December 5, 2011

Tuesday after the Second Sunday in Advent

Lectionary

Morning - Ps. 48, Is. 9:18-10:4, Mk. 3:7-19
Evening - Ps. 46, 47, Is. 10:5-21, Rev. 12

Commentary
Revelation 12

Chapters 4-11 have shown the judgment of God on the first persecutors of God's Church. Chapter 12 turns to a second source of persecution, the Roman Empire. This section of the book of Revelation shows the calamities God will bring upon Rome for its part in the suffering of His people.

The Child (12:5) is quite obviously Jesus, but the woman giving birth is not Mary. This woman is a sign in Heaven (12:1) and represents the Old Testament Israel, for it was through Israel that God brought the Saviour into the world. She also represents the New Testament Church. Thus she represents the unity and continuity of God's people.

The dragon is obviously Satan, but he also represents Rome, as will be made clear in future commentaries, especially when we come to chapter 17. The war in Heaven represents Satan's attempts to destroy God's people, and the stars he casts to the earth are Christians killed by the Romans in the growing persecution. Yet God has not abandoned His church. She flees to the wilderness and the brethren overcome the dragon by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony (12:11). This means that the Gospel of Christ will overcome and defeat the Roman persecutors. Rome, like all enemies of God's people, will come and go, but the Church will remain. It may persecute the Church for a while (12:13, 17), but its end is sure and God's victory is assured; "Faith of our fathers, living still." Therefore, the Church is to hold fast to the faith.

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