Bible Study with Jairus – Revelation 12
The Body of Christ Matures
Revelation 12 depicts a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, being crowned with twelve stars (12:1). This represents the body of Christ, the mature bride. This woman is the wife of the Lamb and represents the New Jerusalem (21:9-10).
When the Bible depicts God in anthropomorphic terms, it mentions that heaven is his throne, and earth is his footstool (Isaiah 66:1). This is a description of God’s greatness and His magnificent stature. In Revelation 12, the body of Christ (the bride) has grown into “the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:13 ESV) and is mature enough to open heaven, enter God’s heavenly temple, usher in the exaltation of the heavenly ark, and bring about the judgment of God (Revelation 11:19). In chapter 12, the body of Christ (represented by the woman) gives birth to a male child (overcoming believers) who will further judge Satan and evil spirits on behalf of the church. Chapter 12 thus becomes an important turning point in the book of Revelation.
This chapter is important for several reasons. First, Satan is so angry that he tries to devour the boy and persecute the rest of the woman’s children, which ushers in the apocalypse of the last three and a half years of Revelation. Second, as the bride continues to mature, the labor pains of the rebirth of the universe continue to intensify, birthing the first fruits (the male child). This means the creation and construction of God’s new universe (new heaven, new earth, and new Jerusalem) will soon be complete, and Satan’s ultimate failure will soon come to pass. Just as the Israelites exterminated and judged the Amorites after their sinfulness reached its full measure, the church will judge Satan on God’s behalf once his sins reach their full measure. Just as the body of Christ grows into Christ who is the Head, Satan and his followers will grow into their full measure of sin.
The great red dragon mentioned in this chapter is the ancient serpent who constantly drinks the blood of the saints. Riding the red dragon is the great prostitute, also known as Babylon the Great, who is also drunk on the blood of the saints and of Jesus’ witnesses. Babylon the great is the mother of prostitutes and earth’s abominations (17:5-6), while the mother of the saints is the heavenly Jerusalem (Galatians 4:26), and this new Jerusalem is the wife of the Lamb (Revelation 21:9). Satan is the father of sinners (John 8:44), and God is our heavenly Father. The union between sinners and evil spirits, who take Satan as their life, produces Babylon the Great, who becomes the mother of earth’s abominations. On the other hand, the union between God and men who take the life of Christ produces the body of Christ and the bride, who becomes the spiritual mother of all new creation.
After a caterpillar transforms into a butterfly, the pupa no longer exists and the cocoon loses its value. In the same way, the whole creation awaits the manifestation of God’s sons (Romans 8:19) so it can be freed from its bondage to corruption and obtain the glorious freedom of the children of God (Romans 8:20). Once these birth pains are over (Matthew 24:8) and a new creation is born, the old creation shall pass away. This new creation consists of:
- Christ being the head and the firstborn of all creation (Colossians 1:15)
- Christ’s church being the bride and His body, the fullness of him who fills all in all (Ephesians 1:23)
- All things reaching freedom and unity with Christ who is the Head.
- God being all in all. “When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all” (1 Corinthians 15:28). “… one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all” (Ephesians 4:6).
The Iniquity of the Amorites Mirrors Satan’s Iniquity
The story of the Israelites leaving Egypt and conquering the Canaanites in the Promised Land can help us understand the Book of Revelation. God revealed to Abraham that his descendants would live in slavery in Egypt for 400 years (Genesis 15). Why? Even though God had promised to give Abraham the land of Canaan, there were a few reasons why they could not yet occupy it. First, God explicitly told Abraham that “the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete” (Genesis 15:16). God was giving the Amorites an opportunity to repent. Second, God was giving the Israelites the opportunity to multiply in Egypt so that they could grow in strength, maturity, productivity, and rest. When Simeon and Levi killed the people of Shechem, Jacob said that they were outnumbered and that they would be exterminated by the Canaanites. It seems they were not yet strong enough to destroy the Canaanites. When Abraham’s family moved to Egypt, there were only seventy Israelites. But in Egypt, they grew in number and in strength. By the time they left Egypt, the population of Israelites has grown to three million.
Although God gave the Amorites opportunities to repent, God knew that Satan would not repent, even when given time. Yet God still allowed Satan’s iniquity to reach its full measure before he was punished. For Satan, the evil spirits, and the sinners who follow them, a time will come when their iniquities reach full measure.
Satan is full of sin and bloodshed. The Lord Jesus says that Satan is a murderer from the beginning (John 8:44) and that “the thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy” (John 10:10). Satan’s hands are stained with the blood of saints and mankind. The same goes for the evil spirits and sinners who follow Him. At the end of Revelation 14, angels harvest grapes with sickles and throw them into the great winepress of God’s wrath, and blood actually flows from the winepress, as high as the horses’ bridles for 300 kilometers (Revelation 14:19-20). This indicates how many they have killed. Babylon the Great is also filled with the blood of the saints (Revelation 17:6). These passages prove Satan’s wickedness.
Just as God uses the Israelites to judge the seven tribes of Canaan, God will use us to judge evil spirits. Strictly speaking, we are not the judge. God is the judge, and we just carry out the judgment. In order to carry out God’s judgment, we must be mature enough, just as the Israelites had to grow in strength before they could carry out God’s judgment on the Canaanites. Christ’s body must mature in order to ultimately carry out God’s judgment on Satan and the evil spirits.
But is today’s church mature enough to carry out the final judgment on Satan and evil spirits? Can we even cast out the demons that live among believers? Or are we like the seven sons of the Jewish priest Sceva? When they tried to cast out demons, the demons said, “Jesus I know, and Paul I recognize, but who are you?” (Acts 19:15) The demons then attacked and wounded the sons of Sceva. Many modern-day churches cannot drive out demons because they are possessed by them. Many people in the world are possessed by demons, yet the church is powerless to help.
In the Bible, Jesus’ disciples tried to cast out a mute spirit, but they couldn’t. When they asked Jesus why it was so difficult, he said that this type of demon could not be cast out except through fasting and prayer. Only mature believers can cast out evil spirits. If the church today can’t even cast out demons, how can we be mature enough to judge Satan and evil spirits? The church’s judgment on Satan and the evil spirits will be a large-scale exorcism. This means the church must increase in spiritual authority as we grow into Christ who is the Head. Only then will we be able to carry out God’s judgment.
We must learn from the Israelites’ experience in Egypt and the wilderness. This will not only help us grow and multiply, but also help us learn the lessons of faith. Like Israel in Egypt, we must grow and multiply through suffering as we become firmly rooted in Christ. Like Israel in the wilderness, we must receive spiritual provision (manna) and draw near to the presence of God (the Ark of the Covenant). Just like the Israelites needed to break free from Egyptian influences and stop yearning for chives, garlic, green onions, cucumbers and watermelons, and fish, we must break free from past influences. In addition, we need to learn the lessons of faith. The first generation of Israelites was destroyed in the wilderness for their disbelief and disobedience, but the second generation entered the land of Canaan under Joshua’s leadership and defeated the enemy. In the same way, the church today must overcome sin (foreshadowed by Egypt), and the world (foreshadowed by the wilderness), so it can enter the triumph of the spiritual life (foreshadowed by the conquest of the land of Canaan). As it goes through this three-step process, it will mature enough to judge Satan, angels, and demons.
Satan often tries to incite us to do things we are not yet prepared for. Satan will provoke us to come fight him when it is not yet time. This was the case with Moses. God did call Moses to be the leader of the Israelites and to save them from slavery. But he fell for Satan’s tricks and took action before it was God’s time. He acted prematurely and killed an Egyptian in his flesh. Because of this, Moses was forced to flee to the wilderness, where he herded sheep for 40 years. It was while shepherding in the wilderness that he encountered the burning bush, which was the manifestation of God’s presence. God’s presence took root in his life.
We must learn from Israel’s 400 years in Egypt and Moses’ 40 years in the desert. During these times of exile, we must take the opportunity to root ourselves deeply in Christ, draw from his strength and nourishment, grow into the temple of the Lord, and grow into Christ who is the Head. The church must mature in grace, power, life, and authority so it can finally carry out God’s judgment on Satan.
In summary, we are waiting for the Lord to come back. But Jesus is also waiting for our lives to mature so he can return.
A Woman Clothed with the Sun, With the Moon Under Her Feet, and on Her Head a Crown of Twelve Stars
Who is this woman? Some say it is Mary, the earthly mother of Jesus. Some say that it is the bride of Christ (Revelation 19) and the wife of the Lamb (Revelation 21). First, let us examine the idea that the woman is Mary and the male child she gives birth to is Christ. This explanation seems to make sense. The passage seems to portray what was happening in the spiritual world when Jesus Christ was born. But there are some flaws with this explanation. After the boy is born, he is caught up to the throne of God (12:5). But the woman flees to the wilderness, where she is fed for 1,260 days, or three and a half years. The concept of three and a half years is a prophetic period of time mentioned throughout Revelation and Daniel.
- Revelation 13 mentions that the first beast is allowed to do whatever he pleases for forty-two months (13:5), or three and a half years.
- Revelation 11 says the outside court would be trampled by Gentiles for 42 months (11:2).
- The two witnesses prophesy for 1260 days, which is three and a half years.
- Daniel mentions seventy sevens: “Know therefore and understand thatfrom the going out of the word to restore and build Jerusalem to the coming of an anointed one, a prince, there shall be seven weeks. Then for sixty-two weeks it shall be built again…” (Daniel 9:25)
- “And after the sixty-two weeks, an anointed one shallbe cut off…” (9:26)
- Daniel speaks of the Antichrist and says, “And he shall make a strong covenant with many for one week, and for half of the week he shall put an end to sacrifice and offering.” (9:27).
In other words, these passages all mention three and a half years, which are the first half of the last seven years prophesied by Daniel, while the three mentioned earlier are the latter half. So the three and a half years that this woman is in the wilderness must refer to the end times. If this woman refers to Mary, the mother of Jesus, and the wilderness she flees to refers to Egypt, then why does it reference the three and a half years, which are part of the last seven years during the end times of human history? Besides, if the boy is Christ, how can we explain that the woman flees into the wilderness after the boy is caught up to the throne of God (Revelation 12:4)? Although the dragon’s attempt to devour the child can be interpreted as Satan seeking to kill the infant Christ, Joseph and Mary didn’t flee to Egypt after Jesus ascended to God’s throne after his resurrection. They fled when he was an infant.
The Bible talks about three stages of Satan’s rebellion. First, he and one-third of his rebellious followers were driven out of heaven by God. They went from the third heaven to the second heaven. Second, Lord Jesus speaks of Satan falling like lightning (Luke 10:18). Again, the Scripture says that Satan’s “tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven and cast them to the earth…” (12:4). It also says that ” the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she bore her child he might devour it” (12:4). “Then the dragon became furious with the woman and went off to make war on the rest of her offspring, on those who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus…” (12:17). If the woman is Mary, then the dragon should be fighting with James and Jacob, the brothers of the Lord Jesus. But that is not the case. The rest of the woman’s children are those who keep God’s commandments and the testimony of Jesus. This indicates that the male child also keeps God’s commandments and testimony of Jesus, which means he is not Jesus himself. Perhaps the boy represents the overcomers, martyrs, or raptured saints. In any case, they are the first fruits of overcomers.
Our Mother, the Heavenly Jerusalem
In any case, I believe the woman in the passage is not Mary, the earthly mother of Jesus, but a spiritual mother who gives birth to many children. Paul makes it clear that our mother is the heavenly Jerusalem (Galatians 4:26). Paul compares the heavenly Jerusalem to Abraham’s wife Sarah and believers to Isaac. But he compares the earthly Jerusalem to Hagar, who “is in slavery with her children” (Galatians 4:25). Paul compares these two women to the Old and New Testaments. Hagar represents the Old Testament and the law that enslaves humankind. We as believers must go through the process of maturing. The law was a guardian for underage children (Galatians 3:24) who were guarded by the law because the gospel of faith had not yet come (Galatians 4:25). When God’s people were children, they were not yet free. Paul says, “The heir, as long as he is a child, is no different from a slave, though he is the owner of everything” (Galatians 4:1). But God sent Christ to “… send the spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father! So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God” (Galatians 4:6–7). God wants the church to mature into the glorious freedom of Jesus Christ, so that the glory of God’s sons may be revealed. Then the entire creation will be set free (Romans 8:21). It is a process of being born again, growing up, and maturing.
Romans 8:16-17 says, “The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ provided we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.” The Bible uses four Greek words for God’s “children” that depict different levels of spiritual maturity.
- The first one is “Nepios,” which depicts an infant. The infant child of a king cannot take the throne immediately; he must first grow up to maturity.
- The second word is “paidion,” which means a young child or a toddler. Toddlers also need to grow up.
- The third one is “teknon,” which is used in Romans 8:17 for “children”. It means “teenager or a young adult.”
- The last one is “huios,” which is the word “sons” in Romans 8:14. This verse says, “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.”
These four Greek words show the growth curve of children of God from infants (Nepios) to toddlers (paidion) to young adults (teknon) to fully mature sons (huios). God desires the body of Christ to grow to its full maturity so all creation can be liberated from its bondage. This is exactly what is happening in Revelation 12.
Revelation 12 is the turning point in the book of Revelation. Before long, God will do away with the old creation and welcome a new heaven and a new earth. I don’t believe this passage is talking about Christ being born, but about God’s sons being glorified. The birth, death, and resurrection of Christ are complete, but His body, the church, is still going through the process of maturing. Their birth, suffering, and rebirth mirror Christ’s suffering and usher in the rebirth of the universe that Jesus refers to in Matthew 24. And the bride of Christ, the heavenly Jerusalem, will be the mother of the new creation.