moon at her feet, crown with 12 stars, in labor. My guess is that you already see much of what is reveled. Numbers have great (mega) significance–12 especially. 12 son’s of Israel, 12 tribes, 12 apostles. The sun and moon were created in Genesis 1 to govern day and night, the sun being greater–she is clothed with it–the moon being lesser–is at her feet. She is in labor and about to give birth. Numerous times God uses the imagery of birth when referring to Israel and other peoples. Exodus 4:22 “Then you shall say to Pharaoh, ‘Thus says the LORD, “Israel is My son, My firstborn.” Let’s move forward, remembering this.

Because there is another sign we must also consider: “And another sign appeared in heaven: and behold, a great red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads were seven diadems. And his tail swept away a third of the stars of heaven, and threw them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she gave birth he might devour her child.” Finally, we can consult our Old and New Testament tutors simultaneously. Matthew 2 “Then when Herod saw that he had been tricked by the magi, he became very enraged, and sent and slew all the male children who were in Bethlehem and in all its environs, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had ascertained from the magi. Then that which was spoken through Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled, saying, “A VOICE WAS HEARD IN RAMAH, WEEPING AND GREAT MOURNING, RACHEL WEEPING FOR HER CHILDREN; AND SHE REFUSED TO BE COMFORTED, BECAUSE THEY WERE NO MORE.” Yes, two examples in one passage–the devil repeatedly attempted to stop God’s people; Christ in particular, but there were others. Consider Joseph, Jeremiah, Elijah, Moses and many others in the Old Testament. Now consider the New; Paul, Steven, Peter, James and especially, John the Baptist. The devil, has from the very beginning, waged war on the offspring. If they are the offspring, who is the woman? Could they be representations of the same people? Let’s ponder those who fit. Eve, Mary, Rachel, and others to be sure, but notice the context as we continue, remembering the genre.

“And she gave birth to a son, a male child, who is to rule all the 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 there she might be nourished for one thousand two hundred and sixty days.” Jesus–it can be no other. You may have noticed something; something missing, I always see what’s missing and it usually causes problems. I always bring it up to be held accountable to the fact that I am doing something I warn against. Nevertheless, something huge is missing; a sign. We will hopefully see, as we consider the context, that the sign of the woman is mega, the sign of the dragon is mega, but the Alpha and Omega has no sign. Jesus is the ultimate reality; the beginning and end, yet nestled in the middle of this passage, as he is the center of the revelation and the entire Bible. The woman is a mega sign, signifying multiple roles, as is the dragon. Notice the context: “And the woman fled into the wilderness where she had a place prepared by God, so that there she might be nourished.” Are you in the wilderness? Am I? Was John the Baptist, Israel, Elijah, Moses, Abraham, the first century church and all other followers of God? Were they nourished by God–with Mana, quale, bread, baptism–“and since man shall not live on bread alone,” his words?

We also see that the dragon is a sign, remember Herod trying to devour Christ in Matthew 2? Consider the following: “And another sign appeared in heaven: and behold, a great red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads were seven diadems. And his tail swept away a third of the stars of heaven, and threw them to the earth.” Could it be that it is not the devil alone but he took fallen angels with him? What of the seven heads and diadems and the ten horns–who does that represent. Many would say, “this is the Antichrist.” But I believe this is the beast, the Roman empire. Seven heads represent the seven hills and the ten horns represent the emperors. But I am getting way ahead of myself, once again. Still, consider it. Did not Rome consist of seven hills; did it not have ten emporers? Most importantly, did it not all but destroy the nation Israel, crucify Christ and persecute the early church? All I ask is for consideration. Let’s focus on the sign of the stars swept away by the dragon’s tail.

“And there was war in heaven, Michael and his angels waging war with the dragon. And the dragon and his angels waged war, and they were not strong enough, and there was no longer a place found for them in heaven. And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.” The context confirms our suspicion, the devil and his demons, too weak, or too evil, to remain in heaven, are cast down to the earth.

And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, who accuses them before our God day and night. “And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even to death. “For this reason, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them. Woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, knowing that he has only a short time.” God knows what he is doing. As we have discussed before, evil swallows up evil. But those who overcome by Jesus’s sacrifice, who don’t consider their lives their own, rejoice. “For in this tent we grown” but we have an eternal dwelling with our Savior. But not the devil nor his minions; they have a limited time.

“And when the dragon saw that he was thrown down to the earth, he persecuted the woman who gave birth to the male child. And the two wings of the great eagle were given to the woman, in order that she might fly into the wilderness to her place, where she was nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent. And the serpent poured water like a river out of his mouth after the woman, so that he might cause her to be swept away with the flood. And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and drank up the river which the dragon poured out of his mouth.” We see it again–in evil’s attempt to swallow up the woman, it is in fact, swallowing up itself. I am sure you didn’t miss the wings of eagles. Consulting our OTT we will drive home the fact that the woman represents the people of God–true Israel, whom God himself bore. Exodus 19:4 “You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings, and brought you to Myself.” And, Ezekiel 16:6 “When I passed by you and saw you squirming in your blood, I said to you while you were in your blood, ‘Live!’”

I am obviously a byproduct of my environment and the times. In 2018 I am concerned; concerned about the devil and how he feels about all of this…”And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and went off to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus.”

One thing that I left out was, time, time and half a time, or, 1,260 days. The reason I did so is that for us, in the west, in 2018, it clouds the judgement. With it removed from the discussion, the text has become clear to us. We may now reinsert it without it changing the meaning. Consider the genre–apocalypse. The time represents time, not eternity. 1,260 days is filled with meaning and imagery. For instance, Hebrews states, “For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.” It is not specifically intended to demonstrate an exact time, but to harken back to Christ’s ministry, death, etc. The imagery represents these things.

The Bible is summed up here in the middle of Revelation. As we waltz through it, many of these images and the images we’ve seen previously, will become as clear as the golden streets of heaven; if we hold to hermeneutics and let our presuppositions descend into the abyss.

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