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Wednesday in the Word

Second Baptist Church

September 10, 2014

Revelations 12:1-12

  1. Recap. We now know that John is exiled to an island where he sees a wonderful revelation. Even though he is exiled he is not disconnected from the power of God. God uses this exiled time to show John some wonderful things to share with the persecuted church. John is first shown the glorious savior who gives John a message for the churches. Basically the churches were told to not compromise, stay faithful, and continue to serve God with all their hearts. The churches were encouraged to endure the persecution they might face understanding that God would deal with their enemies. Six out of seven churches are told to overcome. Next John sees a picture of heaven and God reading his will (scroll) for the world. In this will like all roman wills there is provision for rewards and consequences. With each seal a revelation is given. The consequences would be handed out to those who were enemies of the church and the church would be saved although they would have to endure tribulation (John 16:33). John begins to see how God would judge the nation of Israel and the Roman Empire similarly to how God had judged Israel and other nations before. The nation of Israel would get an opportunity to repent like before. The preaching of the gospel represented by the symbol “two witnesses” would preach the law and the prophets fulfilled in Christ prior to the judgment. This would give those who wanted to repent a time to flee the impending judgment. The only sign they would get is the sign of Jonah (Matthew 12:38-41) which was the preaching of the gospel. God would use the Roman Empire as his instrument of judgment (70 AD invasion). The invasion as predicted (Luke 21:20-24, Matthew 24) occurs and the temple is destroyed and the nation sees destruction like never seen before. John is shown all of this in marvelous symbolic language.

  2. Chapter 12. We were told in Revelation 10:11 that John still had to prophesy about many peoples, nations, languages, and kings. Now that the fall of the Jewish nation has been detailed in Revelation 11, our attention is turned to the next object of God’s judgment. The prophecy about many people and nations is beginning in chapter 12.

  3. Verses 1-2. John sees a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. This woman is the body of faithful believers (Jews and Gentiles) who have been the true remnant of God throughout the ages. God has always had true and false disciples. This woman represents His true disciples, His bride and His love (Eph. 5:31-33, Rev. 21:2). She is pregnant and experiencing labor pains. The imagery pictures her as a glorious woman. She has been given authority and honor as seen with the crown of twelve stars and the moon under her feet. The important image to identify this woman is found in the description of her labor pains. This prophetic image was used before and is found in a few places in the Old Testament (see Micah 4:9-11, and 5:2-4). The image quickly moves from the woman in labor to another image.

  4. Verses 3-4. The next sign is a great red dragon with seven heads and ten horns. On the seven heads were seven diadems. The horns are a symbol of power and the crowns are a representation of authority. The seven heads and ten horns picture a terrifying image of great power, authority, knowledge, and strength. It is worth noting that the word “diadems” (a transliteration of the Greek word diadema) can only be found in Revelation and in no other book in the New Testament. It is a different word than the crown (stephanos) we read the woman having in verse 1. The distinction between the word “crown” and “diadem” is that the crown represents a permanent victory, while the diadem represents a ruling authority and power that is temporary. The dragon only has temporary power. This great power is shown in verse 4 where the dragon is able to sweep down a third of the stars of heaven and cast them to the earth. The sweeping of the stars is a display of the dragon’s great authority. Stars frequently represent nations and kings. The dragon has some power over the nations and kings of the earth. Verse 9 makes clear who the dragon represents. The dragon is that ancient serpent that is called the devil and Satan. He is the deceiver of the whole world. Verse 4 reveals that Satan is waiting for the birth of the Christ so as to destroy him.

  5. Verses 5-6. Verse 5 confirms our interpretation of these symbols using language reserved for the Messiah. The child is the “one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron.” This is a reference to the messianic prophecy in Psalm 2:7–9. We will see Christ later in the book of Revelation ruling with a rod of iron( Revelation 19:15). The dragon (Satan) is attempting to devour the child (Christ). However, the Christ is born and caught up to God and to his throne. Satan attempts to kill the Christ, but Christ is raised from the dead and ascends to the Father. The woman (the remnant) flees for protection in a place prepared by God. The spiritual nation, the true people of God, is preserved for 1260 days. We learned in Revelation 11 that 1260 days is the same as 42 months, which is the same as a time, times, and half a time. This is referring to a limited period of distress, persecution, and tribulation. The people of God are under attack by Satan, but they are spiritually secure.

  6. Verses 7-12. A battle is described occurring in heaven. Michael and his angels are fighting the dragon and his angels. The dragon was defeated and thrown down to the earth along with his angels. A battle occurred and Satan lost. What event is this referring to? Read John 12:27–33 and notice verse 31. Jesus said that Satan would be cast out when he died and rose from the dead. Jesus is picturing the victory he is about to achieve. He will draw all people to himself as he is glorified on the cross. The heavenly counterpart to Christ’s victory on the cross and at his resurrection is described in Revelation 12:7-9. I do not think we should start reading this as a literal activity of Satan living in heaven but now lives on the earth. Rather, the symbolism continues. Christ has dealt a blow to Satan with his death and resurrection. Satan has been defeated. Satan’s plans have been thwarted. All that Satan has left to do is battle the people of God on the earth. The battle against Christ, the heavenly battle, was lost. The effect of Christ’s victory on the cross over Satan and sin is declared in verse 10. Salvation has come. Power has come. The kingdom has come. The authority of Christ has come. The accuser has been thrown down. Christ has shown his power. Christ has exercised his authority in his victory on the cross. Through Jesus’ death and resurrection salvation has come and Christ is exercising his rule in his kingdom. No longer can Satan accuse us because of Christ’s redemptive work on the cross (see Romans 8:1 and 31–34, 35-39, vs37). The effect of this expulsion from heaven will be illustrated in Revelation 20:1-3. The ultimate meaning of Christ’s victory over Satan will be graphically revealed to us in Revelation 20. The people of God through Christ are victorious (12:11). Notice the wording in verse 11. Who conquered Satan? “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.” Here is a picture of those who conquer Satan. We conquer because of the blood of the Lamb. We needed his redemptive work on the cross so that we can defeat Satan. Further, we conquer by the word of our testimony (see 1st John 5:11-13). We are those who overcome when we proclaim this good news to the world. Through all things, the people of God must be faithful, testifying and confessing Jesus, even to the point of death. The conquerors do not love their lives. They love Jesus and will give their lives for him. Verse 12 tells us that there is cause for rejoicing because of our status in Christ. But woe to the earth because Satan is enraged and he knows his time his short. Satan is not done. But his time is short.

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