Revelation of John 12* A description of the church of Christ and of Satan, under thefigures of a woman and of a great red dragon. (1-6) Michael andhis angels fight against the devil and his angels, who aredefeated. (7-12) The dragon persecutes the church. (13,14) Hisvain endeavours to destroy her, He renews his war against herseed. (14-17)1-6 The church, under the emblem of a woman, the mother ofbelievers, was seen by the apostle in vision, in heaven. She wasclothed with the sun, justified, sanctified, and shining byunion with Christ, the Sun of Righteousness. The moon was underher feet; she was superior to the reflected and feebler light ofthe revelation made by Moses. Having on her head a crown oftwelve stars; the doctrine of the gospel, preached by the twelveapostles, is a crown of glory to all true believers. As in painto bring forth a holy family; desirous that the conviction ofsinners might end in their conversion. A dragon is a knownemblem of Satan, and his chief agents, or those who govern forhim on earth, at that time the pagan empire of Rome, the citybuilt upon seven hills. As having ten horns, divided into tenkingdoms. Having seven crowns, representing seven forms ofgovernment. As drawing with his tail a third part of the starsin heaven, and casting them down to the earth; persecuting andseducing the ministers and teachers. As watchful to crush theChristian religion; but in spite of the opposition of enemies,the church brought forth a manly issue of true and faithfulprofessors, in whom Christ was truly formed anew; even themystery of Christ, that Son of God who should rule the nations,and in whose right his members partake the same glory. Thisblessed offspring was protected of God. 7-11 The attempts of the dragon proved unsuccessful against thechurch, and fatal to his own interests. The seat of this war wasin heaven; in the church of Christ, the kingdom of heaven onearth. The parties were Christ, the great Angel of the covenant,and his faithful followers; and Satan and his instruments. Thestrength of the church is in having the Lord Jesus for theCaptain of their salvation. Pagan idolatry, which was theworship of devils, was cast out of the empire by the spreadingof Christianity. The salvation and strength of the church, areonly to be ascribed to the King and Head of the church. Theconquered enemy hates the presence of God, yet he is willing toappear there, to accuse the people of God. Let us take heed thatwe give him no cause to accuse us; and that, when we havesinned, we go before the Lord, condemn ourselves, and commit ourcause to Christ as our Advocate. The servants of God overcameSatan by the blood of the Lamb, as the cause. By the word oftheir testimony: the powerful preaching of the gospel is mighty,through God, to pull down strong holds. By their courage andpatience in sufferings: they loved not their lives so well butthey could lay them down in Christ's cause. These were thewarriors and the weapons by which Christianity overthrew thepower of pagan idolatry; and if Christians had continued tofight with these weapons, and such as these, their victorieswould have been more numerous and glorious, and the effects morelasting. The redeemed overcame by a simple reliance on the bloodof Christ, as the only ground of their hopes. In this we must belike them. We must not blend any thing else with this. 12-17 The church and all her friends might well be called topraise God for deliverance from pagan persecution, though othertroubles awaited her. The wilderness is a desolate place, andfull of serpents and scorpions, uncomfortable and destitute ofprovisions; yet a place of safety, as well as where one might bealone. But being thus retired could not protect the woman. Theflood of water is explained by many to mean the invasions ofbarbarians, by which the western empire was overwhelmed; for theheathen encouraged their attacks, in the hope of destroyingChristianity. But ungodly men, for their worldly interests,protected the church amidst these tumults, and the overthrow ofthe empire did not help the cause of idolatry. Or, this may bemeant of a flood of error, by which the church of God was indanger of being overwhelmed and carried away. The devil,defeated in his designs upon the church, turns his rage againstpersons and places. Being faithful to God and Christ, indoctrine, worship, and practice, exposes to the rage of Satan;and will do so till the last enemy shall be destroyed.
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