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The Revelation - Book 4

A study of Revelation 10-12. This is book 4 of an 8 part book series.

Category - Bible Commentaries

Chapter 17

The Woman in the Wilderness

The signs in the heavens depict many snapshots of the gospel message and prophecies of conflict between Christ and His enemies. Each sign reveals a different aspect of the story. Draco reveals the more fundamental, spiritual conflict, which manifests through his proxies as earthly events. There is no question, however, that the serpent in Gen. 3:1 is revealed by the constellation Draco and that this is the same enemy that is pictured in Revelation 12.

The constellation Orion, for example, pictures Christ victorious over the enemy. Seiss tells us that His name means “He who cometh forth as light, the Brilliant, the Swift” (p. 105). His right foot is lifted and poised to crush the enemy. In his foot is the bright star of the first magnitude, Rigel, which means “the foot that crushes.” All of this pictures the prophecy in Gen. 3:15,

15 And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise him on the heel.

While most of the constellations picture this spiritual battle in terms of actual warfare, there is a deeper significance to these war metaphors. Sagittarius, as we have seen, is not only an archer who might kill with physical arrows, but is also a Teacher of Righteousness whose arrows are “sons” that are trained to speak the truth in love to counter the subtle deceptions of the serpent, or Draco.

In the constellation of Libra, the Scales of Justice, we find three decans to support it: the Southern Cross, the Victim (Lupus), and the Northern Crown. Seiss tells us about the Southern Cross, or Crux:

“Formerly this constellation was visible in our latitudes; but in the gradual shifting of the heavens it has long since sunk away to the southward. It was last seen in the horizon of Jerusalem about the time that Christ was crucified” (p. 37).

This constellation now is pictured on the flag of New Zealand as a testimony of the death of Christ on the cross. Its sister nation, Australia, was originally called Australia del Espiritu Santo, “Southland of the Holy Spirit.” It was so named by a Portuguese sailor named Pedro Fernandez de Queiros, because he arrived there on Pentecost on May 3, 1606. According to his memoirs, entitled The Voyages of Pedro Fernandez de Quiros, he proclaimed:

“Be witness the heavens and the earth, and the sea, and all its inhabitants, and those who are present, that I, the Captain Pedro Fernandez de Quiros, in these parts which up to the present time have been unknown… take possession of all the … lands that I have newly discovered… and all this region as far south as the Pole, which from this time shall be called Australia del Espiritu Santo.”

Hence, even as New Zealand is dedicated to remembering the Cross of Christ (Passover), so also is Australia dedicated to the Holy Spirit given to the church at Pentecost.

The Southern Cross is the key that balances the Scales of Justice for the world, and the Northern Crown is the reward procured by Christ’s sacrifice on the cross as Lupus, the Victim.

The Woman in the Wilderness

After the woman’s son ascends to the throne, Rev. 12:6 says,

6 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.

Here we again see the same 1,260 “day” time cycle. It seems to correlate with the “forty-two months” of Rev. 11:2, wherein the nations were treading down the Holy City. In long-term prophecy, this is 1,260 years and even double that amount: 2,520 years (“seven times”). It is difficult to apply this particular prophecy, because all of the earlier biblical patterns give different lengths of time in the wilderness.

When Israel was delivered from Egypt under Moses, they “fled” into the wilderness, where they immediately came under attack by the Amalekites in Exodus 17:8,

8 Then Amalek came and fought against Israel at Rephidim.

Amalek was the grandson of Esau and the son of Eliphaz (Gen. 36:12). In Gen. 36:1 we read that Esau himself was nicknamed Edom, which means Red. Hence, when Amalek attacked the woman (Israel) at the start of her wilderness wandering, they showed that they—like King Herod the Edomite years later—were inspired by the red dragon. Amalek gives us an added feature showing the motive of their attack. Amalek’s father was Eliphaz, “my god is fine gold.” Having a love of money, the Amalekites wanted to steal the gold that Israel had gotten from Egypt.

Israel was the first Bride of Christ, for she was married to God at Mount Sinai with Moses officiating at the wedding. This marriage ended badly when God gave her a bill of divorce (Jer. 3:8) and sent her out of the house according to the law (Deut. 24:1). That marriage was based on an Old Covenant marriage contract. Even though Israel had been led out of the house of bondage (Egypt), she remained in spiritual bondage through the Old Covenant, because she was unable to keep her marriage vow (Exodus 19:8).

So a second marriage was necessary, one that was based on the New Covenant. The New Covenant was based on God’s vow (Deut. 29:12-14), so it was destined to succeed.

So we see portrayed in the constellations two women. The first is Andromeda, the chained woman in bondage, who represents Israel under the Old Covenant. The second is Cassiopeia, the woman set free and enthroned, who represents Israel under the New Covenant. Cassiopeia is a decan of Aries, the Ram, which pictures Christ as the sacrifice for sin. The Hebrew name for Aries is Taleh, “the lamb.”

It is by the death and resurrection of the Ram that Cassiopeia is set free and enthroned. So the brightest star in Aries is El-Nath, “wounded, slain,” and the next brightest star is Al Sharatan, “the bruised, or wounded.”

It is interesting that Andromeda, the chained woman, is a decan in the constellation of Pisces, the Two Fish that are bound together by another decan called “The Band.” The sign of the fish was universally used from the beginning to represent the church, because ichthus (Greek: “fish”) was the acronym for Iesous Christos Theou Yios Soter, “Jesus Christ, God’s Son, Savior.”

While much can be said about this, the main point for our purpose here is to connect Andromeda to Pisces. In spite of the fact that Christ’s death on the cross has set the woman free, most of the church has remained chained and enslaved in the house of bondage. Even as Israel under Moses had been set free from Egypt and yet remained in bondage on another level, so also has the church as a whole remained chained in bondage to the flesh, even though she was set free by the cross. Only the overcomers have been truly set free. In Moses’ day the overcomers were Caleb and Joshua. There are also New Testament overcomers, who are again a minority among Christians.

The woman in the wilderness in Rev. 12:6 was forecasted by Israel’s 40 years in the wilderness under Moses prior to their entry into the fleshly kingdom (Canaan). A greater fulfillment of the same pattern is seen in the church that was led out of the house of bondage by one who was like Moses (Acts 7:37). The church’s wilderness experience was designed to last 40 Jubilee cycles (1,960 years), ending in 1993. This time frame also coincided with the time of the seven churches, ending with the start of the transfer of authority to the overcomers.

The problem is that neither Israel nor the church fled to the wilderness for 1,260 days or even 1,260 years. In fact, 1,260 is not even a multiple of 40. Therefore, this time period must be based on something else. It is also possible that we may yet see a literal, short-term 1,260-day prophetic period fulfilled in some way, but if so, it is hardly possible to know ahead of time how this might be fulfilled.

The Appointed Place

When Israel was at its height, God gave a startling word to King David in 2 Sam. 7:10, 11,

10 I will also appoint a place for My people Israel and will plant them, that they may live in their own place and not be disturbed [ragaz, “moved”] again, nor will the wicked afflict them any more as formerly, 11 even from the day that I commanded judges to be over My people Israel; and I will give you rest from all your enemies. The Lord also declares to you that the Lord will make a house for you.

David may well have asked God, “What about the place where we now live? What about the land of Canaan?” But God spoke of another place, a place where they would be at rest. Israel was to be moved when God cast her out of the land and sent her into captivity in Assyria. This prophecy, then, must be fulfilled after the Assyrian captivity. In fact, if we apply this to Israel after the flesh, and to their descendants who immigrated into Europe after the fall of Assyria, they have had continuous wars and disturbances throughout their history.

Some believe that this “appointed place” was in far-off Britain. Others believe it was a reference to America and the New World. Perhaps there are elements of truth in this, but in the end, the only real place of “rest” is the spiritual “country” and “city” that Abraham sought. Heb. 11:13-16 tells us,

13 All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. 14 For those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a country of their own. 15 And indeed if they had been thinking of that country from which they went out, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 But as it is, they desire a better country, that is a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them.

There are two ways of applying this. First, when applied to the fleshly Israelites, the promise given to them was not the old land of Canaan, for God had appointed for them a new land. And so the Israelites immigrated north and west into Europe, rather than south to their old land. “If they had been thinking of that country from which they went out, they would have had opportunity to return,” but they had long forgotten the old land, for God had decreed this in Hosea 2:6,

6 Therefore, behold, I will hedge up her way with thorns, and I will build a wall against her so that she cannot find her paths.

There was also a legal reason why Israel could not return. She had been given a bill of divorce and had been sent out of the house. So God tells Israel in Hosea 2:2, “she is not my wife, and I am not her husband.” Once divorced, God sent Israel out of His house into the wilderness, which is mentioned by the prophet in Hosea 2:14,

14 Therefore, behold, I will allure her, bring her into the wilderness, and speak kindly to her.

Hence, Israel is treated as a woman—a former wife—who has been sent out of the house according to the law, and brought “into the wilderness.” She follows the pattern set forth in Rev. 12:6, but there is no specific time period given in Hosea’s prophecy. We are only told in Hosea 2:16, 20, that the betrothal and subsequent remarriage takes place in the wilderness, i.e., not in the old land (Canaan/Palestine).

Further, it is understood that Israel and Judah will be united under “one leader,” that is Christ (Hosea 1:11), and that “in the place where it is said to them,You are not My people,’ it will be said to them, ‘You are the sons of the living God’” (Hosea 1:10). In other words, during Israel’s sojourn in the wilderness, they would be “not My people,” and yet there they would become “the sons of the living God.”

This promise can only be fulfilled through the provision of the New Covenant, and this new relationship with God comes not by fleshly birth, nor by the will of man, but of God (John 1:12, 13). No one, Israelite or otherwise, attains such a position by fleshly birth, but only by being begotten by the Spirit through the seed of the gospel which begets us by faith in Christ (1 Cor. 4:15 KJV).

A profound change, then, occurs in the wilderness. Israel is transformed from fleshly to spiritual, from dependence upon fleshly birth to spiritual. Having been divorced, she was no different from the other nations, legally speaking. But when the regathering, the re-betrothal, and the remarriage takes place, the way is opened for all nations to come to Christ as equals. Isaiah 56:6-8 says,

6 Also the foreigners who join themselves to the Lord… and holds fast My covenant, 7 Even those I will bring to My holy mountain and make them joyful in My house of prayer… For My house will be called a house of prayer for all the peoples. 8 The Lord God, who gathers the dispersed of Israel, declares, “Yet others I will gather to them, to those already gathered.”

We see, then, that whereas the “woman in the wilderness” started out as natural Israel, she ends up as a multi-ethnic nation who all adhere to the New Covenant by faith in the same Christ. A great change takes place between the death and resurrection of Israel as a nation. It is sown as a natural body and raised as a spiritual body (1 Cor. 15:44). What started out as a small nation in the land of Canaan has been “sown” in “the field” (i.e., the world, Matt. 13:38) in order to obtain a greater harvest of sons.