Revelation 12:6
And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and three score days.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(6) And the woman fled . . .—Translate, And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath there a place prepared from God, that there they may nourish her for a thousand two hundred and sixty days. The flight of the woman into the wilderness, and her fortunes there, are more fully described in Revelation 12:13. This verse simply tells us that the woman fled; we read afterwards that it was persecution which drove her into the wilderness. As long as the evil one can be called the prince of this world: as long, that is, as the world refuses to recognise her true Prince, and pays homage to worldliness, and baseness, and falseness in heart, mind, or life, so long must the Church, in so far as she is faithful to Him who is true, dwell as an exile in the wilderness. This feeling it was—not any hostility to life as life, or to life’s duties—which led the Apostle to speak of Christians as strangers and pilgrims, and of the Church as another Israel, whom a greater than Moses or Joshua was conducting to a land of better promise (Hebrews 4:8-9). The woman, the representative of the Church, has a place prepared by God for her in the wilderness; she is not altogether uncared for; she has a place prepared, and nourishment. God provides her with a tabernacle of safety (Psalm 90:1), and with the true Bread “which came down from heaven” (Exodus 16:15; Psalm 78:24-25; John 6:49-50), and with the living water from the Rock (John 4:14; John 7:37-39; 1Corinthians 10:3-4). The time of the sojourn in the wilderness is twelve hundred and sixty days, a period corresponding in length to the forty-two months during which the witnesses prophesied; it is the period of the Church’s witness against predominant evil. Driven forth, her voice, though but as the voice of one crying in the wilderness, is lifted up on behalf of righteousness and truth.

12:1-6 The church, under the emblem of a woman, the mother of believers, was seen by the apostle in vision, in heaven. She was clothed with the sun, justified, sanctified, and shining by union with Christ, the Sun of Righteousness. The moon was under her feet; she was superior to the reflected and feebler light of the revelation made by Moses. Having on her head a crown of twelve stars; the doctrine of the gospel, preached by the twelve apostles, is a crown of glory to all true believers. As in pain to bring forth a holy family; desirous that the conviction of sinners might end in their conversion. A dragon is a known emblem of Satan, and his chief agents, or those who govern for him on earth, at that time the pagan empire of Rome, the city built upon seven hills. As having ten horns, divided into ten kingdoms. Having seven crowns, representing seven forms of government. As drawing with his tail a third part of the stars in heaven, and casting them down to the earth; persecuting and seducing the ministers and teachers. As watchful to crush the Christian religion; but in spite of the opposition of enemies, the church brought forth a manly issue of true and faithful professors, in whom Christ was truly formed anew; even the mystery of Christ, that Son of God who should rule the nations, and in whose right his members partake the same glory. This blessed offspring was protected of God.And the woman - The woman representing the church. See the notes at Revelation 12:1.

Fled - That is, she fled in the manner, and at the time, stated in Revelation 12:14. John here evidently anticipates, by a summary statement, what he relates more in detail in Revelation 12:14-17. He had referred Revelation 12:2-5 to what occurred to the child in its persecutions, and he here alludes, in general, to what befell the true church as compelled to flee into obscurity and safety. Having briefly referred to this, the writer Revelation 12:7-13 gives an account of the efforts of Satan consequent on the removal of the child to heaven.

Into the wilderness - On the meaning of the word "wilderness" in the New Testament, see the notes on Matthew 3:1. It means a desert place, a place where there are few or no inhabitants; a place, therefore, where one might be concealed and unknown - remote from the habitations and the observations of people. This would well represent the fact, that the true church became for a time obscure and unknown - as if it had fled away from the habitations of people, and had retired to the solitude and loneliness of a desert. Yet even there Revelation 12:14, Revelation 12:16 it would be mysteriously nourished, though seemingly driven out into wastes and solitudes, and having its abode among the rocks and sands of a desert.

Where she hath a place prepared of God - A place where she might be safe, and might be kept alive. The meaning is, that during that time the true church, though obscure and almost unknown, would be the object of the divine protection and care - a beautiful representation of the church during the corruptions of the papacy and the darkness of the middle ages.

That they should feed her - That they should "nourish" or "sustain" her - τρέφωσιν trephōsin - to wit, as specified in Revelation 12:14, Revelation 12:16. Those who were to do this, represented by the word "they," are not particularly mentioned, and the simple idea is that she would be nourished during that time. That is, stripped of the figure, the church during that time would find true friends, and would be kept alive. It is hardly necessary to say that this has, in fact, occurred in the darkest periods of the history of the church.

A thousand two hundred and threescore days - That is, regarding these as prophetic days, in which a day denotes a year, twelve hundred and sixty years. The same period evidently is referred to in Revelation 12:14, in the words "for a time, and times, and half a time." And the same period is undoubtedly referred to in Daniel 7:25; "And they shall be given into his hand until a time, and times, and the dividing of time." For a full consideration of the meaning of this language, and its application to the papacy, see the notes on Daniel 7:25. The full investigation there made of the meaning and application of the language renders its consideration here unnecessary. I regard it here, as I do there, as referring to the proper continuance of the papal power, during which the true church would remain in comparative obscurity, as if driven into a desert. Compare the notes on Revelation 11:2. The meaning here is, that during that period the true church would not become wholly extinct. It would have an existence upon the earth, but its final triumph would be reserved for the time when this great enemy should be finally overthrown. Compare the notes on Revelation 12:14-17.

6. woman fled—Mary's flight with Jesus into Egypt is a type of this.

where she hath—So C reads. But A and B add "there."

a place—that portion of the heathen world which has received Christianity professedly, namely, mainly the fourth kingdom, having its seat in the modern Babylon, Rome, implying that all the heathen world would not be Christianized in the present order of things.

prepared of God—literally, "from God." Not by human caprice or fear, but by the determined counsel and foreknowledge of God, the woman, the Church, fled into the wilderness.

they should feed her—Greek, "nourish her." Indefinite for, "she should be fed." The heathen world, the wilderness, could not nourish the Church, but only afford her an outward shelter. Here, as in Da 4:26, and elsewhere, the third person plural refers to the heavenly powers who minister from God nourishment to the Church. As Israel had its time of first bridal love, on its first going out of Egypt into the wilderness, so the Christian Church's wilderness-time of first love was the apostolic age, when it was separate from the Egypt of this world, having no city here, but seeking one to come; having only a place in the wilderness prepared of God (Re 12:6, 14). The harlot takes the world city as her own, even as Cain was the first builder of a city, whereas the believing patriarchs lived in tents. Then apostate Israel was the harlot and the young Christian Church the woman; but soon spiritual fornication crept in, and the Church in the seventeenth chapter is no longer the woman, but the harlot, the great Babylon, which, however, has in it hidden the true people of God (Re 18:4). The deeper the Church penetrated into heathendom, the more she herself became heathenish. Instead of overcoming, she was overcome by the world [Auberlen]. Thus, the woman is "the one inseparable Church of the Old and New Testament" [Hengstenberg], the stock of the Christian Church being Israel (Christ and His apostles being Jews), on which the Gentile believers have been grafted, and into which Israel, on her conversion, shall be grafted, as into her own olive tree. During the whole Church-historic period, or "times of the Gentiles," wherein "Jerusalem is trodden down of the Gentiles," there is no believing Jewish Church, and therefore, only the Christian Church can be "the woman." At the same time there is meant, secondarily, the preservation of the Jews during this Church-historic period, in order that Israel, who was once "the woman," and of whom the man-child was born, may become so again at the close of the Gentile times, and stand at the head of the two elections, literal Israel, and spiritual Israel, the Church elected from Jews and Gentiles without distinction. Eze 20:35, 36, "I will bring you into the wilderness of the people (Hebrew, 'peoples'), and there will I plead with you … like as I pleaded with your fathers in the wilderness of Egypt" (compare Notes, see on [2716]Eze 20:35, 36): not a wilderness literally and locally, but spiritually a state of discipline and trial among the Gentile "peoples," during the long Gentile times, and one finally consummated in the last time of unparalleled trouble under Antichrist, in which the sealed remnant (Re 7:1-8) who constitute "the woman," are nevertheless preserved "from the face of the serpent" (Re 12:14).

thousand two hundred and threescore days—anticipatory of Re 12:14, where the persecution which caused her to flee is mentioned in its place: Re 13:11-18 gives the details of the persecution. It is most unlikely that the transition should be made from the birth of Christ to the last Antichrist, without notice of the long intervening Church-historical period. Probably the 1260 days, or periods, representing this long interval, are RECAPITULATED on a shorter scale analogically during the last Antichrist's short reign. They are equivalent to three and a half years, which, as half of the divine number seven, symbolize the seeming victory of the world over the Church. As they include the whole Gentile times of Jerusalem's being trodden of the Gentiles, they must be much longer than 1260 years; for, above several centuries more than 1260 years have elapsed since Jerusalem fell.

And the woman fled into the wilderness: as the Israelites, when they fled from Pharaoh, went into the wilderness; and Joseph, watched upon by Herod, fled into Egypt; so the church did hide herself during the antichristian persecutions, every one shifting for themselves as well as they could.

Where she hath a place prepared of God; God provided for them in some more obscure places. And the woman fled into the wilderness,.... Not as soon as she was delivered of her child, which is not reasonable to suppose, and would have been improper if not impracticable; nor indeed was this flight until after the war was over, mentioned in Revelation 12:13; nor until the dragon and his angels were conquered and cast out; nor until a fresh persecution was raised by the dragon against the woman, as appears from Revelation 12:14; where this account stands in its proper place, and is here only introduced by way of prolepsis, or anticipation, and that with this view, to show what care was taken of the woman, as well as of her son: and this does not design the flight of the Christians from Jerusalem to Pella, a little before the destruction of the former; nor the expulsion of the Jews or Christians from Rome, either by Claudius or by Nero; but the disappearance of the true church, and its obscure state and condition quickly after the above advance of it; for through the riches and honours which Constantine bestowed upon the Christians, they became vain, proud, ambitious, and careless; false doctrine and superstition obtained; the antichristian apostasy came on apace, and prevailed and increased, and so obscured the true church, that in process of time it became invisible, was in the cleft of the rock, and in the secret places of the stairs, or like persons in a wood or wilderness, not to be seen, as well as desolate and uncomfortable:

where she hath a place prepared of God; God has had, and will have a church in the worst of times; as he reserved a number in Elijah's time, so he did in the times of the antichristian apostasy, who bowed not the knee to idolatry; this woman, the church, and her case, are the same with the 144,000 sealed ones in Revelation 7:1, whom God distinguished, hid, and preserved; for the wilderness is a place of retirement and safety, Ezekiel 34:25, as well as of obscurity; and if any particular place is pointed at, I should think the valleys of Piedmont, which lie between France and Italy, are intended, where God has preserved, and continued a set of witnesses to the truth, in a succession, from the beginning of the apostasy to the present time, living in obscurity, and in safety, so far as not to be utterly destroyed:

that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days: in allusion to the children of Israel in the wilderness, where they were fed with manna forty years; so the overcomers, or true Christians in the Pergamos church state, have hidden manna given them to eat, the food of the wilderness, with which church state the church in the wilderness must be considered as contemporary, as also with the Thyatirian and Sardian church states; for though, at the Reformation, which the Sardinian church state introduces, the church appeared again, and has been ever since coming up out of the wilderness, yet she is stall in it; where she is fed and nourished with the Gospel, and the ordinances of it, by the faithful ministers of the word, the two witnesses that prophesy in sackcloth; the time of whose prophesying: is exactly of the same date with the woman's bring in the wilderness, and with the reign of antichrist, namely, forty two months, or 1260 days, that is so many years, Revelation 11:2.

{12} And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that {13} they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days.

(12) The Church of Christ which was of the Jews, after his ascension into heaven, hid itself in the world as in a wilderness, trusting only in the defence of God, as Luke witnesses in Acts.

(13) Namely the apostles and servants of God ordained to feed with the word of life, the Church collected both of the Jews and Gentiles unless any man will take the word alerent impersonally after the use of the Hebrews, instead of aleretur but I like the first better. For he has respect to those two prophets, of whom Revelation 11:3 speaks. As for the meaning of the 1290 days, see the same verse Geneva (7) Re 11:3.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Revelation 12:6. ἀπὸ κ.τ.λ., = ὑπό of agent (so Acts 2:22; Acts 4:36, etc., Ps. Sol. 15:6, and a contemporary inscription in Dittenberger’s Sylloge Inscr. 6558 συντετηρημένα ἀπὸ βασιλέων καὶ Σεβαστῶν) only here in Apocalypse. On the flight of the faithful to the wilderness, a stereotyped feature of the antichrist period, cf. A. C. 211 f. Apocalyptic visions, particularly in the form of edited sources or adapted traditions, were not concerned to preserve strict coherency in details or consistency in situation. Thus it is not clear whether the ἔρημος was conceived to exist in heaven, or whether heaven is the background rather than the scene of what transpires. What follows in 7–12 is the description (from the popular religious version of the source) of what John puts from a definitely Christian standpoint in Revelation 3:21, Revelation 5:5, where (as in Asc. Isa. Gk. ii. 9–11 the downfall of Satan is ascribed to Jesus himself.6. into the wilderness] Did she descend to earth? she had appeared in heaven before. See on Revelation 10:9.

where she hath a place] Most of the historical interpretations that have been advanced for this part of the vision proceed on the assumption that the Woman is the Christian Church. As interpretations, they are excluded if we admit that she is the ancient Israel: though applications and illustrations drawn from one may be appropriate to the other. On the view taken here, the doctrine of this chapter is analogous to that of Romans 11, though the point of view is not quite the same. St Paul distinguishes a double fulfilment of God’s promises to Israel—“the Election,” the believing minority, receive them now, and “all Israel shall be saved” at last. St John does not distinguish the two, but uses language that covers both. The Daughter of Zion is kept alive by God, both in the continued quasi-national life of the Jewish people, and in the number (be it large or small) of Christians of Jewish race; who are known to God, though for 1500 years at least they have, as a community, disappeared in the mass of their Gentile fellow-believers. It is hardly necessary to contradict the utterly unhistorical theory, that any now existing Christian nation can be identified with a portion of Israel. The theory is perhaps most absurd when applied to the English, whose ancestors are mentioned as a pagan tribe of north Germany, within 30 years, if not within three of the date of this vision. (Tac. Germ. 40.)

1260 days] See on Revelation 11:2-3. Here, as in the earlier of those verses, the time defined is that of the humiliation of Israel: perhaps we may say that in the second it is conceived as that of their temporary rejection.Revelation 12:6. Εἰς τὴν ἔρημον) The wilderness is the western part of the world, Europe, or its districts in particular on this side of the Danube; for on the other side of the Danube the countries were already before this more imbued with Christianity. ערבה, the wilderness, and נזערב, the west, are connected by derivation. D. Laurence Reinhard, in his chronological arrangement of the Apocalypse, p. 14, rightly thinks that this passage has reference to the state of the Church from the ninth century.—ἡμέρας χιλίας διακοσίας ἑξήκοντα, 1260 days) The 1260 prophetic days are 657 ordinary years in full. And if you reckon these from A. 864 to 1521, you will certainly not be far from the truth. The woman obtained a firm place in the wilderness, in Europe, especially in Bohemia, and there, in particular, she was nourished; until more free and abundant nourishment was vouchsafed to her by means of the Reformation. The close of the 1260 days is the Reformation.[124] The close of the times, 1, 2, and ½, is the Millennium. Between the Reformation and the Millennium there is no more remarkable revolution, than the Reformation itself, the great importance of which is sufficiently perceived from this.

[124] By a somewhat different method of computation, in der Erkl. Offeneb. Ed. ii. p. 592, the commencement [terminus a quo] of the 1260 days (by which 677 ordinary years are there equally made up) is fixed not in the year 864, but 940, and the end [terminus ad quem] not in the year 152], that is, at the Reformation, but in the violent suppression of the Bohemian Church, which followed in the year 1617, so that the Reformation itself, ver. 14, finds its place in the middle of times 1, 2, ½, and speaking exactly in the middle of the binary number, which these times represent. That you may not think that a great leap is here made, Reader! I wish you to remember (aus der Einlcitung zur Erkl. Offenb. § 52), that a prophetical day comprises half an ordinary year, with the addition of about 14 days. If you take 14 full days: 1260 days, by this measure will make 678 years, with an addition (which Erkl. Offenb. nearly represents at the passage quoted); but if, instead of 14 days, you take 8, the sum of 657 years will come forth (which the Gnomon proposes, which is almost equally distant from Erkl. Offenb. c. ix. 15). The method of computation therefore itself introduces a difference of only 21 years (in which matter I would rather give the preference to Erkl. Offenb., the 2d Edition of which is certainly more recent than the Gnomon, than to the Gnomon): but the places assigned to the beginning and the end respectively [termini a quo et ad quem], vary within a space of 96 years; but this difference makes no variance as far as concerns the chief point of the subject, which comprises most important revolutions, and those brought about gradually. (Respecting a latitude of this kind, comp. den Beschluss der Erkl. Offenb. ii. St. p. 1082, and the next, or die Vorrede zu meiner erklärenden Umschreibung, etc., p. ix.) To this you may refer the conclusion which presents itself in der Erkl. Offenb., Ed. ii., p. 591. Also wären die 677, Jahre zwischen A. 1524 und 1624 ausgeloffen. In dem Raum dieser 100 Jahre ist nichts bedenklicher, als die Reformation, und die mit deren Bestätigung verknupfte betrübte Zerstörung der Bohmischen Bruder—Gemeine: und also ist bey soldier Revolution das Ziel der 677, Jahre order der 1260, prophetischen Tage zu suchen. Wir lassen einem jeden die Freyheit, das Jahr zn bestimmen: doch prüfe man, was folgt. A. 1517, nahm diess grosse Werk seinen Anfang. Die Böbmische Brüder—Gemeine, und die Reformation, stunden 100 Jahr nebeneinander, bis auf Jahr 1617.—Von A. 1617, kommt man mit 677 Jahren zwuïcke auf das Jahr 940.—und also geben die 1260, Tage den Periodum der böhmischen Kirche.—E. B.Verse 6. - And the woman fled into the wilderness. As with Christ, so with his Church. His great trial took place in the wilderness; so the trial of the Church occurs in the wilderness, by which figure the world is typified. It is generally pointed out that this verse is here inserted in anticipation of ver. 14. We prefer rather to look upon it as occurring in its natural place, the narrative being interrupted by vers. 7-13 in order to account for the implacable hostility of the devil. Where she hath a place prepared of God. א, A, B, P, and others insert ἐκεῖ as well as ὅπου, "where she there hath," etc. - a redundancy which is an ordinary Hebraism. Though the Church is "in the world," she is not "of the world" (John 17:14, 15); though the woman is in the "wilderness," her place is "prepared of God." The harlot's abode (Revelation 17.) is in the wilderness, and it is also of the wilderness; it is not in a place specially prepared of God. That they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and three score days. The sense is the same as in ver. 14, "that she should be sustained there." The interpretation of the 1260 days, or 3.5 years, coincides here with that adopted in Revelation 11:2. It describes the period of this world's existence, during the whole of which the devil persecutes the Church of God. As Auberlen points out, this is, in Revelation 13:5, declared to be "the period of the power of the beast, that is, the world power." (For a discussion of the whole subject of this period, see on Revelation 11:2.) Of God (ἀπὸ τοῦ Θεοῦ)

Lit., from God, the preposition marking the source from which the preparation came. For a similar use, see James 1:13, "tempted of God."

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