Thursday, November 10, 2016

Revelation 12:1-2

Revelation 12:1-2
And a great sign was seen in heaven: a woman, who has clothed herself with the sun and with the moon underneath her feet and with a crown of twelve stars upon her head, while having a pregnancy. She cried out while suffering spiritual birth and while being tormented to bear a child.

Thoughts for Today

First Thought:

My personal belief is that this particular chapter of Revelation is a look back into history and not at all a look forward.  I see this chapter as John taking a moment and making sure that he tells a symbolic story that reinforces the war between humanity, our sinfulness, God, and Satan.  This story is about God’s intervention into this war.  In a nutshell, this story is about Jesus Christ, God’s Messiah.  Think about it.  This is a story about a woman, clothed with the heavens, who gives birth to a child, who is tormented by a dragon (Satan), and whose Son rules while being taken up into God’s throne.  While it is always possible for a human to be wrong, I think it makes sense to see this story as a symbolic retelling of the story of salvation as it comes to us through Jesus Christ.  He is the child.

What is the benefit of hearing a symbolic retelling of the story of God’s Messiah as opposed to the factual eye-witness accounts that we have in the Gospels?  What elements of the story that you normally don’t think about catch your eye even in the first two verses of this chapter?

Second Thought:

When we look at the woman, there are two possible interpretations that we can take as we look back into the story.  I’m going to talk about each of the possibilities in the next two thoughts.  The first possibility is the obvious one.  This woman could be Mary.  This makes sense because we know that the mother of Jesus is Mary.  She is the one who literally carried Jesus in her womb and gave birth to Him.  If this is the case, the we can say that she was clothed with heavenly things because the Spirit of God quite literally came upon her in order to allow Jesus to come through her.  This passage could be a reminder of what God did through Mary and even how God can come to each of us, dwell within us, and cloth us in His righteousness.

What do you think Mary must have felt to be clothed by God Himself and immersed in His Spirit?  How can you know what it feels like to have God dwell within you?

Third Thought:

The other possibility is that the woman is not a literal woman but rather a figurative woman.  The Hebrew people have always been considered as God’s partner here on earth.  It is through the Hebrew people that God’s Messiah came to earth.  It is through God’s people that God’s Law has come to earth.  It could be that the Hebrew people themselves are the focus of this symbolic reference to the woman.  There are several very good reasons to consider this opinion.  First, God did clothe His people with His Spirit, too.  God called them special.  He chose them.  He dwelled among them through the prophets and especially from within the temple.  Second, it is in this interpretation that the crown of twelve stars makes the most sense.  After all, we know that there were twelve tribes in Israel that made up His people.

What difference does it make whether we think of the woman as Mary or as the Hebrew nation?  Do you think either has to be wrong?  What might it say about the power and creativity of God to have an analogy with multiple correct interpretations?  How does that help us understand that all of scripture might have multiple layers of meaning for us?

Passage for Tomorrow: Revelation 12:3-6
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