The woman in the wilderness, part 2
May 16, 2016
The prophecy of the woman in the wilderness serves two main purposes. First, it presents her as the mother of Jesus Christ, who was destined to be the King of all nations. Secondarily, it presents the woman as the mother of the body of Christ—those who are destined to reign with Christ. But we must also look deeper and see the woman as the spiritual “mother of all the living”—a role first given to Eve in Genesis 3:20.
Obviously, Eve was not the mother of all living creatures in a physical sense. She was not the mother of horses and cattle. But she represented the spiritual mother of all who were destined to be given life (immortality) at the end of time. So it is interesting to contrast her with Adam, because “in Adam all die” (1 Corinthians 15:22).
Eve represented the same spiritual woman that Sarah represented. In the great allegory of Sarah and Hagar, explained by Paul in Galatians 4:23-26, we see that Sarah represents the heavenly or spiritual Jerusalem that functions by the New Covenant, and that it is only by descent from Sarah that anyone can receive the promise. This is accomplished by spiritual begetting that comes by the Spirit, rather than by the flesh (that is, fleshly descent from Adam or Israel). The ultimate promise given to “Isaac” is immortality, or “life,” which is the same promise given to Eve.
In the same manner, Mary, too, played the role of Eve and Sarah, for in bringing forth Jesus, the Savior of all, she played the same role as her predecessors in this great allegory. So the woman in Revelation 12:1 is a spiritual city represented by Mary, who brought forth the “male child who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron” (Revelation 12:5). Yet the prophecy is not complete with Mary, for the same spiritual woman gives birth to the sons of God.
The complication is in the fact that there are actually two women, not just one. Sarah and Hagar form the contrast in Paul’s allegory, the free woman and the bond woman, each producing a son. The son’s status depends not upon his father, but upon his mother, for to her was the original promise about being “the mother of all the living.”
God is the Father in this allegory, and one would think that His fatherhood would be sufficient to fulfill the promise. But the divine plan has taken an unusual twist, which shows the importance of the mother (and wife) in marriage. In the ultimate divine marriage between heaven and earth, the only way that the promise of God can be fulfilled is when the earth reflects the character of heaven so that the two may be “one flesh” (Genesis 2:24).
This divine marriage is pictured in two stages: first the Hagar stage, wherein we see the imperfect Old Covenant relationship, and later the Sarah stage, wherein we see the perfect New Covenant relationship. An Old Covenant bride must be told what to do, for she does not yet know the mind of God perfectly, nor is she capable of fulfilling the expectations of such a wife. As long as we are merely born of flesh and blood, we are no different from a slave, even if our destiny is to be owner of everything (Galatians 4:1). It requires a second begetting, this time by the seed of the word (or gospel), in order to be an inheritor of the promise. Further, we must identify with that holy seed and no longer depend upon the identity of our first begetting. The real you must not be the flesh man, but the spiritual man, as Paul explains in Romans 7:20-22.
The Andromeda Church
All of this is pictured in the two constellations, Andromeda (the chained woman) and Cassiopeia, the enthroned free woman. Hence, when reading Revelation 12, we are compelled to view the sun-clothed woman as Cassiopeia, while the chained woman forms only the backdrop to the story. In one sense, there are two women to consider. In another sense, the two women are one, but represent two stages of development. At first she is chained, and later she is set free.
Seiss tells us about Andromeda, saying,
“Greek mythology calls this woman Andro-meda (andro-medo), man-ruler, but with what idea, or for what reason, does not appear in the myths” (p. 86).
Seiss identifies Andromeda with the church, but presents the church in terms of those called to rule and reign with Christ over men. In this he misses the mark, because the bondwoman is not called to rule, but to be ruled over. Her name signifies religious organizations ruling over men, a problem portrayed in "the teaching of the Nicolaitans" (Revelation 2:15). Seiss does not have a clear revelation of sonship, for his book was first published in 1882, long before the Latter Rain movement (1948-1952) set forth and clarified the revelation of sonship.
Further, even to this day not many seem to have a clear understanding of the two ways to beget children, nor how these determine one’s mother-covenant. Most of the church still labors in bondage to Old Covenant ways, even though they believe sincerely that their mother is the New Covenant. They do not see religious, denominational leadership as Hagar. They do not understand that whenever a religious organization takes the place of Christ and tells people that one must become a member of that organization in order to have a relationship with God—that church puts men into bondage to itself and can only bring forth Ishmaels. Like begets like.
For this reason, Scripture makes a distinction between the church and the remnant of grace (or overcomers). Hagar has many children; Sarah has few. But in the end, Sarah, “the mother of all the living,” will be the mother of all. All men are born as children of the flesh, but when the divine plan is complete, all men will be set free into the glorious liberty of the children of God (Romans 8:21). “As in Adam all die,” that is, by our fleshly descent, “so also in Christ all shall be made alive,” that is, by our spiritual descent through Eve, “the mother of all the living.”
The three decans of Aries, the Ram, are (1) Cassiopeia, the enthroned woman (2) Cetus, the sea monster, and (3) Perseus, the breaker of the power of the enemy to set the chained woman free.
Andromeda, chained by Joppa (the city on the Palestinian coast) is thus threatened by Cetus, the sea monster. Perseus comes to save her, set her free, and then takes her as his bride. Of course, once she is set free, we must view her as Cassiopeia for the rest of the story.
Perseus is the breaker. The Hebrew word peretz or peres means “breaker, divider.” This is one of the key words in the handwriting on the wall at the time Persia took the city of Babylon (Daniel 5:28). At that time the writing was interpreted to mean: “Your kingdom has been divided [broken up] and given over to the Medes and Persians.” Perseus, who is pictured carrying a club, is the constellation after which Persia is named.
We see, then, how the story of Perseus was fulfilled historically in the overthrow of Babylon. King Cyrus the Persian was a type of Christ (Isaiah 45:1) coming as Perseus the breaker to overthrow Babylon, which manifested the spirit of Cetus, the sea monster. Cetus, in fact, will be discussed in more detail when we study the beast that rises from the sea in Revelation 13:1.
Bondage and the Wilderness
Though Israel was technically set free from the house of bondage (Egypt) at Passover, when Pharaoh allowed them to leave, the wilderness turned out to be just another form of bondage under the Old Covenant. The people were no longer slaves of Pharaoh, but they yet carried a slave mentality, which was not so easily resolved. For this reason, the people often wanted to return to Egypt (Exodus 14:12; 16:3; Numbers 11:20; 14:2-4; 20:5, etc.). It was one thing to come out of Egypt, and quite another for Egypt to come out of them.
Israel has a love-hate relationship with Egypt. They did not like to be in bondage, but neither did they know how to be free. True freedom can come only through the New Covenant. The New Covenant was offered to them at Sinai, but the people refused to hear His voice and to draw near to God (Exodus 20:18-21). Instead, they desired a man to represent them before God, thereby putting themselves under men’s leadership, rather than directly under God.
The same problem occurred years later when the people demanded a king. God gave them Saul, the best in the land, but He told Samuel, “they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me from being king over them” (1 Samuel 8:7). This was the same bondage mentality that their fathers had when they stood at the base of the Mount. It is not likely that either generation knew what they were doing, for they had no way to understand the two covenants as we do today.
Israel’s wilderness experience, then, was another form of bondage, for as Paul said, the nation had been formed at Mount Sinai (Hagar) in Arabia (Ishmael’s inheritance). They were yet of the flesh, even though they had been released at Passover. Hence, a greater fulfillment yet lay ahead, when one like Moses would be raised up to lead them out of the greater house of bondage. Christ’s death on the cross at the feast of Passover set us free from the bondage of sin and death.
However, the church again went into its own wilderness. Though some truly experienced freedom in Christ, the majority retained the same slave mentality that was in the Israelites under Moses. The only real difference is that the time was extended from 40 years to 40 Jubilees, so it took somewhat longer for the denominational spirit to develop and to enslave the people.
Hence, Scripture shows that there is a second coming of Christ—this time as Perseus—to break the slavery of Babylon and to restore the earth to the freedom of the children of God. This is prophesied in Micah 2:13,
13 The breaker [peres] goes up before them; they break out [peres], pass through the gate, and go out by it. So their king goes on before them, and the Lord at their head.
In our time, Cetus, the sea monster, is both civil and religious Babylon. It is the national bondage of human governments as well as the religious bondage of human denominations. This deliverance will be the fourth fulfillment of the promise of deliverance (Moses, Cyrus, and twice for Jesus Christ in His two comings). Each of the previous patterns are different, but yet they are the same, so we may study the past to understand the future.
However, John then adds another flavor of understanding by revealing the war between Michael and the red dragon.
This is part 90 of a series titled "Studies in the Book of Revelation." To view all parts, click the link below.
Dr. Stephen Jones