"The Church Is Under Attack"
Chapter 12 begins similar to the birth of Jesus, but this is far more than that story. When Satan attacks, he seeks to destroy and kill all who love God.
The Church Is Under Attack!
A. The story John sees that we will examine today is a story of the Apocalypse. It is a story to help us understand what the church is facing in days of John and what will come after the days of John. It is a story that centers really upon two main characters – a male child and a dragon.
B. But my telling of the story starts long before Rev. 12, it starts in Gen. 3:14-15. The serpent is Satan, of that God makes it clear. The punishment is also upon Satan. It is not so much that the snake would crawl on its belly beneath mankind, but that there would be perpetual war, strife, between the children of the woman (all mankind) and the serpent (Satan). The end result is that both are harmed, but the greater harm is that head of the snake is bruised, or crushed and only the heal of mankind is bruised/crushed.
C. I tell you that because it is import to realize that our reading today is from a vision that John has of a spiritual war that takes place. Throughout the OT, those who loved and followed God looked for the redeemer, the Messiah, who would come as a priest-king, as a conqueror, and one who would restore glory. They looked for that one and prayed for that one to come quickly. But little was revealed to them about the time of the coming of the Messiah. So, when Jesus did come, he did not come to the glory that should have been one who would rule the nations, instead he came in humble beginnings and as a helpless baby born to righteous parents.
D. The entire OT is an ongoing picture of the need for and the desire for the king to come. The spiritual ones of Israel who saw Jesus recognized him as the One to come. But for the sake of what John saw, we need to understand that the spiritual teachings of the Messiah were, if you will, the woman who would give birth to the child king. Not so much Mary, as the unfolding and the birth of the new kingdom which Jesus established for all mankind, not just spiritual Israel. With that in mind, we open up Revelation 12:1-3.
I. The First Battle Scene
A. Understand the timeline. Satan has already been cast out of heaven and sent to the earth. Adam and Eve met him and fell under his lies and that brought death. That first battle between God and Satan had already taken place and Satan had already lost his place in the heaven and now earth was his domain. This is not a story of Satan being kicked out of heaven as Jesus tells us, but is something John sees that has meaning to the church of his day and for us today.
B. John saw two signs, the first was that of a woman who was about to give birth to a child. She was in labor and crying out with the pain of childbirth. This woman was clothed with the sun and had 12 stars on the crown she wore.
C. Now understand John saw another sign, that of a great red dragon with 7 heads, 10 horns and a crown on each head. Verse 9 calls this dragon, the devil, Satan. This beast has one desire in this story John is seeing, it wants to kill the child that is about to be born (Rev 12:4b-6).
D. The first battle scene is over. Satan wanted Jesus dead when he took on flesh. And what seemed to be a victory for him at the cross wound up becoming his greatest defeat yet. The spiritual elect that brought forth the coming of Jesus faces strong persecution from Satan during that whole ministry and we read of more demon possession activities during the ministry of Jesus than either in the OT or the rest of the NT. But God protected the faithful
II. The Second Battle Scene
A. If the first battle scene involved Satan trying to defeat the human form of God in the person of Jesus and failing, we find a second battle scene that takes place in the next set of verses (Rev. 12:7-9). The question becomes, is this meant to be understood as a literal battle between Satan and Michael? My answer is no. Here’s why.
B. If it were to be a literal battle then Michael, not Jesus defeated Satan. What I see is the picture that Satan could not defeat Jesus on this earth and cannot defeat God’s heavenly army either. Listen to the text (Rev. 12:10-12).
C. The one that proclaimed to be the victor is NOT Michael, but the Lamb, Jesus the Christ of God. The death and resurrection of Jesus was not a partial defeat of Satan but it was full victory over him. John is given this picture to help the church see that the attacks by Satan may be strong and physically deadly, but they have no power over eternal life. The victors are the ones who are not held accountable by the accuser, because they conquered Satan by the blood of the Lamb and living a life dedicated to Jesus no matter the cost.
D. Satan loses again in the scene that looks like a second battle, but there is one more.
III. The Third Battle Scene
A. Come back to our text (Rev. 12:13). Satan can’t defeat Jesus on earth, cannot defeat the saints he thought he killed and now he takes vengeance upon the spiritual Israel in which we are today. He takes his wrath on those who believe in the Jesus he could not defeat. We are the children of that hall of faith. We have learned from Israel who Jesus is and now, in our covenant with him have become children of the living God. But we too must fight the good fight (Vs 17).
B. The church today is under attack, just like John knew of the prophets and righteous one of old. Just like Jesus was in his earthly ministry. Just like the church was in the first century. Satan has come to make war on you and me. It is our time to live out our faith no matter the cost.
A. The calling is to keep the testimony of Jesus. We just sang, “On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand.” Do your really believe the words you just sang? I know you do, for many of you are fighting the good fight even now. You face the trials and keep Jesus first.
B. What Jesus offers us is his blood to wash away our sins. He invites us to the fountain of life, to drink the living water, to come to the fountain. Maybe that is where you are this day, needing to come to Jesus. If we can help you in your spiritual walk, then come as we stand and sing.
Because of Jesus,
Jeffrey Dillinger, minister