Summary: At the birth of Christ a great war was initiated. Few of us are aware of the conflict, but it will continue until He reigns on the earth.
“A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. She was pregnant and was crying out in birth pains and the agony of giving birth. And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads seven diadems. His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven and cast them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she bore her child he might devour it. She gave birth to a male child, one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron, but her child was caught up to God and to his throne, and the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, in which she is to be nourished for 1,260 days.
“Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels fought back, but he was defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, ‘Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death. Therefore, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!’
“And when the dragon saw that he had been thrown down to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child. But the woman was given the two wings of the great eagle so that she might fly from the serpent into the wilderness, to the place where she is to be nourished for a time, and times, and half a time. The serpent poured water like a river out of his mouth after the woman, to sweep her away with a flood. But the earth came to the help of the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed the river that the dragon had poured from his mouth. Then the dragon became furious with the woman and went off to make war on the rest of her offspring, on those who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus. And he stood on the sand of the sea.
“And I saw a beast rising out of the sea, with ten horns and seven heads, with ten diadems on its horns and blasphemous names on its heads.”
There is one view of Christmas none of us have ever seen on a Christmas card. Perhaps this is because no artist, not even William Blake, could do it justice. In *Revelation** 12*, the Word of God graphically pulls back the curtain separating the present from the past giving us a glimpse of Christmas as it looked from somewhere far beyond Andromeda. It is Christmas from God’s viewpoint. Admittedly, the Book of Revelation is a peculiar place to find an Advent text. Few people imagine that the book speaks of the birth of the Saviour. However, even a casual reading of the Book does reveal that the Book addresses the birth of the Master, even as it points to God’s purpose in sending His Son.
The account in the text before us differs radically from the birth stories in the Gospels. John fails to mention shepherds, wise men or an infanticidal king; rather, his account pictures a dragon leading a ferocious struggle in heaven. A woman clothed with the sun and wearing a crown of twelve stars cries out in pain as she is about to give birth. Suddenly, an enormous red dragon enters the picture, his tail sweeping a third of the stars out of the sky and flinging them to the earth. He crouches hungrily before the woman, eager to devour her child the moment it is born. At the last second, the infant is snatched away to safety, the woman flees into a desert, and all-out cosmic war begins.
Revelation is a strange book by any measure, and we need to understand its style to make sense of this extraordinary scene presented in the text before us. In daily life, two parallel histories occur simultaneously—one on earth and one in heaven. Revelation, however, views them together, allowing a look behind the scenes at the cosmic impact of what happens on earth. On earth, a baby was born; a king learned of that birth and ordered an attempt on the child’s life. In heaven, the Great Invasion had begun—a daring raid by the ruler of the forces of good into the universe’s seat of evil. John Milton expressed this point of view majestically in “Paradise Lost” and again in “Paradise Regained,” poems that make heaven and hell the central focus, and Earth a mere battle ground for these cosmic clashes.