Reading: Revelation 12.
"And they overcame him by the blood of
the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not
their lives unto the death."
As to these words in the
eleventh verse, we remind ourselves again, that they are part of
an utterance by a loud voice in heaven at a time when the
heavenly hosts were watching a colossal conflict which was taking
place in the lower heavens, a conflict between celestial and
diabolical forces; Michael and his angels on one side, Satan and
his angels on the other. The occasion of the conflict was an
object, a corporate object here spoken of as a man-child, or a
son; which son, or man-child, having been raptured to the throne,
precipitates this terrific battle and its issue with Satan and
his angels being cast out of the heavens - "no more place
being found" for them there - down to the earth. Then a loud
voice is heard in heaven (a "great voice" the revised
version has it) saying: "Now is come the salvation and
the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his
Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down who accused
them before our God day and night. And they [our brethren] overcame
him because of the blood of the Lamb, and because of the
word of their testimony, and they loved not their life even
unto death. Therefore, rejoice O heavens and ye that dwell in
them. Woe for the earth and for the sea because the devil is gone
down unto you, having great wrath, knowing that he hath but a
short time." There is very much of detail in that with
which we shall not stay for the moment, but note the occasion of
that utterance as well as the substance of it, for that, and all
that is connected therewith, is what is before us at this time.
Now it will be necessary for us
to just look at the book itself for a moment or two and make a
very hurried survey.
We note that chapter 11 brings
us to the time of the end. The seventh trumpet closes that
period; that is the completing of things, of that phase or part
of the dispensation. Chapter 12 deals with the end time, but it
is very important for us to see that chapters 12 to 14 are a
parenthesis. That is, they are not in the direct line of the
narrative; they are - as the word parenthesis means - a section
or clause inserted for explanation or confirmation of what has
been said. The narrative is complete in itself but something is
introduced in a parenthetical way to elucidate and explain
certain things in it, and so chapters 12 to 14 inclusive are a
parenthesis, an explanation of what has already been said.
Recognizing that, if we are able thus to see, chapter 12
corresponds with chapters 2 and 3, and the word which is the key,
or the link, between chapter 12 and chapters 2 and 3, is the word
"overcome". We know how all those messages in
chapters 2 and 3 come to the Overcomer, that is, they are
concluded with "to him that overcometh". The link
between that section and chapter 12 is just that word:
"And they overcame", the overcomer is the
key and the link. In chapter 12 the man-child, the son, is the
group of overcomers at the time of the end. I suppose I ought to
stay here to say that that may not be agreed to by some. I know
quite well that it is so, and if I say it with emphasis please do
not think that I want to impose upon you my own conviction or
that I am trying to make you accept that interpretation. My
emphasis is the strength of my own conviction, that is all. You
are still to go to the Lord about this thing and get from Him His
witness. To me this is a matter of unparalleled importance, and I
think we may see some of the importance of this thing as we go
on. Now that also is by way of parenthesis. Let me repeat as to
what I feel myself, that the man-child in chapter 12 is the group
of overcomers at the time of the end. I note two things; that
this man-child is referred to as "they". Verse 5,
"she was delivered of a son, a man-child",verse
11, "and they overcame him..." That is not a
single entity, that is a corporate body. It is true the word
'son' (v. 5, R.V.) is the Greek word huios, frequently
used of Christ; but the combination in this chapter of teknon (twice),
not so used, and huios (once), only strengthens if it does not
prove our point, i.e., the "Overcomer" -
"Man-child" - is Christ and a company out of the
church caught up to the Throne before the tribulation (Rev.
3:10,21). Some of you may not, of course, see the value or force
of that; others will, because of a large school of interpretation
that thought this man-child was the Lord Jesus and that all this
took place when He was born. But the context needs a good deal of
wrestling with to conclude that that is so.* (see Appendix)
Now then, if our interpretation
is correct, we are able to open out into a larger realm and see
the great thing which is in view here. What is the thing that
occupies the central and supreme place in this revelation? It is
a company associated with Christ in His throne as having overcome
the great dragon, the old serpent, the devil, Satan, the deceiver
of the whole world, the accuser of the brethren. That is what is
here - a company in that throne-position and union with the Lord
Jesus, the first and inclusive Overcomer. Now, beloved, that
ranges the whole history of this earth or this world. It
represents God's primary and ultimate thought concerning man in
union with His Son, Jesus Christ. It represents God's original
thought concerning His Son, and then His thought concerning those
whom He chose in Christ before the world was; and His thought
concerning His Son and those whom He chose in Him from eternity
was that they should reign and govern and administer this
universe for and with God; that they should be linked with the
throne of God in universal administration and government. That
thought, that truth runs all the way through the Word of God. On
that He set His heart. Against that this other one, presented in
these various titles representing the varied forms of his
activities and character, set himself in one great age-long
challenge and resistance. But God had had His thought, His
intention, His purpose for us in Christ in relation to His
throne, and the overcomers are that. This company embodies the
original intention of God, and are God's sphere and instrument of
His success. They declare the success of God concerning His
original thought, therefore "Rejoice O ye heavens and ye
that dwell therein", for God has succeeded in spite of
everything. You might think that speaking like that represents
some great difficulty for God - not at all. If God had dealt with
this whole thing in naked infinity, it would have been like a
snap of the fingers to wipe it all out. But it is by Man that He
has done it: by Man for man, and that represents a terrific
conflict. Now you see what is in view. The achievement of God,
the success of God in Christ, in those who are in Christ and that
represented by a company, a specific company called "Overcomers".
Over against that, then,
everything else is set and to that everything else is related.
All that is in the Book of the Revelation is connected with that.
Chapter 12 is the key to the whole book. Everything thus far
moves up to chapter 12 and everything else moves from chapter 12.
Perhaps one ought to keep the connection between 12, 13 and 14
because they are so intimately bound up with one another, but
this part of chapter 12 is the pivotal point upon which
everything revolves. As you go back and traverse this book you
begin with Ephesus and see the first love left. "I have
this against thee, thou hast left thy first love." You
seek for an explanation of leaving the first love and you find
the explanation is not to be found simply in the waning of an
enthusiasm, but in the attempted quenching by the deluges of
spiritual antagonism, the object being to close down the fire of
love for God in the heart. You know that true love for the Lord
does not just wane of itself, you do not just give it up and let
it go; you know it is by reason of great pressure, great
adversity, conflict, discouragement, wearing-out tactics as well
as by subtle insinuations and subterfuges and such like things;
the snare of the world, deceitfulness of sin, and the awful
opposition of the enemy - why? This is not merely a natural,
temperamental thing. It is against that ultimate object of the
Lord, the throne. You have Balaam's subterfuge leading to
spiritual fornication; and the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, and
that woman Jezebel, the false prophetess, and the name to live,
but yet dead; mere profession, the false claims of those who say
they are Jews and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan; then
the lukewarmness of Laodicea.
All these things represent
different ways and means by which the enemy has sought to get in
to destroy the testimony. You see, the lampstand is the testimony.
At that time and in that place it was God's testimony in the
earth, and all these things are working against the testimony to
destroy it, to quench it, to blot it out, and God is appealing
for a maintenance of His testimony, and all these things are
against the issue of that testimony as maintained, which is in
the throne. And so you find they overcame because of the blood of
the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony. They
have kept the testimony of Jesus, these Overcomers. Do you see
the link between these things? And all else you find, whether it
be in the nature of the persecutions through which the saints
have passed, which are mentioned here; or the subterfuges, the
snares, the deceptions of the serpent; or the many trials,
adversities, sufferings of the Lord's children, so many that we
could never catalogue them; all that we pass through as we seek
to go on with the Lord and be faithful, it is all directed
against this ultimate issue, the coming of this company of
Overcomers to the throne.
It is the explanation of what
we are passing through now; the explanation of all trial on the
one side, from the adversary's side; sufferings, persecutions,
pain, anguish, to quench the testimony with a view to thwarting
that rapture to the throne. On the Divine side we are not
protected against it because the Lord wants us to overcome, and
you will never overcome unless there is something to overcome.
There are the two sides, the Divine, sovereign side and the
diabolical side to thwart this. All is related to that, beloved,
all is leading up to this final fury of the erect dragon waiting
to swallow up this corporate company who are to bring about the
issue of the ages.
Does it not strike you as a
thing of immense moment, that a company (we do not know how many,
small or great but comparatively small we judge, a company
nevertheless of the Lord's children) are going to be the Lord's
occasion for the precipitating of the crisis of the ages; that
is, bringing about that time and that condition when and where
there is no more place for Satan and his angels in the heavens. I
think it is a tremendous thing to say that: "there was
found no more place..." as though the heavens said: 'There
is no more room for you here any more.'
Now we do not
want to get hilarious about it, it is too solemn - but that is
the issue: "no more place in the heavens"; and
that is arrived at by this company being raptured to the throne
in the face of the fury of the dragon. They are God's instruments
for winding up the old regime which held for thousands of years
contrary to God's original thought. Supposing this is that time,
supposing that we have entered into this last phase! Only to
suppose it is to explain a great deal. But, beloved, the
intention of the Lord in these days is to show us how to
overcome. We have got to know how to overcome. We have got to
come to see the means of overcoming, the ground of overcoming,
and that is what is in view as we pursue this matter in these
pages, that we shall be put in the way of understanding what
overcoming is, and how to overcome.
So we see that
with the rapture to the throne of this man-child company a great
change takes place in the heavens as well as on the earth. With
this rapture the first thing that is seen is war in heaven. The
next, the issue of that war: "no more place"
in heaven for these forces of evil. Therefore, they are cast
down out of the heavens, and then a great voice in heaven is
heard at the moment of that casting down, saying: "Now
is come..." (it almost seems to say 'now at last,
now at length, now', the great eternal now! This hierarchy
which has encircled the earth as "prince of the power of
the air", "the world-rulers of this darkness, the
principalities and powers, the hosts of wickedness in the
heavenlies", now at length they are cast down, and now
is come) "the salvation and the power and the kingdom of
our God and the authority of his Christ."
I pause to note
the distinguishing words - "Now is come the salvation of
our God". The salvation of our God is come now.
Sit down with that in this connection for a little while and
see where that will lead you. "Now is come the kingdom
of our God"; the kingdom of our God is come now.
"Now is come the power of our God". The power of
our God is come now. Here is Divine energy, Divine force, Divine
might, here it is Now. But then note. "And the authority
of his Christ". The exousia of His
Christ; the jurisdiction of the Lord Jesus has come now. How much
hangs upon this 'now'! You weigh these sentences one by one and
you see that with this rapture of the man-child there
synchronizes this arriving at the salvation and the power and the
kingdom of our God, and the jurisdiction of His Christ. A great
point to reach, that! To fathom all that, we need much more time
than at present; we will leave it there for the moment. There is
a new phase of things on the earth as well as a new phase of
things in the heavens. Before passing to that, note how this
thing is put. There is a great voice in heaven, and that great
voice says: "Our God... our brethren". There
is a company in heaven looking on, who call this overcomer group "our
brethren" and speak of God here as "our
God". Some already there have been interested in
this final overcomer conflict. There have been overcomers in
every age and they have overcome and they are interested in this
thing to its end, and they say "our God"
and "our brethren" - "who accuseth our
brethren"; and notice, when you go on, "Satan
is gone down", is gone down - that is someone
speaking from above, not underneath, saying 'Satan is come down'.
Those there are saying: 'he has gone down', they are
above.* A new phase then begins on the earth, and then you go on
to the other two chapters, 13 and 14.
* Katabaino is
not always used for 'to go down', but sometimes 'to come down' or
simply 'to descend': but the best authorities translate it in the
former sense here, i.e., 'has gone down', and that is more than
justified by the context, the voice is speaking in heaven and is
noting that the "Accuser" has been "cast"
down (verse 9).
You have on the
one side, antichrist, and on the other side linked with that, the
tribulation of those who have not been raptured, or the
tribulation on the earth into which those enter who have not been
raptured, even the Lord's people. The discrimination in the seven
letters is between those who overcome and those who do not
overcome. (I cannot accept that the seven letters addressed to
the seven Churches were addressed to those who were not the
Lord's people, neither to just a few inside a merely professing
Church). I believe the messages were addressed to those who were
the Lord's people in a state of spiritual apostacy or weakness,
out of the way, in a state of declension, and there is a division
between the Lord's people who are in a state of declension and
those who overcome. I think it is J. N. Darby who says concerning
the Philadelphian saints: 'but then there were very blessed
encouragements given to them. There was an hour of great
temptation coming upon the whole world to try those who dwell
thereon; some might be victorious in the trial, but those
who kept the word of His patience would be kept from the
trial. On the whole world it would come, but where were they?
They had gone out of it.' That is the position here, and the
great tribulation overtakes non-overcoming believers. There will
be those who were kept out of the great tribulation, but
there will be those who "come up out of", who
were kept there and who came out of the tribulation in the midst
of which they have washed their robes which had become spotted by
We see what is in
God's eye, in His mind. We see that the end-time is going to have
this central thing, the securing of this overcomer group, this
overcomer company. In the securing of that company through
spiritual travail, and the rapture of that company, God is going
to secure His original purpose, His pre-eminent thought. Changes
in heaven and in earth will be related to that. That company will
be raptured on a threefold basis. "They overcame because
of the blood of the Lamb." That is one of the things we
have got to consider carefully, more fully; "because of
the blood of the Lamb". That is foundational. "And
because of the word of their testimony." The
blood of the Lamb was that which was provided for them, apart
from them, the word of their testimony is their part. We
have got to know, first of all, God's basis of victory, and then
our side of the victory, what the word of testimony is by which
we overcome. And then, as to the cost, the third factor: "and
they loved not their lives [their souls] unto the
That is the
position as I believe we have it, perhaps only at its beginnings,
just now. Maybe we are coming into it. Some of us feel sometimes
we could not stand very much more, the spiritual conflict and
pressure is so great. Beloved, do you see the tremendous issues
bound up with this conflict, do you see the need for us to know
what the means of victory and the ground of victory are?
Therefore it is necessary that we gather together in days like
these. These are times when we need to be in solemn convocation.
The ends of the ages are coming upon us and there is a very, very
big explanation to the pressure and the suffering, the spiritual
intensity through which we are passing now. Some of you are
feeling that pressing in, that intense spiritual pressure: it is
becoming almost unbearable. There is an explanation, a big
explanation, the biggest explanation to anything that ever
existed. God is about to accomplish His end and change the aspect
of the universe. Oh, wonderful thing! all that, beloved, has its
operation in saints. We are in that. That is taking place in us.
Perhaps we might sometimes think it might be very much easier if
we saw an erect dragon, if these figurative things were literal,
we would know where we were and what we had got to do. But it is
this spiritual pressure, this thing that comes to us, not in the
bare, naked, devilish antagonism of the enemy, but that which is
coming in very often along what we call ordinary, everyday
things, the domestic things, the business things; yes, all that,
coming in that way, it is all the conflict, it is there. But
again, we see there is a marvellous explanation to it, and we
need grace, much grace, we need a mighty instrengthening of the
Oh, unto this,
doctrine is not enough, teaching will not do, light merely as a
matter of light, beloved, is not always power. No; power is the
capacity for going through, and light does not take you through;
light may help you to see your way, but you want energy as well
as light, and we need in these days the mighty instrengthening of
God to get through.
This message will
be very pertinent to the situation in which many of God's people
are found at this time. The spiritual pressure is growingly
intense. The trial of faith is increasingly 'fiery'. The
explanation of God's ways is beyond human ability. There is a cry
and a sob in many a devoted heart - 'Why, Oh, why,' The word is
for such. Those who know little of this costly way to the Throne
will not feel its appeal. Those who are only interested in
theoretical prophetical interpretations will sabotage the point
by rejoinders such as 'Selective' - (or 'Partial Rapture'), of
We have no concern
to systematize the truth into such theories or 'teachings'. What
is patent to all honest and unprejudiced minds is - as many
accredited and highly-respected Bible teachers have taught - that
the New Testament does discriminate between Christians,
and the force of its general and particular teaching is that
there is a 'crown' which can be missed, and a 'calling' which can
There are many
letting go the greater for the lesser. The Lord does not bring
judgment on them now, but it will be a terrible thing to realise
in "the day" that they let go "the on-high
"Man-child" of Revelation 12
Inasmuch as many
have sought to interpret this Scripture as historical in the
past, that is, as having been fulfilled before John wrote at
Patmos, and as applying to the birth of Christ, Israel being the
woman, it will be well if certain very clear points are afresh
taken into consideration and honestly faced.
1. The pangs of
travail (verse 2).
Where were the birth-pains in Israel when Christ was born?
Israel has never yet travailed
unto the birth of Christ.
Isaiah 66:8-24 shows Christ's
birth out of the nation without travail. That Scripture
does not refer to Revelation 12.
2. "Clothed with the
sun" (verse 1).
The Lord Jesus is Himself the sun, "light of the
world", and it is the Church which has been invested with
that Light; the revelation of Jesus Christ, the whole Truth of
God. The Jewish nation has never stood so robed.
3. "The moon under her
feet" (verse 1).
The moon is an object which has no light of its own, but borrows
its light from the sun.
This is exactly what the whole
Jewish system of Law and Types did. The Law, the Prophets, the
Types, all reflected the Christ, and shone with borrowed light.
These are all fulfilled in Christ and realised in the Church, and
all are under the feet of - in a subject relation to - the
Church. This cannot apply to the Jewish nation.
4. "On her head a crown
of twelve stars" (verse 1).
Stars are heavenly living bodies in a ruling capacity. Twelve is
the number of governmental power or order.
The twelve Apostles may be seen
to fulfil this part of the symbolism. They come in several times
in the "Revelation" as in a place of special honour.
What is here, we believe, is that, in the mind of God, the Church
is seen in the position of heavenly authority according to Luke
10:19; Ephesians, etc. But, while this is God's thought
concerning the whole Church as in "Ephesians", only a
company out of her actually and experimentally come to
know the throne-union in the first instance. Undoubtedly, this is
the position today, as it has always been, and this is the
occasion for the great amount of exhortation and admonition in
the New Testament. And this also is the place and condition which
gives rise to the many provisional "Ifs" of the New
5. "As soon as it was
born", or "When she was delivered"
(verse 4; R .V.).
There is no gap here. Christ was not caught up to the throne when
He was born, there was a considerable interval.
6. "A great red
"Ten horns" (not crowned).
"Seven heads" (crowned) (verse 3).
No such power existed when
Christ was born. John was writing nearly a hundred years later
than the birth of Christ, and in the seventeenth chapter of this
book he shows that only five of these powers had been overthrown,
and one was in existence; the seventh was yet to be (17:10). The
ten horns as ten kings obtain power at the same time as the Beast
(17:12 ; cf. Daniel 7:20).
come into view when the Gentile Dominion is at its close.
The Beast and the False Prophet
(Political and Religious) are the two aspects of the Dragon which
persecute the true Church at the end, and the very removal of the
"man-child" is a main cause for this assault and of the
commencement of the tribulation.
7. "War in
heaven", "The dragon cast down"
("The old serpent, the devil, Satan, the deceiver"),
"No more place in heaven".
This did not take place either
at the birth or the ascension of Christ.
sees conflict in the heavenlies (6:12).
Satan is still "the prince
of the power of the air".
True, Christ is far above all
principality and power, etc., and we are seated in Him there, but
the clearing of the lower heavens with the result that the Church
administers and governs the world therefrom is something
yet to be, and the "manchild" is the fulfilment of
Revelation 3:21,22, unto this end.
We have not incorporated these
notes into the body of the message because it is our aim not to
allow the messages to be of a controversial character, but always
straightforward spiritual teaching. The notes are added that it
might be seen that we are not saying things without very good
ground in the Word, and careful meditation and study therein.
First published in "A Witness and A
Testimony" magazine, Mar-Apr 1932 Vol 10-2. Reprinted (this version) in May-Jun 1964, Vol. 42-3