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The Great Sign in Heaven

Revelation 12:1-2

Identifying what is represented by the woman in Revelation 12 has sparked no small amount of debate. The founder of the Christian Science religion, Mary Baker Glover Patterson Eddy, said the woman represented her, and the child born to the woman represented the Christian Science religion. The Roman Catholic Church has taught that the woman represents the Virgin Mary who is in heaven in bodily form following her Assumption. Quite a number of problems exist with this view, not the least of which is her appearing in heaven "with child" after having already given birth to Jesus. Finally, some Protestants teach that the woman is the church. However, the church in no way can be seen as giving birth to Christ, who is obviously the identity of the child (v. 5).

The correct identity of the woman is Israel, often described by the prophets as a woman in travail. But more pointedly, Paul points out in Romans 9:5 that Christ came from the Jewish nation. Jesus was a Jew. Since Christ is pictured in Revelation 12 as being born of a woman, the woman can be none other than the nation of Israel.

This identification fits perfectly with an important dream Joseph, one of the twelve sons of Jacob, had (Genesis 37). In his dream, Jacob was the sun, Jacob's wife Rachel was the moon, and his brothers were stars. The woman in Revelation 12 is "clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head [was] a garland of twelve stars." This adds further support to the view that the woman was Israel.

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