Tuesday, April 19
Reader: “It has come at last—salvation and power”
Response: “and the Kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ.”
Scripture: Revelation 12:1-12
Then I witnessed in heaven an event of great significance. I saw a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon beneath her feet, and a crown of twelve stars on her head. She was pregnant, and she cried out because of her labor pains and the agony of giving birth.
Then I witnessed in heaven another significant event. I saw a large red dragon with seven heads and ten horns, with seven crowns on his heads. His tail swept away one-third of the stars in the sky, and he threw them to the earth. He stood in front of the woman as she was about to give birth, ready to devour her baby as soon as it was born.
She gave birth to a son who was to rule all nations with an iron rod. And her child was snatched away from the dragon and was caught up to God and to his throne. And the woman fled into the wilderness, where God had prepared a place to care for her for 1,260 days.
Then there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon and his angels. And the dragon lost the battle, and he and his angels were forced out of heaven. This great dragon—the ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, the one deceiving the whole world—was thrown down to the earth with all his angels.
Then I heard a loud voice shouting across the heavens,
“It has come at last—
salvation and power
and the Kingdom of our God,
and the authority of his Christ.
For the accuser of our brothers and sisters
has been thrown down to earth—
the one who accuses them
before our God day and night.
And they have defeated him by the blood of the Lamb
and by their testimony.
And they did not love their lives so much
that they were afraid to die.
Therefore, rejoice, O heavens!
And you who live in the heavens, rejoice!
But terror will come on the earth and the sea,
for the devil has come down to you in great anger,
knowing that he has little time.”
As one might expect in apocalyptic literature, there are a variety of interpretations. I wish to keep the Easter theme in mind as we look at this passage. In the first section the woman’s identity has been interpreted in a couple of major ways. Some commentators see her as Mary and others see her as the nation of Israel or even God’s people, the Church. The son born of the woman is Jesus. Some would read that the agony of the woman’s waiting to give birth may be a reflection of the drama of Israel waiting to be delivered by the Messiah, or even the end of the age. The moon beneath the woman’s feet represents her dominion over the earth. The twelve stars might refer to the twelve apostles or to the tribes of Israel. At any rate, as she was about to give birth to the Messiah, the devil awaits to kill him as soon as he is born. The child being “snatched away” by God and fleeing to the wilderness most likely refers to Mary and Joseph’s escape to Egypt to flee Herod’s death orders. The ascent to God speaks of Christ’s Ascension.
The next reference is to a war in heaven. Here we encounter Michael, one of the two named angels in the Bible, the other being Gabriel. The book of Daniel has more to say about Michael (12:1 & 10:21). Here and in other places he battles with the devil. Remember Satan is a fallen angel and a large group of angels rejected God and with the devil, fell from heaven to earth. The battle between God’s people and the devil continues to this day as is so evident in our world.
Knowing he has already been defeated by the resurrection of Christ, the lying accuser has a limited time to create chaos, evil, death, and destruction on earth. He can only do what God allows and he has no control over his own time. I am struck by the phrase of the relentless nature of his attacks. He is the one who “accuses the brothers and sisters before God day and night.” And he still does! But he has been defeated by the blood of the Lamb and their testimonies of lives redeemed. To his great rage, the followers of Christ were not afraid to die. Their fear of death was gone! That is the card he held since the dawn of creation and Adam and Eve’s exit from the Garden. He tries over and over to destroy the mission of God’s Son so his next best thing was to create havoc and all manner of evil amongst God’s children. Satan knows his day is soon coming to an end when he is again cast from his residence: from heaven to earth is past; earth is present; then comes final judgment of the devil and his angels and he is cast into the pit of hell for all eternity.
The resurrection is truly a cosmic victory of God on every possible level and we are the beneficiaries of God’s great grace. We have nothing to fear in this world.
I would encourage you to take some time to check out an enlightening video overview of the book of Revelation (both parts) at: bibleproject.com. If you are not familiar with this website, you should be. It is most helpful in your study of the Scriptures. It is a marvelous resource.
Music: “The Strife Is O’er” Chet Valley
Prayer: (Marvelous prayer today from a “saint” from the past!)
O God that art the only hope of the world, the only refuge for unhappy men, abiding in the faithfulness of heaven, give me sterling succor in this testing place. O King, protect thy man from utter ruin lest the weak faith surrender to the tyrant, facing innumerable blows alone. Remember I am dust, and wind, and shadow, and life as fleeting as the flower of grass. But may the eternal mercy which hath shone from time of old rescue thy servant from the jaws of the lion. Thou who didst come from on high in the cloak of flesh, strike down the dragon with that two-edged word, whereby our mortal flesh can war with the winds and beat down strongholds, with our Captain God. Amen. ―Bede, 672-735 from The Oxford Book of Prayer, p. 125