In Revelation 12:6, the church is pictured as a woman who flees to the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, and she is nourished there for 1,260 days.
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.
The "thousand two hundred and threescore days" is also the period of time that the two witnesses described in the previous chapter prophesy. This number is symbolic of the age of the church, as shown by the prophecies of Daniel. It corresponds to the last half of the 70th week, in which Christ confirms his covenant with his saints, and with a symbolic three and a half years, where years are 12 months of 30 days.
The numbers show that the years are not real, or literal, as months are not exactly 30 days. In Daniel 12:11-12 the same symbolic period is represented by 1,290 days, and by 1,335 days, two different numbers which stand for the "time, times, and a half" of Daniel 12:7. They are also symbolic, and include years 12 or 13 months, and months of 30 days. One year is of a different kind, in each case.
1,290 days = 13*30 + 2*12*30 + 12*30/2
1,335 days = 12*30 + 2*13*30 + 13*30/2
1,260 days = 12*30 + 2*12*30 + 12*30/2
Each of these periods fits the pattern of "a time, times, and a half." But no real three and a half years fits these numbers, and the number of days in a real three and a half years cannot have two or three different values, so I conclude they are symbolic, a specific number standing for an indeterminate period of time.
And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels.
The reference to Michael links the events described here to Daniel 12:1.
And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book.
Daniel refers to those whose names are "written in the book" which is the book of life, mentioned several times by John in Revelation, where it refers to the saints who believe in Christ.
In war in Revelation 12:7 results in the "dragon" being thrown out of heaven, to the earth. This event is heralded by an angel, saying "Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God..." (Revelation 12:10).
To understand, we need to find the Bible's explanation for each symbol. The woman in heaven represents the Church; that is, the saints who have been, as Paul says in Ephesians 2:6, "raised up together," and who "sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus."
The woman is "clothed with the sun," which represents the light and truth of gospel that the Church brings to the world. In the dream of Joseph, in Genesis 37:9, that was interpreted by his father Jacob, the sons of Israel were 12 stars, Israel was the sun, and Rachel, Joseph's mother, was the moon. John's heavenly woman has the moon at her feet, and sun, moon, and stars all are features of vision of Revelation 12. Israel represents the promises of God to Abraham that are identified with the gospel. Rachel represents the Jews in Matthew 2:16-18. The moon at the woman's feet pictures the role of the Mosaic legislation and its types and figures of the Gospel and the Church.
The crown of stars that she wears likely represents the 12 apostles. The 12 stars identify her with the "Israel of God", and Abraham's seed, which are to number of the stars. The stars that fall to the earth (Revelation 12:4) are those individual believers who return to the world, following the tail of the dragon. The stars are mentioned in connection with the saints, and the "seed of Abraham" in Genesis 22:15-19.
The "war" mentioned in Revelation 12:7-12 involves the church, and pictures the great struggle for truth and understanding, in which the Church has been involved. It is a "spiritual" struggle, not one of flesh and blood. The angels represent ideas and theories.
Eventually Satan is overcome, by "the blood of the Lamb, and the word of their testimony." (Revelation 12:11). No doubt this "war in heaven" involves some of the conflicts in which Christians are participating today; but the conflicts are between ideas, and the war is about discovering the truth, rather than people striving against each other.
To clarify what the war in heaven is about, we may turn to Revelation 11, the chapter about the two witnesses. These may be identified as symbols of the word of God, and the Spirit. It is these two witnesses who are overcome and killed by the beast from the bottomless pit.
And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them.
And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified.
The war is about our understanding of the message of the gospel, and the interpretation of the prophecy, and the realization of the promises of Christ to his Church, through the Spirit. The great city called Sodom and Egypt is the worldly society; it was outside the gates of Jerusalem that our Lord was crucified. [Hebrews 13:12]
In Revelation 12:14, the woman flies to the wilderness again, equipped with two wings of an eagle. Again she is nourished, but having two wings of an eagle, she would have a more lofty perspective. The nourishment she receives is spiritual.
And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent.
These two accounts of the woman in the wilderness occur in the same chapter, they involve the same woman, it is the same wilderness, in each case her place was prepared by God, and she remains there for the same period of time; and in both verses, the purpose is the same, as she is fed both times; but there are two different perspectives; one is higher, as it is from above.
I suggest, these two accounts of the woman in the wilderness describe two different perspectives upon things in scripture. One is literal, and that is the earthy, lower view; the other is from above, and heavenly. Notice that these two accounts of the woman in the wilderness are placed between an account of a great spiritual war in heaven. It is spiritual, because the participants are angels. The woman's wings are evidently given to her after the saints are victorious, and as a result of the warfare, which suggests the war probably involves the controversy among Christians about literal vs. spiritual or figurative interpretations of prophecy.
The restoration that the prophets spoke of must be about understanding scripture, and its true interpretation. The scripture is represented by the land. And the barren land is made fruitful when rain falls upon it. Rain is symbolic of the Spirit of God. Mountains that shoot forth branches and bear fruit, in Ezekiel 36:8 are the promises, and prophecies of the scripture, that have not been previously understood, or were misinterpreted. Ezekiel wrote:
8 But ye, O mountains of Israel, ye shall shoot forth your branches, and yield your fruit to my people of Israel; for they are at hand to come.
9 For, behold, I am for you, and I will turn unto you, and ye shall be tilled and sown:
10 And I will multiply men upon you, all the house of Israel, even all of it: and the cities shall be inhabited, and the wastes shall be builded:
11 And I will multiply upon you man and beast; and they shall increase and bring fruit: and I will settle you after your old estates, and will do better unto you than at your beginnings: and ye shall know that I am the LORD.
12 Yea, I will cause men to walk upon you, even my people Israel; and they shall possess thee, and thou shalt be their inheritance, and thou shalt no more henceforth bereave them of men.
Copyright © 2010, 2011, 2013 by Douglas E. Cox
All Rights Reserved.