The Woman In The Wilderness
Revelation chapter twelve speaks of a woman clothed with the sun, the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars.
The opening of this chapter declares that she is in pain and travailing in birth, ready to deliver a man child. This man child is to rule all nations with a rod of iron (Revelation 12:5).
Before this woman can give birth to the child, we see that Satan is watching closely at this birth; for he is compelled to devour this child as soon as he is born (verse 4).
Without question the identity of this woman is national Israel (God’s Old Testament earthly representation).
As she gives birth to the man child she transcends into God’s New Testament earthly representation. She is the Church, the bride of Christ. She gives birth to a man child who is God incarnate, the LORD and Savior Jesus Christ.
Not surprisingly, we see that Satan is standing by ready to kill God’s Messiah, the Anointed Prince of Peace. And so his age-old plan of rebellion continues into the New Testament era. As Christ ascended into heaven fifty days after His crucifixion, we see that this woman flees into the wilderness where she has a place in this world prepared for her by God (Revelation 12:6).
This bride of Christ is adorned with the sun, and the moon under her feet. She is clothed with the saving light of Christ the Savior who is given the title of “The Sun of Righteous,” Malachi 4:2.
The Church is to radiate the light of Christ, who is our sun and shield, Psalm 84:11. The moon is under her feet. With the good news of salvation, the Church has power and authority to rule over darkness. The bride of Christ is symbolically crowned with twelve stars, representing the twelve tribes of ancient Israel and perhaps the twelve apostles of the New Testament Church.
Verse fourteen also proclaims that this woman is taken into the wilderness.
“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 [Satan].”
She is given two wings of a great eagle, that she may fly into the wilderness where she is to be nourished for the duration of the Church-Age from the serpent. The “two wings of a great eagle” is again portraying the safety of our Heavenly Father as he protects all true believers while we sojourn on this earth.
The wilderness is where God the Father places His Church. She is not to be hid from the world in some far away desert. The wilderness is symbolic of the world itself, and it is there where God will safeguard His Church. It is there where God will nourish the whole body of believers. God pictured this grand event back in the days of the exodus when Israel was tested forty years in the literal wilderness of Sinai.
Those years were a portrait of the Church-Age wherein believers pass through this life en-route to our eternal promise land, represented by the physical “promise land” of Canaan.
When we come to the end of the Church-Age and enter into the days of great tribulation, we wonder if this woman in the wilderness is still spiritually clothed with the sun, having the moon under her feet.
Where is this God-glorifying woman – God’s own earthly representation – after centuries of being nourished in the wilderness?
The true bride of Christ will always remain true and faithful only because Christ has spiritually nourished her. None of Christ’s elect will ever be lost.
However, we must understand that the visible earthly church of Christ is only an outward representation of the kingdom of God. It is merely an outward shell in which anyone can enter into and claim to belong to Christ.
Even during the early days of the Church there were sure to have been many unsaved people within the church declaring to be a true disciple of Christ. Scripture teaches that this outward shell of the church will become totally apostate at the end of time, shortly before Christ comes to judge this earth. That does not mean that the true believers will become apostate. That is impossible, they will simply flee from this defiled and unclean church. The outer structure will still be standing as it was in the early Church-Age; the only difference is that it will no longer be preaching the straight and narrow way of salvation. The outward structure will have become the great spiritual harlot of scripture during this time.
Scripture allows us to see in great detail the end-time condition of this visible and outward shell of the church. The Church of Christ began as a woman clothed with the sun and placed in the wilderness (Revelation 12).
Her end is as a harlot in the wilderness (Revelation 17 & 18). After her sojourn on this earth, this symbolic wilderness, she rapidly falls into spiritual adultery and is judged just prior to or during the great tribulation as “Mystery, Babylon the Great, the Mother of Harlots.”