“And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne.”
And she brought forth a man child!
She was the woman, according to the preceding context, which the seer of Patmos beheld in ecstatic vision as constituting the first of two great wonders or signs.
He beheld a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon was under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars: and she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered.
The other great sign the apostle was given to see in heaven was relative to a great red dragon. In appearance the dragon was revealed to him as having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns were, upon his heads. And concerning him the apostle observed two things: that with his tail he drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born.
Moreover, the seer observes that after the child was born, who was to rule the nations with a rod of iron, God took Him to heaven and to His throne; while the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her a thousand two hundred and threescore days.
What can all this symbolism mean? For that we have to deal here with symbolism is very plain!
Briefly, the woman is the church of the old dispensation, extending from the dawn of history and reaching over into the new dispensation until the end of history.
Indeed, she appeared gloriously!
Clothed with the righteousness of God!
Crowned with sovereign election!
For such is the implication and significance of the descriptive appearance as the apostle beholds her in his vision.
That the woman was great with child, was due to the fact that she had conceived in the mother promise, expressed to Satan in the presence of our first parents, immediately after the fall in Paradise. All through the old dispensation the church was pregnant due to this conception. Consequently, every believing mother in the line of the covenant hopefully brought forth her children in anticipation of the promise and its fulfillment; even Eve, who with the birth of her first-born declared: “I have gotten a man from the Lord.” We know, however, that none of the faithful could produce Him, for the promised child was not to be born by the will of man, but through a wonder of grace. The pregnant woman, culminates in a virgin, whose conception was of the Holy Ghost, and the man child she brought forth was the Son of God.
Great was also the appearance of the great red dragon!
With his seven heads and seven crowns he appears as the head of the antichristian world power. This is indicated in the number seven, a number he borrows from the church; and the number ten with the horns,—symbol of the fullness of power. While he opposes the woman and her seed, he nevertheless appears as the church, for to deceive. Important it is, however, to observe that he appears as the dragon. Back of the antichristian power is the devil and Satan, who, when he fell from his original high estate in the angelic world, dragged with him other angels in his rebellion, which with him stand together in their evil purpose to destroy, if possible, the church and her holy seed.
All through the old dispensation the dragon stood before the woman which was to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born. This we see in the case of Cain and Abel; and before the flood, in the world versus Noah. Later we see this again when Pharaoh of Egypt sought to extinguish the seed in the slaughter of the Israelitish infant males; and in the time of Esther, when Haman the son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, sought to destroy all the Jews in the kingdom of Ahasuerus. This onslaught culminates in the edict of Herod the Great to slay all the male children of Bethlehem, in the hope of snuffing out the life of the Christ-child. “In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not,” as Jeremiah the prophet had predicted. But the man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron, is kept safely; and the dragon prevailed not to exterminate Him.
Her child was caught up unto God!
After He had accomplished all God’s good pleasure in the redemption of His people!
Oh, surely, for a small moment it appeared that the devil had succeeded when, through wicked hands he had inspired men to nail Him to the accursed tree! When on the cross He bowed His head and gave up the ghost, it seemed that the dragon had triumphed. But the man child escaped out of his hands when He commended His spirit unto God Who gave it; and God raised Him up from the dead, and He ascended unto the right hand of the Most High. On that cross, in His death and resurrection, He sealed the destruction of the dragon and his cohorts. Consequently, not the dragon but the man child holds the scepter with which He rules over all the nations with the rod of iron.
And the woman, the church of Christ, is prepared a place in the world, where God feeds her through His Word and Spirit, and where she must remain to the end of this present dispensation.
That is the meaning and significance of the vision of the seer!
Out of all this it must be noted that the text speaks of the child of the church!
The church is mother!
Not Eve, nor the Virgin Mary, as some would interpret! A tie to Eve, or to Mary does not save us; even though it is true that the man child was borne by them.
And the child the church brought forth is at the same time the Saviour of the Church!
Wonder of wonders! While the church bears the threats of the dragon, the man child bears away her sin and guilt!
Notice, too, that not only is He the church’s child, but also the church’s Lord!
Caught up is He into the highest heavens!
Unto God and to His throne!
From God He came, and unto God He returns!
Not, however, before He had first made restitution for all our sins; brought an atoning sacrifice that did satisfy God’s justice, and merit for us a righteousness wherewith we can now appear before God as those who have no sin and guilt. Nor before He had first overcome Satan and his hosts, destroyed the power of death and the grave.
Only then did God raise Him up from the dead, and exalt Him to His right hand.
Clothed with power, dominion, and majesty!
Into His hand is placed the rod of iron wherewith He rules over all the nations. Whereas the kings of the earth had set themselves, and the rulers had taken counsel together, against the Lord, and against His anointed, saying: Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us. He that sitteth in the heavens laughed at them, and the Lord held them in derision. He it is Who hath set His King, and given all the heathen for His inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for His possession. Though they may rage, they imagine only a vain thing when they cry: Let us break their bands asunder; for He must reign over them, yea, with a rod of iron shall he bring them into obeisance.
So, also, the child of the church becomes Lord over His church!
Oh, yes, He is indeed Lord over all things, but as Lord of His church!
God hath put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be the head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fulness of Him that filleth all in all.
Under His lordship the church receives blessed advantages!
At God’s right hand He ever liveth and maketh intercession for us. He is our advocate with the Father, and constantly pleads our case for us.
Flesh of our flesh and bone of our bone is He Who resides in glory, and is become the pledge also of our glory.
From thence also He sends forth His Spirit as an earnest into our hearts, applying unto His church all the graces of salvation He has merited for us.
As glorious Head of His church, and Governor over all, He makes all things to be subservient unto our final and glorious salvation.
By His power and majesty He defends and preserves His church over against all her enemies.
Safe she is therefore, though she is yet in the wilderness of this world. Here she is fed and nourished by His Word, His Spirit, and His grace. Nothing can separate her from His love.
And while the church is yet in the world, He is busy preparing for her a place. For God has willed to tabernacle with His people forever. Of this the Lord reminded us when He said: In my Father’s house are many mansions. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. And forget it not,—that place shall not be prepared for you, until you also are prepared for that place.
Consequently, that glorified man child, that Lord of the church as the right hand of the throne of God, as an anchor of hope draws us unto Himself. All our expectation is vested in Him.
Consequently, too, the prayer constantly whelms up in the heart and over the lips of the believing and hoping church:
Come, Lord Jesus, yea come quickly!