THE GREAT WAR
Revelation 12:1-13:1a1 A great and wondrous sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head. 2 She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth. 3 Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on his heads. 4 His tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth. The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that he might devour her child the moment it was born. 5 She gave birth to a son, a male child, who will rule all the nations with an iron scepter. And her child was snatched up to God and to his throne. 6 The woman fled into the desert to a place prepared for her by God, where she might be taken care of for 1,260 days.7 And there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. 8 But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. 9 The great dragon was hurled down — that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.10 Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down. 11 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. 12 Therefore rejoice, you heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has gone down to you! He is filled with fury, because he knows that his time is short.13 When the dragon saw that he had been hurled to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child. 14 The woman was given the two wings of a great eagle, so that she might fly to the place prepared for her in the desert, where she would be taken care of for a time, times and half a time, out of the serpent’s reach. 15 Then from his mouth the serpent spewed water like a river, to overtake the woman and sweep her away with the torrent. 16 But the earth helped the woman by opening its mouth and swallowing the river that the dragon had spewed out of his mouth. 17 Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to make war against the rest of her offspring — those who obey God’s commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus. 1 And the dragon stood on the shore of the sea.
I’d like you to imagine, for the moment, what it would be like to be following the Houston Rockets in a playoff hope, coming closer to the championship, things look good till you wake up and hear the news that they had simply decided to quit, drop out, default to another team. Hhow would you feel?Or imagine being in a business partnership with someone. It’s going well. Sales are good. You’re set to expand. And suddenly she pulls out on you. Leaves you holding the entire bag, and walks away. What would you think?Or suppose you’d been diagnosed with a serious, but treatable ailment. The doctors spend a great deal of time and resources in the diagnosis. Just before you’re set to go in for the vital treatment a phone call comes, everything’s called off. Period. No explanation. Can you imagine your feelings? Confused, perhaps? Troubled?I sometimes wonder if there may be similar thoughts and feelings for those who read the Bible’s account of Jesus’ resurrection from the grave, His Easter victory over death, and the events that follow? The post-Easter chapters seem to narrate precisely such an inexplicable, illogical sort of pullout and retreat. Everything seemed to be flying high! It looked as though nothing could possibly hold back the kingdom of God. Death had been defeated! Surely it was the end of the road for the kingdom of evil, and then, suddenly, Jesus goes away. This time for good! Gone! And the disciples are left to try and figure out why.It doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense. What sort of strategy is this? To find an answer we are forced to turn our attention beyond the immediate circumstances of earth and gaze heavenward, to gaze into another dimension of reality, into the spiritual dimension, the dimension of heaven and hell, angels and demons, God and satan. When we peek into that dimension, we are able to understand.
This portion of scripture is a vision that shows all of history, thousands of years in a few short verses. It is also an interpretation of history, thousands of years in a few short verses. We can’t be too detailed, for this is not just past history, but also future history. And because it is interpreting all of that history, we cannot take as a detailed calendar of events.
In verse 1 we see a wondrous picture, a woman clothed with the sun, the moon as her footstool and the stars as her crown. Who is this woman, well, she represents God’s people of all ages, what we call the church. This woman represents God’s people, the church. She is glorious beyond description, a picture of God’s people as they were meant to be, a picture of the people of God, imaging God, the high point of God’s creation. And all creation decorates God’s beloved. There are many people worship the stars, read horoscopes, etc because they feel these bodies have power and control. Here we are told that the stars, the heavenly bodies are merely a decoration for God’s people.This woman, we are told, is pregnant and she cries out in the pangs of birth. In this picture we have represented 2000 years of the history of God’s people. God’s people who are to give birth to the Messiah, the Savior, the Christ. Here is the Old Testament explained — why did God chose Abraham, why were the laws given, why was there a covenant made with David. Because God’s people had to give birth to the Savior. All the sufferings of the Old Testament are explained as birth pangs. All the books that have been written to try to explain this forget one point, that God’s people existed to give birth to the Christ, the Savior.
In verse 3 the next picture is seen, a red glow, a dragon, the Anti-Messiah, the other candidate for the throne. The description shows great power and wisdom, an awesome picture, especially when we consider that throughout the book of Revelation, one picture of Jesus is that of a Lamb.Who can stand up to the power of a dragon? He is pictured with seven heads — his great intelligence; ten horns — his great power and might; seven crowns — great authority; and his great tail sweeps ⅓ of the stars from the heaven, which refers to the ⅓ of the angels that fell with satan.The dragon threatens the woman, in order to destroy God’s candidate for the throne, for the woman and her child are loved by God and hated by satan. All the trials and attacks on Israel are summarized and explained by the dragon who stands before the woman to devour the child. All of satan’s attempts to do away with the Christ, to make the promise of God invalid, a promise that goes back to the very beginning. (See Genesis 3:15)
In verse 5 we are given a description of the child who is born, the description is given in the words and pictures of Psalm 2:9. The whole life and death of Jesus Christ is summed up here, he who was born to serve and raised to reign.
Then to verse 7, all the participants have been introduced. There is war in heaven and satan loses. The gospels are the story of the victory of Christ from our point of view, obedience, death, resurrection, ascension, however, there is another point of view, that of heaven.It is a war between heaven and satan and satan loses. This is so important to note, Jesus is on the throne, satan is cast out. Victory is assured because God’s candidate is on the throne. There is not hope here for satan, satan’s attempt on earth failed and so did his attempt in heaven.
At verse 13, we get the picture that things are not so good for us. We hear: “But woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has gone down to you! He is filled with fury, because he knows that his time is short.”satan turns on the church, on the earth, because he cannot defeat the child, his territory and time are limited, he has lost his bid for complete dominion, he is not reigning from heaven. He is like a spoiled little brat of a child, who can’t get his way, he strikes out somewhere, a good picture of satan, a brat of a child, all his fury is reaction to his loss. Don’t get me wrong, he can be and is dangerous, but his time is short, we are told how short in 2 places — 1260 days, 3 ½ years, compared to history, that is short.
Now to verses 10-12: Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: “Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down. 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. Therefore rejoice, you heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has gone down to you! He is filled with fury, because he knows that his time is short.”
The roles of satan are: Tempter — tries to deceive the people of God; Destroyer — the anti God, not one who builds up or strengthens, but destroys. Here he is called the Accuser, an accuser is one who goes about digging up dirt to show how bad we have been. We see satan taking a good thing and using it wrong, he takes the law which God pronounces as good and holy and changes it into something it is not. He does not want us to see the cross and the dismissal of all charges Jesus death and resurrection brought. He would rather us try to use the law as our way, our good works, for then he can point out how often we fail.
The accuser is cast down, no longer can satan accuse you and I, the case against you has been removed, it is cleared up. (See Romans 8:1) There is now no one left to accuse you. (See Romans 8:33)
There is no one who has a right to bring a charge, the only one who can has declared us NOT GUILTYOne of the most beautiful stories in the Bible is found in the gospel of John 8:2-11. The only one who could condemn her, did not.
The accuser is cast down, no longer does satan have access to the throne of God. Now there is one on our side and this advocate has taken the throne and he reigns and he is our brother. Not only has Jesus conquered, but we are told that: We are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
By the blood of the Lamb, by the Word of testimony, satan is defeated. We cannot be to ready to give up on the struggle with satan, because he has lost, we are victors. satan can no longer accuse, he can only tempt.
The great war is greater than we think, it is the war of history, but it has been won, behind it all is the reality of heaven, the war won, the devil and his fury. The great war had greater dimensions than we think and far greater effects than we care to see. There is a three fold effect: 1) Salvation done by God in Jesus Christ is made real. God’s rule in the world is firmly established. The false candidate for the throne is cast down. 2) God’s people triumph. There is now power in Jesus Christ to defeat satan. satan cannot make a direct attack on the church and cannot destroy the church. We win by the blood of the Lamb and the testimony of the Word. 3) satan is filled with fury. satan wants to wipe out the church but cannot. He tries with all sorts of ways, but is prevented.
satan is limited in power. No longer has he a place in the heavens, his domain is earth, and even here he is tied down. Christ has won the victory, he has overcome. satan may use all his resources against you, but Jesus Christ uses all his resources against satan, in Christ, you are free.
Revelation Series: The Great War
THE GREAT WAR