The Woman And Child 
(Revelation 12:1-6, 13-17)

This is likely to be the image in 12:2: God's people (symbolized as a woman) leading other people (symbolized as children who become "born again") to God.  God's people are often referred to as a woman (such as the bride of Christ -- in 19:7).  People who understand God's grace and plan of salvation are often referred to as "born again" (John 3:1-21).  In order to be born a person needs a parent.  God's people are busy leading other people to God -- with much pain and suffering.  

The male child who is born and "...who will rule all the nations with a rod of iron..." (12:5) probably are those who have overcome in 2:26-28.  In Genesis 17:7-14 the sign of God's covenant is circumcision, which applies to male children.  But God is not as interested in circumcision on the body as of the heart, " that you may love him with all your heart and with all your soul, and live." (Deuteronomy 30:7 and 10:16).  "...Keeping God's commands is what counts." (1 Corinthians 7:19).  "...The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love...  ...what counts is a new creation." (Galatians 5:6 & 6:15).  A putting off of your sinful nature, "...with the circumcision done by Christ." (Colossians 2:11).  This kind of circumcision applies to women as well as men; and is symbolized as the birth of a male child in 12:1-5.  

The child is snatched up to God and to his thrown (12:5).  This probably means these people are transported to the city being prepared by God.  The woman however flees to the desert (or wilderness), where she is taken care of by God for 3.5 years -- see 12:6 and 14. 


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Those who view chapter 12 of Revelation as giving an overall view of world history see the woman as the mother of Jesus and the child as Jesus with the dragon ready to slay the child, such as in Matthew 1:16-18.  While this view is very compelling and maybe true, it it does not fit verse 4:1 and it does not preclude this passage from portraying a period of time during the transition to a new era. 

Since the woman is on earth, it is quite possible the woman consists of people from the Smyrna type of church.