Summary: Behind the scenes of Christmas, all was not calm, all was not bright...
This week we are going to get a behind the scenes look at the Nativity, the Cross, and Life. God is going to pull back the curtain and show us what was really happening in the spirit world that isn’t so evident or obvious to us who live in the physical world. We’re going to look at a chapter in the book of Revelation to get our backstage look. Today, we look at the Nativity, the birth of Christ, in Revelation chapter 12… (SLIDE 2)
NIV Revelation 12:1 A great and wondrous sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head. 2 She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth. 3 Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on his heads. 4 His tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth. The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that he might devour her child the moment it was born. 5 She gave birth to a son, a male child, who will rule all the nations with an iron scepter. And her child was snatched up to God and to his throne. 6 The woman fled into the desert to a place prepared for her by God, where she might be taken care of for 1,260 days.
The birth of Christ seems like a peaceful event – it’s night time, there’s the stable, Joseph and Mary are there, the baby Jesus is lying in a manger, sleeping in heavenly peace. (SLIDE 3)Silent night. All is calm. But behind the scenes, God shows us here, all is not calm, all is not bright.
Before we look at this vision, we should think about this book in general. Revelation is a very unique book in the Bible. The Apostle John is the writer. He had been banished to an island by the Roman government – a prison sentence – because he would not stop talking about Jesus Christ as the Savior of the world. There he was, all by himself on that island, and then Jesus appeared to him. Jesus wanted to encourage him and the other Christians who were experiencing persecution at that time, so he gave John a behind the scenes look at what was happening in the world. The first 11 chapters of Revelation are filled with signs and pictures that symbolize things and teach us about God.
In verse 1 of chapter 12, Jesus pulls back the curtain back, and this is what John sees behind the scenes: (SLIDE 4) “A great and wondrous sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head.” What was the sign or symbol that John saw? A woman. Now, who did this woman symbolize? Lots of people think that this was just the Virgin Mary, because the next verse says, “She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth.” Is this Mary? Yes, but not just Mary. See how she has the 12 stars on her head? Later in this chapter the Bible pictures her being chased by the Devil, (SLIDE 5) and all of her offspring being persecuted by the Devil. Who is this woman? It’s the Christian Church. The woman represents the sum total of all believers. It’s Eve, and all the Old Testament believers – the 12 tribes of Israel – that’s why she has 12 stars on her head - there are the 12 Apostles, and all believers today, including you and me. If you think about it, she symbolizes you.
When Mary was about to give birth to Jesus, it looked like it was just her giving birth to Jesus. But behind the scenes, it was the family of God was giving birth to Jesus, from Eve to Abraham to us. For unto us a child is born, (SLIDE 6) the prophet Isaiah says.
But all is not calm, all is not bright – look at what else we see behind the scenes…(SLIDE 7) “Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on his heads.” Who is this sign? Other parts of the Bible tell us that this symbolizes the Devil. Behind the scenes of the Nativity, the Devil was there. He’s pictured here as a very powerful creature: “His tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth.” And what was this powerful creature, Satan, doing behind the scenes at the birth of Christ? “The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that he might devour her child the moment it was born.” Satan was doing everything he could to destroy God's plan of salvation. He knew that when Jesus was born into the world, the end was near for him.