Reading Revelation 12:1-13:1
Today we are given a view behind the scenes of the great battle going on in heaven and earth and are introduced to one of the great sources of evil: the great red dragon sometimes called the ancient serpent, who we know as the devil or Satan (9). John sees the dragon as having seven heads with seven crowns, symbolising its ‘apparent perfection’. We see Satan’s war on God, God’s purposes and God’s people.
In today’s passage the people of God are symbolised by the woman and her offspring, the twelve stars reminding us of the believing Messianic community and her offspring the Gentile Church. Through the symbolism of this passage a number of things about our ancient enemy come into focus.
Although Satan appears powerful, the plans of God cannot be thwarted. Throughout history the enemy has sought to frustrate the plans of God, but God always wins! Moses escaped Pharaoh and the murder of Hebrew male children into the safety of Pharaoh’s own palace and led the Children of God to the promised land through the desert. Jesus escaped Herod’s attempt to murder him and escaped through the desert to Egypt (4). On Good Friday Satan thought he had destroyed and defeated Jesus once and for all, but that was Friday and Sunday was coming! On Easter day the seeds of Satan’s destruction were thoroughly sown. Likewise the Church is God’s plan to heal and love the nations calling them to repentance, yet Satan hates it and he continues to war against it. However, the Church will always be protected from harm by God. (13-17)
Our battle is not against flesh and blood. (9) It’s against the dark forces of this present age. Paul tells us not to be intimated by the evil around us, but to stand firm taking up God’s armour and protection. (Ephesians 6:10-18). The devil uses many schemes. He not only wars against us violently but is equally happy to encourage apathy; we must be on our guard.
We overcome by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony. (11) Satan wants to intimidate us with great shows of force, but the truth of our walk with God and the blood Jesus shed on the cross causes him to flee, just as the dawn banishes the night. As William Cowper said, “Satan trembles when he sees the weakest saint upon their knees.”
He is restless and so full of fury because he knows his time is short. (12) Satan is a defeated foe, in a few chapters time will will read of his ultimate, and eternal destruction. (20:10) We will see a new Heaven and a new Earth – places Satan’s foot has never trod, where his stain and influence has never been felt or will ever be known. Paradise.
Writer and missionary Simon Guillebaud writes,
“Whether it be driving on ice, snow, or silt, the natural response when entering a skid is to slam on the brakes and try to steer out of the skid. But that’s usually the worst thing to do, and you often end up losing control and crashing. Similarly in difficult times we often react like that. However counterintuitive it might seem, the best thing to do is to steer into the skid, and by so doing to regain control of the wheel and be able to avoid an accident.
As we go about our daily lives, at various points we will hit a skid. This isn’t a question of “if” but “when”. And the hard times often come as we’re making progress in our walk with Jesus. Satan likes to scare us off and intimidate us, so we back down and retreat to our safe worlds of low risk and high comfort. The intuitive thing to do at such times is to back off until it all calms down again –to steer away from the skid –but do that and spiritually you will end up in the hedge. Have the courage and the sense to steer into the skid!”
“Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7)
They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death. (Revelation 12:11)
Father thank you that all power and authority is yours. Although the devil prowls around like a lion, looking for someone to devour, Jesus is the true lion, Lion of the tribe of Judah! Please give me confidence in you to stand firm, to always submit myself to you and resist all the devil’s schemes. In Jesus name. Amen.
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