Who is the Glorified Woman of Revelation 12?
Generally, I write teaching articles with very little personal storytelling or testimony. But somehow, I think this teaching goes with the story.
Recently, I celebrated my 70th birthday. We spent the day with our children and grandchildren walking through the ancient ruins in Caesarea on the beach and at the museum there, seeing the history of Rome and Israel in the time of Herod the Great, right before the birth of Yeshua.
Since I knew we would be out all day with the kids and grandkids, I got up early to do some Scripture meditation. The whole week, I couldn’t stop thinking about the description of the Glorified Woman of Revelation 12:1 – 2.
Now 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; and she was with child, and she cried out, being in labor and in pain to give birth.
The symbolism surrounding this woman is so rich and multifaceted! It contains elements from God’s purpose in creating Eve at the beginning of Genesis all the way to the great wedding of New Jerusalem at the end of Revelation. We could add dozens of other passages, such as the description of the beloved maiden in the Song of Songs.
The spiritual meaning combines images of both Israel and the Church, as she gives birth to the Son of God whom the dragon seeks to destroy. The woman appears in full glory, with queenly authority, and a crown of 12 stars. There is an indirect reference to the “sun” governing the day and “moon” governing the night in Genesis 1, also paralleling Joseph’s dreams in Genesis 37.
How does all this symbolism fit together? I couldn’t get to a clear answer in my thoughts. Then the time came to leave for the celebrations with the family. By the time we got back, it was late, and I was tired. I tried praying some more and pondering it, but fell asleep a little before midnight.
Then at 2:21 in the morning, I woke up suddenly, and felt the Holy Spirit say to my heart that the resolution to the paradox of this woman being either Israel or the Church could be seen in the person of Queen Esther.
The events of the book of Esther take place in the kingdom of Persia in the 5th century BC, and become a prophetic type for both the historical events of the Jewish nation and the spiritual prophecies concerning the international Ecclesia. This combination of biblical history and prophecy creates a template for future events to take place in the end times.
Mordechai can be seen as a figure like Yeshua; Haman a figure like the anti-Christ; the death sentence against the Jews like the persecution of the end-times. Esther is a figure like the glorified queen of Revelation 12. In this way, Esther represents both Israel and the international Ecclesia.
(Note: the events of the scroll of Esther take place in the month of Adar, the last month of the Hebraic calendar, right before the first month, Nissan, the month of Passover. Passover starts the biblical symbolism with the sacrificial Lamb; Purim ends the narrative with an international crisis, like the conflicts of the end-times.)
Esther is a living example of how the international Ecclesia and the nation of Israel become one. Esther is totally Jewish. Part of the dramatic tension of the story revolves around her having to deal with her Jewish identity. At the same time, she is the Queen monarch of the worldwide Persian empire.
There is no contradiction. The paradox is solved. Esther is totally Jewish and totally Inter-national. She is a simple girl, growing up in a Jewish family, before becoming a beauty queen and then the queen of the empire. She is forced through difficult circumstances to deal with her own destiny.
She prays and fasts. Little by little, she becomes aware of the huge influence she has on the King. Her beauty and grace turn into history-changing, warrior-like authority and power. She saves the Jews, transforms the Kingdom, ushers in the glorified Messiah figure Mordechai (Esther 10:3), and then rules the global empire together with him.
In Esther, we have an example of how the Israel-Church symbolism of Revelation can become merged into one. There is one glorified princess-bride, with two eyes, two ears, two arms and two feet, yet one body. She is like the dance of the double-camp, mahanaim (Song of Songs 6:13).
The history of Israel and the Church are gradually being merged into one unified queenly and glorified figure. That unifying process will be forged by the fiery difficulties of the end-times’ tribulations. By the time Yeshua returns, the two will be fully unified (Ephesians 2:15-16). Thus, the bride will be made ready (Revelation 19:7).
The image of queenly beauty, grace, glory and authority can be seen in Esther. The unity of her identity as both a Jewish princess and the queen of the Persian empire can be seen in her without conflict. There is a paradox in the double image, but no contradiction.
The same is true of the glorified woman of Revelation. She is clothed with the sun, stands on the moon, and has twelve stars on her crown. She is the womb for the ongoing revelation of the Son of God. The imaging of Israelite motifs and Ecclesia motifs are merged. Esther is a living example. Revelation explains the mystery.
Let’s go back to the text of Revelation 12:1. Notice that it refers to a “great sign” – ‘semeion mega’ in Greek. This is a “mega-symbol.”
It reminds us of another “mega” described in Ephesians 5:32 – This is a great mystery. For I speak of Christos and the Ecclesia. The word for “great mystery” here is ‘mysterion mega’. The mega-sign is the same as the mega-mystery and has mega importance.
You and I are part of that group of myriads of people who make up the composite image of the glorified woman of Revelation 12. We are also part of the “rest of her offspring” – those who hold the testimony of Yeshua and keep the commandments of God (verse 17).
I believe that I received this on my 70th birthday as a “sign” to me personally to dedicate the next decade of my life to serving that group of people, represented by the image of the glorified bride and her offspring. Perhaps God is calling some of you to a similar dedication.
This certainly is a mega sign of mega significance. It is also accompanied by mega warfare. Revelation 13 describes a horrible Beast that tries to kill her. Revelation 17 describes a sinful Harlot that tries to pervert her image. Yet ultimately the glorified Bride of Revelation 12 will prevail and take her place of victory and authority.