Today's Bible Reading: Revelation 12
Selected Biblical Text
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 NIV)
Reflecting and Thinking
Today's text picks up where the seventh trumpet concluded: "the kingdom of God has broken forth in the world." The second section of Revelation, beginning in Chapter 12 frequently uses the symbolism of personification. It explains the second scroll and tells the "rest of the story." In Chapters 12-13, we encounter six personages described in various ways -- a woman, a man-child, Michael, the dragon or Satan (already having been judged, based on the message of the first scroll in Rev. 1-11), a sea beast, and an earth beast. The reader will discover that this extended section (Rev. 12-18) has parallels to the seals and trumpets (Rev. 6-11). The introduction of the personages in the second scroll may remind us of the historical seals in the first scroll, and the parallels between the trumpets and the plagues is easily seen.
The four personages in Chapter 12 are symbolic. The identity of the four is easy with the exception of the woman. The child is the Christ, we know Michael the archangel from other Bible passages, and the dragon is Satan. The woman is a representative of God and his eternal purpose, perhaps symbolizing the people of God. Having made these identifications, one must realize that the events described are figurative or symbolic ways of communicating God's plan, the conflict, God's protection, and God's judgment.
All of these ideas are reflected in today's elected poetic text. In summary, one could 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 can you explain why Satan continues to battle against God's people even after the cross declares his defeat? What parts of today's text are most encouraging to you?
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 as you combat 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.