Thursday, April 9, 2015

It’s All About Israel

The prophecy in Revelation 12:1-9 begins with a description of a woman clothed with the sun and having the moon under her feet. She is wearing a crown of twelve stars and is about to give birth to a man child.  A great red dragon is set to devour her child as soon as it is born, but before he is able to, the man child is caught up into heaven and the woman flees into the wilderness where God has prepared a place to feed her for three and a half years.  This time period is described in Daniel 12 as a time of trouble that has never been seen before and is often referred to as “The Time of Jacob’s Trouble.”

So who does this woman represent? There is a minority who believe the woman is the Church which is hidden during the second half of the tribulation. Most Bible commentaries, however, identify the woman as Israel. Many things described in Revelation can be understood by information provided in the rest of the Bible, especially the Old Testament.  The dream of Joseph regarding the 12 stars is the key to the identity of this woman.

It’s been said that the Book of Genesis and the Book of Revelation are the bookends of the Bible. In Genesis Eden is lost and New Jerusalem comes down in Revelation. That the woman of Revelation 12 is Israel is backed up by Genesis 37:9, the dream of Joseph. Both scriptures speak to the sun and the moon and 12 stars. Also, Israel is frequently referred to as a woman in the Old Testament; Isaiah 47:7-9, 54:5-6, 66:7-8; Jeremiah 4:31; Micah 4:9-10; 5:3.

In Revelation 12:6 the woman flees into the wilderness where she will be protected during the second half of the tribulation. In verse 13 she is pursued by the Dragon and in verse 14 she is given “two wings of a great eagle.” Deliverance of Israeli on eagle wings is confirmed in the Old Testament in Exodus 19:4 and Isaiah 40:31.  Also Israel being protected by God is a theme throughout the Old Testament. In one example, Isaiah 26:20, God’s people were told to enter into a place of safety and to hide until the “indignation” be completed.

Even in the New Testament era God would have protected Israeli had they fled as did the Christians who heeded Jesus’ warning in Luke 21:21 and Matthew 24:2.

Midway in Matthew 24 Jesus adds a future warning for Israel to flee to the mountains when they see the abomination of desolation which will mark the start of Jacob’s Trouble.

Isaiah 66:7-8 speaks of the woman bringing forth a man child and the nation of Israel coming into being in one day which is exactly what happened in May 14, 1948. Aliyah, the immigration of Jews from the diaspora to the land of Israel, was and is the fulfillment of Ezekiel Chapters 36 and 37.

Since I have close Church and Bible study families I surveyed several asking, “Who is the woman of Revelation 12?” The 10 participants included seven Bible Study attendees, an evangelical published author, a pastor and a Bible Study Leader. Results were; Israel 4, the Church 1, Both Israel and the Church 1 and no opinion 4. The results of the six out of 10 who had an opinion were similar a quick search of the Internet.                                  

A Google search for "Who is the woman in revelation chapter 12?" resulted in about 1,250,000 results. Seven of ten results taken at random claim she is Israel, two claim the Church and one Israel first, and then the Gentile Church.

The website was very to the point, "The woman represents Israel, and her child is Christ; the Messiah” citing relevant Bible verses including 12:5; Isaiah 7:14; 9:6; 66:7.8; Micah 5:2; Romans. 9:4-5.
Further stated is that “The woman is not the church, since the church did not bring forth Christ, But rather He brought forth the church. The sun reflects redeemed Israel's unique glory, brilliance and dignity because of her exulted status and shows her as God's chosen nation. The moon under her feet alludes to God's promise of dominion, and the crown of twelve stars pictures royalty and relates to the 12 tribes of Israel.”

Also stated is that during the last half of the Tribulation period Israel will take refuge among the Gentile nations, where God will care for her. Revelation 12:6.” (Discover Revelation)

I would summarize the above Isaiah passages as referring to the virgin birth, the coming Messiah, the birth of a man child and prophesied the birth of the State of Israel in one day. Micah not only prophesies the birth of the Messiah, it has Jesus from everlasting. Romans deals with God becoming flesh. Revelation deals with the woman being sheltered in a place provided by God during the second half of the Tribulation.

In Deuteronomy 2 God told the Israeli to pass through the land of the descendants of Esau but that He (God) would not give Israel the land. In Micah 2:12 God will gather the remnant of Israel and “put them together as the sheep of Bozrah (H1223)."
Feminine from H1219; an enclosure, that is, sheepfold: - Bozrah.
H1219 adds to gather, to be isolated, inaccessible.

There no coincidence with God. Thousands of years in advance God made sure there would be a refuge for the remnant of Israel during the time of Jacob's troubles.

In his article “The Woman of Revelation 12” Christian Apologist Thomas Ice lists several reasons why the woman refers to Israel. Mr. Ice includes Revelation 11:19 because the temple of God in heaven is opened and the Ark of the Covenant is present. The Ark is always linked to the nation of Israel. Second he points out that Israel is often represented throughout the Old Testament as a woman and lists numerous supporting scriptures. Mr. Ice writes of John’s use of sun, moon, and stars in his description of the woman and its relationship to Genesis 37: 9. (Ice)

There are many books available that deal with the relationship between Israel and Christianity by those holding a Covenantal View and by those having a Dispensational View. The Covenantal View claims the church and Israel are the same leading to the heresy of Replacement Theology. Dispensational View has the church and Israel as separate entities. Dr. Fruchtenbaum addresses this.

"Too often, the tendency is to approach a prophetic passage with a covenant postmillennial bias and then interpret accordingly; so, the woman of Revelation 12 giving birth to the man-child represents the Church struggling to present Christ to the world. However, such an interpretation does not arise naturally from the text. The tendency is to ignore the Old Testament background and to proceed with a postmillennial interpretation which ignores the obvious and simple meaning of the text." (Fruchtenbaum 122)

Dr. Fruchtenbaum also writes of days of darkness, of cleaning and of refuge for “Faithful Remnant” of Israel in southern Jordan, the city now known as Petra.  (Fruchtenbaum 771)

The following quote is from a book published this year, "Another reference to the descendants of Abraham comes in Revelation 12, when the text tells of a great sign in heaven about a woman with child. The term semeion (12:1) is the contextual signal to understanding a figurative interpretation of the woman. The connection of the woman’s description with Gen 37: 9 identifies her as national Israel. God will in the future provide a place of refuge for the nation from the animosity of the dragon." (Brand 120).

Three months ago I attended a Bible study being taught by Charles Sivley of Prevailing Word Publishing. Mr. Sivley mentioned a pamphlet he had written, “The Rapture Fact or Fiction?” it is his contention that the rapture is an invention and that the church will remain on earth during the tribulation, to be sheltered in place by God. He went on to say that the woman in Revelation 12 was the true Church-the Church of God.

Charles Sivley and I have had several discussions concerning the woman of Revelation 12:1. He insists that she is the Church and that the Church will be sheltered in place rather than raptured; the inspiration for this article.

The woman in Revelation 12 represents the nation of Israel and she gives birth to the man-child, the Messiah, who is caught up to Heaven. Although Satan tries to destroy the woman she is taken to a place of refuge to wait out the Great Tribulation, the Time of Jacob’s Trouble.

We are commanded by God to bless Israel, the people who provided us with our Savior. Since its creation, the United States has been blessed by God as we bless Israel, however, God is dropping his hedge of protection as our administration distances itself from Israel. We must unceasingly pray for the peace of Jerusalem.

Work Cited

"botsrâh." Def. 1. BlueLetter Bible. 1996-2009. Web. 4 Apr 2015.

Brand, Chad O, et al. Perspectives on Israel and the Church: 4 Views. B&H
       Publishing Group, 2015. Kindle Digital.

Fruchtenbaum, Arnold G. Israelology: The Missing Link in Systematic Theology.
        California: Ariel Ministries, 2001. Digital.

Ice, Thomas. "The Woman of Revelation 12." 23nd Annual Conference Dec 1-3,
       2014. Pre-Trib Research Center. n.d. Web.  26 Mar. 2015.

n.d. “King James Version.” Public Domain. 1769. e-Sword Digital

n.d. "Chapter 12." Discover Revelation”. Discover The Book of Revelation. n.d.
        Web. 28 Mar. 2015
        < Chapter 12>