Reading: Revelation 12
10Then 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. 11They 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. 12Therefore 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." (Rev. 12:10-12)
Reflecting and Thinking
Today's text picks up where the seventh trumpet concluded: "the kingdom of God has broken forth in the world." This section, which uses personification, introduces the second scroll and the "rest of the story." In chapters 12-13, we encounter six personages represented in various ways-woman, man-child, Michael, dragon or Satan (already judged, based on message of first scroll), sea beast, and earth beast. One could wish that the "6+interlude+1" were more obvious-the student will have to decide to what extent this extended section (12-18) has parallels to the seals and trumpets (6-11). It does appear that in some way the introduction of the personages in the second scroll parallels the historical seals in the first scroll, and the parallel between the trumpets and the plagues is very clear.
The identity of the four personages in Chapter 12 is easy with the exception of the woman (who likely represents the people of God). The child is the Christ, we know Michael the archangel from other Bible passages, and the dragon is Satan. Having made these identifications, one must realize that the events described are figurative ways of communicating God's plan and purpose, the conflict, God's protection, and God's judgment.
All of these concepts are reflected in today's poetic text. In summary, one might say that the first scroll showed the victory of God's kingdom over all opposing forces and enemies, while the purpose of the second scroll is to show specifically the victory of God over Rome. But that is getting ahead and anticipating "the rest of the story."
In what sense are the appearances of the woman and the dragon "signs"? What are they signs of? How can the writer say that the things mentioned in 12:10 have already come? How do you respond to this description of why Satan continues to battle against God's people even after the cross declares his defeat? What attitudes are suggested by the declarations in today's text?
Dear God, we are easily discouraged as we look at the world around us and see increasing hostility toward Christianity. We easily lose sight of your work in this world, and some days we wonder how long things can continue as they are. We are grateful for your promises of deliverance and for the assurance that you are actively involved in the world combating evil. We are grateful that you have made it possible for us to be identified with the side of good through the death of Jesus on the cross. Keep us strong, we pray in Jesus' name, Amen.