A Question About “the Woman”

Dear Reggie,

Keep up the good work. Your last on Daniel is very helpful. If I understand your view of the unfolding of endtime events, a powerful, charismatic leader will arise who will temporarily “solve” the Middle East problem. He will settle the Palestinian dispute by ceding to Israel the right to rebuild the temple. The time of false peace will be 3 ½ years. At the end of that time the leader will show his true face [or, as you suggest, die and be resurrected and inhabited by Satan], turn against Israel, set himself up in the temple, and begin worldwide persecution against Jews and Christians. This time of Great Tribulation, of Jacob’s Trouble, will last 3 ½ years and Christ will return. I’m leaving out of my summary your useful teaching about the Church’s intercessory role. I hope that’s close to what I read. If so, I agree totally.

However, I found something that puzzles me. I’m so gun shy of the Manifested Sons of God heresy that any time someone mentions Woman and Manchild in Rev. 12, my watchdog genes go into action. Please forgive me in advance for my obtuseness.

We’ve settled in the past that you don’t teach the Manifested Sons of God doctrine (MSOG) or believe the man child to be some elite group of nearly-immortal overcomers, but some things in your last email echoed that doctrine. Instead of comparing Mary and Christ (Mary as the godly Jewish remnant) to the Woman and Man Child, you jump right to the seed of the Woman (man child) and don’t explain who the Woman is in Rev. 12. Can you help me on this? You wrote:

“Just as the figure of the woman is much more comprehensive than Mary, so also does the figure of the man child point beyond its primary fulfillment in Jesus.”

[Here’s where my discernment reflex said, Uh oh! No hint of manifested sons here, is there? It is rather a new place of intercession in the heavenlies by the entire remnant Church. Right? So if the Remnant Church is the Manchild, who is the Woman? Are we speaking of a number within the remnant church, say an elite group of overcomers? I don’t think you mean that!

No, not at all. I’m saying that God intends to use the pressures and constraints of circumstance, as well as the eye opening, heart enlarging, goads of inspiration and time related truth, to bring His people to fullness of sanctification. Many that are currently under great siege and conflict through the accuser, through their minimal grasp of the gospel. God will not stop short with the church any more than He will stop short with Israel. He got His man on the Damascus road; He will get His nation when the Deliverer comes out of Zion at the end of Jacob’s trouble (Ps 102:13; 110:3; Isa 59:21; 66:8; Jer 30:7; Dan 12:1; Zech 3:9; 12:10); and He will get His Bride ready, not in the part but in the whole. The seed of the Spirit will be brought to full maturity and the rest will fall away. That said, however, it is no division of the true church of God to expect that not all who are appointed for translation at the last trumpet will come to this fullness at the same time. I fully expect a vanguard body that will be deeply processed by things not yet known by all the body. They will be a Joseph ‘go before’ company. This implies no superiority through a works oriented, “self-sanctification,” as in many of the ‘overcomer’ and manifested son theologies. God simply has some sons that are more prepared at a given time to go before the many that will follow after. They will not begrudge those that come in at the last, since it is for their sake that they suffer (2Tim 2:10).

Just as Mary represents the godly remnant, that gives birth to the male seed of the woman in fulfillment of Gen 3:15, [I would have written so the Woman represents such and such] and the ascension of the man child signifies the place that His seed have in Him beyond Satan’s reach, “far above all principality and power” (Eph 1:21; 4:10).

[Aren’t we already seated with Christ there?] However, the redemption fully accomplished in Christ as head of the church is only the first-fruits of the eschatological salvation… [Again, who is the Woman in this analogy? This analogy doesn’t work for me. Boy this sounds like MSOG! Help!]

We are indeed sit down in Christ’s finished work, but what is meant here is that God will facilitate our fuller apprehension through the constraints and inducements He has ordained for the corporate body. In principal and pattern, it is the macrocosm on a corporate scale of the same sanctifying process that God brings to the individual believer. The mystery of incarnation does not terminate with Christ, but continues in jars of clay, albeit, only by the measure (Jn 3:34; 1Cor 12:11). Ordinary believers will shine forth in the day of testing. It is nothing more than the fuller corporate manifestation and demonstration of “this mystery of Christ in you”. As in the case of Job, God has a statement to make through His church. Certainly, He has once and again made this statement through His martyr witness people. But, as He said to Jesus, “I have glorified my name, and will glorify it again”. I am saying that God is not finished glorifying His name through the church. That is all I mean to suggest, since there is nothing higher.

The ascent of the man child, represents the secure first fruits of the covenant promise, which has set into irreversible motion the coming salvation of ‘all Israel’, the final goal of the covenant. In this view, Jesus is the head of the corporate ‘seed of the woman’, so that His birth and ascent can be seen as the primary fulfillment of a larger pattern. This pattern is repeated by a future travail of the woman that more immediately precedes the great tribulation of the last 3 1/2 years.

[I’m trying to fit the Woman into your analogy. Is she also the godly remnant here? If so, who is the man child? I’m confused. I’m sure you’ve answered this and I missed it. I’m pretty sure you think of the man child as the entire remnant church: “In this view Jesus is the head of the corporate ‘seed of the woman. But now I’m not so sure.]

It is not critical to the more important parts of our view, but I see the seed of the woman as the Word of God. Certainly, this Word was perfectly incarnated in only the one ultimate ‘Seed of the woman’. However, all who were “born again of that Word” (1Pet 1:23), in any age, were indwelt by “the Spirit of Christ” (1Pet 1:11) are part of the corporate seed of the woman. Rev 12:17 speaks of the ‘remnant’ of the woman’s seed. These are believers in the tribulation. Dispensationalism’s view that the church cannot be on earth at this time, limits this reference to Jewish believers that have come to faith after the presumed pre tribulational rapture of the church. On the other hand, if this has reference to the church in the tribulation, it shows that the the figure of the woman is comprehensive of both Israel and the church. The heavenly woman includes the full scope of God’s redemptive purpose to bring Israel back under the bond of the covenant (Ezek 20:33-34, 37). This begins with  the church and ends in the salvation of ‘all Israel’ in the coming day of the Lord It is not limited to Israel. Even before Israel was distinguished as the seed of Abraham, the woman’s seed existed in Enoch and Noah, as the believing seed of the Word and Spirit. The woman’s “pre-tribulational” travail appears to repeat the pattern of Mary and Jesus, but the order and proximity of events seem to defy putting the fulfillment entirely in the past. Significantly, the imagery passes over the life and death of Christ, focusing only on the birth and ascension. In the context of Rev 12, the woman appears to flee immediately upon the catching up of the man child. This does not appear to be a picture of the entire inter-advent period, as in some interpretations. The post-travail, post-ascension, flight of the woman is particularly concerned with the last 3 1/2 years, which we know to be the time of the great tribulation that particularly focuses on God’s concluding work with Israel (Jer 30:7; Dan 12:1; Mt 24:21). This suggests that the symbolism is not meant to be confined to the events of the first century. Therefore, it is not a breach of orthodoxy to infer that the birth of the man child, in this context, might imply a future fullness of perfection in love that will be birthed in the true remnant of the Spirit (the maskilim), who will deeply processed by these events in the light of revealed truth, particularly Daniel.

We sing the song, “Christ come forth in me.” That is good theology. It doesn’t mean He’s not already there; it means we long that He “come forth” in fullness and power, which invariably requires a deeper death to the veil of self. So the woman is a symbol of all the generation of the Spirit in all ages, including the elect nation that is destined to be united to Christ. The man child is the perfection of the woman’s seed. However, in view of the context and order of events in Rev 12, I am suggesting that the ascension of the man child that so immediately precedes the tribulation may imply a future fullness of Christ that is birthed through a divinely ordained process of sanctification, i.e., the preliminary events leading up to the tribulation. It is altogether reasonable to consider that God has something unfinished with the church that is brought to a perfection of maturity of love and faith BEFORE He completes His purpose to bring Israel into final oneness with the body of Christ. In this sense, we can expect that when the church has completed its participation in Michael’s victory over the accuser, the saints who have been part of that process will possess their possessions, in the sense of an unhindered clarity and freedom in Christ. They are apprehending nothing other than what has always been the “yea and amen” of God’s promises “in Christ”, only now in complete freedom from any residual blockage or hindrance of the veil of the flesh that permits Satan an illicit measure of access to the consciences of the holy brethren.

Allow me to summarize of a little of what I’m trying to say and what I’m definitely NOT saying:

Firstly, I give no concession to the manifested sons theology that divides the church into multiple raptures and elite companies. Wherever God is taking the church, He is taking all the church, provided it is true. I am committed to the maxim of scripture that says, “whatsoever is born of God overcomes the world …” It must overcome, because it is born of God. It is the indwelling seed of Christ in the believer who is the real overcomer, and “God is able of these stones to raise up children …”, so that none can boast.

But what is what and who is who is only revealed by the day of testing. The falling away will reveal the tares that for so long could not be distinguished from the wheat. I do see, however, a greater sanctification coming to the true body of Christ. This is not a division between overcomers and undercomers; it is a manifestation of what’s true and real, because the true and real will be able to follow the Lamb wheresoever He goes, whereas, the false will be exposed by the test. There may be some saints that have more light for a season than others that are equally true saints, but in due course all that is true will be gathered and all that is false will be exposed. Of course, that is not perfect and final until Christ’s return, but there will be much to both confirm and expose in the tribulation, and even the time leading up to the tribulation. I do not subscribe to the “overcomer” theology that divides the real and true body of Christ and tends towards elitism, and extravagant theologies of immortality etc.. I do, however, see a very straight gate that defines what is true and what if false at an unseen level of divine discernment. I do see a birthing canal of end time events that will take every true born seed of Christ into a tribulation fullness. e” theology.

When one is truly “in Christ”, that reality will be proven by the evidence. Where there is lingering carnality in the Christian, the days ahead will be the make or break of which way they will go, and in my reading of scripture, if they are truly born of God, the crisis will manifest that reality, and the others will fall away. That does not divide the true work of God in His saints. He knows His own. I also believe that there are some who are sealed now, but through the lingering presence of the veil of the flesh, do not experience, or fully “apprehend” the full glory of their actual standing in Christ.

I am saying that when the Accuser is cast down, that struggle will end forever by a full assurance of faith that will receive great power for witness and service. Of course, that is available now, but this speaks of a greater corporate sanctification of the true church on a grand world wide scale, that will come through the constraints of the prophetic revelation and corresponding fulfillment, and thus “straighten” the real and believing body of Christ, or a significant representation of them, to this place of ultimacy and deeper sanctification in the middle of the week when the accuser is cast down. Any that are truly born of God who are not in that fullness by that point, will be very soon afterwards. Else, they will show their true hearts in the great falling away.

It is not manifested sons theology to recognize a greater fullness and manifestation of the life of Christ in jars of clay due to such powerful inducements and constraints, just as anytime a believer passes through great waters there is purification and refining and deeper apprehension of his or her standing in Christ. This will simply be on a grander scale.

What I am most interested to stress is not so much the particular identity of the woman or the man child. I made mention that our view does not stand or fall with that, one way or the other. But what I am particularly interested to stress is the glorious transition in heaven at the middle point of Daniel’s 70th week. This is a real chronological event that happens in heaven, and that results in the abomination that starts the tribulation. What will this mean for the saints? That’s all I’m mostly interested to ask.

Satan’s eviction by Michael, as the accuser, does not only mean woe for the earth; it means glory and fullness of power for the saints. With the eviction of the accuser, a glorious exclamation of jubilant and praise goes up from the saints: “Now is come salvation, strength, the kingdom of God and the power of His Christ…” (Rev 12:10). Significantly, at that very point, the scripture glories in the readiness of these (never to be accused again) saints to face their greatest trial in complete absence of the fear. It is this precise point at the middle of the week (or threshold of the tribulation), that other scriptures show the church doing exploits with great anointing and power (see Dan 11:32-35; Rev 12:11).

This is also significantly the time that “power” is given to the two witnesses (Rev 11:3). I suggested at the conference that this was not coincidental, but that the power coming on the two in Jerusalem is coming at that time on all the remnant of faith facing the last test. They have been corporately straightened to this place of Daniel-like urgency and travail by the events of the first 3 1/2 years. In other words, mention in those passages of great power at this particular time (after the abomination; Dan 11:31-33) is by no means incidental; it corresponds to the victory that Michael has just won in heaven (I believe through a travailing church).

This tells me that the church will be straightened and prepared, in no small part, by the events of the first 3 1/2 years. But at the middle of the week, in full knowledge and certainty of the time, there will be a heavenly break through for the expectant remnant that not only accomplishes the final dejection of Satan, but on a corporate scale, perfect love has come. When Satan is cast down, fear is cast out! Again, none of this is entirely new. It happens in measure for any individual anytime there is a fresh and lively quickening of the glory of the gospel, but this is something that is happening on a larger heavenly and corporate scale. It is the intensive and concentrated fullness of a well established pattern and principal that makes the church the church, only here it is on an unprecedented corporate scale. Furthermore, there is some sense in which Satan’s ability to accuse a saint is cut off forever. He is cast down forever. The veil cannot return to those that have come through to this certainty and freedom. It is not new revelation; it is the deeper and fuller “apprehension” of the once and for all gospel of Christ. This, and this alone is the key to the church’s coming fullness. Daniel’s prophecy is the divinely appointed help (birthing canal) to that end.

By every evidence, if there was any deficiency in the saint’s apprehension and certainty of their sealed position at God’s right hand, we may be sure that from this point forward, they will never know another doubt concerning their sealed union with Christ. Something has happened in heaven that is very good for the believer; it is an ‘open heaven’, free of the accuser’s ministry of accusation against the consciences of the saints.

Of course, this can be nothing other than a full, clear, and “unhindered” apprehension of the gospel, since that is the only place the power is, or ever will be (Ro 1:16-17). I’m not speaking about new or esoteric truth; I’m speaking about the greatest revival and quickened apprehension of the gospel in history, producing the fruit of a multitude that cannot be numbered (Dan 11:32-33; 12:3 with Rev 7:9, 13-14), a revival that could have never come, on this kind of corporate world wide scale apart from the preparation provided by the ‘set times’ of Daniel’s end time revelation! As the veil of the flesh is beaten back through truth, deep dealings, and holy tremblings, the light shines brighter to the perfect day, and the middle of the week break through is a first fruits fore-shining of that now very imminent perfect day.

The identity of the woman is made difficult by so much confusion over the nature of the church and Israel. The church has never been a separate entity from Israel, distinct, yes! Separate? No! Believers of this age are in continuity with the righteous remnant of the OT period. As such, we (as grafted into the righteous remnant of Israel) are an internal phenomenon within the covenant nation. The church did NOT begin at Pentecost. The revelation of the body of Christ, as the “one new man” of the new creation, should not be taken to imply a new entity that had no former existence. It is NOT the body of Christ that is new; it is the revelation.

Before the heavenly woman was Israel, she was the church, “the Jerusalem which is above, the mother of us all.” Before she was represented by Mary, she was the godly remnant within the apostate nation. She existed before Israel, but not before the church, because the church is all the seed of the Spirit, regardless of dispensation. The OT righteous were the woman’s seed, and Christ was the perfection of that seed. God does not give the Spirit by measure (unto Him). That is the implied theology behind Jn 3:34, which is interested to show the uniqueness of Christ in contrast to Moses and the earlier prophets, who had the Spirit only by measure (2Kings 2:19). The King James translators understood this as the intention and so supplied the words, ‘unto him’.

So in my view, the woman represents all the generation of the Spirit (the seed). This necessarily includes Israel, as the elect nation that is destined to one day be completely righteous in Christ. Though its individual members may not all be saved, Israel is the elect covenant vessel that God has chosen for His millennial demonstration of the covenant of grace, so the woman in the wilderness is indeed the elect nation, destined for faith, and the “remnant of her seed, which have the testimony of Jesus,” is obviously the church. (Obviously, this is not obvious to dispenationalists who deny that Spirit born saints in the tribulation can be called, the body of Christ, due to their very novel and untenable view of the nature of the church).

So the woman is both Israel and the church within Israel, the ever expanding, “remnant according to the election of grace,” into which gentiles have been unexpectedly grafted, according to the revelation of the mystery. The woman is the womb of the Spirit. She extends from her constant labor over the ages to bring forth Christ to the completion of her labor in the birth of Israel in one day (Isa 66:8).

I know you’re to gracious to be offened by my doubts. I’m not doubting you so much as my understanding of you.
Let this be a private exchange. No need to trouble your other readers with it. Unless you think it would be helpful.

I thank you for that option, which I would have been careful to make sure of before sending this to others, but I do believe your concerns are well taken, and may be a help to others.

In brotherly love and appreciation, Reggie

With sincere appreciation of you work…

Richard

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