Monday, May 23, 2011

The Revelation of Satan's Defeat

Part 18 of a series through the book of Revelation

Text: 12:1-17

THE WOMAN, THE CHILD, AND THE DRAGON

Who do the three characters of Revelation 12 represent?

The woman represents the messianic community (first Israel and then the church). In the Old Testament, Israel longed for the arrival of the Messiah (like a pregnant woman longs for the birth of her baby). Today, the church longs for His return.

The child represents the Messiah (Jesus). He “is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron” (v. 5; cf. 19:15). “

The dragon represents Satan. “Red” (v. 3) represents bloodshed. Jesus said, “He was a murderer from the beginning” (John 8:44). The “seven heads,” “ten horns,” and “seven diadems” (v. 3) might represent his intelligence and power. Verse 4 says, “His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven and cast them to the earth” (v. 4). This probably refers to Satan’s original rebellion. The “stars” are fallen angels.

ESCAPING THE DRAGON

And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she bore her child he might devour it (v. 14b).

And when the dragon saw that he had been thrown down to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child (v. 13).

How does the dragon fail?

First, Satan could not devour Jesus. 

Satan tried to prevent the birth of the child by attempting to destroy Israel. “Then the king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives..., “When you serve as midwife to the Hebrew women and see them on the birthstool, if it is a son, you shall kill him” (Exodus 1:15-16). “Haman sought to destroy all Jews...throughout the whole kingdom of Ahasuerus” (Esther 3:6).

Satan attempted to devour the child through Herod. “Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all the region who were two years old or under” (Matthew 2:16). Throughout Jesus’ ministry, Satan tried to incite people to kill Jesus. Eventually, Satan used Judas to bring Jesus into the hands of His enemies. “Satan entered into Judas” (Luke 22:3; John 13:2; 27).

Satan probably thought he had devoured Jesus when He was crucified. Did the cross devour Jesus? No! The cross is not the defeat of Jesus; it is the defeat of Satan. After the sin of Adam and Eve, God pronounced a curse upon Satan. He said to “that ancient serpent” (v. 9), “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring [seed] and her offspring [seed]; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel” (Genesis 3:15). The “woman’s seed” is Jesus. Satan would bruise Jesus' head (the cross), but Jesus would bruise Satan's head (a fatal blow). This verse has been called the “Protoevangelium,” the first announcement of the gospel.

Second, Satan cannot devour the saints.

First Peter 5:8 says, “You adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”

“The woman was given the two wings of the great eagle so that she could fly from the serpent into the wilderness” (v. 14). The wilderness (v. 6) was a place of provision for Israel. The “1,260 days” (v. 6) and “a time, and times, and half a time” (v. 14) refer to a period of persecution during which the people of God are spiritually nourished. “They that wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles” (Isaiah 40:31).

SLAYING THE DRAGON

And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death (v. 11).

Satan is a defeated foe. "He knows that his time is short!” (v. 12).

How can we daily defeat Satan?

First, by trusting in the power of Jesus’ blood.

Our enemy “is called the devil and Satan” (v. 9). “Devil” means “slanderer” or “accuser.” “Satan” means “adversary” or “enemy.” Satan is “the accuser of our brothers [and sisters]...who accused them day and night before our God” (v. 10; cf. Job 1:6-12; 2:1-6; Zechariah 3:1-2). But he has been “thrown down” (v. 10).

Satan is like a prosecutor. Jesus is like a defence attorney. “My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:1-1). Those who are cleansed by the blood of Jesus will never be condemned.

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). “Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies” (v. 33). Nothing “will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (v. 39).

Second, by loving Jesus more than life.

Jesus said, “Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul” (Matthew 10:28). “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it” (Mark 8:34-35). If you love Jesus more than life, Satan is powerless against you.