The following is a continuation from this post:
What does Mary being the Ark of the New Covenant has to do with the woman from Revelation 12?
If we read the narrative from the previous verse, Revelation 11:19, it makes more sense in connection with the following verses/revelation (Chapter 12:1 ff). We must take into consideration that St. John did not write this book with chapter numbers or verse numbers. It was all one writing without these type of divisions. The Bible began to be divided into chapters and then into verses many centuries later! So, reading from the previous verse, the narrative makes a connection.
From Revelation 11:19 and continuing with chapter 12: 1 it reads as follows:
“Then God’s temple in heaven was opened, and within his temple was seen the ark of his covenant. And there came flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, an earthquake and a severe hailstorm. A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head ” (NIV).
Notice that it says that the Temple of God was opened in Heaven and that the Ark of the Covenant was seen there. But St. John cannot be talking about the earthly Ark because it was hidden by the prophet Jeremiah (2 Maccabees 2: 1-8) here on earth, so this revelation is not the earthy Ark but a vision of the Heavenly Ark (similarly as when this book speaks of the “New Jerusalem of Heaven” (Rev 21:2) (21:10) (21:23), not of the earthly Jerusalem), and then immediately after the occurrence of “lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, an earthquake and a severe hailstorm” the sign of a “Woman clothed with the sun” appears, a sign which has a similar significance as the Ark of the Covenant “clothed in gold“, in other words, shining.
The woman appears with the moon under her feet which signifies that she is indeed in Heaven, and a crown of twelve stars meaning that this woman is a Queen, a Queen for the people of God for the twelve stars represent the twelve tribes of Israel, also the twelve Apostles who represent Jesus’ Church. Bus since she is in Heaven, she is also the real Queen of Heaven.
“She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth” (12:2).
The woman is in Heaven, so this pain cannot be literal but symbolic for there is no pain in Heaven (Rev 21:4). Also, the Virgin Mary already gave birth to Jesus so, this “pregnancy” and “giving birth” of the “sign” that appeared to St. John are also symbolic or representative.
“Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on its heads.” (12:3).
This “other sign“, the “red dragon” is also symbolic or representative, not a literal dragon in Heaven. Who is the red dragon? We find out after a few verses.
“Its tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth…” (12:4).
Those stars are the angels who fell from grace and became devils, they have come to earth. Jesus said: “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven” (Luke 10:18).
“… The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that it might devour her child the moment he was born. She gave birth to a son, a male child, who “will rule all the nations with an iron scepter.” And her child was snatched up to God and to his throne.” (12:4-5).
The “Son” was “snatched up to God and to His Throne”, meaning that the dragon’s sting of sin could not touch Him. Without a doubt, this “Son” is our Lord Jesus Christ; therefore, the woman, His mother, is the Blessed Virgin Mary.
“The woman fled into the wilderness to a place prepared for her by God, where she might be taken care of for 1,260 days.” (12:6).
The “wilderness” means a separate or set-apart place. Now, what is that “place prepared for her by God”?. Recall that, before His Passion, Jesus said to His Apostles that He was going to prepare a place for them “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” (John 14:3). So Jesus Himself was going to take them to Heaven and place them where is going to be. Now, I would ask, if He is going to do that with His Apostles and friends, how much more to His Mother? If you were to have the ability to place your friends in Heaven, wouldn’t you put you mother in a special place near you? Well, Jesus is a good Son, also a King, so He places His mother at His right hand side, just as the mothers of kings in the Davidic Kingdom used to be placed.
In Matthew 20:20-23 we read that the mother of the Apostles James and John (the mother of the sons of Zebedee) approached Jesus, and like many good mothers who want the best for her children, asked Jesus if two of her Apostle sons could be seated one at His right hand, and the other at His left in His Kingdom. Then Jesus answered among other things “….. but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared by my Father.” (Matthew 20:23). Ever wondered why Jesus said so?
Jesus said that His Kingdom is not of this world (John 18:36), so He has a Kingdom and we see that, particularly in the kingdom of Israel, the mother of the king was the queen and she used to sit at the king’s right hand.
“When Bathsheba went to King Solomon to speak to him for Adonijah, the king stood up to meet her, bowed down to her and sat down on his throne. He had a throne brought for the king’s mother, and she sat down at his right hand.” (1 King 2:19).
Bathsheba was Solomon’s mother (wife of the by then deceased king David) and she sat down upon her son’s throne at his right hand side, throne that was already “stationed” for her to be. Therefore, since Mary is the mother of Jesus who is the King of kings (Revelation 19:16), she is the Queen, and since she is the Queen in the Heavenly Kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ, she must have her seat stationed on the throne next to her Son Jesus, at His right hand side. Furthermore, the mother of the king was very important in the Davidic kingdom for she is regularly mentioned by name at the beginning of each king’s reign (1 Kings 2:19) (14:21) (14:31) (15:2) (15:10) (22:42) (2 Kings 8:26) and so on.
In Psalm 45, we see that it is written initially for the King (45:1) and Jesus taught that the Psalms also prophesied about Him (Luke 24:44). When we read Psalm 45 we notice that it is truly about our Lord Jesus Christ for it calls this King “God” and mentions His Kingdom “lasting forever” (45:6). Now, when it goes to verse 9 the psalmist turns the attention to the queen. The NIV says: “…at your right hand is the royal bride” But as we have seen above, it was the mother, not the wife of the king who sits at the right hand of the king in the kingdom of Israel. The KJB states as follows:
“Kings’ daughters were among thy honourable women: upon thy right hand did stand the queen in gold of Ophir”
The Hebrew Bible reads:
“Kings’daughters [were] among thy honourable women: upon thy right hand did stand the queen in gold of Ophir.”
It does not mention whether is the wife or the mother of the king. In any case, since our Lord Jesus Christ was not married, it must be His mother who sits at His right hand. Also, in a sense Mary is the Bride of God. Furthermore, notice that the “queen” is [dressed] in “gold of Ophir” just as the Ark of the Covenant was covered in fine gold and the woman from Revelation 12 “clothed with the sun”. The psalmist changes the attention to the queen and goes on to say:
“Listen, daughter, and pay careful attention: Forget your people and your father’s house. Let the king be enthralled by your beauty; honor him, for he is your lord.” (Psalm 45:10-11).
The virgin Mary is not god, she also needs to worship and honor her Lord. But now comes something interesting:
“The city of Tyre will come with a gift, people of wealth will seek your favor.” (45:12).
This prophecy goes beyond mere temporary benefits, but this “gift” given to her are people of spiritual wealth of those who will seek her favor. This is what we as Catholics say on the second part of the Hail Mary prayer, seeking her favor: “Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen”. So we see that the “Hail Mary” prayer has its very Biblical foundations. Then the Psalm continues:
“Your sons will take the place of your fathers; you will make them princes throughout the land. I will perpetuate your memory through all generations; therefore the nations will praise you for ever and ever.” (Psalm 45:16-17).
The psalmist starts with the King and ends up his poem with the Queen. This Psalm is referring to the Queen of Heaven, the Blessed Virgin Mary for this parallels her words:
“for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed” (Luke 1:48).
St. Luke, the Gospel writer, among with the early Christians, must have been aware of the fulfillment of these prophecies because, even though St. Luke did not personally meet our Lord, he “carefully investigated everything from the beginning the things that have been fulfilled” before writing his Gospel (Luke 1:1-4).
Let’s go back to Revelation 12:
“Then war broke out in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven.” (Revelation 12:7-8).
There is no chronological time in the eternity of Heaven, this battle between Michael against this [red] dragon and his angels took place before the angelic enemies of God fell from grace and now the identity of “who this dragon is” is going to be revealed:
“The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.” (12:9).
The dragon is the “ancient serpent”, who is that ancient serpent? Reminds you of some event? – This takes us back to the book of Genesis when God prophesied:
“I will put enmity between you [the serpent] and the woman, between your lineage and yours. He will crush your head and you will stalk your heel.” (Gen 3:15).
Yes, this is the same fallen angel, Satan, who tempted Eve and made humanity fell from sanctifying grace. This took place after he and his angels fell from Heaven to earth from that great battle mentioned in Revelation 12.
“When the dragon saw that he had been hurled to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child. The woman was given the two wings of a great eagle, so that she might fly to the place prepared for her in the wilderness, where she would be taken care of for a time, times and half a time, out of the serpent’s reach.” (Revelation 12:13-14).
Satan went to pursue Mary who gave birth to Jesus but she was given “two wings of a great eagle”, this signifies that Mary was also saved by God, but before Satan could touch her and also represents her Assumption, for “she was given” the wings, she did not ascend by her own power.
“Then from his mouth the serpent spewed water like a river, to overtake the woman and sweep her away with the torrent. But the earth helped the woman by opening its mouth and swallowing the river that the dragon had spewed out of his mouth.” (12:15-16).
Again, Mary was saved by God before the iniquities and blasphemies of Satan could touch her. This also signifies why we believe Mary was immaculately conceived and remains sinless.
“Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to wage war against the rest of her offspring—those who keep God’s commands and hold fast their testimony about Jesus.” (12:17).
Satan is enraged at Mary whom he could not defeat so he went off to wage war against her other children. The rest of Mary’s offspring are “those who keep God’s commands and hold fast their testimonies about Jesus”. Her offspring is the Church for the Church is the mystical Body of Christ (1 Cor 12:27) and since Jesus has a mother, Mary, she is also our Mother.
These are some of the reasons why we believe that Mary is not like any woman, but a highly respected and honored woman for being the mother of the King, the Queen, our Mother.