“Now a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a garland of twelve stars. Then being with child, she cried out in labor and in pain to give birth. And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great, fiery red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems on his heads. His tail drew a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was ready to give birth, to devour her Child as soon as it was born. She bore a male Child who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron. And her Child was caught up to God and His throne. Then the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, that they should feed her there one thousand two hundred and sixty days” (Rev 12:1-6).
In the account of the Sun-Clothed Woman and the Manchild that is caught up to heaven in Revelation 12, the rest of the seed of the woman is left behind on the earth. Now some may argue and say that the symbolism in this account is mainly dealing with Israel and Christ, but a closer look will reveal a fuller picture.
Spiritual Israel is certainly included in the Sun-Clothed Woman, but we must understand that she represents more that Israel. She is a heavenly sign which is more symbolic of the glorious Church than of Israel.
Most dispensational interpretations say that the Sun-Clothed Woman is national Israel, but how can that be? National Israel rejected Jesus Christ. Certainly Israel is represented in the symbolism of the Woman and the Manchild, but it is spiritual Israel.
It would be absurd to interpret that national Israel who put Christ to death is symbolized in the glorious Sun-Clothed Woman! The Christ-rejecting Jews are more clearly represented as followers of the dragon than the Woman (Rev 2:9). Even Jesus told the unbelieving Jews that they were of their father, the devil (John 8:39, 44). Paul himself said a Jew is not one outwardly, but inwardly by the Spirit (Rom 2:28-29).
The more accurate and complete interpretation of this marvelous symbol of the Sun-Clothed Woman is that she represents the people of God of all ages which does include Israel. She is the Church in the wilderness of the Old Testament whom Israel escaped when they fled from Egypt, but she is also the glorious New Testament Church. She is the Church of all dispensations of time who is depicted here in Rev. 12 in an age long conflict with the dragon Satan that began in the garden of Eden. Again, she does include spiritual Israel, but certainly not national Israel.
Notice that the great fiery red dragon has 7 crowns on his 7 heads, which in the symbolism, most Bible scholars agree, represents the entire period of human history seen in its 7 empires, the 7th being that of the Antichrist. The Manchild which has been interpreted as being applied solely to Christ is also incomplete because Christ did not escape death by being raptured, and secondly, Christ was born 100 years before this prophecy. All prophecy relates to the future and not the past. Certainly, in a general way, there is a parallel here with Israel and Christ in the symbolism of the Woman and the Manchild, but it is not the primary fulfillment of this prophecy.
Thirdly, notice in Revelation 12:5 that the remnant of the Woman’s seed is left behind and flees into the wilderness for 1260 days which is approximately 3 ½ years, the same duration of the great tribulation when the Antichrist comes into power. The expression “the remnant of her seed” tells us that a large number of her seed has been taken away in rapture. Again, this remnant also cannot be natural Israel because they “keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.” (Rev 12:17)
There is a definite distinction between the saints at the end of the age. Indeed at the end of the Church age some saints are ready for the Lord’s return at the first phase of His coming called the rapture. Clearly, some are not. Some are taken, and some are left. Some are caught away before the great tribulation, and some go through it. The Manchild is not one person, but a company of those caught up to the throne, who are the firstfruits unto God. The remnant of the Woman’s seed are those left behind, who are the tribulation saints (this defutes both the pre-trib theory where no saint is left behind and the theory that the entire Church go through the tribulation).
A closer look at another golden clue identifies the time period of this symbolism. Observe the dragon has 7 heads and 10 horns. Notice that the horns are not yet crowned, but in Rev 13:1 they are crowned. What does that mean? Most Bible scholars agree that the 10 horns in this imagery represent the 10 kings who have power only when the Antichrist reigns. This means that he is not yet reigning at the beginning of Rev 12, but is in Rev 13:1.
Through this symbolism we can safely determine that the Sun-Clothed Woman and the dragon Satan are indeed portrayed as spiritual enemies throughout the ages with the moment of action marked by the travail, birth, and subsequent rapture of the Manchild. This is the glorious rapture of the Church for those who are watchful, prayerful, consecrated, and ready.
How thrilling of a possibility it is to be included in this company! It should be the supreme preoccupation and magnificent obsession of every saint.