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REVELATION OF ST. JOHN THE DIVINE - Chapter 12 - Verse 16

Verse 16. And the earth helped the woman. The earth seemed to sympathize with the woman in her persecutions, and to interpose to save her. The meaning is, that a state of things would exist in regard to the church thus driven into obscurity, which would be well represented by what is here said to occur. It was cut off from human aid. It was still in danger; still persecuted. In this state, it was nourished from some unseen source. It was enabled to avoid the direct attacks of the enemy, and when he attacked it in a new form, a new mode of intervention in its behalf was granted, as if the earth should open and swallow up a flood of water. We are not, therefore, to look for any literal fulfilment of this, as if the earth interposed in some marvellous way to aid the church. The sense is, that, in that state of obscurity and solitude, the Divine interposition was manifested, in an unexpected manner, as if when an impetuous stream was rolling along that threatened to sweep everything away, a chasm should suddenly open in the earth and absorb it. During the dark ages, many such interventions occurred, saving the church from utter destruction. Over-flowing waters are often in the Scriptures an emblem of mighty enemies. Ps 124:2-5, "If it had not been the Lord who was on our side, when men rose up against us; then they had swallowed us up quick, when their wrath was kindled against us: then the waters had overwhelmed us, the stream had gone over our soul: then the proud waters had gone over our soul." Ps 18:16, "He sent from above, he took me, he drew me out of many waters." Jer 47:2, "Behold, waters rise up out of the north, and shall be an overflowing flood, and shall overflow the land," etc. Compare Jer 46:7-8. See Barnes on "Isa 8:7-8".

 

And the earth opened her mouth. A chasm was made sufficient to absorb the waters. That is, John saw that the church was safe from this attack, and that, in order to preserve it, there was an interposition as marked and wonderful as if the earth should suddenly open and swallow up a mighty flood.

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