The Woman Clothed with the Sun
Zion – The Glory of God in His People
By: Bruce D. Curtis, MA, M.Div. ©2017
And a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed in the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head. She was pregnant and crying out in the pain and agony of giving birth. Then another sign appeared in heaven: a huge red dragon with seven heads, ten horns, and seven royal crowns on his heads. His tail swept a third of the stars from the sky, tossing them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman as she was about to give birth, ready to devour her child as soon as He was born. And she gave birth to a son, a male child, who will rule all the nations with an iron scepter; and her child was caught up to God and to His throne. The woman fled into the wilderness, where God had prepared a place for her to be nourished for one thousand two hundred sixty days. And the dragon was enraged at the woman, and went to make war with the rest of her children, who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus. (Rev 12:1-6, 17)
“Before she was in labor
she gave birth;
before her pain came upon her
she delivered a son.
Who has heard such a thing?
Who has seen such things?
Shall a land be born in one day?
Shall a nation be brought forth in one moment?
For as soon as Zion was in labor
she brought forth her children.
“Shall I bring to the point of birth and not cause to bring forth?” says the Lord;
“Shall I, who cause to bring forth, shut [the womb]?” says your God.
“Rejoice with Jerusalem, and be glad for her,
all you who love her;
rejoice with her in joy,
all you who mourn over her;
that you may nurse and be satisfied
from her consoling breast;
that you may drink deeply with delight
from her glorious abundance.” (Isa. 66:7-11, emphasis added)
The God of gods <El Elohim>, YHWH, has spoken,
And summoned the Earth from the risings of the sun and unto its setting.
Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty,
God has shone forth.
May our God come and not keep silence;
Fire devours before Him,
And it is very tempestuous around Him.
He summons the heavens above,
And the earth to judge His people.
Gather my faithful ones to Me,
Those who have made a covenant with Me by sacrifice.
And the Heavens declare His righteousness,
For God Himself is judge. (Ps 50:1-6, emphasis added)
* * *
* * *
The woman “clothed with the sun” seen by John in Heaven has remained shrouded in mystery over nearly two millennia, understood in part, but generally not fully, i.e. “seen” in the fullness of her glory [doxa] and the plhroma or “fullness” of her Heavenly spiritual reality. That she is a sign, or shmeion, and a great one, must be pivotal in the examination of her identity. A sign in Greek [sēmeion] is the sign or distinguishing mark by which something is known, that which discloses or reveals the fundamental nature of something. It is no accident that she is set into a marvelously poetic piece of writing in John’s Revelation that rivals the greatness of Isaiah. Therefore, She cannot be really ‘seen’ without reading the passage as the poetry it is.
For this reason, her significance as ‘sign’ has given rise to a very interesting spectrum of interpretations. She has been for different communities of faith: the Church, the Virgin Mary, Israel, the woman Zion, and many other realities including Isis and all of the ‘Queen of Heaven’ fallen goddess images. What is critical for the conversation to arrive at truth is to know that this revelation was given by God to Jesus Christ to show to his bond-servants, i.e. His slaves, communicated via His angel to His bond-servant John. So the proper question to ask in this instance is what reality did God the Father and Jesus Christ intend to disclose by means of this great sign of “a woman clothed with the sun?” What does she signify, really?
Can there be any doubt that without the mind of Christ, one would be at risk of falling into error? (cf. 1 Cor. 2:10-11, 16) So for those who love the truth, it requires a deep inquiry. And what is helpful in the searching “the depths of God” in addition to the Spirit of God, is the knowledge of God, along with the knowledge that His Holy Writ is self-referential. That is, the bible cross-references realities in such a way as to illuminate the understanding of one who would search with the heart of a king.
“It is the glory of God to conceal a matter but the glory of kings to search out a matter.” (Proverbs 25:2)
The fractal structure of scripture, repeating motifs at different scales, using different metonyms, the clarification, definition and intensification of couplets – all of these, when joined with the remarkable inter-textuality in the bible, combine to allow those who love the truth to be able to discover the deep structure of meaning in the biblical texts. Let’s add ‘type’ and ‘anti-type’, shadow and fulfillment, proximity, and inclusio, a Greek device which opens and closes a passage in identical phrasing and imagery. All of these literary features are tools of disclosure, that is, they are revealers of meaning. In short, both evocative word usage and structure are ways poets communicate ideas.
But why should it be so difficult to discover the strange, new realities displayed in scripture? It is very simply because God is speaking from a level of reality that is pure Spirit and elements of that reality are thoroughly obscure without the use of physical analogies that can help people understand the nature or functionality of something by means of the metonym, metaphor, or maquette; that is, whatever literary tool necessary, the Divine Mind can employ to reveal realities that cannot be seen, that have no physical mass. God, in His infinite Grace, speaks to us in our language, and expects that we will search out the way He uses our languages, whether Hebrew or Greek.
With that in mind, we are now in a much better position to decipher the deeply coded imagery and language of John’s revelation, while reducing the element of speculation to as close to nil as possible. After all, do we want to read scripture through our filter, or would we like to hear what God would like us to hear? Shema Israel: Hear, Oh Israel!
On this foundation we can establish the knowledge that the woman is not a woman as we know, but since she is pregnant, we are led to conclude that she is functionally a mother, a spiritual mother. This does not force the additional conclusion that she is a “spiritual woman” or a being such as we know beings, but that she is a “matrix” for some type of birth, yet not an impersonal matrix, but a “living matrix,” much as life itself. As an example, consider Proverbs chapter 8. There a woman speaks, the personification of wisdom, who was present as the beginning of God’s ways, which does not imply that ‘wisdom’ is an actual spiritual being, or a woman as such, and so with this ‘woman.’
That she gives birth to a male child who is caught up to the throne of God and will rule the nations with a rod of iron is a definitive statement about her identity, viz. she must be the spiritual mother of Christ Jesus in some way, shape, or, form. As He is the first-born of many brothers, and that rules out Mary as the being behind the woman.
Astronomical signs are given as part of the “sign”, which serves to pinpoint the location of this spiritual reality and further refine the reader’s knowledge of her identity, and pertinent qualities. Further, it will help to remember that some 200 different symbolic images are defined in Revelation. As part of the self-referential aspect of the book, then, it is crucial to refer to these words and phrases that repeat, are defined, and are part of other signs and symbols; moreover, the entire bible is a holism, thereby requiring inter-textual evaluation with the Law, the prophets, and the psalms.
One parallel passage in Revelation is 10:1 where John writes: “And I saw another angel coming down out of heaven, clothed with a cloud; and the rainbow was upon his head, and his face was like the sun, and his feet pillars of fire.” The same points are covered, namely clothing, head, face, and feet, but with different images than those associated with the woman. She is clothed with the sun, light is her covering; so reminiscent of the sweet words of the psalmist,
“Bless the Lord, O my soul!
O Lord my God, you are very great!
You are clothed with splendor and majesty,
covering yourself with light as with a garment.”
(Psalm 104:1-2, emphasis added)
This figure is a spiritual reality which can only have a luminous covering. It can only be seen by the glory or effulgence of its garment, which can only suggest a divine reality. Her splendor and majesty convey something sublime and lovely, of God. She is the radiance of God’s glory, His Life, His Spirit. In some sense she is the Spirit, or Life that births us, that is our mother.
But the astronomical icons point to a greater reality than any that could be reduced to photonic luminosity like the sun itself. Rather the sun is a part of her sign, as are the stars. This linguistic icon, the ‘star,’ is defined with clarity in Revelation. Jesus defines this symbol near the beginning of His message to John (1:20).
As for the mystery of the seven stars which you saw in My right hand, and the seven golden lampstands: the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.
We also see stars upon the crown of the woman clothed with the sun, twelve stars. Where else may be found twelve stars in Revelation? They appear with the Heavenly city in chapter 21:12. Speaking of the holy city Jerusalem, John writes
It had a great and high wall, with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels; . . . (Rev. 21:12, emphasis added)
If stars are angels, then the stars in the woman’s crown are the angels at the gates, and the picture of her reality comes into sharper focus. She is the divine reality of the Heavenly Zion, city of the Living God. Stars on her crown and moon at her feet, her reality stretches from Heaven down into the cosmos over all earthly realities. She is the feminine matrix of Life in the community of God, the womb for those born out of the abyss, out of the valley of the shadow of death
She is not a goddess however. And she is not part of the dead rocks of the realm of darkness. In a sense she shows dominion over the physical realm. The moon is under her feet. And the stars are upon her head like a crown. The woman clothed with the sun has her head in the stars and her feet on the moon. She stands above the earthly, material reality, and yet bridges it to Heaven. There is a Hebrew word that captures her luminosity: Zion. Tziyon, Hebrew for the spiritual name of a people and a heavenly reality, is the union of two roots: Tzi – brightness, or every kind of luminous effusion, and Yōn – being which passes from power into action, the manifested being. (From The Hebraic Tongue Restored, by Fabre D’Olivet) Thus, the woman Zion is the manifested luminosity of the collective heavenly reality which births her Heavenly children.
As a reflective note in the shadows of the physical world, all mitochondrial DNA comes from the mother; and this DNA governs all energy production in the physical body which is primarily biophotonic energy – bioluminescence of the body. But this is only one dimension of this higher, multi-dimensional spiritual reality.
As a mountain, Zion is a kingdom. As a city – Heb. whir – she is a common center of activity, a supervision, thus, a city, a fort, a rampart. As a heavenly reality, this ‘common center of activity’ is divine communion and community of God. To that end she is the collective spiritual reality of the communion of the holy ones, their unified pluralistic being. Zion, my people! Isaiah recorded this as you can read in the heading quote from chapter 66. Yes, she brought forth her children, and she is her people.
“I have put My words in your mouth and have covered you with the shadow of My hand, to establish the heavens, to found the earth, and to say to Zion, ‘You are My people.'” (Isaiah 51:16, emphasis added)
The one who is victorious I will make a pillar in the temple of My God, and he will never again leave it. Upon him I will write the name of My God, and the name of the city of My God [Zion] (the new Jerusalem that comes down out of heaven from My God), and My new name. (Revelation 3:12)
And isn’t this just the fundamental reality of the city, polis, which in Greek really refers to the people? But just how does this allow this matrix to give rise to the life of a male child who is lifted up to the throne of God? How can Christ Jesus, who was the Logos with the Most High God before the heavens and earth were created, have been born in Zion? Very simple: he was the first-born from the dead, and became so when the spirit of God entered into Him at the Jordan. He was born (Ps. 2:7) as the son of God there.
But as for me, I have installed My King upon Zion,
My holy mountain
I will surely tell of the decree of the Lord [YHWH]:
He said to Me, ‘Thou art My Son,
Today I have begotten Thee.
(Ps. 2:6-7, emphasis added)
As King upon Zion, He is also the head of His mountain, His kingdom, His people who are a Kingdom and priests to God (Rev. 5:10).
And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. (Col. 1:18)
His foundation is in the holy mountains.
The Lord [YHWH] loves the gates of Zion
More than all the dwelling places of Jacob.
Glorious things are spoken of you, O city of God. Selah.
Of Zion it shall be said, “This one and that one were born in her;”
And the Most High [Elyon] Himself will establish her.
The Lord [YHWH] shall count when He writes down the peoples,
“This one was born there.” Selah.
And the singers as well as the pipers,
“All my springs are in you.”
(Ps. 87:1-3, 5-7, emphasis added)
Here, then, is the mystery of the birth from above, the very mystery which Christ Jesus tried to teach to Nicodemus in the night. To enter the kingdom of Heaven you must be born of Spirit (John 3). It would seem that even the sons of Korah at the time of the temple must have had some sense of this mystery of God.
Doesn’t it seem likely that the apostles should have known this mystery of which the Pharisees seemed oblivious? Of course they should have, and they did. Hear Paul’s words. He explicates the mystery of life and death, free and slave, two covenants, together with the mystery of the birth from above, all in one compact message of freedom. Referring to the two sons, Ishmael and Isaac, one born of the bondwoman and one born of promise through the free woman, Paul explains the richness of God’s promise.
This is allegorically speaking: for these [women] are two covenants, one from Mount Sinai in Arabia, and corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. But the Jerusalem above is free; she is our mother. For it is written [Isa 54:1],
“Rejoice, barren woman who does not bear;
Break forth and shout, you who are not in labor;
For more are the children of the desolate
Than of the one who has a husband.”
And you brethren, like Isaac, are children of promise. But as at that time he who was born according to the flesh persecuted him according to the Spirit, so it is now also. But what does the Scripture say?
“Cast out the bondwoman and her son,
For the bondwoman shall not be an heir with the son of the free woman.” [Gen 21:10, 12]
So, then, brethren, we are not children of a bondwoman, but of the free woman. (Gal. 4:24-31, emphasis and double emphasis added)
We, then, are children of the Jerusalem above. She is the ‘New Eve,’ the mother of all spiritual living, just as Eve, Hhevah was the mother of all physical living. Thus, as Eve was flesh, and the multiplier of all flesh, so is Zion Spirit, and the multiplier of the glory of God unto all those born of Spirit. They are nourished by her and the bread of Heaven.
In fact, they are the living stones that compose her, spiritual stones that compose the spiritual community, the city, the assembly. Here they assemble as the Congregation of God, and one can behold the identity of the Holy Mountain upon which stand the holy ones of God with the Lamb (Rev. 14:1), and can see that these spirits made perfect have been born through Her, the mother of spirits, she thus being the assembly of their spirits.
For you have not come to a mountain that may be touched and to a blazing fire, and to darkness and gloom and whirlwind. . . . But you have come to a Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels, to the general assembly and church of the first-born who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the Judge of all, and to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood, which speaks better than [the blood] of Abel. (Heb 12:18,22-24)
And as Eve was mother of all lives physical, and one with them as a unified body of the corporal existence, so is Zion/Jerusalem the mother of all lives spiritual who are the unified collective being of her Life, and who have her name written upon them as mother, just as the Logos spoke to the angel of the congregation of Philadelphia (Rev. 3:12).
And they will call you the city of the Lord [YHWH],
Zion of the Holy One of Israel (Isa 60:14b)
Yes, she has arisen and the very glory of YHWH has shone upon her, and thus the sun will not be needed since the Father’s light will shine through her, the one clothed with the sun. But she will need time to be perfected as Hebrews reminds us in the scripture reference just noted above. For this reason, we see her taken to the wilderness to be nourished (Rev. 12:14) – this is, in reality, the nourishing of those born in her, who now grow into perfection.
But in that time of the end, she will have a new name and she will be adorned as a bride.
For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent,
And for Jerusalem’s sake I will not keep quiet,
Until her righteousness goes forth like brightness,
And her salvation like a torch that is burning.
And the nations will see your righteousness
And all the kings your glory;
And you will be called by a new name
which the mouth of YHWH will designate.
You will also be a crown of beauty in the hand of YHWH
And a royal diadem in the hand of your God.
It will no longer be said to you, ‘Forsaken’ [Azubah],
Nor to your land will it any longer be said, ‘Desolate’ [Shemamah];
But you will be called ‘My delight is in her,’ [Hephzibah]
And your land ‘Married’; [Beulah]
For the Lord [YHWH] delights in you,
And [to Him] your land will be married.
For as a young man marries a virgin,
So your sons will marry you;
And as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride,
So your God will rejoice over you. (Isaiah 62:1-5)
How remarkable! The Sons of God are born of Zion and somehow compose her body as a plural reality! They are wed to the glory of God and become One with it/her.
The Reality of the ‘Last Eve’
The shadow and type examination of this glorious figure who seems to develop in redemptive fashion both in Isaiah and Revelation – and here we take Prof. Levi’s suggestion to read the latter in light of the technique of the former [see NY times citation below] yields a most provocative realization that the collective consciousness of Zion, the mother and the bride, is born and nurtured into perfection (cf. Heb. 12:26).
But Zion [bearing in mind the luminous meaning of her name] must now be the spiritual right-handed image of the physical left-handed image of Eve. For if Zion is truly the mother of all those ‘born of Spirit’ as Eve was the “mother of all living” then readers should be able to find precise correspondence which makes the case conclusive.
This is made easier by Paul who elegantly summarized it in First Corinthians.
So also it is written, “The first Man, Adam, became a living soul,” the last Adam a life-giving spirit. (1 Cor 15:45)
This statement begs the question: Who is the last Eve, if Christ is the last Adam? Some have imputed this role to Christ Himself, although one would be hard-pressed to say that one can marry oneself. Marriage is about two becoming one.
In Revelation Christ is indisputably the Lamb of God, and in fact that epithet is the most commonly used for Him, appearing a remarkable 28 times. Among these 28 are three which are instrumental in identifying the ’New Eve,’ and those are the references to the Lamb’s wife and the marriage supper. The Lamb’s wife is clearly revealed as the Heavenly city coming down adorned like a bride. Yes, the ‘Last Eve’ must be the Heavenly City, and to repeat for purposes of edification, just as Eve was ‘the mother of all living’ – physically, that is – so the ‘Last Eve’ would be ‘the mother’ of all living spirits, the Lamb’s bride, the Heavenly Jerusalem. And doesn’t Hebrews 12:23 make that clear in the reference to “the first-born who are enrolled in heaven,” “the spirits of righteous men made perfect.” This clearly echoes the words of Psalm 87:6 cited above, and reminds us that the Lord [YHWH] registers His first-born, and counts them just as the 144,000 are counted. These are the ones born in her.
To see the type and anti-type motif displayed in Adam and Eve, let’s go back to Genesis 2 where Eve and Adam are one, before Eve is brought out from within Adam as a ‘rib’ which is really a very materialistic and reductionistic rendering for tzalha, a word in Hebrew that actually signifies an envelope, an exterior covering a protecting shelter; in short, an enclosing. So brought out from within Man, something that existed in him as an involution, became bashar, which is more than the commonly signified ‘flesh’ but actually form, configuration, exterior appearance, corporeal beauty and animal substance. She is more than “bone of my bone, and flesh of my flesh”, therefore, to Adam. She would be to him, “universal substance of my substance, and corporeal shape of my shape.”
And how does this reflect the shadow of Christ’s reality with His bride? It does so in a striking way, to be sure. His faithful ones, mentioned in Psalm 50:5 above are created in Him, the Logos, from the foundation of the world. (Eph. 1:3-6) They are foreknown by God, pre-destined for good works in the administration of the Mystery of God (cf. Col. 1) and are therefore the spiritual reality to which Eve as physical type points. The “bride of the Lamb” was in Him even as the wife of Adam was once in Him. This is the proper and intended shadow and type symbolism woven into the Holy Scriptures about Zion.
As the very substance of His substance, those foreknown in Him are eventually taken out of Him with the substance of His nature, and in His image and likeness. They are His beloved ones, who later in Revelation can be seen following Him wherever He goes (Rev. 14:4). They stand with Him on Mount Zion, and are even referred to in the very unusual Hebrew designation Moshi’im, ‘Saviors’ in the plural (Obadiah 21), where they are seen to ascend in order to judge the mountainous region of Esau (quoted at the end).
With the “woman clothed with the sun,” as we saw above, there is a glory which emanates from her, and it can be inferred that she bears the glory of her maker. Again we can gather great insight from Paul who was instrumental in delineating the analogy that brings man and woman into the same relationship as Christ and His Church, and also as the Father and Christ.
For a man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God, but woman is the glory of man. For man was not made from woman, but woman from man. Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. That is why a wife ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels. Nevertheless, neither is woman without man nor man without woman in the Lord; for as woman is out of the man, so also the man is through woman. And all things are from God. (1 Cor. 11:7-12, emphasis added)
As Woman is the glory of Man, this woman is the glory of God – the effulgence of God, the emanation of God’s light. The Elect were in Christ Jesus before the foundation of the world as Eve was in Adam in the Garden of Eden. And what is the symbol of authority on the head of the Woman of Zion in Revelation 12? Is it not the 12 stars as her crown? She is covered by the glory of her husband, the Lamb. And as she was once hidden within Him as the Elect, she has now been brought ought and glorified as His bride.
To summarize the preponderance of evidence in Scripture, if the ‘living stones’ that come to Him, who is the chief cornerstone, are the precious stones of the Heavenly Jerusalem, and its composition, then those Elect, precious and chosen, are the body of the Heavenly City, and therefore the bride. To thus say that the Elect are not part of the body of Christ is a strange speculation and fabrication, and really a direct repudiation of the apostle Paul himself, vis a vis
For even as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is the Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and were all made to drink of one Spirit. (1 Cor 12:12-13, double emphasis added)
Or are we to suppose that the apostle Paul is not of the Elect? It seems unlikely that so major an apostle would not have been known in Christ from the foundation of the world. Such a conclusion would force biblical students to have to twist Paul’s words to the Ephesians quoted above. It requires much less violence to scripture to simply maintain that the Elect are like the bride coming down out of heaven, and multitudes are invited to the wedding. The invited guests have been given their invitation from all the highways and byways of the world, and all that is asked is that they receive the invitation with grace and to be properly dressed – or to have their lamps filled with oil as Christ Jesus portrayed in the parable of the wise and foolish bridesmaids (Matthew 25).
The Counterfeit Kingdom
If you haven’t grasped it fully from the Logos speaking through the prophets, let Revelation open it up fully and finally to you – the Adversary is all about a counterfeit presentation of reality. Now a counterfeit is a fraudulent presentation of something which purports to be a reality it is not. Eve had the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil presented to her in a fraudulent way by the serpent and she concluded it appeared to be good for food, even though it was poison leading to death.
Once again, for the sake of careful evaluation, just consider the meaning of ‘counterfeit’: made in exact imitation of something valuable or important with the intention to deceive or defraud.
In Revelation there is the appearance of the Lamb, Christ Jesus, who comes back as the King of kings conquering all His enemies. The counterfeit of the Christ is aptly called the anti-Christ, who appears to mislead the entire world. He has two henchmen, the Beast and the False Prophet, who witness to this anti-Christ, just as the two witnesses of chapter eleven are Christ’s own servants.
One can go on at length and include marks and names and more, but for the sake of the present study we will focus on the Woman of Zion, the Heavenly City, and her counterfeit, The Harlot Babylon, the city ruling over all the nations of the world. We will cover this topic more in depth with a writing on the two cities, but it is sufficient here to understand what the word ‘city’ means within the biblical context, detailed in its letters as a basic Hebrew root, whir. As described earlier in this writing, this word designates a community of interest, a common center of activity, a fortress, a stronghold, a city. In a certain way, a city is its people. So the Heavenly City Jerusalem is the glorious living stones which comprise it. And above all, it is a unity, the unity which God pines for as the psalmist divines in psalm 133 as well as in the following psalm.
Jerusalem is built as a city that is joined to itself in unity;
To which the tribes go ascend, the tribes of Yah – (Ps 122:3-4)
How else does the harlot Babylon fraudulently portray her kingdom? She seduces with all of the worldly delights, things of physical beauty and value, but which are spiritually void. As the Lord marks His own with a spiritual seal of His Name and that of His Father upon the heads of His sons, so her children are marked with the seal of the beast. Of great tragic import, she is drunk with the blood of the righteous as well. This last distinguishing feature is a ghastly contrast with the bride of the Lamb who has been purchased by His own precious blood. The harlot instead drinks the blood of her victims, sucking out their spirit and life from them. It is eerily ironic that today’s major global scandal has everything to do with satanic ritual sacrifice of children and the eating of flesh and drinking of blood. The so-called “pedogate” scandal is an indictment against the global “synagogue of Satan,” those who prey upon the lives of the oppressed.
And so it is that the counterfeit ‘host of heaven’ with the counterfeit Christ and counterfeit bride and mother will pull out all stops to mislead as much of humanity as is possible. In the middle of their plan, they will be cast down to earth and judged in the dust, with fire and fury that shall burn to destruction. As the righteous are comforted in Jerusalem, and have their life renewed in the spirit, so He shall reward His enemies with what they deserve as well.
And the hand of YHWH shall be made known to His servants,
But He shall be indignant toward His enemies.
For behold, YHWH will come in fire,
And His chariots like the whirlwind,
To render His anger with fury,
And His rebuke with flames of fire.
For YHWH will execute judgment by fire
And by His sword on all flesh,
And those slain by YHWH will be many.
“Those who sanctify and purify themselves for the gardens,
Following one in the center
Who eat swine’s flesh, detestable things and mice,
Shall come to an end altogether,” declares YHWH. (Isa. 66:14-17)
Thus the witness of Isaiah is with John in showing the counterfeit kingdom and counterfeit Messiah all come to an end together, with all of those who chose not to believe and follow the Lord being brought to judgment.
To repeat for the sake of edification – building up the body of Christ – the whore of Babylon is not an enantiomer, or mirror-image of the woman clothed with the sun. Mystery Babylon is a counterfeit, an illusion, a collection of spirits who oppose the throne of God and are consigned to destruction. That the two seeds are planted together was made clear by Jeremiah, who wrote
“Behold, days are coming,” says YHWH, “when I will sow the house of Israel and the house of Judah with the seed of Man and the seed of beast. And it will come about that as I have watched over them to pluck up, to break down, to overthrow, to destroy, and to bring disaster, so I will watch over them to build and to plant,” says YHWH. . . . and everyone will die for his own iniquity, each man who eats the sour grapes, his teeth will be set on edge. (Jer. 31:27-30, emphasis added)
Clearly, we are dealing with two different underlying realities, and not different presentations of the same reality. Those who are the children of Babylon will come to their end even as the seed of the Woman of Zion will be glorified with the glory of God, and shine resplendent in the image and likeness of their creator. This will be detailed in the final section of this writing, which explains the changing image and nature of this collective reality exhibited by the Heavenly Woman/City.
The Spiritual Growth and Redemption of Zion
In the NY Times Book Review of Robert Alter’s The Art of Biblical Poetry (Oct. 20, 1985), Peter Levi, professor of Hebrew Poetry at Oxford University writes:
“I wish Mr. Alter had taken the Revelation of John as part of his subject; the separation of the New Testament from the Old is even more frustrating than that of Greek from Hebrew, particularly in such a case. Even in the Bible, there is probably nothing more intense; it should be studied in the light of what Mr. Alter has to say about the technique of Isaiah.”
And I would add that it [Revelation] should be studied in the light of the full array of Isaiah’s techniques. To read Revelation in the light of Isaiah’s prophetic poetry, is to shine light on both the poetic dimension of John the Elder, as well as the incomparable synthetic content of his scroll. Isaiah employed a remarkable set of poetic devices.
This paper has endeavored to accomplish this task as a sort of introductory overview of one great sign in Heaven, the woman clothed with the sun; and yet a vaster treasure lies still in Isaiah’s presentation of the spiritual development of Zion, the luminous righteous ones of God’s holy people, for in His masterful poetry, he presents a people that is redeemed for glory and who arrives at the end to at last shine forth the glory of God. She is now the woman who has come to the fullness of her expression of God’’s glory, as the Elect demonstrate in Revelation 17 and in Zechariah 12, where they have become as Elohim [God].
Arise [woman], shine; for your light has come,
And the glory <kavod> of YHWH has risen upon you.
For behold, darkness will cover the earth,
And deep darkness the peoples;
But YHWH will rise upon you,
And His glory will appear upon you.
And nations will come to your light,
And kings to the brightness of your rising.
Lift up your eyes round about, and see;
They all gather together, they come to you.
Your sons will come from afar,
And your daughters will be nursed upon the side.
The glory of Lebanon will come to you,
The juniper, the box tree, and the cypress together,
To beautify the place of My sanctuary;
And I shall make the place of My feet glorious.
And the sons of those who afflicted you will come bowing to you,
And all those who despised you will bow themselves at the
Soles of your feet;
And they will call you the city of YHWH,
The Zion of the Holy One of Israel. (Isa. 60:1-4,13-14)
Here then is the fulfillment of a grand sweep of sacred history with Zion receiving promises from the Lord that she will be built and that she will put on all of her offspring as jewels, binding them on as a bride (Isa. 49:16-18), with her enemies licking the dust at her feet (49:23).
In chapter 52, YHWH exhorts her to awaken and clothe herself in strength. Here redemption is promised and without money (v. 3). Her captivity in Egypt and Assyria – symbolically Sin and Death – is recounted. Remarkably: “They will see eye to eye when YHWH restores Zion.” (v.8) It will be face to face reunion and restoration. Christians should recognize that she is repurchased by the blood of her Redeemer.
The next phase of spiritual development is witnessed in chapter 54 where the wife forsaken is re-gathered in the compassion of her Redeemer, forsaken “for a brief moment,” YHWH turns His everlasting loving kindness upon her. With a promised covenant that shall not be shaken, the Lord promises to set her stones in antimony and lay her foundations in sapphires (cf. Rev. 21). The promise to her seed is replete:
And all your sons will be taught of the Lord
And the Shalom [well-being] of your sons will be great.
In righteousness you will be established;
You will be far from oppression, for you will not fear;
And from terror, for it will not come near you. (Isa. 54:13-14)
This is the consummate fulfillment of the New Covenant, with each one knowing the Lord (cf. Jer. 31).
And we have come back full circle to Isaiah 66 with a nation born in one day. A people born in one day are seen in the completion of the Mystery of God with the first fruits waved before the Father on the throne of glory, at day 1260 presented in Revelation 11.
This “evolutionary’ perspective on Zion is perfectly matched with the seed of the woman who are born, sealed by Christ with the Name of the Father and His Name, do battle with the dragon and with the ten kings who give their power to the beast. In the end, they become like Elohim, and are beautified as the Lamb’s bride, radiating the glory of God – they are fractals of Christ, endowed with the glory of God, His perfect help-meet.
After all of the spiritual realities of the Sabbaths and Feast Days are fulfilled, then comes this glorious wedding of the Lamb. As the days of her betrothal and preparation draw her closer to the wedding feast, the vision which John received discloses a changing appearance and description of clothing.
As the first Eve went from being unclothed to being clothed with skin, so the Last Eve goes from being clothed with skin and the light of the sun, or material bioluminescence, to being clothed with righteous acts of Her holy seed, to finally being clothed with the glory of God — doxa qeou. Notice how Revelation describes her:
For our Lord God, the Almighty, reigns.
Let us rejoice and celebrate
and give Him the glory.
For the marriage of the Lamb has come,
and His bride has made herself ready.
She was given clothing of fine linen,
linen bright and pure.”
For the fine linen she wears is the righteous acts of the saints. (Rev. 19:6-8)
Then one of the seven angels with the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and said to me, “Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.” And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the holy city of Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, shining with the glory of God. Its radiance was like a most precious jewel, like a jasper stone, clear as crystal. The city had a great and high wall with twelve gates inscribed with the names of the twelve tribes of Israel, and twelve angels at the gates. There were three gates on the east, three on the north, three on the south, and three on the west. The wall of the city had twelve foundations bearing the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. (Rev. 21:9-14)
These two contrasting and complementary images of the bride of the Lamb show just what a complex figure she is, a true Mystery of God, even as the harlot is Mystery Babylon. But this woman who is a city, who is the Bride, who is the holy ones purchased by the blood of the Lamb, who radiates the glory of God which has risen upon her (Isa. 60:1) is in the final analysis, the collective unitary reality of the holy ones, and they express that profound fulfillment of the word Moses first applied in Genesis 4, ‘city.’
There, Moses spoke of city as defined above, in terms of an earthly counterfeit, one built by Cain, and later a great city built by Nimrod. These fallen realities are fraudulent deceptions purporting to exhibit a certain unity and community. The ultimate truth of such a reality is here finally seen in the end of Revelation for what it is: a community of holy ones – the fulfillment of the vision in Ephesians 4:6, one “God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.”
Perhaps the words of Hebrews bear writing once more as they become more transparent in light of this greater luminous and transparent reality revealed by John.
But you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem and to myriads of angels; to the assembly and congregation of the firstborn, those enrolled in the heavens; and to God the judge of all; to spirits of the righteous having been perfected, and to Jesus mediator of a new covenant, and to blood of sprinkling that speaks better than that of Abel. (Heb. 12:22-24, emphasis added)
Those who trust in YHWH are as Mount Zion,
which cannot be moved, but abides forever.
As the mountains surround Jerusalem,
so YHWH surrounds his people, from this time forth and forevermore.
Indeed, they are as Mt. Zion, and stand on that kingdom reality. The faithful cannot be moved, but look to the city whose maker is God, standing on His promises knowing that they are being made partakers of the divine nature (2 Pet. 1:4) to finally embody God’s glory, fully made in the Image and Likeness of the Son of God. Christ and the Father shall this be done, and shall appear in spiritual reality in the kingdom, Zion. They are a kingdom which cannot be shaken.
And saviors <moshi’im> shall ascend Mount Zion to judge the mountain of Esau, and the kingdom shall be YHWH’s. (Obad. 21)
Obadiah 21 and Revelation 14:1 stand as the two witnesses that establish the victory of YHWH with the myriads of His holy ones (cf. Jude 14).
Then I looked, and behold, on Mount Zion stood the Lamb, and with him 144,000 who had his name and his Father’s name written on their foreheads. (Rev. 14:1)
And each one was born in her (Psalm 87), and bears the reality of the Name of God, while the counterfeit is imprinted with the name of her mystery: BABYLON.
We are brought full circle here to the initial address to those of the church of Philadelphia, where Christ Jesus promises to those who overcome, that He will write the name of His God, and the name of the city of His God, the new Jerusalem, and His new name upon them. This engraving means that the glory, the reality of that which the name discloses will be upon those who bear it. In that day God will be One and His Name One (Zech. 14:9).
This is the fulfillment of the mystery of the woman clothed with the sun – the luminosity of the electromagnetic domain – who is finally delivered by God and transfigured in glory to embody Spirit and to shine the luminous radiance of God.
Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God has shone forth (Ps. 50:1). As Christ Jesus Himself radiated this beauty of God, so may it come to be in all Zion. Amen.