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THE WOMAN ISRAEL AND HER MALE CHILD

A GENERATION LOST AND FOUND

There is a mystery hidden in Matthew’s genealogy of the lineage of Jesus Christ. Some would suggest that something is missing, or that Matthew wasn’t a very good math student.  Skeptics would propose that we have stumbled across an error in the text, proving the Bible is not inerrant.  The issue: Matthew chronicles 42 generations in the lineage of David, from the great King down to Jesus.  Or so he says.  But when we analyze it carefully, the tax collector who should have been especially good at accounting (and even better at counting), seems to have come up one short.

Allow us to point out the mystery in Matthew 1:1-17. To discover the enig­ma of the messiah’s generations, Huffman eliminated the verse num­bers and then numbered the generations. This allows us to do the sums easily.

 Mat 1:1-17 The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham: 2Abraham <1> begot Isaac <2>, Isaac begot Jacob <3>, and Jacob begot Judah and his brothers <4>. 3Judah begot Perez and Zerah by Tamar <5>, Perez begot Hezron <6>, and Hezron begot Ram <7>. 4Ram begot Amminadab <8>, Amminadab begot Nahshon <9>, and Nahshon begot Salmon <10>. 5Salmon begot Boaz by Rahab <11>, Boaz begot Obed by Ruth <12>, Obed begot Jesse <13>, 6and Jesse begot David the king <14>. David the king begot Solomon by her who had been the wife of Uriah <15>. 7Solomon begot Rehoboam <16>, Rehoboam begot Abijah <17>, and Abijah begot Asa <18>. 8Asa begot Jehoshaphat <19>, Jehoshaphat begot Joram <20>, and Joram begot Uzziah <21>. 9Uzziah begot Jotham <22>, Jotham begot Ahaz <23>, and Ahaz begot Hezekiah <24>. 10Hezekiah begot Manasseh <25>, Manasseh begot Amon <26>, and Amon begot Josiah <27>. 11Josiah begot Jeconiah and his brothers <28> about the time they were carried away to Babylon. 12And after they were brought to Babylon, Jeconiah begot Shealtiel <29>, and Shealtiel begot Zerubbabel <30>. 13Zerubbabel begot Abiud <31>, Abiud begot Eliakim <32>, and Eliakim begot Azor <33>. 14Azor begot Zadok <34>, Zadok begot Achim <35>;, and Achim begot Eliud <36>. 15Eliud begot Eleazar <37>, Eleazar begot Matthan <38>, and Matthan begot Jacob <39>. 16And Jacob begot Joseph <40> the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus <41> who is called Christ. 17So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations, from David until the captivity in Babylon are fourteen generations, and from the captivity in Babylon until the Christ are fourteen generations. [1]

Verse 17 states there are three sets of fourteen generations – 42 in all. But doing the math carefully, we count 41. The third set of 14 is missing a generation (only 13 are listed). Did Matthew make a mistake?

Let’s look at Psalms 22 (generally considered an amazing prophecy of the death of the Messiah, Y’shua).  We will run across the “lost generation” there. And its identification may astound you.

Psa 22:7-8 All those who see Me ridicule Me; They shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying, 8“He trusted in the LORD, let Him rescue Him; Let Him deliver Him, since He delights in Him!”

Psa 22:14-18 I am poured out like water, and all My bones are out of joint; My heart is like wax; It has melted within Me. 15My strength is dried up like a potsherd, And My tongue clings to My jaws; You have brought Me to the dust of death. 16For dogs have surrounded Me; the congregation of the wicked has enclosed Me. They pierced My hands and My feet; 17I can count all My bones. They look and stare at Me. 18They divide My garments among them, and for My clothing they cast lots.

Psa 22:27-31 27All the ends of the world shall remember and turn unto the Lord: and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before thee. 28 For the kingdom is the Lord’s: and he is the governor among the nations. 29 All they that be fat upon earth shall eat and worship: all they that go down to the dust shall bow before him: and none can keep alive his own soul. 30A seed shall serve him; it shall be accounted to the Lord for a generation. 31They shall come, and shall declare his righteousness unto a people that shall be born, that he hath done this.

Verses 7 and 8 record how those surrounding Christ mocked Him. Verses 14-18 are incredibly specific as they predict that those that kill the Messiah pierce His hands and His feet and He would be extraordinarily thirsty.  Those around Him will stare at Him in disdain, while his clothing would be divvied up – except for his robe.   And history tells us that these prophecies all came true.  Recall that his robe was one piece, seamless.  To tear it in two would ruin it completely.  So, for this garment the soldiers cast lots. (Note: this fact became the basis of a famous film in the 1950s, The Robe, starring Richard Burton, the first film to be released in super wide-screen, aka CinemaScope).

If you should read Psalm 22, adjacent to the account of the crucifixion of Christ from the Gospels, it is hard to believe any objective person could fail to see the remarkable parallels between the person David describes in Psalm 22 and what the Gospels tell us about the death of Christ.  David was not a prophet – but this Psalm is one of the most amazing prophecies in the Bible.

SO HOW CAN A SON WITH NO NATURAL CHILDREN – BE AN EVERLASTING FATHER?

But hidden amid these verses is one that stands out and brings us back to the lost generation – verse 30, “A seed shall serve him; it shall be accounted to the Lord for a generation.” What does this strange statement mean?  By looking closely at Isaiah 53, we see two references that talk of this seed as a generation or as descendants.  These two passages provide astonishing prophecies of the Messiah, and hint at what this strange phrase means:

Isa 53:8 He was taken from prison and from judgment, and who will declare His generation? For He was cut off from the land of the living; For the transgressions of My people He was stricken.

Isa 53:10 Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief. When You make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, And the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in His hand.

“Who shall declare His generation?” or ‘‘Who will be His sons, since He died, having none.’’ And yet, He shall see His seed – Jesus has offspring.

 Isa 9:6 For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

The prophet Isaiah proclaims that the Son will be called the ‘‘Everlasting Father.’’ Jesus will have children. His mystical lineage becomes the 42nd generation. The lost generation is the completed generation of Christ – the Head, Jesus, and His unified body, the Church. We know that the Church is called the Body of Christ in many passages. (See the “Deep Dive” on The Body of Christ a few pages hence). Of course, Jesus and the Father are one.

Whether plant or animal, we begin with a seed.  For plants, this is literally so.  For animals, the fertilized egg is where life begins.  However, the male contribution to conception is often referred to as seed, and descendants are also called seed.  The word for seed, zera’, is used in the KJV 229 times, but translated seed, 221 times. And seed is a masculine noun which ties the word back to the human male.

Some better-known verses from Genesis (which means, beginnings) speak of offspring or descendants (all references here are KJV):

Gen 3:15 And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.

Gen 4:25 And Adam knew his wife again; and she bare a son, and called his name Seth: For God, said she, hath appointed me another seed instead of Abel, whom Cain slew.

Gen 9:9 And I, behold, I establish my covenant with you, and with your seed after you [Noah]

Gen 12:7 And the LORD appeared unto Abram, and said, “Unto thy seed will I give this land:” and there builded he an altar unto the LORD, who appeared unto him. [Abraham]

Gen 46:6 And they took their cattle, and their goods, which they had gotten in the land of Canaan, and came into Egypt, Jacob, and all his seed with him: [Jacob aka Israel]

And the Word tells us that Christ has seed. God is reproduced in us when we are born again – Jesus is reproduced when He is formed in us. The seed that serves Jesus in the last days will be His children.  We are Christ’s seed. And His seed wars against the seed of the Nachash, the “shining one” commonly referred to as serpent (Satan – Genesis 3:15). So, when we speak of seed in the Bible, we are typically dealing with lineage, ancestry, genealogy, or “the family tree.”  The New Testament picks up this same usage with the following scriptures (all references here are KJV). Note how these New Testament verses refer to those in Genesis:

Jhn 7:42 Hath not the scripture said, That Christ cometh of the seed of David, and out of the town of Bethlehem, where David was?

Rom 1:3 Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh;

Gal 3:16 Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, “And to seeds, as of many;” but as of one, “And to thy seed, which is Christ.”

2 Tim 2:8 Remember that Jesus Christ of the seed of David was raised from the dead according to my gospel:

Rev 12:17 And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the command­ments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.

DEEP DIVE:  THE BODY OF CHRIST

There is a wealth of passages that use the metaphor, the Body of Christ. These are descriptive and definitive of the two truths that Christ dwells in each one of us individually; but also among us – The Church – corporately. “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” (Matthew 18:20, KJV).  It is important, as we will discuss later in more depth, that we emphasize both the inward dwelling within the individual believer of Christ, and the outward dwelling (outward to the individual but within) the Church itself.

First, in reviewing the following verses, we notice that the metaphor of the Body of Christ was the teaching of Paul, hinted at by Jesus, but the theological basis upon which Paul built all his churches.  Christ dwells in you; Christ dwells in the Body.  And that Body is one.

1 Cor 12:13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.

1 Cor 12:27 Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.

I Cor 12:12 For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.

And the Body has Christ as its head, and it is to be unified.  In Christ, there is no distinction any longer between Jew and Gentile. Indeed, Paul emphasizes how important the metaphor of the Body is, indicating that from a spiritual perspective, we are one. As the Christian folk song says, “We are one in the Spirit, we are one with the Lord. And we pray that our unity will one day be restored.”

Col 1:18 And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.

Rom 12:4-5 For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.

Eph 1:22 And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church.

Eph 4:4 There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling.

Eph 5:23 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.

Eph 2:19-22 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.

Eph 5:29-30 For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.

Col 2:19 And not holding the Head, from which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God.

And yet, while there is to be unity, we are not all to do the same things.  Within the Church, there is diversity – there are different duties to be performed and personal gifts with which we bless one another:

Rom 12:6-8 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching; Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness.

1 Cor 12:13-21 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling? But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. And if they were all one member, where were the body? But now are they many members, yet but one body

Eph 4:15-16 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.

Eph 4:11-13 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.

THE SEEDS OF TWO BIRTHS

When we are born of the Spirit and born into the family of God – we are His children, and He is our Father. We are brethren with our Lord Jesus Christ (Hebrews 2:11-12).

Rom 8:15-17 15For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” 16The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17and if children, then heirs – heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.

Heb 2:11-12 11For both He who sanctifies and those who are being sanctified are all of one, for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren, 12saying: “I will declare Your name to My brethren; In the midst of the assembly I will sing praise to You.”

John 12:24 Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain.

When Jesus died as the grain of wheat to bring forth fruit, He became the parent of that fruit. In this way, Jesus is the Everlasting Father, and we are His seed, or His generation. We see that to become adopted as sons of God and to be become perfect reproductions of the grain of wheat, we must mature:

1 John 3:1-2 1Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. 2Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.

The Father wants this fruit to mature and grow into the likeness of His son:

Eph 1:4-5 4Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, 5having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will,

Heb 2:13 And again: “I will put My trust in Him.” And again: “Here am I and the children whom God has given Me.”

Hebrews 2:13 references Isaiah 8:18:

Isa 8:18 Here am I and the children whom the LORD has given me! We are for signs and wonders in Israel from the LORD of hosts, who dwells in Mount Zion.

The writer of Hebrews reveals that Isaiah speaks of Jesus and His children. We, along with Jesus, are meant for signs and wonders in Israel, when He dwells in Mount Zion. Again, this passage causes us to conclude that we will be with Jesus on Mount Zion, manifesting the glory of God to Israel at His Parousia!

Dan 11:32 Those who do wickedly against the covenant he shall corrupt with flattery; but the people who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits.

That’s us! If we follow on to know the Lord, we will be strong, and do exploits, even during the time of Jacob’s Trouble.

CHRIST IN YOU, THE HOPE OF GLORY

In the prior section devoted to Jacob’s Ladder, we saw that the Body of Christ would minister God’s presence at the place where Jacob rested. Also, we concluded that this “ladder climbing” referred to the Parousia. When I (Huffman) think of the word ‘‘Christ,’’ I think of Jesus – but when I think of the word ‘‘Messiah,’’ I think of the Anointed One, the Savior of the Jews. Both words mean ‘‘Anointed One,’’ but, ‘‘Messiah’’ helps me see it as more than just a name. Many verses take on new significance when I substitute ‘‘Messiah’’ for ‘‘Christ.’’ Consider 1 Cor 12:12.

1 Cor 12:12 For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ.

Gal 4:19 My little children, for whom I labor in birth again until Christ is formed in you.

Col 1:27 To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

The Messiah in us is – the hope of glory. But let’s consider all these “ins and outs.”  

  • We are in Christ from the standpoint of salvation: justification, sanctification, and glorification.
  • Christ is in us, through the Spirit who dwells in us. We are His seed.
  • And we are in the Body of Christ, members of it, such that we are to be a living organism, so connected to one another are we to be.

Now, Jesus Christ is the Messiah of Israel, but we are part of His Body. Consequently, it would be wrong to suppose that we have no relationship toward Israel, nor any role to play in its salvation, its “grafting back in.” And that role is more than just making Jews jealous!

As the Body of the Messiah, we will play an important role in the deliverance of Israel.

THE CHURCH WILL RULE WITH A ROD OF IRON?

Now let’s jump to the strange dream of Joseph that irritated both of his parents upon his recounting.  In this dream, the implications are clear by their reaction: one day, he would obtain a status greater than they.  They would bow down to him. He would be a ruler over the Tribe of Israel during an “interim” period while they sojourned in Egypt:

Gen 37:9-10 Then he dreamed still another dream and told it to his brothers, and said, “Look, I have dreamed another dream. And this time, the sun, the moon, and the eleven stars bowed down to me.” 10So he told it to his father and his brothers; and his father rebuked him and said to him, “What is this dream that you have dreamed? Shall your mother and I and your brothers indeed come to bow down to the earth before you?”

Of course, that is exactly what happened.  For the sake of calling out Israel as a nation, separating it from the other nations enslaved by sin and corrupted by the “elohim” (little “g” gods) who ruled them – the 70 corrupted members of the Divine Council – Joseph would be carried away to Egypt as a slave.  Later, his family would follow him there to avoid the killing drought in “Canaan Land.” And there is no need to recite the details for we remember the rest of the story: slavery for Israel in Egypt, Moses arises as the deliverer, the Exodus of the children of Israel, and Joshua leads Israel in taking the promised land from the giants who resided there.  Israel would enjoy glory and then end up in shame.  Eventually, virtually all of Israel would be dispersed after it failed to receive its Messiah.

While Israel has been scattered, in our day she has also been regathered, not in belief, but in unbelief.  Nevertheless, one day Israel will be saved in such a way that it, along with believers from the Church translated in the Rapture, shall rule the nations with its Messiah.

The promise to be rulers is no small thing.  Stunningly, like Joseph, there is a definite sense in which rulership will not just be characteristic of Israel in the Millennium – it being the “head of the nations” – but equally of the Church, the Body of Christ, as well.  We read:

Rev 2:26-29 26And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations27‘He shall rule them with a rod of iron; They shall be dashed to pieces like the potter’s vessels’ – as I also have received from My Father; 28and I will give him the morning star. 29“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”’

This promise catches us unaware.  We think of Jesus ruling the nations with a rod of iron.  But the Church?  Yes.  Revelation states plainly: “To him who overcomes, to that person (and collectively to those doing so as part of the Church), I will give power over the nations.” In other words, prophecy links the Head of the Church and the Body of the Church together as rulers over the nations. This amounts to yet another astounding promise for those who believe in Jesus Christ, to those who partake of the divine nature, and who dwell with Him for “time and eternity” after the Rapture (or resurrection).

And another witness to the same gracious gift is found when assembling the following three verses (all KJV).  They parallel the truth that we will share in Christ’s glory, as they convey we are to be seated with Christ on His throne:

Heb_8:1 Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens.

Heb_12:2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

 Rev_3:21 To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.

THE SIGN IN THE HEAVENS – COULD THE CHURCH BE THERE?

However, there are other magnificent discoveries hiding in the book of Revelation about which the reader may not be aware.

Rev 12:1-5 1Now 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. 2Then being with child, she cried out in labor and in pain to give birth. 3And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great, fiery red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems on his heads. 4His 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. 5She 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.

Almost all scholars would equate the woman with Israel.  But who is the male child?  That question generates controversy among scholars. Is it Jesus?  Or is it the Church?  It remains an important question to ask.

The frequent view is that the male child is Christ.  Certainly, that would seem to be apparent. Jesus was born of Israel and then resurrected and ascended unto the Throne of God. But might the passage have a double fulfillment?   Dr. Heiser asserts that, from his research, Revelation 12 constitutes an astral prophecy (astral in the sense of a sign in the stars, being astronomical, but not pertaining to the occult as in astral projection).  He believes it foretold the birth and resurrection of Jesus.   We would agree that the sign of Revelation 12 was present at the birth of Jesus.[3]  According to Heiser (and Ernest Martin in his book, The Star of Bethlehem: The Star that Astonished the World), this sign occurred on September 11, 3 B.C. One commentator summarizes the remarkable information in these words:

While Dr. Martin’s date for the birth of Yeshua (Jesus) agrees exactly with what is in the Bible code, can we infer that the birth of Yeshua took place exactly between 6:15 to 7:49 pm on September 11, 3 BC? I believe that we can accept the time of birth as being 7 pm plus or minus an hour based on the exact sign in the sky.

What about the death of Herod as it relates to all this? After all, many scholars have said that king Herod died in 4 BC or 5 BC? Dr. Ernest L. Martin in his book, laboriously goes through each possibility for the death of king Herod and with a number of other scholars, proves that Herod died a couple of weeks after the total lunar eclipse of January 10, 1 BC. He pinpoints the date of death of Herod to about January 29, 1 BC plus or minus a couple of days[4]

However, we believe that Revelation 12:1-5, points to a double fulfillment.  To be more specific, the signs in the heavens can refer to both the birth and resurrection (glorification) of Jesus, the messiah, as the “already,”, while the “not yet” is the soon to be accomplished glorification of the Body of Christ.  The first fulfillment serves as the typology for the future realization of the second fulfillment.  As you will see below, there are many classic commentaries that agree with the idea of a double fulfillment and that the second pertains to the birth of a child that is yet future, i.e., the Church.  In this sense, Acts Chapter 2 (the coming of the Holy Spirit) can be viewed as the “conception” and the 2,000 years “in between” as incubation, the final portion of that era as Labor pains (an analogy that even Jesus used), with the birth occurring at the second fulfillment of Revelation 12:1-5.

For those who believe that the Church has a distinctive role, separate and apart from Israel, the male child also comprises the Body of Christ, the Church.  In verse 5, the Child is “caught up” to heaven.  The word used in Greek for this event is harpazo, “snatching up.”  It is the very same word used in the “rapture verses” of Paul (1 Corinthians 15, 1 Thessalonians 4). Could this image in Revelation 12 also be a reference to the Body of Christ and its rapture?  Remember Luke’s account of Jesus ascension in Acts 1. Recall that Jesus wasn’t really snatched up.  He ascended as His disciples watched, in a cloud until disappearing out of their sight.

From the Faith Life Study Bible: “In Revelation, the number 12 is associ­ated with the 12 tribes of Israel and also the 12 apostles as the Church’s foundation (Rev 21:14). Thus, the woman could symbolize the faithful people of God. The Messiah is born from God’s people, Israel, and His work continues with God’s people, the Church.”

Barnes’ Notes on the Bible, on Revelation 12:5, voices the same opinion:

And she brought forth a man child – Representing, according to the view above taken, the church in its increase and prosperity – as if a child were born that was to rule over all nations. See the notes on Revelation 12:2Who was to rule all nations – That is, according to this view, the church thus represented was destined to reign in all the earth, or all the earth was to become subject to its laws. Compare the notes on Daniel 7:13-14.[5]

Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible, regarding Revelation 12:5 agrees. The male child is the “mystical Christ”, i.e., “his members, who are called by his name.”  Reading this statement in context:

And she brought forth a man child…. Not Christ, literally and person­ally considered, or Christ in his human nature, as made of a woman, and born of a virgin, which was a fact that had been years ago; but Christ mystically, or Christ in his members, who are called by his name, because he is formed in them, and they are the seed of the woman, the church.[6]

Another source who proposes identifying the male child with the Church is scholar Michael J. Svigel.  We include more of his commentary because his is more current.  We draw from his paper, The Apocalypse of John and the Rapture of the Church: A Reevaluation.  In his study, Svigel writes:

Within the smaller unit of chapter 12 itself, the woman and dragon are first introduced and the events of 12:1-6 appear to follow a general chronological order. The war in heaven of 12:7-12 appears to be an expansion of the fate of the dragon upon the catching up of the male child to heaven. Then, 12:3-18 recapitulates the events after the catching up of the male child, filling in details regarding the pursuit of the woman and the preservation initially described in 12:6 (pp. 27-28).

Svigel goes on to argue that Rev 12:5 refers the reader to Isaiah 66:7:

Thus, John’s use of “poor grammar” in Revelation 12:5 is intended to point the reader back to the images of Isaiah 66:7, which reads: “Before she travailed, she brought forth; before her pain came, she gave birth to a boy.” The next verse demonstrates that the woman and child are not intended to represent individuals, but rather assemblies: “Who has heard such a thing? Who has seen such things? Can a land be born in one day? Can a nation be brought forth all at once? As soon as Zion travailed, she also brought forth her sons.” The passage switches from the singular “son” to the plural “sons,” and describes the birth of “a land” and “a nation” (p. 29).

On the identity of the Male Child, Svigel says:

“The Male Child. The crux of the argument of this paper lies with the identification of the male child born to the woman, Israel. The following section will examine this identification in greater depth. In preview, it will be argued that the male child born to the woman has, like the dragon, and possibly the woman, a double referent, one an individual, Jesus Christ, the other a corporate body, the Church. Five main arguments for this identification will be given: 1) the consistency in symbolism in Revelation 12; 2) the significance of the allusion to Isaiah 66:7-8; 3) the lexical issues involving the snatching up of the male child; 4) the identification of the male child as the one who will “rule over all the nations with an iron rod;” and 5) the absence of the death and resurrection of the Messiah argues for the identification of the male child with the Church. (p.30)

Svigel’s paper continues to expand those five points to insist that the male child is the raptured body of Christ along with its head, Jesus Christ. The paper is well worth reading, as he goes through the major views of the Rapture and looks at when it may occur in the timeline of Revelation.[7]

Thus, we conclude that the man-child the woman (Israel) brings forth is one who overcomes, and who believes (many so believe) – as written to the Seven churches in Revelation, chapters 2 and 3). We know that God the Father, brought forth one Son by Israel (in Mary) but that He must be joined to many mature sons to be one Body for the Messiah, Jesus. And when He comes in glory with them, they will rule and reign with Him.

Rev 20:4 And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.

To expand further:  the ‘‘man-child,’’ in the Greek says, ‘‘male son,’’ or vios (meaning a mature son, ready to rule the Father’s house).

Rev 12:6 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.

“That they should feed her there.”  Could the “they” be members of the Body of Christ?  Might they participate in the care of those Jews that flee to the wilderness? Might the ‘‘man-child’’ nourish the woman in the wilderness for 3½ years?  We know that this period lasts for a 3½ years. And, likewise, it is agreed that a biblical, prophetic year is 360 days. Therefore, 1260 days = 3½ x 360 days, or 3½ years. There is no question that this period of safekeeping transpires during the same period that the Antichrist seeks to destroy Jews and those who have become believers during the Great Tribulation.  But, consider yet one more scripture which seems to reinforce that those who have fled will be comforted by the LORD.  Might he minister through His body to those living in Petra, awaiting the return of the Messiah to conquer the Antichrist and bring an end to his rule of terror and the persecution and killing of those who have been martyred for the cause of Christ?

 Hosea 2:14 “Therefore, behold, I will allure her, will bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfort to her.

We believe that this possibility is worthy of serious consideration.  We think it may indeed be a ministry of the already glorified saints. They will care for the mortal Israelis in the wilderness of Edom.  The “male child” will manifest His glory to the remnant in Petra; that is, those mature sons of God, the Body of the Messiah. God in His lovingkindness and provi­dence, provides a place for the woman and children to serve her.

THE SIGN OF THE SON OF MAN

Just as the Angel of God (the pre-incarnation second person of the Trinity, The WORD, Jesus Christ) was in the cloud of glory over the tabernacle in the wilderness to lead Israel (Exodus 14:19, Hebrews 1:3), the Body of the Messiah, the Church, will appear with their Lord in the cloud of glory over mount Zion, leading Israel.  While many propose differing candidates for the Sign of the Son of Man, we put forth the possibility that the sign of the Glory of Christ and His Body is the Sign of the Son of Man. It would occur at such time that all may witness the glorious presence of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  However, we believe the world will still not repent.  The “earth dwellers” will still deny the truth of God. Many passages speak of God appearing over Zion.  If Jesus Christ appears over Zion in glory, the Body of Christ will be there too.

Isa 4:1-6 And in that day seven women shall take hold of one man, saying, “We will eat our own food and wear our own apparel; Only let us be called by your name, to take away our reproach.” 2In that day the Branch of the LORD shall be beautiful and glorious; And the fruit of the earth shall be excellent and appealing For those of Israel who have escaped. 3And it shall come to pass that he who is left in Zion and remains in Jerusalem will be called holy – everyone who is recorded among the living in Jerusalem. 4When the Lord has washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and purged the blood of Jerusalem from her midst, by the spirit of judgment and by the spirit of burning, 5then the LORD will create above every dwelling place of Mount Zion, and above her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day and the shining of a flaming fire by night. For over all the glory there will be a covering. 6And there will be a tabernacle for shade in the daytime from the heat, for a place of refuge, and for a shelter from storm and rain.

Mat 24:30 Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.

Heb 1:3 Who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.

Exo 14:19 And the Angel of God, who went before the camp of Israel, moved and went behind them; and the pillar of cloud went from before them and stood behind them.

Chapter 14 of the book of Revelation testifies of 144,000 that are not defiled, who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. They are redeemed from among men, being firstfruits to God and to the Lamb. They are before the throne of God. They are without fault before God because their sins have been washed away by the blood of the Lamb. Are these the 144,000 “Jewish witnesses?” from Revelation 7:4?  No, this is the Church.  The number should not be taken literally, but metaphorically, being a multiple of 12.  There were 12 tribes and there were 12 apostles.  12 x 12 = 144,000. These are hints of the ultimate unity of all the redeemed; that is, the Church and Israel.

Rev 14:1-5 1Then I looked, and behold, a Lamb standing on Mount Zion, and with Him one hundred and forty-four thousand, having His Father’s name written on their foreheads. 2And I heard a voice from heaven, like the voice of many waters, and like the voice of loud thunder. And I heard the sound of harpists playing their harps. 3They sang as it were a new song before the throne, before the four living creatures, and the elders; and no one could learn that song except the hundred and forty-four thousand who were redeemed from the earth. 4These are the ones who were not defiled with women, for they are virgins. These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. These were redeemed from among men, being firstfruits to God and to the Lamb. 5And in their mouth was found no deceit, for they are without fault before the throne of God.

Zec 12:8-10 8In that day the LORD will defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem; the one who is feeble among them in that day shall be like David, and the house of David shall be like God, like the Angel of the LORD before them. 9It shall be in that day that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem. 10“And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn.

Zec 14:3-5 3Then the LORD will go forth and fight against those nations, As He fights in the day of battle.4 And in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which faces Jerusalem on the east. And the Mount of Olives shall be split in two, from east to west, making a very large valley; Half of the mountain shall move toward the north and half of it toward the south. 5Then you shall flee through My mountain valley, For the mountain valley shall reach to Azal. Yes, you shall flee as you fled from the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah. Thus, the LORD my God will come, and all the saints with You.

Isa 26:15-21 15You have increased the nation, O LORD, you have increased the nation; You are glorified; You have expanded all the borders of the land. 16LORD, in trouble they have visited You, they poured out a prayer when Your chastening was upon them. 17As a woman with child Is in pain and cries out in her pangs, when she draws near the time of her delivery, so have we been in Your sight, O LORD. 18We have been with child, we have been in pain; We have, as it were, brought forth wind; We have not accomplished any deliverance in the earth, nor have the inhabitants of the world fallen. 19Your dead shall live; Together with my dead body they shall arise. Awake and sing, you who dwell in dust; For your dew is like the dew of herbs, And the earth shall cast out the dead. 20Come, my people, enter your chambers, and shut your doors behind you; Hide yourself, as it were, for a little moment, until the indignation is past. 21For behold, the LORD comes out of His place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity; The earth will also disclose her blood, and will no more cover her slain.

Here we see the wording of Isaiah referenced in the words of John, written almost 800 years later.  Revelation 12:2-4 and 12:7-9 reflect Isaiah 26:15-21.  Isaiah 26:19 speaks of the resurrection. But notice verse 20 speaks of the Parousia. It is one of the most notable Old Testament hints of the Rapture for that portion of God’s people, the Church – the firstfruits of the resurrection – who enter into chambers (in Hebrew, cheder pronounced kheh’der), the innermost room such as bedchamber, into which the groom and the bride retire). They remain in their chambers until the indignation is past.  Recall that the ‘‘indignation’’ comprises another term for Jacob’s Trouble –3½ year Great Tribulation, or Day of the Lord. Therefore, John 14:2-3 appears to confirm Isaiah’s prophecy. These are the very words of Christ.

John 14:2-3 2In My Father’s house are many mansions (Greek, monē, pronounced monay); if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to pre­pare a place for you. 3And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.

Monē conveys dwelling places, or chambers – rooms in God’s house (we are God’s house). When we encountered this word earlier in our study, we emphasized that there shall be unity in the Body of Christ, that we not think in terms of “apartments.” The word can mean this, but it would be inconsistent to underscore with a heavy line that these chambers (plural) suggest some differentiation, i.e., perhaps there are differing degrees of glory for each believer. Nonetheless, not all stars shine with equal brilliance.

Dan 12:2-3 2And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, Some to everlasting life, Some to shame and everlasting contempt. 3Those who are wise shall shine Like the brightness of the firmament, and those who turn many to righteousness Like the stars forever and ever.

1 Cor 15:39-43 39All flesh is not the same flesh, but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of animals, another of fish, and another of birds. 40There are also celestial bodies and terrestrial bodies; but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. 41There is one glory of the sun, another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for one star differs from another star in glory. 42So also is the resurrection of the dead. The body is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption. 43It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power.

1 Pet 5:4 And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away.

Isa 28:5 In that day the LORD of hosts will be for a crown of glory and a diadem of beauty to the remnant of His people.

While there are many proposals for “the sign of the Son of Man,” we believe that the pillar of cloud by day and the fire by night may be such a sign.[8]  More simply, it may be the brilliance of glory of Christ and His Body, The Church glorified with Christ Jesus.  It may be the sign of the Son of Man, appearing at or after the Parousia, during the final 3½ years. Appearing over Zion, the glory of the LORD shall be as apparent as it was to those who gathered for the dedication of Solomon’s Temple.  To assert otherwise because this is too strange and unusual to be true – would be unbelief. Regardless of whether this glory of Zion happens in this way, the emphasis remains: The Church “follows the Lamb wherever He goes.”

THE DAY OF ATONEMENT

Recalling the Day of Atonement, the second part of the Feast of Tabernacles, we remember that the sins of Israel were taken away or imputed to the scapegoat. As we discussed, this feast has not been fulfilled in the Church. However, just as the other feasts exemplified events fulfilled in the life of Christ and in His Body, this one will be fulfilled too.

The period between the Blowing of Trumpets and the Day of Atonement was 10 days. Ten is the number of trial or testing in the Bible. This is symbolic for the testing occurring in the body of Christ during the fulfillment of these feast-days. (1) The ten commandments were the greatest test for man. (2) Daniel said, ‘‘Prove thy servants, I beseech thee, ten days’’ (Daniel 1:12). (3) Jesus promised the church in Smyrna tribulation 10 days (Revelation 2:10). (The Greek word appearing here, translated tribulation, is the word Thlipsis.  It is the same word Jesus used for great tribulation in Matthew 24:21 and 24:29).  Thlipsis in Greek may be translated as tribulation, affliction, trouble, anguish, or persecution. Likewise, (4) the disciples tarried for the Holy Spirit ten days – in fasting and prayer – and their faith was tested during that time. In chapter six (p. 183), we discussed link between the Last Trumpet /Seventh Angel to the Day of Atonement. These speak to the same event.

The part the church plays in the restoration of Israel begins at this time, and fulfills the verse in Romans with which we began this chapter:

Rom 11:26-27 26And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: “The Deliverer will come out of Zion, And He will turn away ungodli­ness from Jacob; 27For this is My covenant with them, when I take away their sins.”

1 John 3:1-9 1Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore, the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. 2Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. 3And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure. 4 Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness. 5And you know that He was manifested to take away our sins, and in Him there is no sin. 6Whoever abides in Him does not sin. Whoever sins has neither seen Him nor known Him. 7Little children, let no one deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous. 8 He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose, the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil. 9 Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God.

This passage certainly constitutes a significant statement confirming the witness of these authors. As we stand today, we have parts in our soul that are alive in God and parts that are not. But in Christ Jesus, we are alive and without sin.  We are commanded to reckon ourselves dead to sin (Romans 6:11).  Recall our earlier discussion about seed. John tells us that God’s seed has been placed within us. And that seed is Christ. Apart from Him, we are not sinless. But once we are totally living in the power of the Spirit and Christ dwells in us fully, we should sin no more. This sanctification leads to glorification.  God works in us, that we may live according to His good pleasure.

Phi 2:12-13 12Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. 13For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. (KJV)

Gal 5:5 For we through the Spirit eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.

Eph 4:11-16 11And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, 13till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; 14that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, 15but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head – Christ 16from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.

God will bring His church to perfection, that is a ‘‘mature man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ’’. This is corporate maturity – not individual, The Lone Ranger is not a model for perfection.  It comes to us in part as we join with the Body of Christ and participate in it.

Rev 12:4-13 4His 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. 5She 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. 6Then 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.

This book doesn’t seek to pick one perspective on the Rapture amid the Pre-Trib, Pre-Wrath, or Mid-Trib positions. But we do believe in the “catching up,” And we aren’t oblivious to passages that reinforce our view that the Rapture is a separate event from the visible Second Coming (when Jesus defeats His enemies, the enemies of Israel, and establishes His rule).  Because of this, we would point out that we believe the reason that Satan is finally thrown out of heaven (that there is no longer a place for him there), is because the glorified Body of Christ has been translated and transported to heaven.  It isn’t a “space” problem – it is that the convicted is no longer out on bail. There is no place for accusations against God’s elect.  The revealing of the true Sons of God, shows them spotless and clothed in white. They can be accused no longer. Likewise, the false gods that have led the nations astray for thousands of years are no longer rulers in the heavens, the “powers and principalities,” the corrupted Divine Council, are thrown out as well.  The Body of Christ begins its rule when Michael and his angels cast Satan out of heaven – forever.

Rev 12:7-13 7And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, 8but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer. 9So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. 10Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, “Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down. 11And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death. 12Therefore rejoice, O heavens, and you who dwell in them! Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and the sea! For the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has a short time.” 13Now when the dragon saw that he had been cast to the earth, he persecuted the woman who gave birth to the male Child.

This powerful passage pictures the Day of Atonement made manifest – the blood of the Lamb and the Word of their Testimony is the Day of Atonement fulfilled in the church. Notice the man-child is caught up (harpazo) to the throne of God. This is where God dwells – in the Holy of Holies where His presence is manifest (the kabod, the shekinah glory of God). Again, this holiest place could only be entered on the Day of Atonement. That is why we draw the conclusion that it is here that we see the Day of Atonement fulfilled. Again, when the church is sinless before the throne of God (the man-child, or vios), there is no room for the accuser, his henchmen, or his accusations in heaven (for the sins have been covered by the blood of the Lamb). The scape goat will no longer be necessary. There is no reason for him.  He is cast out.

Job 1:9-11 9Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, Doth Job fear God for nought? 10 Hast not thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side? thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land. 11 But put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face. (KJV)

Until then, Satan continues his favorite pastime: accusing believers before God. This is the only legal right God has granted him for which he appears in the Third Heaven.

John 14:30 I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming, and he has nothing in Me.

Jesus was sinless, so Satan had no legal hold or right to Him. Satan could no longer accuse Christ. Jesus gave Himself willingly to die for us.  Satan will have nothing in the Church either. The blood of the Lamb has freed us from his accusations.  No more dissing from the devil!

Satan has been the Accuser of the Brethren for a very long time. But when the Day of Atonement is fulfilled in the Church, he loses his job! He forfeits all legal rights to accuse or otherwise torment the church. When he loses his standing – he comes down to earth hopping mad. For he knows, the epic story of the ages will soon be concluded.

2 Cor 10:4-6 4For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, 5casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, 6and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled.

[1] See Bill Britton, The 42nd Generation, Springfield, MO.

[3] Heiser, Michael, “September 11: Happy Birthday to Jesus”. See http://drmsh.com/ september-11-happy-birthday-to-jesus/.

[4] Roy A Reinhold, “Other Scholarship Proving the Exact Date of the Birth of Yeshua.” March 28, 2002, Retrieved from http://ad2004.com/prophecytruths /Articles/Yeshua/ yeshuabirth5.html.

[5] Retrieved from http://biblehub.com/commentaries/revelation/12-5.htm.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Svigel, Michael J., “The Apocalypse of John and the Rapture of the Church: A Reevaluation.” Trinity Journal 22 (2001). 23-74.  See https://bible.org/article/apocalypse -john-and-rapture-church-reevaluation.

[8] Friend Scott Clarke has developed wonderful research and brilliant graphics to illustrate his proposal that the sign of Revelation 12 lies in the stars, with a most usual alignment of the constellation Virgo and several of the planets, comprising a “crown” of 12 stars.  This alignment occurs on Rosh Hashanah, September 23, 2017.  While Scott is careful to not “set a date,” he cites many reasons why this event may be the “snatching away” of the Church.  We will know soon enough.  As this book is published in June 2017, this sign lies only a few months away. Scott corrected us when we wrote this footnote in an early draft. We indicated he saw the September alignment as the sign of the Son of Man. No, not so, said Scott. Yet, it is a significant sign in the stars. But what does it mean?  Does it foretell the rapture?

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