Revelation of John 12

* A description of the church of Christ and of Satan, under the

figures of a woman and of a great red dragon. (1-6) Michael and

his angels fight against the devil and his angels, who are

defeated. (7-12) The dragon persecutes the church. (13,14) His

vain endeavours to destroy her, He renews his war against her

seed. (14-17)

1-6 The church, under the emblem of a woman, the mother of

believers, was seen by the apostle in vision, in heaven. She was

clothed with the sun, justified, sanctified, and shining by

union with Christ, the Sun of Righteousness. The moon was under

her feet; she was superior to the reflected and feebler light of

the revelation made by Moses. Having on her head a crown of

twelve stars; the doctrine of the gospel, preached by the twelve

apostles, is a crown of glory to all true believers. As in pain

to bring forth a holy family; desirous that the conviction of

sinners might end in their conversion. A dragon is a known

emblem of Satan, and his chief agents, or those who govern for

him on earth, at that time the pagan empire of Rome, the city

built upon seven hills. As having ten horns, divided into ten

kingdoms. Having seven crowns, representing seven forms of

government. As drawing with his tail a third part of the stars

in heaven, and casting them down to the earth; persecuting and

seducing the ministers and teachers. As watchful to crush the

Christian religion; but in spite of the opposition of enemies,

the church brought forth a manly issue of true and faithful

professors, in whom Christ was truly formed anew; even the

mystery of Christ, that Son of God who should rule the nations,

and in whose right his members partake the same glory. This

blessed offspring was protected of God.
7-11 The attempts of the dragon proved unsuccessful against the

church, and fatal to his own interests. The seat of this war was

in heaven; in the church of Christ, the kingdom of heaven on

earth. The parties were Christ, the great Angel of the covenant,

and his faithful followers; and Satan and his instruments. The

strength of the church is in having the Lord Jesus for the

Captain of their salvation. Pagan idolatry, which was the

worship of devils, was cast out of the empire by the spreading

of Christianity. The salvation and strength of the church, are

only to be ascribed to the King and Head of the church. The

conquered enemy hates the presence of God, yet he is willing to

appear there, to accuse the people of God. Let us take heed that

we give him no cause to accuse us; and that, when we have

sinned, we go before the Lord, condemn ourselves, and commit our

cause to Christ as our Advocate. The servants of God overcame

Satan by the blood of the Lamb, as the cause. By the word of

their testimony: the powerful preaching of the gospel is mighty,

through God, to pull down strong holds. By their courage and

patience in sufferings: they loved not their lives so well but

they could lay them down in Christ's cause. These were the

warriors and the weapons by which Christianity overthrew the

power of pagan idolatry; and if Christians had continued to

fight with these weapons, and such as these, their victories

would have been more numerous and glorious, and the effects more

lasting. The redeemed overcame by a simple reliance on the blood

of Christ, as the only ground of their hopes. In this we must be

like them. We must not blend any thing else with this.
12-17 The church and all her friends might well be called to

praise God for deliverance from pagan persecution, though other

troubles awaited her. The wilderness is a desolate place, and

full of serpents and scorpions, uncomfortable and destitute of

provisions; yet a place of safety, as well as where one might be

alone. But being thus retired could not protect the woman. The

flood of water is explained by many to mean the invasions of

barbarians, by which the western empire was overwhelmed; for the

heathen encouraged their attacks, in the hope of destroying

Christianity. But ungodly men, for their worldly interests,

protected the church amidst these tumults, and the overthrow of

the empire did not help the cause of idolatry. Or, this may be

meant of a flood of error, by which the church of God was in

danger of being overwhelmed and carried away. The devil,

defeated in his designs upon the church, turns his rage against

persons and places. Being faithful to God and Christ, in

doctrine, worship, and practice, exposes to the rage of Satan;

and will do so till the last enemy shall be destroyed.
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