I love to study the book of Revelation; there is just something so fascinating about this book to me. Perhaps it is my love for mysteries, or perhaps it is my wanting to know what is going to happen next that intrigues me. Either way I just love to read this book. There are probably as many theories about this book as there are theorists. One that I think is quite plausible is that the book of Revelation tells us the entire story of the world. It tells us what has already happened as well as what will happen and not always is this story told in chronological order. For instance the passage I want to look at today is the battle that takes place in heaven between those protecting the pregnant woman and Satan. I believe that this battle took place already, at the time Jesus Christ was born. Let’s read it and see what you think about this passage.
A great 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. She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth. Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on its heads. Its 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 it might devour her child the moment he was born. 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. The woman fled into the wilderness to a place prepared for her by God, where she might be taken care of for 1,260 days.
Then war broke out in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. 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. 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 Messiah. For the accuser of our brothers and sisters, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down. They triumphed over 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.” Revelation 12:1-12, (New International Version or NIV).
We know from Genesis chapter three that Satan walked in the Garden of Eden and most of us probably remember that God made Satan crawl on his belly as part of his punishment for deceiving Eve, and all snakes today still crawl on their belly. We also know from other passages in the Old Testament that Satan would go back to heaven from time to time. For instance in the book of Job God asks Satan where he has been and Satan replies that he has been out wondering the earth (Job 2:1-7). We also see in Zechariah 3:1-2 that Satan was seen in a vision in heaven standing before the angel of the Lord, next to Joshua accusing him of sinning. In other words Satan was being a tattle-tale to Lord Jesus that Joshua was not a good man. From these encounters we can see that Satan did have access to heaven. We aren’t told the specifics of this access, but he apparently came and went as he pleased from heaven to earth. Notice, however, that when Jesus was being carried in the womb of Mary, the woman in the first verse of this passage, there was Satan watching and waiting for the child to be born so that he could kill the child. God, however, protected Jesus and Mary and Satan could not find them. By now one would think that Satan would know he can’t win against God, but apparently Satan, the deceiver, actually believes his own lies that he is more powerful than God! What happens next is the result of Jesus conquering death, the stronghold of Satan on people because we all fear death if we don’t have Jesus to walk us through that dark valley.
I can only imagine how awful that battle must have been when God instructed Michael the arch-angel to throw Satan and all his demons out of heaven. Can you imagine what a shocking reality-check this must have been for the old deceiver Satan? So this is why Satan is so angry and wants to destroy all of Christ’s followers! I have seen some humans who think that they are mightier than God or think that there is no God because we have evolved to a place where we no longer need to believe in such ancient superstitions. When God allows something to happen in their life to remind them of how wrong they are then they also fight kicking and screaming just as Satan and his demons fought back against God. Yet I have also seen that in the end God wins, just as God won the battle in heaven. What can we learn from this passage?
First of all it should be clear to anyone who reads this that God wins every time. The timing of the battle God wages on our behalf may not be our timing but we can be assured that God will win every single time. God was powerful enough to throw Satan and his demons out of heaven then he is powerful enough to battle Satan on earth as well. That is good news. How do I know this? Because this passage goes on and tells us that Jesus is the Messiah with all the power granted to Him by God the Father to put a stop to the accusations of Satan about men and women who only had the Law of Moses to follow. That Law was imperfect because it was designed to show we humans that we were never going to be righteous enough to face God alone. But with Christ having become the once-for-all sacrificial Lamb we no longer stand accused by Satan if we are covered by the blood of Jesus. Satan can’t touch us while we’re covered by the blood of Jesus! That is the Good News! We can now stand before God innocent of our sins because Jesus paid our price and freed us of our sins through His resurrection. What wonderful news this is, don’t you think? No wonder Satan is so angry at God and especially at Jesus! No wonder Revelation states at the end of this passage that the world and the oceans are feeling the anger from Satan. Who does he take out his anger on? You guessed it, we Christians. Who does he use as weapons to avenge his hatred of Jesus? People who are not Christians, cultures that don’t honor God, countries and leaders that believe the lies of Satan and are deceived by him. This is powerful for us to understand because it makes us identify the real culprit and the real threat. It makes it so much easier to forgive someone who has tried to harm us when we realize that they are simply acting as an unknown agent of Satan carrying out the hate Satan has for Christ followers. We then know how to counter the attack we are under by our prayers for the person being manipulated by Satan and prayers for protection from God against Satan, the real enemy. So what happens next?
When the dragon saw that he had been hurled to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child. The woman was given the two wings of a great eagle, so that she might fly to the place prepared for her in the wilderness, where she would be taken care of for a time, times and half a time, out of the serpent’s reach. Then from his mouth the serpent spewed water like a river, to overtake the woman and sweep her away with the torrent. But the earth helped the woman by opening its mouth and swallowing the river that the dragon had spewed out of his mouth. Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to wage war against the rest of her offspring—those who keep God’s commands and hold fast their testimony about Jesus. Revelation 12:13-17, (NIV).
Awww! New we see why bad things happen to good people. Now we see why there are wars and rumors of wars in various places (Matthew 24:6, Mark 13:7). Now we understand more fully why there are people who seem to hate us for no good reason. Now we understand why there is evil in this world. But never underestimate the power of Jesus blood that covers Christians, we are protected and in the end we are on the winning side! Satan does not own our soul if we are followers of Christ. His time on earth will one day end! Praise God for the blessing of our salvation!