What about the spiritual reality?
Here in Revelation, we get to put our spiritual night vision goggles and we see a deeper spiritual message.
Let’s read Rev 12:4 starting from the second half of that verse —
Rev 12:4 – 4 …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.
Then, jumping down to v13 —
Rev 12:13-14 – 13 When the dragon saw that he had been hurled to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child. 14 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.
John gives us a peek into the spiritual reality in these verses — the dragon is waiting, mouth open, ready to devour the child the moment he was born. But God gives the woman two wings of a great eagle and allows her and the baby Jesus to escape out of the serpent’s reach. This is the vision that explains the battle that raged in the spiritual dimension leading up to the birth of Christ.
Then, we read starting from v10 —
Rev 12:10-12 – 10 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. 11 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. 12 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.”
While Herod is unleashing his fury on the nation of Israel, there is rejoicing in heaven. It’s like the angels are all in the stands cheering for Team Jesus. They see the dragon. They see Mary and Joseph fleeing. They hold their breath. And then Jesus is born and there is a collective sigh of relief and cheering. Abraham and Moses must have given each other high fives. It’s pandomonium, just like if the Eagles were to score the winning touchdown in the Super Bowl and Desean Jackson caught the football. We’d be going crazy.
But in v12, while there is rejoicing in heaven, it says, woe to the earth and the sea because the devil has gone down to you. Woe to us, why? Because Satan is a sore loser. We’ve all been around sore losers. You beat them and they have a fit.
Sore losers are not fun to be around when they lose. And Satan is a sore loser and he’s furious.
He lost the war when Jesus died on Calvary and rose to life. He might win his battles here and there, but the outcome was already determined on the cross. Jesus was victorious once and for all at Calvary. He conquered sin and death and Satan. And Jesus resurrected in victory and now sits as the Reigning King at the right hand of God. And Satan knows he’s lost, so he is basically throwing a tantrum.
And interesting to note, it says Satan knows that his time is short. Satan knows his time is short because he lost the war and he is “allowed” only a window of time to lead the world astray until Jesus comes a second and final time.
Given this context, the fourth and final character of this passage is introduced.
Rev 12: 17 – 17 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.
The offspring are those who keep God’s commands and hold fast their testimony about Jesus. That means us who believe – we are the offspring.
Rev 13:1 – 1 The dragon stood on the shore of the sea.
This means Satan is standing on the shore to this day and he is in a battle-ready state, and he is out to wage war against all of God’s children. It’s like what’s happening on the Korean peninsula and all the tension that is building between North and South Korea. Both sides are on high alert, in a battle-ready posture. Likewise, the dragon is waiting on the shore of the sea, ready to attack and to lead as many astray as he can.
Knowing the reality of this spiritual battle, shouldn’t we be in a battle-ready position? Especially, during the holiday season, I think we should be more prayerful because the spiritual battle is raging and the dragon is ready to strike.
How does Satan attack us? The most obvious thing that comes to mind is that he keeps us busy. I don’t know about you, but from Thanksgiving through the end of the year, I feel like life accelerates. We get busier. Starting from Thanksgiving through the New Year’s, there is more driving, more gatherings, then the stress of buying gifts and being around family members and relatives that you don’t necessarily get along with. And by the time New Year’s rolls around, I think many of us are kind of stumbling into the new year. What do you think? Can you identify with this?
This is one way Satan attacks us. How do we fight against this?
Rev 12:17 offers some helpful tips. Rev 12:17 – 17 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…
Keep God’s commands. Be mentally, physically and spiritually disciplined during this holiday season. We are holistic beings so when one area is lazy, it affects the other 2 areas. When we are lazy physically, we become lazy mentally and this also leads to spiritual laziness. There is great temptation to let go of ourselves during the holidays. Our normal pattern goes out the window. We don’t have to go to work or school so we wake up later. And we are constantly surrounded by family so we are rarely alone.
Refuse to let go of your spiritual disciplines. Volunteer to get Starbucks coffee for your family members and take an extra 10-15 minutes to read your Bible and pray before rushing back. We have to be creative with our schedule. Look for pockets of time to be alone so that you can spend time with God and recharge your spiritual batteries.
Satan attacks us through busyness. And we fight back by keeping God’s commands and being spiritually disciplined.
Satan also attacks us using accusation.
That’s what we read in Rev 12:10 — 10 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.
Satan is accusing us day and night. Non-stop. How does Satan accuse us?
One form of accusation is regret. If you lost someone that you love, then the holiday season often brings up those memories. And Satan accuses you with a sense of regret — how come you didn’t spend more time with that person? Or you made some bad decisions and Satan reminds you, how come you did that? You are such a failure.
I think another form of accusation is the voice of doubt. Just like in the Garden of Eden, Satan will start by accusing you and distorting your view of God. Did God really say not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil? And this doubt begins to erode away at your trust in God.
Maybe you had a hard year spiritually and Satan begins whispering in your ear, why do you spend time at church or Bible study? It’s not making a difference. You know you are being a hypocrite. Just give up. Don’t waste your time. Just stay home and watch football. Or squeeze an extra hour of study time. And you miss one Sunday service and then you miss every other week, then you miss an entire month. And before you know it, Satan has you.
A third form of accusation is guilt. We all made many commitments to God this year. But you and I fell short. Satan’s voice of accusation comes to us, remember what you committed to the Lord? Remember your promise to keep a pure mind? How many times did you break it this past year? And he piles on the guilt and we are paralyzed. And we believe the lie that we should not even try to do what God says in His Word.
How do we fight against Satan’s accusations?
First, we need to know our enemy. And our enemy is Satan and we have to know that he is the Deceiver.
In Rev 12:9, we read,
Rev 12:9 – 9 The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray.
In the short time that he has, Satan’s entire goal in life is to lead as many astray as he can. He will accuse us day and night with his lies. Recognizing Satan as a Deceiver who carries around various tools of accusation is the first step in being victorious in this spiritual battle. Knowing your enemy is half the battle.
Second, we cling to the blood of the Lamb.
Rev 12:11 — 11 They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb…
The blood of the Lamb, the cross, Jesus’ death and resurrection, this is what we celebrate every Sunday and nothing else. We may talk about the sovereignty of God or the justice of God or the holiness of God, but we must always return to the love and mercy of God as demonstrated by the cross of Jesus Christ. When the storms are raging and our ship is being tossed back and forth, the cross, that’s our anchor.