Who is the woman clothed with the sun of Revelation 12? Two possibilities exist regarding the identity of this mysterious woman. They are Mary, the mother of Jesus or Israel. Because the Catholic church thinks this woman is Mary, they have pictures and statues of her in glorious splendor standing on the moon with twelve stars on her head as though she is Queen. Is that an accurate interpretation of this chapter or a dangerous distortion which has misled people to trust in Mary for their salvation like Alphonsus Liguori? Please read Rev. 12 carefully for yourself from beginning to end:Rev 12:1 A great and wondrous sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head.Because of verse 5, we know this woman is associated with Jesus, but in what way? Is it a maternal association with Mary or by birth as through ancestry? The only way we will know is by carefully considering the other details found in this same chapter (and elsewhere in Scripture).
Rev 12:2 She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth.
Rev 12:3 Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on his heads.
Rev 12:4 His tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth. The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that he might devour her child the moment it was born.
Rev 12:5 She gave birth to a son, a male child, who will rule all the nations with an iron scepter. And her child was snatched up to God and to his throne.
Rev 12:6 The woman fled into the desert to a place prepared for her by God, where she might be taken care of for 1,260 days.
Rev 12:7 And there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back.
Rev 12:8 But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven.
Rev 12:9 The great dragon was hurled down - that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.
Rev 12:10 Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: "Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down.
Rev 12:11 They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.
Rev 12:12 Therefore rejoice, you heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has gone down to you! He is filled with fury, because he knows that his time is short."
Rev 12:13 When the dragon saw that he had been hurled to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child.
Rev 12:14 The woman was given the two wings of a great eagle, so that she might fly to the place prepared for her in the desert, where she would be taken care of for a time, times and half a time, out of the serpentís reach.
Rev 12:15 Then from his mouth the serpent spewed water like a river, to overtake the woman and sweep her away with the torrent.
Rev 12:16 But the earth helped the woman by opening its mouth and swallowing the river that the dragon had spewed out of his mouth.
Rev 12:17 Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to make war against the rest of her offspringóthose who obey Godís commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus.
Among those details are the mention of a red dragon (v.3) who is later identified as the devil (v.9). The devil is concerned about the child and wants to kill him immediately after birth. Instead of the devil succeeding, the child is taken up to God and his throne. The devil pursues the woman into the desert after losing his conflict with Michael:When the dragon saw that he had been hurled to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child. The woman was given the two wings of a great eagle, so that she might fly to the place prepared for her in the desert, where she would be taken care of for a time, times and half a time, out of the serpentís reach (Rev. 12:13,14).Clearly, the woman is symbolic for she is given eagle wings to fly out into the desert to be protected from the devil. Question: When did Mary, the mother of Jesus, sprout wings and fly out into the desert for her own protection? If the Catholic church literally interprets Rev. 12:1-5 as to portray Mary in glorious splendor standing on the moon with twelve stars on her head as though she is Queen, then they should also picture her with two eagle wings as she is also described as having! Maybe this is why the Catholic church only refers to the first part of Rev. chapter 12, but not the latter end (verses 13 and 14) which also describes this symbolic woman.
On the other hand, if we understand the woman to be symbolic of Israel, then we have the nation of Israel fleeing into the desert for 1,260 days to get away from the devil at the end of this age. This would also fit the symbolic interpretation of a crown with twelve stars on her head:Then he [Joseph] had another dream, and he told it to his brothers. "Listen," he said, "I had another dream, and this time the sun and moon and eleven stars were bowing down to me." When he told his father as well as his brothers, his father rebuked him and said, "What is this dream you had? Will your mother and I and your brothers actually come and bow down to the ground before you?" (Gen 37:9,10)The twelve stars are the twelve tribes of Israel. See also Gen 49:1-28.
But what about the rest of the womanís offspring - those who obey Godís commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus, as mentioned in Rev. 12:17? Who are they? If Israel is the woman clothed with the sun in Rev. 12, then her offspring are saints described as those who obey Godís commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus. This is possible because Christianity has its roots in Judaism, with the Messiah and the apostles all being Jewish and Christians being the children of the promise, who are regarded as Abrahamís offspring:If you belong to Christ, then you are Abrahamís seed, and heirs according to the promise. (Gal 3:29)Besides all this, the only time we actually read of a queen in the book of Revelation is in Rev. 18:7:
I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star. (Rev 22:16)
... The people of Israel. Theirs is the adoption as sons; theirs the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises. Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of Christ, who is God over all, forever praised! Amen. It is not as though Godís word had failed. For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel. Nor because they are his descendants are they all Abrahamís children. On the contrary, "It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned." In other words, it is not the natural children who are Godís children, but it is the children of the promise who are regarded as Abrahamís offspring. (Rom 9:4-8)Give her as much torture and grief as the glory and luxury she gave herself. In her heart she boasts, "I sit as queen; I am not a widow, and I will never mourn."The context of that verse is Babylon the great, which gets destroyed in one hour! Hence, Mary is never shown in the Scriptures to be Queen of heaven, as exalted by Catholicism.
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