Revelation chapter 12 does not continue the series of events that John was describing in previous chapters. Instead, it begins with a reference to past events. Those past events will help us to understand the future events that John will soon begin to describe again.
John saw a sign (a picture with a special meaning), which appeared to him either in heaven, or in the sky. The picture was of a woman who shone with splendid light. Her wonderful crown (royal hat) shows her royal position. However, she was in great pain, because she would soon give birth to a child.
We will find the explanation of this sign in Genesis 37:9-10. There, Joseph had a dream that showed the future of his family. His father, Jacob, understood it. The sun and moon meant his (Joseph’s) parents; the stars meant his brothers. Jacob had 12 sons whose families together made up the whole nation called Israel.
So, in Revelation 12:1, the woman means the nation called Israel. John referred to how much Israel has suffered as a nation. The Bible records the history of many of those troubles. In the sign, these troubles appeared as the pain of a woman who is giving birth.
In the plans of God, Israel really did give birth to a child. That child is Christ, who will rule all nations (Revelation 12:5; Psalm 2:8-9). Clearly therefore, at the birth of Christ, Israel had a special place in God’s plans. We may ask, however, whether Israel still has that special place. The answer to that question will become clear as we study the rest of the chapter.
Next part: A description of the devil (Revelation 12:3)
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© 2016, Keith Simons.