Who is the woman or what does she represent? The description of the woman is that of a glorious person with great authority. She shines like the sun because indwelt by God, and her authority is more than earthly because the moon is her footstool. The crowns she is wearing are not so much crowns of royalty as crowns of victory. At the same time, she is in the process of giving birth.
The dragon, that is the devil, wants to destroy the child at birth. He is prevented from doing so because the child is taken to heaven. Obviously, this is not literal because Jesus did not go to heaven when he was born. One author says that John was guided to think theologically rather than chronologically and therefore he merged events that were separate in time. Instead John, in this vision, is being told that God will take care of the child and ensure that his position as king is secure.
Once the child is safe, the woman flees into a wilderness and she will be there for 1,260 days (the same length of time that the two witnesses mentioned in the previous chapter served, and which we said described the period between the two comings of Jesus). There God provides for her. Later, in the chapter the woman’s flight is miraculous – she can fly like an eagle (we should remember that Exodus 19:4 and Deuteronomy 32:11 say that God carried Israel upon eagles’ wings through the desert). The reason that she had to flee is because the dragon will try and destroy her. Nevertheless, she is miraculously preserved (the earth swallows up the river that the dragon sends after her to drown her).
The woman who had given birth to the child has other children and they are described as those who ‘who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus’. Who is the woman? She possesses an amazing royal status. She exists before the birth of Jesus and continues to live on earth after his exaltation. Despite Satanic opposition and having to live in a hostile environment, she is maintained by God, sometimes miraculously so. Nevertheless, during the period of trouble, her family increases in number.
Who or what is depicted by the woman? The woman illustrates the church. Depicted are the following: (a) its role as the people God has chosen to glorify; (b) it was through the church the Saviour came; (c) after his exaltation, the church suffers persecution, but it is miraculously preserved and provided with spiritual nourishment from heaven; (d) during the period of persecution, the church grows in number; and (e) the unity of the people of God from Old and New Testaments. We are being reminded here not to judge things by sight as far as the church is concerned.