Summary: Behind the scenes of history, there is great evil. But there is also great good.
Today we are looking behind the scenes of history, and behind the scenes of your life today… : (Slide 5) “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 his time is short." Behind the scenes of history, Satan is very angry, because God has defeated him. And he knows his time is short. He knows that very soon, when Jesus returns on Judgment Day, he will be sent to hell, and won't have the same freedom that he has right now. Satan is basically on death row, and this planet earth is his jail cell, his waiting room, until the day of Christ's return.
Here's where you enter the picture. (Slide 6): "When the dragon saw that he had been hurled to the earth, he pursued the woman who had been given birth to the male child." Who is this woman? She represents the family of God, all Christians. This is you. And here the Bible says that the dragon pursues you. The Christians have a target on their backs, and this includes you. Why is it that of all the religions of the world, Christianity endures the most persecution? Why is it that of all the religions in the United States, Bible-Christianity is the most maligned or mocked religion? Satan is pursuing the Christians, and this includes you. His ultimate goal is to cause you to stop believing in Jesus. He does 4 things as he pursues you. The "4 shuns's"… Either he tries to make your life so miserable as a Christian that you deny your faith - that's persecution. Or, he surrounds you with so many sinful worldly pleasures that you deny your faith - that's temptation. Or he surrounds you with so many messed up ideas you don't know what to think - that's confusion. Or, you are so busy, you don't have time to believe in Jesus - that's distraction.
This is the great evil that is going on behind the scenes of history, and behind the scenes of life. But also, there is great good. Look at what God does here for you: (Slide 7) "The woman was given the two wings of a great eagle, so that she might fly to the place prepared for her in the desert, where she would be taken care of for a time, times and half a time, out of the serpent's reach."
God takes care of you, the Bible says. He gives you the wings of an eagle. Everytime you put your hope in God, you are using the wings that God has given to you: (Slide 8)"Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles." No persecution is too much for you. No temptation is too much for you. No false doctrine is too confusing to you. No distraction is too much. God gives you the wings of an eagle, wings of faith and hope. Yes, there is great evil behind the scenes of your life, but there is also great good.
But the Devil doesn't give up easily - look at this: (Slide 9) "Then from his mouth the serpent spewed water like a river, to overtake the woman and sweep her away with the torrent" More temptation. More persecution. More false doctrine confusion. More distraction. He just keeps throwing it at you. And the Bible pictures you running for your life, and it looks like you're going to get swept away by all of that temptation and persecution and confusion and distraction. The Devil is using your social life and your family life and your health and your job and everything else to cause you to fall away.
But God steps in - he works out all things for your good, and here's a picture of that - (Slide 10) "But the earth helped the woman by opening its mouth and swallowing the river that the dragon had spewed out of his mouth." This is a picture of God, using the world to help the Christians. We see this in the history of the Christian church - just when it looked like the Christians would disappear off the face of the earth because of all the temptation and persecution and false doctrine and distraction, something would happen - God steps in - using people and governments and situations and nature and all kinds of other things to help his people, and to help you. There is great evil behind the scenes, but there is also great good.
(Slide 11)Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to make war against the rest of her offspring-- those who obey God's commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus. And that's how this chapter ends. The Devil has declared war on you, and he won't stop until Judgment Day.