The Lady with the Twelve-Starred Crown

One of the most absorbing pictures in Scripture, alongside Ezekiel’s Son of Man and Isaiah’s enthroned Adonai, is John’s description of the resplendent woman in Revelation 12. Of all the early commentators, only Primasius seems to have pondered her as the very Divine Majesty of God. Primasius identifies the woman clothed with the sun, lightly stepping on the moon, adorned with a crown of 12 stars on her head as none other than the Spirit of Wisdom, the same Spirit Who, in the beginning, hovered over the deep as one giving birth. The early Church, evidenced in writings against the toxic Arians, recognized that the parallel between John 15:26 and Proverbs 8:22 was clear and distinct, indicating Lady Wisdom was coeternal with the Father, as was the Divine Word implicit in Proverbs 8. We must not forget the John was a true Hebrew, so immersed in the Law and Prophets that he drew his knowledge and expressions from them. Jesus’ words, recorded in 15:26, would have recalled Proverbs 8:22 and Wisdom, Who is a helper and defender per Proverbs 4-7. Many in the second millennium have treated the creation narrative indifferently at best, supplanting it with the degenerate and vain imaginings of Aristotle and the Greeks, who foolishly viewed the world as animistic and dualistic. The first millennium Church spoke with thrill and delight in God as Creator and Sustainer, pondering the implications of creation from nothing, and rightly buiilding their doctrines in line with a Scripture which begins at the beginning. Their definitions of sin, salvation, and grace were inextricably woven together from the creation narrative: Sin is futility and folly, for a contingent creature created from nothing, in turning awayfrom its very source of life, returns back to nothing. “Dust you are, and to dust you shall return.” Salvation is not a saving from hell, but a salvation from the annihilation of sin. Perfect salvation is righteousness, i.e. a creature rightly aligned with God so as to live in fullness, the “fullness of joy in his presence.” Imperfect salvation is preservation in hell, where the creature experiences preservation as an incompleteness punctuated by gnashing one’s teeth over one’s foolish embrace of annihilating sin. Both are a relief from man’s worst condition: the annihilating downward plummet of sin. As Augustine notes in chapter 111 of the Enchiridion, the perfected saints have no will to sin, while those religated to the second death have no power to sin. Note also how Paul presents saving from wrath as an addendum to salvation from sin in Romans 5:9. That addendum is not salvation proper, but the fruit of those so yoked to Christ’s righteousness, that they perform righteous acts which gain them a right to remain in the wedding feast and be eternally wanted to God (Rev 19:8, Matt 22). “Grace” does not signify a substance like fairy dust, but signifies that a self-existent God is bound by no obligation to do anything, but does everything out of perfect freedom. In all things God operates gratuitously. He gratuitously created all things, gratuitously fills all things in every way (Eph 1:23), gratuitously yokes himself to his children that they may weave their robes of righteous acts, and gratuitously preserves the wicked against their self-annihilating sin by the cathartic punishment of hell. There are many more implications of the doctrine of creation. One is particularly breathtaking in beauty: the creation song of Proverbs 8, where we meet Lady Wisdom, Whose doxology gives us one of the clearest insights into God’s attitude towards His creation, and more specifically His church. I can think of very few places ( Zephaniah 3:17, Matthew 23:37, and Luke 13:34) where God’s delight in His children is so clearly and beautifully proclaimed, and that with the implication of feminine loving kindness, a kindness the Hebrew word, “raham,” associates closely with the womb. We have become accustomed to using a masculine-gendered pronoun to describe the Spirit because the New Testament, written in Greek, had to use a matching masculine pronoun for the Greek word for “spirit,” (“pneuma”), which is neuter, in keeping with lingual convention. This is no reason to continue the masculine pronoun in any other language, for as Augustine observed, the only pure language remaining after the flood was the language of Heber, that is Hebrew. All other languages, including Greek, are degenerate. The Hebrew for “Spirit” (“ru’ach”) is feminine, and Christ Himself would have used “she” when speaking of the Spirit. This is clearly consistent with the Spirit having the same title as the woman (“helper”), and with the fact that the Spirit is the member of the Trinity which not only conceived Christ, but gives birth to each child of God, instructing and counseling the royal offspring (I Jn 2:27) just as the royal mothers of the Kings instructed them (Prov 31:1-3). So Christ said, “Wisdom is proved right by her children.” All of this amounts to something truly wonderful in this final season of the great war: 1) Just as the Son as High Priest wears the Church upon his heart as a resplendent ephod; just as the Father engraves the names of his people on his hand; so does the Spirit grace herself with those excellent ones who shine like stars in a dark world. For the Son executes his priest hood through a kingdom of priests, The father exercises his strength and might through the holy ones who will accompany Christ, and the Spirit of Wisdom, Who yet rejoices in the children of God, and Who is the treasures of wisdom and knowledge in Christ, exercises her wisdom through her children. She wears them as a shining, resplendent crown. 2) Just as the Son has promised never to leave or forsake us; Just as the Father does not forsake us even when our earthly mother and father forsake us–so does the Spirit flee with her church to safety from the coming tribulation. For as the Head of the Church is one with His body and Bride and shares one cup of suffering, so the Spirit also flees wherever her children are, groaning over them with words that cannot be spoken. In the coming tribulation, She will not forsake us…She will continue to wear the saints upon her head as an emblem of glory and a sign against those who would dare despise or mislead the “little ones.” 3) The imagery of Revelation 22 is an allegory of the Trinity in relationship to the redeemed. Just as Christ is the wellspring of Life from which the great River of Life flows and gives life to the people and land, so the Spirit of Wisdom is The tree of life (Prov 3:18), who heals the greatest disease of mankind: The loss of God’s righteousness. For the spirit is the Finger of God (Matt 12:28, Luk 11:30) which wrote the 10 words on tablets of stone and on the hearts of the saints. As the Counselor, She is the path of righteousness (Prov 1:3) on which the Shepherd leads us (Psa 23), and which eventually arrives at Christ himself, for “Christ is the end [“telos”) of the Law. Note the intentional parallel of Revelation 22 to Psalm 1 , Genesis 1:28-30, and the persistent use of a fig tree to represent the fruitfulness of men and women. God has always looked for his people to bear the fruit of righteousness by following justice and justice alone, and has clearly told us that the fruit of righteousness is peace (Isa 32:17). This last image of Revelation is the critical interpretive hinge on which the whole story of creation and redemption revolves. We must remember that John was a Hebrew and certainly did not embrace the grecophilic sycophantism which has been a hindrance to the church from the first century A.D. John’s last image is clearly tied to creation’s beginning by the imagery of river and tree, and by his statement that God is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. Lady Wisdom, both as crowned lady and as the tree of life, is a major key to understanding the unfolding of God’s plan to restore all things by the blood of Christ (Col 1). A tree on both sides of the river recalls the two trees in the garden, for not only is Lady Wisdom the tree of life, but also the true tree of knowledge. She who was the finger of God, inscribed the Law on tablets of stone in direct answer to the absurd idea that the knowledge of good and evil could be contained in a piece of fruit. The Law and profits were a gracious gift and a loving response to the good inclination which was distorted by Eve’s grasping of the fruit. Wisdom was clearly the counselor of Mary, who birthed truth with her mouth as well as her womb, doing both by the overshadowing of the Spirit. The Spirit, who is the birthing mother of all the elect, is also the nursing mother, whose milk is the true instruction of good and evil (Heb 5). The Law is that milk, that wise instruction in equity and justice (Prov 1:3), that Law of the “Spirit of life” Paul refers to in Romans 8, building his eschatology with Her in the center of sanctification leading to glorification, that is to the fulfillment of the psalmist’s prophetic vision: “Blessed are they who observe justice, who do righteousness at all times!” This is the same as Paul’s assertion that salvation is upholding the law, The full empowerment of God’s righteousness to the elect to “follow Justice and Justice alone.” The healing of the nations is the banishment of annihilating sin by the instruction of the Counselor and Helper (She notably shares this title with woman, and Rev 12:1 is drawn from SS 6:10). This healing is leaf upon leaf, page upon page of God’s word. The mother of royalty, after all, has always been responsible for instruction in God’s royal line. This intensely personal instruction is why all the prophets point to a palpable earthly temple (Ezk 40-48) to which the hearts of all people so desperately incline to go that they lay hold on Jews robes (as the bleeding woman laid hold on Christ’s robe) in hopes of being lead to the place of instruction, where Christ as high priest speaks out of His treasury of wisdom and knowledge, which treasury is the very Spirit who remained on Him because the trinitarian God is indivisible. We are, by the figuring of Augustine and the early church, nearing the end of the sixth day of mankind, i.e The 6,000th year of man (“A Day is like A thousand years” –Psa 90). The city of man, whose founder was a self-serving, self-directed, restless murderer and schemer, has clearly failed to attain peace, which comes only as a fruit of righteousness. The knowledge of man’s best philosophers has been proved bankrupt, and especially so as the high view of man called humanism has only inflated the egos of demagogues who enslaved us to Cain’s oppressive schemes and committed the most atrocious genocides in history. Six days, 6,000 years of restless labor have left us desolate, having failed to overcome sin, which has not only crouched before us, but pounced upon us, ravageing mankind and creation. The seventh day, the Sabbath day, is very close at hand, and this is the season in which it will come. I don’t pretend to know the day or the hour, but I recognize the season. Because He has blessed His saints with a hunger and thirst for righteousness, so that they mourn for what is and has been, they yearn to embrace the Master’s words: “Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, for your redemption is drawing near.” This is one and the same with the final blessing of scripture: “Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates.” To which the response of the saints is twofold: 1) “I will run in the way of your commandments when you enlarge my heart.” 2) “The Spirit and the bride say, ‘come!”

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