Truth, Understanding, Insight

The Revelation 12 Sign

16th July 2017, mgh


1) The Revelation 12 Sign Revealed

There is much written about the sun, moon and planets aligning on in September 2017. We have many reasons for suspecting that 2017 will be a prophetically significant year, and the time of the Jewish feast of Sukkot could be more significant than any other time, but we need to understand the scripture before we consider the stars.

Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. (II Peter 1:20-21).

This means that the symbols must be understood in the light of the divinely given explanations in context. It is not up to us to make of it what we will, but to seek humbly what the author intended. It is not a matter of interpretation but of understanding. In the prophecy of Daniel the visions are explained, which can then help us to understand the symbols of Revelation. Revelation is a message to the servants of Christ. As our Lord observed only his sheep hear his voice (John 10:27). Y'shua said, “Take heed therefore how ye hear.” (Luke 8:18). Those who were his enemies would not understand, “Why do ye not understand my speech? even because you cannot hear my word.” (John 8:43).

The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to show unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John:
Who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw. (Revelation 1:1-2)

Here in Rev 1:1 we have two important points made. The events described were to “shortly to come to pass” and that they were “signified”. The word “signify” has the meaning of the events being represented by signs or symbols, and not in simple language. Any explanation of the book of Revelation to comply with the rules of communication must conform to the principle that is found in Rev 1:1. that it was given to reveal things “which must shortly come to pass.

The Context

The opening chapters of Revelation reveal the strengths and weaknesses of the seven Christian congregations of Asia. There are clear condemnations and commendations revealed to each group. There had been a clear decline in beliefs and standards since AD33 after the death and resurrection of Y'shua. This is an important factor in understanding Revelation 12. The “hope of Israel” had gone forth to Jews and Gentiles leading to the emergence of these “Christian congregations”. (Paul had stated that for “the hope of Israel” he was bound with this chain Acts 28:20). Some of these early believers, such as those in Thyratira, early developed aspects of the “woman Jezebel”, symbolising the harlot system of error which later led to a pseudo-christian system, which had compromised with paganism to be a form of Christian beliefs but had turned from the original doctrines taught by Y'shua, the Disciples and the Apostle Paul.

The true followers of Y'shua embraced the hope of Israel, but the “pseudo Christians”, which were to become the universal Church, embraced paganism in their beliefs and when they obtained power with the authority of the state church, they began to persecute Jews and the Christians who rejected any compromise.

We must understand this history to understand the Revelation 12 sign. We must also understand what is written about the time when things would occur.

After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will show thee things which must be hereafter. (Revelation 4:1)

This verse indicates that everything from this point that John records are symbols for events in the congregation's future, from that point onwards. Revelation from chapter 5 to 11 deals in sign and symbol with the fate and politics of the Roman Empire. Revelation 12 begins the visions of another aspect of the Roman Empire, which was religion and its oppression of dissenters. These events lead to the events of Revelation 13 when the Holy Roman Empire emerges.

We have then a “sign” in Revelation 12 of a woman in heaven.

There appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars: (Rev 12:1)

The word “wonder” is better rendered “sign”. Note that John is shown that this wonder 'appears' in heaven.

Explaining the symbols of the sign

Heaven in symbol refers to the political heavens, and the place of the rulers. Isaiah calls to the rulers and people of Israel.

Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth: for the LORD has spoken, I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me. (Isa 1:2)

The 'heavens', the rulers had rebelled, as had the ordinary people 'the earth'. This language is continued in Isaiah where the destruction of Babylon by the Medes and Persians is described as a shaking of the heavens.

They come from a far country, from the end of heaven, even the LORD, and the weapons of his indignation, to destroy the whole land.

Therefore I will shake the heavens, and the earth shall remove out of her place, in the wrath of the LORD of hosts, and in the day of his fierce anger. (Isaiah 13:5,13)

The Medes shook up the global political heavens by taking Babylon then occupied the political highest place (see verse 17).

Sun, moon and stars: This woman who appears in political symbolic heavens, as a great wonder to all the world, has on her head 12 stars, she is wearing the sun power and has under feet, or her control, the moon.

These symbols of the sun, moon and stars appear early in the Bible. Joseph dreams a dream where they bow to him. His father Jacob has no trouble interpreting it. The literal sun circling the earth will not bow to Joseph. Jacob asked “Shall I (symbolised by the sun) and thy mother (symbolised by the moon) and thy brethren (symbolised by 11 stars) indeed come to bow down ourselves to thee to the earth?” (Genesis 37:10) In that family now made up of the sons and their wives and children, The symbol of the sun and moon and stars relate to status. Jacob's dream was understood as a family in the context of a family at the time the Bible was the record of a family history. The sun was the power and ruler of the family 'heaven', the moon reflected its light and the brothers were already the lesser luminaries in the family being the fathers of children.

That the symbol of the sun has a general application for the great in the political heavens is shown by its use in the end of Babylon's power.

For the stars of heaven and the constellations thereof shall not give their light: the sun shall be darkened in his going forth, and the moon shall not cause her light to shine. (Isaiah 13:10)

There was no record of literal cosmic events, yet Babylon is destroyed and not inhabited, as predicted in that chapter.

Y'shua uses the sun and moon as symbolic language. At Olivet when asked about the future Yshua said that after the desolation of Jerusalem (where they were to flee to Judea)

But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, And the stars of heaven shall fall, and the powers that are in heaven shall be shaken. (Mark 13:24-25)

We know that in their world at that time, in the Jewish nation, the Jewish rulers lost political power and so 'sun' was darkened, and the worship at Jerusalem and the temple was destroyed symbolised as the moon power that reflects the sun. Many of the great men who had political power were killed or went into exile. Luke adds

And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled. And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; Men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken. (Luke 21:24-26)

The context indicates that the scope of the action is over all the earth, with all nations in perplexity. In the global political heavens we will see 'signs' in the major political power, and in the religious world and among the great leaders of the earth.

This sign of the sun in Revelation in the context is a fitting image for the various aspects of the rulers of the Roman Empire. It is not a hidden symbol as Louis 14 of France chose it, and everyone knew what it meant, as the absolute monarch shining forth in wealth and splendour. In choosing it he referred to classical history, as it was well known that the sun was the major deity of the Roman Empire. The sun was favoured by emperors after Aurelian and appeared on their coins. Constantine's coinage continued to bear images of the sun until 325/6. A gold medallion of Constantine depicted his bust in profile with the sun, and with a legend equating the two. He 'clothed' himself with the image of the sun. In the political heavens the sun refers to the great spendour of the leaders. Constantine showed he wore that power.

In Revelation 12 to complement the image of the sun power, are the stars. They were stars in the same way we speak of 'stars' today. The 12 stars could be recognised by the Apostle John and his contemporaries as the 12 emperors of Rome from Augusta to Nerva in the time of John in AD96.

The “moon” derives its light from the sun and as a sign in the political heavens it was the feminine ecclesiastical power which derived its authority from the government of the Roman Empire. “State religion looked after the home of the Roman people... just as the wife was supposed to guard the hearth at home and was represented by vestal virgins.” The religious power of Roman paganism in the political heavens was aptly represented by the moon.

The woman represented in Revelation 12 wearing all the symbols of power is now with child, she is pregnant. She is no longer a virgin. We know this as not only does she give birth, but over her head is the great power of the heavens, the sun, 12 stars and the moon depict the great political figures of the age that she is wearing. In Revelation 16:2,8 it is prophesied that great destruction would come on the earth and the symbols are of sea, river and sun. These signs are the future campaigns of Napoleon and the sun power was the Austrian power of the time, which was then the leading light of the 'Holy Roman Empire' and the Emperor of Austria was extinguished by Napoleon.

And I heard a great voice out of the temple saying to the seven angels, Go your ways, and pour out the vials of the wrath of God upon the earth. ... And the fourth angel poured out his vial upon the sun; and power was given unto him to scorch men with fire. (Revelation 16:1,8)

The faithful followers of Y'shua are described as the Bride of Christ, or as a virgin. She was to remain a faithful virgin until the marriage of the Lamb, at the time of redemption. This is seen in such passages as the following.

For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. ( II Corinthians 11;2)

The chaste condition of the woman that John was shown, had not been maintained. Other influences entered in. A “mystery of iniquity” was at work. She had compromised and taken of the influences of power of the political and religious heavens.

For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. (2 Thessalonians 2:7)

The church had developed within itself a party with political aims, which desired, unlike the Christians of the Apostolic era, to be of the world and to take part in its political movements and even associated itself with the military organisation of the Empire. This movement had gained political power by the beginning of the 4th century. The 'moon' of pagan ecclesiasticism was placed under her feet.

And she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered. (Rev 12:2)

The sign of the woman indicates dramatic changes to the system. The Christian congregations with their beginnings in AD 33 were to change. The woman is with child and the gestation period of approximately 280 days, allowing a day for a year, gives a period of from AD33 plus 280 years to AD313.

This corrupt church by its support gives power to Constantine who was a pagan who revered Apollo, the sun god. The triumph of Constantine over his enemies led to the subjugation of paganism to that of the corrupted Christianity. Constantine, a pagan takes on christianity and it becomes the state religion.

Many Christians had departed so far from the faith that they were prepared to assist Constantine to power in his wars of conquest. Constantine, in gratitude, adopted these Christians and their compromised religion as state sponsored.

The dragon: Verse 3 of Revelation 12 introduces another “wonder” or Sign in the political “heaven.” It is said that the generals of pagan Rome at one time used the dragon as the standard for Rome, particularly in the 3rd century. In AD 303 there was brutal persecution of all the Christians by the pagan Emperor Diocletian. Many saw Constantine as their means of deliverance from the horrors of persecution.

And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads. (Revelation 12: 3)

There are other signs that point to Rome as the scene of these events. The seven heads relate to the well known seven mountains upon which Rome was built and the seven “crowns” denote a sign of authority of the forms of administration by which the city was ruled (Regal, Consular, Dictatorial, Decemviral, Tribunal, Imperial and Gothic). The “ten horns” relate to the ten toes on the feet of the image in Daniel 2 and the ten fold division of the Roman Empire, which laid the basis of the modern division of Europe.

Verse 4 describes the last military struggles of Pagan Rome, that convulsed the Empire.

And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born. (Revelation 12:4)

History tells us that in AD 312 when Maxentius of Italy made war with Constantine of the West at the battle of Milvian Bridge, Maxentius was totally defeated leaving three rulers of the Empire. This victory of Milvian Bridge left a threefold division of the Roman Empire. It was at this time in AD 312-313 that Constantine emerged as the chief of the three rulers of the Empire, coming to the birth 280 years after the emergence of the Christian congregations. As history shows war followed among these three contenders for the right to rule the Empire.

And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne. (Rev 12:5)

The man-child was to be victorious. The war became a conflict between the pagans and Constantine, who was the victor with his pseudo Christian followers.

The theatre of acting out of the Sign

This verse has caused a lot of misunderstanding. This is a symbol of events in the political heavens on earth. The subject continues to be the political realm of the Roman Empire. The rod relates to rule with discipline (Prov 29:15), and a rod of iron, speaks of strength, hardness and inflexibility. The rod of iron appears 3 other times. The first is in Psalm 2:9 and speaks of one aspect of the rule of Messiah which is repeated in Revelation 2:27. The other instance in Revelation 19:15 the ruler with the rod of iron is again clearly identified as Y'shua with many other symbols, including the 2 edged sword of the Word of God. In Revelation 12 there is no specific identification with the Messiah, as in the other 3 instances. This ruler was to rule with rigour and hardness. The rod of iron, also fits perfectly with the iron legs, the Roman Empire, the fourth image of Daniel's image, where the toughness of Rome's rule is equated to the iron (Daniel 2). Constantine in his realm is seen as a god-like and powerful figure and throughout history has been seen as such. He is now understood as a tyrant. He gained the throne of the Roman Empire and ruled and those who were to follow him and to be rulers in this Christian organisation were proclaimed to represent God on earth. To be caught up to God, is to rule as a god- as Paul said of the 'man of sin' in 2 Thessalonians.

Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exalts himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sits in the temple of God, shews himself that he is God. (2Thessalonians 2:3-4)

Constantine saw himself as the christian messiah, which is a pure replacement, and as such a subversion of the truth.

At this point in the show of symbols, the woman runs from her son. Her son is in power (in the heavens) and ruling, but now she has to flee.

And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she had a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days.(Revelation 12:6)

Before Constantine there was one fragmented body of believers the 'woman' which was corrupted and full of division, but as Constantine came to power it was divided into two. There was to be a time of 1260 years. In 317 Constantine issued an edict to confiscate Donatist property and to send Donatist clergy into exile. In 325 he summoned the Council of Nicaea rejecting Arianism and instituting the Nicene Creed. Constantine enforced the First Council of Nicaea ruling prohibiting celebrating the Lord's Supper on the day before the Jewish Passover (14 Nisan) rejecting entirely the Jewish roots. From then on the Roman Julian Calendar, a solar calendar superseded the Hebrew Calendar among the state Christian churches of the Roman Empire. After 325AD it became clear to the protesting groups that there was no place for the true servants. They had to flee to the political wilderness, where they would worship in secret. If the 'son' in the 'sign' was Christ why would the woman have to flee? We will return to this point.

The woman flees

While the true servants go into hiding, after Constantine comes to power over first half the empire then all the Empire, there was a war against paganism in the political heavens which was not ended until after his death when the universal church was fully established.

And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. (Revelation 12:7-8)

The war was a war in the political arena (heaven) in continuing the signs of verse one as the Roman sphere using Roman symbols, it may be observed that Constantine now converted from paganism to a form of Christianity was successful against the pagan rulers to the point that they were removed and utterly ejected. Some still practised paganism, but it was removed from the political heavens of the Roman Empire.

What did Constantine ultimately establish?

Constantine established a Christian state and he as Emperor was a powerful and influential leader. The Holy Roman Empire was to achieve religious and political dominance throughout Europe.

In Constantine we see the forsaking of the pagan system of religion, which was that of his fathers. He claimed to be fighting in the name of Christ explaining the reference in verse 7 of Revelation 12 to “Michael and his angels”. Michael is from the Hebrew, and is a question 'Who is like El?' Constantine, though pagan, was the instrument of God's destruction of the pagans to this day, in the same way the Assyrians were used (Isaiah 10:5). Constantine was fighting against the “dragon” the symbol used for the pagan military power of Rome. Licinius had assembled the pagan 'angels' or their pastors (messengers) from the noblity to counter the increasing organisation of the pastors or 'messengers' (angels) of Christianity. Constantine, as at that time the rod of God, defeated all the pagan organisation.

And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceives the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.(Revelation 12:9)

The pagans were ejected from positions of authority and Constantine was able to secure a complete victory over the forces of paganism with his defeat of Licinius at the battle of Adrianople at Chrysopolis in AD324. Constantine's contemporary ascribed his success to the “celestial powers of sun, moon and stars” (Eusebius). The people rejoiced at Constantine's victories and the triumph of the Church was seen wrongly as the establishment of the kingdom of God on earth. Revelation 12:11 predicted this contemporary view that Constantine had triumphed through the help of Christ.

And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death. (Revelation 12:10-11)

As the signs are consistent in the chapter and relate to the political heaven, the voice was from the political heavens, as history shows the people of that era thought that they had overcome him using the name of Christ. They saw the deaths in un-christlike battle as 'sacrifice' (which is still to this day a view of deaths in battle). However this system would lead to a system of Christianity that revered the religious leaders as god-like and maintained its position and influence through the support of the armies of nations in Europe

Pagans in the Empire resisted the spread of Christianity, but christianised paganism although doomed continued persecution of the “woman”, which was the protesting Christian community that refused to conform to Constantine's Church. Constantine, still as a pagan, opposed all but the “official” Church. The protesting groups in the Church found it necessary to “flee into the wilderness” or to seek refuge in the extremities of the Empire as she was persecuted first by the pagans and then by Constantine's Church. The woman fled to the extremities of the “wings of the great eagle” another fitting symbol of the Roman Empire which had as a battle standard the eagle. The woman represents the Protesters throughout the following centuries.

And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man child.
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. . (Revelation 12:13-14)

A time period is given for the nourishment of these Christian enclaves. In Biblical times a time is 360 days. times equals 2 x 360 days and half a time is 180 days. On a year for a day basis (as shown in in Ezekiel 4:6) this is 360+720+180 which is 1260 years, but this concealment from persecution was to come to an end. From the time of Constantine's rise to ascendancy in AD312, this is 312 +1260, which is AD1572, a date that commenced a severe time of persecution of protesters by this serpent-dragon pagan power. In that year the persecution culminate din the St Bartholomew’s day massacre of the Huguenots. This is paralleled by the earlier reference to the woman fleeing into the wilderness from persecution in Revelation verse six for a period of 1260 days.

And the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood. And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed up the flood which the dragon cast out of his mouth. (Rev 12:15-16)

The serpent

The serpent, is not the dragon, but the Greek word for serpent implies the 'sharpness' and refers to the malicious snake. The serpent as a symbol relates to the people who partake of the serpent thinking of Genesis, where they know the Word of God but by cunning twist it to deny its message. The universal church took on the pagan serpent lie that 'we will not die' but some part waft to eternity. The water in symbol is compatriot to the earth, under the heavens, and when the people of nations are in motion and turmoil they are like the waters of the sea.

Woe to the multitude of many people, which make a noise like the noise of the seas; and to the rushing of nations, that make a rushing like the rushing of mighty waters! (Isa 17:12)

The water from the mouth speaks of people in motion motivated by words, as a flood, indicates they are sent out to destroy. With Constantine's lead the Arians and Donatists (as leaders of dissent) had been defeated and marginalised at Milan in 316. But it became worse as they challenged the role of Osius, the Bishop of Cordova. As a result the universal church now as the party in power caused the Donatists to be deprived of their buildings in North Africa, all their Bishops were driven into exile and some were put to death.

The earth and protest for 'freedom'

The earth, the common people, who were not aligned saw it was a matter of freedom and violently rose up against those who attacked the Donatists and dissenters, especially in North Africa. The history of the Donatists at the begining of the 1260 era, parallels that of other minority dissenters at the edges of political power throughout the era. From North Africa for 300 years some freedom was obtained then afterwards in Armenia and Asia Minor, then for about a hundred and fifty years in France, then Bulgaria, Hungary and Bavaria. From about 800 there was some freedom in the alpine regions of Italy and Switzerland, but the growth was so strong that by 1100 with the crusades the universal church began a terrible persecution there and the people fled again into Poland, where they were protected again by those who rise up for them, until once again they were forced onto Holland and Britain to then go to the new world. It is to be noted that the struggles in Europe at the other end of the 1260 year era and when America was founded were all about the equality of sects and freedom of the individual.

The key to understanding the Revelation 12 Sign

Revelation 12 concludes with the reason for the persecution. The persecution was to destroy all opposition to the power of the Constantine Church. These Protesters are described as those who keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.

And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ. (Revelation 12:17)

What is so absolutely amazing about Bible Prophecy are the links that are given to help us in our attempts to gain understanding of the prophecies. Revelation 12 must be understood in the consistency of the signs. The links to Daniel and the Apostle Paul clarify the sign of the “god-like” images.

The prophecy of Daniel deals with the power that would eventually emerge from out of the nations which he describes. Daniel Chapter 11 describes the emergence of a system whose influence was to be extensive and fits this personage described in Revelation 12.

And the king shall do according to his will; and he shall exalt himself, and magnify himself above every god, and shall speak marvellous things against the God of gods, and shall prosper till the indignation be accomplished: for that that is determined shall be done. Neither shall he regard the God of his fathers, nor the desire of women, nor regard any god: for he shall magnify himself above all.
But in his estate shall he honour the God of forces:(weapons) and a god whom his fathers knew not shall he honour with gold, and silver, and with precious stones, and pleasant things.(Daniel 11:36-38)

Observe what Paul wrote to the Thessalonians. Paul knew the writings of Daniel and he could see the decline in the Christian beliefs, that the disciples had taught. It was seen even at work in his association with the congregations that he visited. Doctrines were being introduced that were not the original teachings of the Disciples. Paul gives warning to the Thessalonians about the events, which we know from history did occur about three hundred years later. They were warned, we have seen prophecy fulfilled.

Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand.
Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sits in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.
Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things? And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. (II Thessalonians 2:1-6)

This power would be “revealed in his time” in the future, long after the time of Paul. This power vested in a man leader would sit “in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God”. Paul's words are very clear. The system is recognisable as being at work from the 4th century. And it was strong for 1260 years. It was 'born' after a gestation period from out of the fair virgin of true Christianity.

The aim of the Revelation was to show the things that would “come to pass”. In Constantine we see a dramatic forsaking of the pagan system of religion, which was that of his fathers. He claimed to be fighting in the name of Christ, and the events of his life and those who have followed in his legacy have fulfilled in chronological detail the symbols shown to John.

Though it has been fulfilled in detail, the end is the destruction of the corrupt system of the 'man child' to be replaced by the true Son of man who will rule the nations, with rod of iron, but not of error and evil, but in truth, justice and perfect righteouness.

For more on Revelation see Here

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