What You May Not Have Known About Being a Christian
The great sign in heaven points to the fulfillment of the promise made to Abraham regarding a great Kingdom. We know there will be great signs leading up to its complete fulfillment. But the prophecy points specifically to a male deliverer who will be taken up to heaven just before the Kingdom comes and his ascension will be the indicator of when the great tribulation begins. It will be a great disappointment for many to learn that all flesh must remain on earth to endure the great tribulation after he ascends.
“The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that he might devour her child the moment it 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… The woman fled into the desert to a place prepared for her by God, where she might be taken care of for 1,260 days (Revelation 12:4-6).
It is tempting for those with a primary “New Testament” orientation to associate this passage with Joseph and Mary’s flight from Bethlehem at King Herod’s attempt to kill the Christ child. The problem with this interpretation is that Mary did not flee into the wilderness for 1260 days. She and Joseph dwelled in Egypt for a period of a few short months and returned to Judea shortly after King Herod's death. Secondly the deliverer asserts his authority over the nations prior to his ascension to the heavenly throne. In the light of Christ’s ministry on earth, he did not assume his authority over the nations in this manner (although he will rule with a rod of iron at his return to this earth).
So what can we learn about this man before he comes? Surprisingly, there is quite a bit of scripture that can allow us to draw a composite sketch of the Man-Child. The first clue is that the Man-Child is taken up to heaven just prior to the tribulation. Note the following passage written in the Book of Malachi, "See, I will send you the prophet Elijah before that great and dreadful day of the LORD comes" (Malachi 4:5).
There are many similarities between these two prophetic individuals:
Both entities appear just before a time of tribulation
Both entities are taken up into heaven
The Nations are affected when both entities assert their authority
But didn’t Yeshua say that John the Baptist fulfilled Malachi’s prophecy? Well both yes and no. The Messiah actually gave two specific answers to his disciples when the question was asked, "Why then do the teachers of the law say that Elijah must come first?" (Matthew 17:10). One or his answers was “Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him…(Then the disciples understood that he was talking to them about John the Baptist) (Matthew 17:10-13).
But in the same passage his answer was " And Jesus answered and said unto them, Elijah truly shall first come, and restore all things” (Matthew 17:11). It is important to understand that Yeshua is speaking in future tense in this verse and helps the readers understand what the future Elijah is coming to do. In our modern translations, he said “And (Elijah) shall restore all things”. What things? This verse could not have referred to John the Baptist because his reforms were eventually rejected by Jewish masses. In fact, at the time Yeshua spoke these words, John the Baptist had already been beheaded and original Elijah had manifested himself on the mount of transfiguration. And yet Yeshua still says “Elijah will come”.
Going back to Malachi’s prophecy we can see Yeshua was referring to the coming of Elijah just before the “Day of the LORD”. And this Elijah is connected to the restoration of the Law of Moses. Consider the following passage "Remember the law (Torah) of my servant Moses, the decrees and laws I gave him at Horeb for all Israel. "See, I will send you the prophet Elijah before that great and dreadful day of the LORD comes” (Malachi 4:4-5). And if we connect this passage to that of Revelation 12, we have to understand that the prophetic Man-Child appears upon the great world stage and enlightens all nations with the knowledge of the Law of Moses.
The scenario seems also to parallel that of Moses who we must also consider a “Man-Child”. He was called to deliver Israel from the oppression of Egypt and ruled the land with a rod of iron. The effect of the demonstration of his authority influenced all ethnicities that composed the Egyptian nation. And the community of Israel (made up of Gentiles and Israelites alike) fled into the wilderness and was cared for by the YHWH. It was there in the wilderness that the Kingdom of God was first established.
At the close of the 40-year wilderness journey it was revealed to Moses that “YHWH Elohim will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own brothers. You must listen to him” (Deuteronomy 18:15). It appears that the fulfillment of this prophecy takes place with the Man-Child of Revelation 12.
This prophetic figure will likely not be a descendant of a Jew, but someone descended from Levi as was Moses, Elijah and John the Baptist. Malachi’s prophecy about Elijah is not only mentioned in Chapter 4, but also in chapter 3 where it says “"See, I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then … the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come," says the LORD Almighty. But who can endure the day of his (Elijah’s) coming? Who can stand when he appears? For he will be like a refiner's fire or a launderer's soap. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. Then the LORD will have men who will bring offerings in righteousness” (Malachi 3:1-3).
It is the Man-Child’s mission is to fulfill the objectives of the Abrahamic covenant and establish the Kingdom of Israel into the whole earth. Israel will indeed bless all nations as it was proclaimed to Abraham in the first gospel message "I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you" (Genesis 12:2-3).