Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Four Women of Revelation

Our church is sending a mission team to Peru next week. They will distribute items and tracts to the homeless, work in an orphanage, and street witness. (Prayers please?)

Because the country is heavily Catholic, I was asked to put together some lists of verses and other material to use in witnessing to Catholics to give to the team leader in order to help them understand the keys to witnessing to lost Catholic people. As I was studying about the origin of the Mary worship, and the plethora of art and statuary depicting her as the queen of heaven with 12 stars encircling her head, I re-read Revelation 12.

Gotquestions.org offers an introductory paragraph regarding this highly symbolic yet also highly literal book. It, along with Genesis, are two of my favorite books of the bible.
The Revelation of Jesus Christ was given to John by God “to show his servants what must soon take place.” This book is filled with mysteries about things to come. It is the final warning that the world will surely end and judgment will be certain. It gives us a tiny glimpse of heaven and all of the glories awaiting those who keep their robes white. Revelation takes us through the great tribulation with all its woes and the final fire that all unbelievers will face for eternity. The book reiterates the fall of Satan and the doom he and his angels are bound for. We are shown the duties of all creatures and angels of heaven and the promises of the saints that will live forever with Jesus in the New Jerusalem. Like John, we find it hard to describe what we read in the book of Revelation.
I have the ESV MacArthur study bible. I read the note for the verse 1-2, the woman with twelve stars. The note was interesting. It said there are four women mentioned in Revelation.

1. Jezebel. This woman represents the pagan church. This isn't the actual queen Jezebel who once actually lived. (1 Kings, 2 Kings). This Jezebel mentioned in Revelation 2:20 was more likely a Jezebel type. She was a woman who actually was living and harming the church at Thyatira, but was called by Jesus "Jezebel." This was not a compliment.

Virgin of Quito: Catholic representation
of the woman clothed with the sun &
having 12 stars being Mary. CC
But I have this against you, that you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and is teaching and seducing my servants to practice sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols. I gave her time to repent, but she refuses to repent of her sexual immorality. Behold, I will throw her onto a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her I will throw into great tribulation, unless they repent of her works, and I will strike her children dead.

2. Woman clothed with the sun. This woman represents Israel.

And a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. She was pregnant and was crying out in birth pains and the agony of giving birth. (Revelation 12:1-2)

MacArthur's note reads:

Not an actual woman, but a symbolic representation of Israel, pictured in the OT as the wife of God. (Isa. 54:5-6; Jer. 3:6-8, 31:32; Ezek. 16:32; Hos 2:16). ... That this woman does not represent the church is clear from the context. 'clothed with the sun, ...moon under her feet...twelve stars...Cf., Gen 37:9-11. Being clothed with the sun speaks of the glory, dignity, and exalted status of Israel, the people of promise who will be saved, and given a kingdom. The picture of the moon under her feet possibly describes God's covenant relationship with Israel, since new moons were associated with worship (1 Chron 23:21; 2 Chron 2:4, 8:13; Ezra 3:5; Ps 81:3. The 12 stars represent the twelve tribes of Israel.
3. The Scarlet Woman. This woman represents the apostate church.

And he carried me away in the Spirit into a wilderness, and I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast
EPrata photo of the Virgin of Quito
that was full of blasphemous names, and it had seven heads and ten horns. The woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and jewels and pearls, holding in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and the impurities of her sexual immorality. And on her forehead was written a name of mystery: “Babylon the great, mother of prostitutes and of earth’s abominations.” And I saw the woman, drunk with the blood of the saints, the blood of the martyrs of Jesus.
(Revelation 17:3-6).

The bible note says,
Purple and scarlet...the colors of royalty, nobility and wealth. The woman is portrayed as a prostitute who has successfully plied her trade and become extremely wealthy. Adorned...Prostitutes often dress in fine clothes and precious stones to allure their victims. (cf. Prov 7:10). The religious harlot Babylon is no different, adorning herself to lure the nations into her grasp.
4. Wife of the Lamb This woman represents the true church.

[ The New Jerusalem ] Then came one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues and spoke to me, saying, “Come, I will show you the Bride, the wife of the Lamb.” And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great, high mountain, and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, (Revelation 21:9-10)

The New Jerusalem takes on the character of its inhabitants, the redeemed.
So you have heard of the four horsemen of the Apocalypse...now you know of the four women of Revelation! :)

Read Revelation. It promises a blessing for those who do! (Revelation 22:7). It also has another promise.

Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay each one for what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” (Revelation 22:12-13)

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Further Reading:

Bible Introductions: Revelation

Book of Revelation: Bible Survey

4 comments:

  1. This is an excellent essay Elizabeth. Thank you also for the links to further study on the Book of Revelation.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're welcome Colette. The two links are good overviews which give a good foundation. If you ever want to go further, here is John MacArthur's exposition through the book of Revelation
      http://www.gty.org/resources/sermons/scripture/revelation

      And here is the page to S. Lewis Johnson's.
      http://sljinstitute.net/category/revelation/

      With both, you can listen to the sermon or read the transcript.

      Delete
  2. Elizabeth for President.

    Stephen

    ReplyDelete
  3. Amazing! Haven't heard of this before.

    ReplyDelete

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