on Revelation 12 :6
And the woman fled into the wilderness - The account of the woman's flying into the wilderness immediately follows that of her child being caught up to the throne of God, to denote the great and rapid increase of heresies in the Christian Church after the time that Christianity was made the religion of the empire.
Where she hath a place prepared of God - See on Revelation 12:14 (note).
on Revelation 12 :6
And the woman - The woman representing the church. See the notes at Revelation 12:1.
Fled - That is, she fled in the manner, and at the time, stated in Revelation 12:14. John here evidently anticipates, by a summary statement, what he relates more in detail in Revelation 12:14-17. He had referred Revelation 12:2-5 to what occurred to the child in its persecutions, and he here alludes, in general, to what befell the true church as compelled to flee into obscurity and safety. Having briefly referred to this, the writer Revelation 12:7-13 gives an account of the efforts of Satan consequent on the removal of the child to heaven.
Into the wilderness - On the meaning of the word "wilderness" in the New Testament, see the notes on Matthew 3:1. It means a desert place, a place where there are few or no inhabitants; a place, therefore, where one might be concealed and unknown - remote from the habitations and the observations of people. This would well represent the fact, that the true church became for a time obscure and unknown - as if it had fled away from the habitations of people, and had retired to the solitude and loneliness of a desert. Yet even there Revelation 12:14, Revelation 12:16 it would be mysteriously nourished, though seemingly driven out into wastes and solitudes, and having its abode among the rocks and sands of a desert.
Where she hath a place prepared of God - A place where she might be safe, and might be kept alive. The meaning is, that during that time the true church, though obscure and almost unknown, would be the object of the divine protection and care - a beautiful representation of the church during the corruptions of the papacy and the darkness of the middle ages.
That they should feed her - That they should "nourish" or "sustain" her - τρέφωσιν trephōsin - to wit, as specified in Revelation 12:14, Revelation 12:16. Those who were to do this, represented by the word "they," are not particularly mentioned, and the simple idea is that she would be nourished during that time. That is, stripped of the figure, the church during that time would find true friends, and would be kept alive. It is hardly necessary to say that this has, in fact, occurred in the darkest periods of the history of the church.
A thousand two hundred and threescore days - That is, regarding these as prophetic days, in which a day denotes a year, twelve hundred and sixty years. The same period evidently is referred to in Revelation 12:14, in the words "for a time, and times, and half a time." And the same period is undoubtedly referred to in Daniel 7:25; "And they shall be given into his hand until a time, and times, and the dividing of time." For a full consideration of the meaning of this language, and its application to the papacy, see the notes on Daniel 7:25. The full investigation there made of the meaning and application of the language renders its consideration here unnecessary. I regard it here, as I do there, as referring to the proper continuance of the papal power, during which the true church would remain in comparative obscurity, as if driven into a desert. Compare the notes on Revelation 11:2. The meaning here is, that during that period the true church would not become wholly extinct. It would have an existence upon the earth, but its final triumph would be reserved for the time when this great enemy should be finally overthrown. Compare the notes on Revelation 12:14-17.
on Revelation 12 :6
12:6 And the woman fled into the wilderness - This wilderness is undoubtedly on earth, where the woman also herself is now supposed to be. It betokens that part of the earth where, after having brought forth, she found a new abode. And this must be in Europe; as Asia and Afric were wholly in the hands of the Turks and Saracens; and in a part of it where the woman had not been before. In this wilderness, God had already prepared a place; that is, made it safe and convenient for her. The wilderness is, those countries of Europe which lie on this side the Danube; for the countries which lie beyond it had received Christianity before. That they may feed her - That the people of that place may provide all things needful for her. Twelve hundred and sixty days - So many prophetic days, which are not, as some have supposed, twelve hundred and sixty, but seven hundred and seventy - seven, common years. This Bengelius has shown at large in his German Introduction. These we may compute from the year 847 to 1524. So long the woman enjoyed a safe and convenient place in Europe, which was chiefly Bohemia; where she was fed, till God provided for her more plentifully at the Reformation.