Friday, October 18, 2013

Revelation 12 - The Woman, Child, and a Dragon Who Wants to Devour Us

LINK: Revelation 12


BACKGROUND


The seventh trumpet of Revelation 11:15 ushers in the bowl judgments, but 12:12-15 are a parenthetical break in the chronology that includes events concurrent with the sounding of the trumpets. It introduces major players involved in the end times struggle between good and evil. 


Major Players 


Woman - The "great sign" (the NIV's "wondrous" is not in the Greek) of the woman with child in labor pain is believed to be the nation of Israel. Compare Revelation 12:1 with Genesis 37:9-10. In the Old Testament, Israel is often referred to metaphorically as a woman and sometimes as a  "woman in travail (labor)" (Isaiah 54:5; 66:7; Jeremiah 3:6-10; Micah 4:10; 5:2-3).  The 12 stars are believed to be the 12 tribes of Israel. The woman is the first of the "signs" or "miracles" mentioned in Revelation (12:3; 13:13-14; 15:1; 16:14; 19:20).


Dragon - The dragon is mentioned 13 times in the book of Revelation (12:3, 3, 7, 9, 13, 16, 17; 13:1, 2, 4; 16:13; 20:3). Revelation 12:9 and 20:2 identify him as Satan. Red is associated with death (6:4), and Satan is a murderer (John 8:44). The 10 horns are thought to represent 10 kings (Daniel 7:24) who reigned at the same time as the world ruler (Daniel 7:7-8, 24; Revelation 13:1; 17:12). The heads represent mountains (Revelation 17:9). See Daniel 8:10 and Isaiah 14:12-15 for insight into the stars with him. 


Child - The male child is Christ, who is a descendant of the woman, Israel. This child will rule all the nations. Compare 12:5 with 19:15 and Psalm 2:9. Satan tried to devour the son, but He was swooped up to God and His throne. This is Christ's birth, death, and resurrection in one verse (12:5)!


Herod tried to kill all the male children in order to find this newborn King of the Jews (Matthew 2:1-20). The cosmic conflict behind the scenes was Satan trying to devour the child! This is the same conflict that has occurred since Genesis 3:15 when God said to the serpent, Satan:


And I will put enmity
Between you (Satan) and the woman (Eve), 
And between your seed (those controlled by you
and her seed (Abel, humanity and eventually Christ and those "in Him"); 
He (Christ) shall bruise (crush) you (Satan) on the head, 
And you (Satan) shall bruise him (Christ) on the heel.

The more fatal blow is on the head than the heel. This was God's declaration of war, and Satan's "bruises to the heel" were his attempt throughout history to keep his head from being crushed. Here are some examples throughout our Bible Book Club of Satan at work throughout history to "bruise the heel":
  • Cain motivated to kill Abel (promised seed for righteous deliverer)
  • Earth corrupted so badly that God had to destroy with a flood except for the family of one righteous man: Noah
  • Esau prompted to kill Jacob (promised son with a lineage leading to Jesus), but Rebekah warned so Jacob fled
  • Pharaoh decreed to kill Jewish male babies, but Moses was preserved by his family to deliver the Jews after he fled into the wilderness and eventually brought the children of Israel into the wilderness
  • Saul tried to kill David (from whose lineage the son of David, Jesus, would be born), but Jonathan warned so David fled into the wilderness
  • Haman tried to kill all the Jews in the empire, but Esther intervened
  • Herod the Great wanted to kill all the male babies in the City of David, but the angel warned and Joseph, Mary, and Jesus fled to Egypt
Just as most of the above fled and were protected by God so that Jesus could eventually come into the world, the woman fled into the desert for 1,260 days (42 months, or 3 1/2 years according to 30 day months of the prophetic calendar). 

Michael - the wonderful archangel (Jude 9) and the good angels fought with Satan and his bad angels. See Daniel 12:1ff. In this fight, Satan and his angels were hurled to the earth.
Some believe that Satan's fall to earth took place at Jesus' resurrection or ascension and the 1,260 days (3 1/2 years) is a symbolic way of referring to the time between Christ's first and second comings. Others say that Satan's defeat will occur in the middle of a literal seven year tribulation period, following the rapture of the church and preceding the second coming of Christ and the beginning of Christ's 1,000-year reign. Whatever the case, we must remember that Christ is victorious -- Satan has already been defeated because of Christ's death on the cross (12:10-12). 
(The Life Application Bible, page 2318)
I could stir the pot even MORE by adding more positions on when this occurs (the Pre-wrath position is another one I have not mentioned) and have friends who even teach on their position very effectively (Shout out to Gary and Todd who hold two very different views), but I think the emphasized point above is what we can all agree on: Christ wins in the end!

In the meantime, we know that Satan is even now making "war against the rest of her offspring -- those who obey God's commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus" (12:17). This chapter reminds us all of this fact. Be warned. 


REFLECTION


I hate conflict. There is a lot of it in the book of Revelation. On top of going through this book in the BBC, I am teaching a class on the mythical Iliad by Homer which is another story of great conflict.  One thing that both of these have in common is that we know at the beginning of the book who wins in the end!  The Greeks will prevail over the Trojans in the Homeric epic, and God will prevail over Satan too because Genesis 3:15 tells us so. In the meantime, the Trojans will win some small battles over the Greeks, and in Revelation 12, it seems like Satan is making some progress as he "wages war against the rest of her offspring -- those who obey God's commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus" (12:17).


Like I said, I hate conflict, and I have experienced a bit of the enemies "war raging" as I have prepared these lessons, especially Wednesday night when I went to the beautiful Oregon coast to work on these last chapters in the Bible Book Club. I went there stressed because of some deadlines, had a hard time focusing, and was fearful after listening to these last chapters late at night while all alone in a big beach house! 


I couldn't sleep but decided to work on more posts, but my computer mysteriously stopped working, and I wrestled with irrational fears (with many tears) until 4:00 in the morning. I started to pack my car to leave, but I was afraid to drive home when I was so sleepy! In desperation, I called my husband (poor guy!) to ask him to pray! After that conversation, I slept like a baby! Thanks God and George!


I don't always think to pray against the enemy because I don't think I am that important for his attack. My best friend keeps telling me I am a big target, but I think I would be arrogant to think so. Yet, I am convinced that the enemy of our souls, Satan, is going to opposed any of us who dig more deeply into God's Word and especially the book of Revelation because it exposes him! 


George told me today that C.S. Lewis addresses this in The Screwtape Letters. I have never read it, but his paraphrase to me this morning was that Uncle Screwtape tells Wormwood to do all that he can to make the believer forget that there is a battle. WOW!  For me, that is spot on.


How about you?

(I wrote this in 2010 and have since read The Screwtape Letters twice. HERE is my review.)



APPLICATION/PRAYER


We know who wins in the end, and don't let the enemy convince you otherwise!


Make praying against the enemy a big part of your daily prayer plan! 


Here is what I try to pray every morning:
Protection in Spiritual Warfare 
O Lord, guard my heart against the temptations of the world and renew my heart and spirit:
Since I have been raised up with You, O Christ, I will keep seeking the things above, where You are at the right hand of God. I will set my mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. (Colossians 3:1-2)
I will be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving I will let my requests be known to God. And Your peace, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard my heart and my mind in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-8)
Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and anything worthy of praise, I will let my mind dwell on these things. (Philippians 4:9)
O Lord, guard my heart against the weaknesses and temptations of the flesh so that I may reckon myself as dead to sin:
Father, I know that my old self was crucified with Christ, so that I am no longer a slave to sin, for he who has died is freed from sin. I will reckon myself as dead to sin, but alive to You in Christ Jesus. I will not present the parts of my body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness but I will present myself to You, O God, as one alive form the dead, and the parts of my body as instruments of righteousness to You. (Romans 6:6-7, 12-13)
O Lord, guard my heart against the attacks of the devil and give me the strength to resist him:
As I submit myself to You, O God, and resist the devil, he will flee from me. (James 4:7)
I will be of sober spirit and on the alert. My adversary, the devil, prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But I will resist him, firm in my faith. (1 Peter 5:8-9)
I will take up Your full armor, O God, that I may be able to resist and stand firm. I put on the belt of truth and the breastplate of righteousness; I put on my feet the preparation of the gospel of peace; and I take up the shield of faith with which I will be able to extinguish all the flaming missiles of the evil one. I take the helmet of salvation and the sword of Your Spirit, which is Your Word, O God. With all prayer and petition I will pray at all times in Your Spirit and be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints. (Ephesians 6:13-18)
(Face to Face: Praying the Scriptures for Intimate Worship, p. 7-9 by Kenneth Boa)
I also have a recording that I made of Scriptures to pray against the enemy from Praying God's Word by Beth Moore. Here they are in MP3 for download:


"Overcoming the Enemy: Part I" (right click to save or click to listen online)

"Overcoming the Enemy: Part II"


You might like to read The Screwtape Letters too!


I pray this helps you armor up for battle!
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