The Glorious Church, by Watchman Nee


Revelation 12:1 says, "And a great sign was seen in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon underneath her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars." Who is the woman described here? She is a woman over whom many Bible students have had much dispute. Some have said that she signifies Mary, the mother of the Lord Jesus. Others have said that she stands for the nation of Israel. However, according to the Scriptures this woman can neither be Mary, the mother of the Lord, nor the nation of Israel. Here are the reasons:

(1)Since this vision is revealed in heaven, this woman is entirely of heaven. Neither Mary nor the nation of Israel have this position.

(2)After this woman bore the man-child, she fled into the wilderness. If we liken this woman to the nation of Israel, the man-child she brought forth to Christ, and the man-child being caught up to the ascension of Christ, this does not correspond with the actual facts. Although the nation of Israel was scattered, her going into the wilderness was not the result of Christ’s ascension. At the time Christ ascended, Israel had already been dispersed for some time and was no longer a nation. But here we see that the woman fled into the wilderness after the man-child was caught up unto God. Long before Christ ascended, the nation of Israel was gone. Therefore, it is impossible for this woman to be a reference to the nation of Israel. There is even less of a basis to refer to her as Mary.

(3)While this woman was in travail to bring forth the man-child, she encountered a dragon. This dragon had seven heads and ten horns. Chapter seventeen tells us that these seven heads are seven kings: five have fallen, one is still existing, and the other has not yet come. The ten horns are ten kings who have not yet received a kingdom, who will arise afterwards. We know that no such historical events occurred before Christ ascended. Therefore, this woman and the man-child must refer to things in the future. If we say that this woman refers either to the nation of Israel or to Mary and that the man-child refers to the Lord Jesus, we are contradicting history.

(4)After the man-child was caught up unto God, there was war in heaven, and Satan was cast down to the earth. Then there was a proclamation in heaven: "Now has come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ, for the accuser of our brothers has been cast down, who accuses them before our God day and night" (Rev. 12:10). We know that this has not yet been accomplished. Ephesians 6 tells us that the church on earth must still battle with the rulers, authorities, and spiritual forces of evil in the heavenlies. Satan is still there. Since this portion of Scripture has not yet occurred, it is impossible for it to be a reference to the time of Jesus.

(5)When the dragon was cast down to the earth, he persecuted the woman who brought forth the man-child. Many people use this as a confirmation that the woman is Mary. After Mary gave birth to the Lord Jesus she did flee to Egypt; however, she did not do this at the Lord’s ascension. Verses 14 through 16 say, "And to the woman there were given the two wings of the great eagle that she might fly into the wilderness into her place, where she is nourished for a time and times and half a time from the face of the serpent. And the serpent cast water as a river out of his mouth after the woman that he might cause her to be carried away by its current. And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed the river which the dragon cast out of his mouth." Whether it is said that this woman is a reference to Mary or to the nation of Israel, we know from history that no such thing happened when Christ ascended to heaven. Therefore, this woman cannot be a reference to Mary or to the nation of Israel.

(The Glorious Church, Chapter 4, by Watchman Nee)