“Then I witnessed in heaven an event of great significance. I saw a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon beneath her feet, and a crown of twelve stars on her head. She was pregnant, and she cried out because of her labour pains and the agony of giving birth.”
Revelation 12:1-2 NLT
John’s writings about his vision continued. He saw, witnessed even, “an event of great significance”. And he proceeded to describe what he saw. His vision of the woman must have been delivered to him with some considerable help. Otherwise how would he have known that she was wearing the sun, was standing on the moon, had a crown of twelve stars and was pregnant. Heavily pregnant, probably, because she was in the final stages of labour. And he knew he was about to witness something special.
The second sentence of today’s verses describes what the woman looked like, and we have to look back into Scripture to find out what the sun, moon and stars refer to. Taking the woman’s clothing, probably a cloak, it was described as being made of the “sun”. A mystery perhaps, until we find that in Malachi 4:2 Malachi prophesied, “But for you who fear my name, the Sun of Righteousness will rise with healing in his wings. And you will go free, leaping with joy like calves let out to pasture.” In the context of the chapter in Malachi, he was referring to the event in the End Times when the day of God’s judgement arrives. We read also in the same chapter in Malachi, “Look, I am sending you the prophet Elijah before the great and dreadful day of the Lord arrives.” (Malachi 4:5). This fits in well with the context in John’s Revelation, having just read the previous chapter and heard that the blowing of the seventh trumpet preceded the establishment of God’s Kingdom. We remember that the elders’ prayer included the statement “but now the time of your wrath has come. It is time to judge the dead”. So straight away we get the picture that being clothed in the Sun can mean nothing else other than being clothed in Jesus, the Christ, Himself. There is also a connection between Jesus’ righteousness and clothing. For Job said, “Everything I did was honest. Righteousness covered me like a robe, and I wore justice like a turban”. (Job 29:14).
In our verses today, we see that the woman is standing on the moon. At least we are told that it is beneath her feet. This is enough to see that in this context, the moon was something inferior, something beneath where the woman was at. Perhaps we could consider the moon as being her footstool. It may be another way of pointing out that God’s enemies are beneath His feet. We read in Psalm 110:1, “The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit in the place of honour at my right hand until I humble your enemies, making them a footstool under your feet.”
What are the crown of twelve stars that the woman in wearing? Again, we consider the number twelve, which refers to two important groups in the Bible. The twelve tribes of Israel and the twelve Apostles. In this context, the twelve stars possibly means that the “woman” represents the Messiah’s Jewish roots and His subsequent extended family, the Church, founded by the Apostles. So the woman was cloaked in God’s righteousness, with her enemies her footstool, and she was wearing ID on her head, defining the roots of her very being. John’s Revelation seems to support the view that the End Times are very much connected to Christ’s Church, so we’ll take the perspective that the baby to come refers to events yet to happen. And the Jews and Gentiles will one day be united into Jesus’ wonderful Bride, the Church.
So the question now is, what is the gestation period of Jesus’ Church? Two thousand years or so have passed already, more if we include the Jewish years before the birth of Jesus. But the pregnancy has been difficult. Our enemy, the devil, has done his utmost to destroy the church. But the pregnancy has continued regardless. Jesus said to Peter in Matthew 16:18, “Now I say to you that you are Peter (which means ‘rock’), and upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it“. If Jesus said it than it will happen. There is no power available to the devil that can destroy His Church. But he keeps trying, which is why we pilgrims have to be constantly on our guards. We cannot relax, even for a minute. Note if the twelve stars that formed the woman’s crown were the Apostles, Peter was one of them.
In John’s vision, the woman is about to give birth. The gestation period is over. Labour pains are increasing, and the woman is experiencing the agony of child birth. John’s vision is clear and concise. The only thing missing from it is the “when”. And that is something we pilgrims pray about, that we too will be birthed as part of Jesus’ Church, when the time comes.
Dear Lord Jesus. We thank You that You said that You will build Your Church. Nothing will frustrate Your plans and purposes. We praise and worship You today. Amen.