I greet you once again the Name of Jesus!
As promised last time, we are going to take a look at the first six verses of Revelation 12 in this post. These verses form the basis of what has become known as The Revelation 12 Sign on YouTube and social media. We explained this sign last time, so I won’t go into that again here. If you did not read the first part of this teaching, it might be a good idea to check that out at, https://pastorkj.wordpress.com/2017/08/09/the-revelation-12-sign-what-are-we-to-make-of-it-by-pastor-kevin-e-johnson/ before going any farther in this post.
Revelation 12 is the most symbolic chapter in a book filled with symbols. How we understand and interpret the symbols in this book determine whether or not we arrive at the author’s intended purpose for writing what he wrote. Jesus gave this revelation to the Apostle John on the Isle of Patmos in approximately AD 96. Most of the time when we set out to teach any book of the Bible we first outline the book for teaching purposes. You don’t have to do that with the book of Revelation. The Lord outlined it for us in Revelation 1:19,
“Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter…” [Revelation 1:19 KJV]
So with this we see the book of Revelation is divided into three parts. Jesus instructed John to write:
- The things he had seen – This takes in chapter 1 and John’s vision of the risen, glorified Christ.
- The things which are – This takes in chapters 2 and 3 and seven letters sent to seven literal congregations in John’s day, and I believe by Law of Double Reference, a panoramic view of seven distinct ages of the Church, beginning with the Apostolic church of the first century, all the way to the lukewarm church, the last church of the age.
- The things that shall be after these things – This covers chapters 4 through 22, and takes in those things that will be after the Church Age. I am of the firm belief that everything in these chapters is yet future. So the vast majority of the book is futuristic in nature.
The book of Revelation moves along in a chronological progression, with the exception of seven parenthetical sections of the book. The parenthesis don’t move along the main narrative, but they do provide important background information. Revelation 12 is in the third parenthetical section, which also takes in Revelation 13.
I want to share with you two very important rules for interpreting the symbols in Revelation: 1) The symbols for the most part interpret themselves. In other words, if you keep reading, the symbol will be explained a bit later, sometimes in the chapter in which it appears. 2) All of the symbols in Revelation come from the Hebrew Bible, the Tanach, or the Old Testament. In fact, Revelation is the most Hebraic book of the New Testament. A person who studies Revelation in-depth will learn a great deal about the Old Testament.
I point this out because it is important to understand that the symbols in this book are not open for private interpretation. You can’t read the United States, for example into John’s reference to, “Mystery Babylon” in Revelation 17, or New York City into Revelation 18. No these symbols are connected to the Old Testament, and if you want to understand what John meant by a particular symbol, you will find it there.
OK, what about Revelation 12? What about what is being called, The Revelation 12 Sign? Is God sending a signal to warn people, or to announce coming prophetic events in this uncommon, and unusual planetary alignment on September 23rd of this year? Was God warning the nation of Israel, calling them to repentance with the “Blood Moons” of 2014-2015? Is God warning the United States, calling this nation to return to our founding principals, and repent for legislating and legalizing that which His Word says is an abomination in the upcoming (at this writing) solar eclipse on June 21st, that will be interestingly enough visible only in America? I believe He could be. I say that because God does use signs in the sun, moon, and stars to warn His people. In fact, back in Genesis the Bible says,
“And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years:” [Genesis 1:14 KJV emphasis added]
Most people probably read over this verse never noticing that word translated, “signs”, which is why I emphasized it above. This translates the Hebrew word, oth or owth (pronounced, oath), and it means, “a sign, signal, distinguishing mark, banner, remembrance, miraculous sign, omen, or warning.” So God very definitely does send warnings through celestial signs. Jesus said,
“And great earthquakes shall be in divers places, and famines, and pestilences; and fearful sights and great signs shall there be from heaven. 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;” [Luke 21:11, 25 KJV]
In both verses 11 and 25, the word translated, “signs” is the Greek word, semeion. This is a, “sign, token, or supernatural event.” So Jesus said there would be signs, tokens, and supernatural events occurring in the sun, moon, and stars. “Stars” in verse 25 is the Greek, astron, and really can refer to what we understand as stars or planets. I point all of this out to illustrate the fact that God does indeed send warnings or give signs through events in the planetary heavens.
With all of this in mind, what about what we see in Revelation 12? Lets look again at Revelation 12:1 – 6.
“And 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: And she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered. 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. 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. 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. And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days.” [Revelation 12:1 – 6 KJV]
In these six verses we are introduced to three individuals: 1) A sun-clothed woman, 2) a man child, and 3) a great red dragon. OK, so what are the identities of these three individuals? Keeping in mind the two rules of interpretation we mentioned above, lets see if we can identify these three individuals, shall we?
THE SUN-CLOTHED WOMAN:
Let me say first of all that the proponents of the Revelation 12 sign have rightly identified this symbol as representing national Israel. How do we know this? From looking at the Old Testament. Look at Genesis 37:9, 10. The Bible says,
“And he dreamed yet another dream, and told it his brethren, and said, Behold, I have dreamed a dream more; and, behold, the sun and the moon and the eleven stars made obeisance to me. And he told it to his father, and to his brethren: and his father rebuked him, and said unto him, What is this dream that thou hast dreamed? Shall I and thy mother and thy brethren indeed come to bow down ourselves to thee to the earth?” [Genesis 37:9, 10 KJV]
The “he” here of course is Joseph. Joseph in his dream saw the sun, moon, and eleven stars bowing down to him. His father Jacob correctly understood the symbol as referring to Israel and the Jewish people, at this point a nation and a people in their infancy. In biblical symbolism, the sun, moon, and stars belong to Israel. That is the case in Genesis 37, and it certainly is the case in Revelation 12.
There are a couple of things to notice here: 1) There seems to be a discrepancy between the Genesis 37 symbols, and those in Revelation 12. In Genesis 37 Joseph sees eleven stars, while in Revelation 12 we see twelve stars. That is because Joseph had the dream. He didn’t mention himself in Genesis 37 because his family would be bowing down to him. In Revelation 12 the twelfth star is in place, but the symbol is the same. 2) My brethren who are proponents of the Revelation 12 Sign see this planetary alignment coming on September 23rd of this year as not only the fulfillment of that which John saw, but also as pointing to a future event; in this case the catching away of the Church, and the beginning of Jacob’s Trouble, or the Great Tribulation period. Did this “sign” which John saw on the isle of Patmos in approximately AD 96 point to a future event? Well, yes and no. There are actually several things in this sign all wrapped up into one. It looks to the future in one part, and yet back at past events as well. And may I be so bold as to say that none of this has anything to do with the Church. All of this sign of Revelation 12 deals with Israel, the Messiah, and Israel’s past and future in the plan of God. Someone might ask, “What about the, ‘Great Red Dragon?’” We’ll get to him.
John sees this woman, “…being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered.” Israel is often pictured in the OT as a mother giving birth (See Isaiah 26:17, 18; Isaiah 54:1; Isaiah 66:7 – 12; Hosea 13:13; Micah 4:10; Micah 5:2, 3; Matthew 24:8). These dear people have suffered for centuries, longing for Messiah to come and destroy sin and Satan, and set up the kingdom. They are a people in travail, and the “birth pains” of prophecy will be primarily experienced by them. This sign first looks back at Israel’s past history as a suffering, persecuted, travailing people, and gives us the “why” behind it.
THE GREAT RED DRAGON:
We don’t have to speculate or wonder concerning the “dragon’s” identity. He is very clearly identified in verse 9, “And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.”
“That old serpent”, connects this, “great dragon” back to the first mention of the serpent in Genesis 3. There we read, “Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made.” [Genesis 3:1a KJV] “Serpent” here translates the Hebrew, nachash, and it literally means serpent or snake. However in Genesis 3 it is used metaphorically. It is describing a being who was serpent-like or serpentine in appearance. You are dealing with a burning, shining one. We dealt with this in depth in an earlier teaching, so I won’t dig into all of that here. However, if you dig into the etymology of this particular word, we see that is connected to that which is bright and shining, (you know, as in, “angel of light”). E.W. Bullinger did a great job breaking this Hebrew word down in, The Companion Bible. I want to share a portion of that which he wrote from his appendix 19, “The Hebrew word rendered “serpent” in Gen_3:1 is Nachash (from the root Nachash , to shine ), and means a shining one . Hence, in Chaldee it means brass or copper , because of its shining . Hence also, the word Nehushtan , a piece of brass, in 2Ki_18:4. In the same way Saraph , in Isa_6:2; Isa_6:6, means a burning one , and, because the serpents mentioned in Num. 21 were burning, in the poison of their bite, they were called Saraphim , or Saraphs .” He notes further in appendix 19, “But with the LORD said unto Moses, “Make thee a fiery serpent” (Num_21:8), He said, “Make thee a Saraph “, and , in obeying this command, we read in Num_21:9, “Moses made a Nachash of brass”. Nachash is thus used as being interchangeable with Saraph . Now, if Saraph is used of a serpent because its bite was burning , and is also used of a celestial or spirit-being (a burning one), why should not Nachash be used of a serpent because its appearance was shining , and be also used of a celestial or spirit-being (a shining one)? Indeed, a reference to the structure of Gen. 3 (on p. 7) will show that the Cherubim (which are similar celestial or spirit-beings) of the last verse (Gen_3:24) require a similar spirit-being to correspond with them in the first verse (for the structure of the whole chapter is a great Introversion). The Nachash , or serpent, who beguiled Eve (2Co_11:3) is not spoken of as “an angel of light” in Eze_28:14. Have we not, in this, a clear intimation that it was not a snake, but a glorious shining being, apparently as angel, to whom Eve paid such great deference, acknowledging him as one who seemed to possess superior knowledge, and who was evidently a being of a superior (not of an inferior) order?” [E.W. Bullinger, The Companion Bible appendix 19 notes]
So, sorting through everything Bullinger said we can see the being that appeared to Eve in the garden was not a serpent or snake at all, but rather a burning, shining angelic being (albeit fallen), no doubt lighting up the entire tree in which he was setting. No wonder Eve was dazzled by this thing! As a result of this being’s deception of Eve, a curse was placed on him (and subsequently on his master Satan), that became the very first prophecy of the Bible, recorded in Genesis 3:15,
“And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” [Gen. 3:15 KJV]
From that point on the old serpent, Satan, the Devil, was on a quest to stop the seed from coming into the earth-realm, or at the very least devouring the seed as soon as He was born. Since Satan is not omniscient like God is, he wasn’t certain exactly who this “seed” was, so he moved in several ways throughout history to devour the seed. He still hates the “seed” to this day, but that is another teaching.
As biblical history moved along, God chose a man in Abram, and from him promised to make a mighty nation, through whom the promised “seed” would come and bless all nations. Of course we know that nation was Israel, and the people are the Jewish people. It is is through this nation, and this people, specifically a virgin Jewish girl, that the promised “seed” was born. These people since they are God’s chosen people and nation are despised by Satan, not only because of Messiah Jesus, but just because they are God’s. He hates God and God’s people, Israel and the Church.
Satan was not successful in stopping the “seed” from being born. He failed in killing Jesus as an infant or young child. He was unsuccessful in moving Jesus to commit suicide by throwing Himself off the pinnacle of the Temple during His temptation in the wilderness. He failed in his attempts to move the people to rise up and kill Jesus during His earthly ministry. He was not able to kill Jesus through grief in the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus went to the Cross, laid down His life, spent three days and nights in the tomb (His spirit in the heart of the earth, in “Abraham’s Bosom”), and rose triumphantly before the dawn on Sunday. After spending forty days with His disciples in His glorified body, as they watched He ascended in the clouds back to His Father’s throne; forever out of the grasp of the evil one. Satan then turned in fury to persecute the Jews and the Church.
This brings us to the third individual in Revelation 12,
John wrote, “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.” [Revelation 12:5 KJV]
Here is where my brethren who are proponents of the, Revelation 12 Sign get it really wrong, in my opinion. In this interpretation of Revelation 12, the man (male) child is the Church, who is actually “born” at the rapture and caught-up to God’s throne. After all, they reason, Revelation 2:27 promises that over-comers will, “…rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father.” “Them” of course being the nations. We are promised several places in the NT that we will in fact reign with Christ as believers [2 Tim. 2:12; Rev. 5:10; Rev. 20:6]. We will reign on the earth with Christ, and will have authority and responsibilities over nations.
Believers reign with Christ, not independently of Him. It is Messiah Jesus who will actually rule the nations with a rod of iron. In fact, that which Jesus quotes in Revelation 2:27 is actually Psalm 2:9, clearly a Messianic Psalm. Revelation 19:15 uses the same verbiage clearly applying to Jesus.
In this great sign John sees, we see several things: 1) The birth and Ascension of Jesus. 2) We get a glimpse of the “why” of Jewish persecution down through the centuries, and 3) We see the fury of Satan being unleashed against the “woman”, a Jewish remnant, who will escape into the wilderness, probably to the desert citadel of Petra in Jordan. So in this sign John saw we see both past events as well as future occurrences.
I believe this is the correct interpretation of the “great sign” John saw. I submit this to you for your prayerful consideration. Do your due diligence. Study the scriptures we have shared with you, and may the Holy Spirit lead you into all truth.
Next time, Lord willing, I want to begin a study of the Feasts of the Lord, and how Jesus and the coming of the Holy Spirit fulfilled to the letter the four spring feasts, and also look at how I believe the three fall feasts will be precisely fulfilled as well.
Join us then.
Until next time,
Pastor Kevin E. Johnson