Light and Dark Images of Apocalypse
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“angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God” (7:2).
He ranks the twelve tribes and
«sets the seal of our God upon the foreheads of his servants» (7:3).
Scarcely can one doubt that the selfsame Archangel Michael is patron also of the new Israel…
In John's Revelation there is a direct mention of a name of Michael:
“And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, and prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven” (12:7-8).
Of exceptional significance here is not only the said event but its entire frame of reference.
Let us now note what came directly before that.
St. John observes a «great portent»:
“Women clothed with the sun… and she was with child; and she cried out, being in labor and in pain to give birth” (12:1-2).
«Dragon… stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that when her child was born he might devour it» (12:4).
This is the dragon that is cast down by Michael, following which the attempt to «devour the child» fails.
«She gave birth to a male child, who is destined to rule all nations with an iron rod. But her child was snatched up to God and his throne» (12:5).
The link between the birth of the child and the throwing down of the dragon is so intimate that one is fain to conclude that the child and Michael are one and the same.
But if an angel is born of a woman, that signifies he became human being!
That is indeed a great event in the world of angels!
Henceforth and forever their Head has acquired an own human body, and while retaining the qualities of an angel supplements them with the properties of human nature. Archangel Michael and his angels will approach the new level of their existence. Through him other angels true to God are in some manner endowed with the ability to initiate themselves into the mystery of human life in a body, and, above all, into the mystery of Jesus Christ the man: “things the angels desire to look into” (1 Peter. 1:12). Insofar as Jesus is God who has become man, the angels have via the human body a qualitatively new way for communication with God. We shall yet speak of the role that Michael acts in the Revelation, where he stands forth under another names. But now it is necessary to answer other question: who is the woman who gives birth to him?
Woman robed with sun
This image astounds all who seek to interpret it by virtue of its uncommon cosmic order. The Holy Bible affords a host of stern condemnations of all who worship Sun, Moon or stars, yet here all these attributes are unexpectedly positive. «Next appeared a great portent in heaven, a woman robed with the sun, beneath her feet the moon, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.She pregnant, and in the anguish of her labor she cried out to be delivered» 12:1-2.
The air and the earth help her to escape the dragon's clutches:
«But the woman was given two great eagle's wings to fly to the place in the wilds…out of reach of the serpent. From his mouth the serpent spewed a flood of water after the woman to sweep her away with its spate. But the earth came to her rescue and opened its mouth and swallowed the river which the dragon spewed from its mouth» 12:14-16.
If we are to take this vision as a prophecy referring to a real woman active in the apocalyptic epoch, then who could she be?
Woman of the Apocalypse. Mexican painter Cristobal de Villalpando, 1686
Could she be the very soul of nature that had become human being?
May we explain what it means.
Practically all global religious cognition invests the material nature with spiritual features and in this respect the Holy Bible is no exception.
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