Question No. 26:—What does Revelation 12:13-17 mean?
“And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man child. 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. And the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood. And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed up the flood which the dragon cast out of his mouth. And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.” Rev. 12:13-17.
Nearly all Christians agree that the only tenable interpretation of the “woman” here mentioned, is that she symbolizes the church. And the fact that she gave birth to the man child, Christ, shows that she is therefore symbolical of the church in at least the Christian dispensation.
While the dragon was persecuting her through the deceived Jewish priests who rejected Christ as the Messiah, “there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles. And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him. As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison. Therefore they that were scattered abroad went everywhere preaching the Word.” Acts 8:1-4.
To her were therefore given the wings of a great eagle–her means of transport into the wilderness. And being the opposite of the vineyard (“the house of Israel, and the men of Judah His pleasant plant”–Isa. 5:7), the wilderness obviously denotes the Gentile nations. The apostles, therefore, in fulfillment of this prophecy were commanded, and given the wings, speedily to go preach to all nations.
“Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the Word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles. For so hath the Lord commanded us, saying, I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth. And when the Gentiles, heard this, they were glad, and glorified the Word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed. And the Word of the Lord was published throughout all the region.” Acts 13:46-49.
Seeing this, the serpent sought to destroy the woman’s usefulness among the Gentiles: he “cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood.” Rev. 12:15.
Anyone can see that this “flood” can represent only the church’s suddenly becoming infiltrated with unconverted pagans who, as in Constantine’s time and for years thereafter, were even taken enmasse and forced into baptism. In the parables of Christ this same “flood” is described, but under the different term, “tares.” And the evident fact that they are still very much in the church, forces the painful realization that the earth has not as yet swallowed up the flood.
“Flood” and “tares” are figurative equivalents. The swallowing of the flood, therefore, is the same as the burning of the tares as comprehended in the parable of the harvest (Matt. 13:30).
Besides, the Revelator points out that not until after the flood is swallowed by the earth, after the unconverted are “slain” and buried, and the church thereby purified, will the dragon wage his fiercest warfare against the remnant of the woman’s seed. Hence, the harvest time in the church, the time the earth swallows the flood, is before the dragon wars against the remnant.
“Fruits” garnered are the result of a harvest. When the 144,000, the first fruits (Rev. 14:4), are garnered in, and the tares (flood) are destroyed (swallowed) from among them, the 144,000 are taken to Mt. Zion, where they then comprise the Mother church, the twelve-star-crowned woman, under the protection of the Lamb, the One with them. Thus protected, she is secure from the dragon’s then making war against her. So he wars only against her “remnant,” those yet to be garnered–the second fruits still scattered throughout the world, away from Mt. Zion. This climax of the ages was vividly foretold by both Isaiah and Micah:
“But in the last days,” declares Micah, “it shall come to pass, that the mountain of the house of the Lord shall be established in the top of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills; and people shall flow into it. And many nations shall come, and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and He will teach us of His ways, and we will walk in His paths: for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the Word of the Lord from Jerusalem.” Mic. 4:1, 2. (See also Isaiah 2).
From these scriptures, it is plainly seen that Mt. Zion becomes the headquarters for the last gospel work on earth, after the time the 144,000 arrive there, and during the time the dragon wars against the remnant, “for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the Word of the Lord from Jerusalem”–no longer from the General Conference, or from Mt. Carmel Center.
Then shall many nations say, “Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and He will teach us of His ways, and we will walk in His paths.” Mic. 4:2.