Summary: The cosmic battle described in Chapter 12 provides us with guidance about how to be overcomers in that battle.
In October 1985, a former U of A football player got me a sideline pass for the football game against 3rd ranked SMU. Although I had previously watched numerous games from the stands and on TV, being on the sideline gave me a whole new perspective on the game. I got to witness first hand many of the things going on behind the scenes that impacted what happened on the field. I heard what the coaches were saying to the players. I could watch as the trainers treated injured players. I could hear what the players and officials on the field were saying to each other. And so I gained a whole different appreciation of the Wildcats 28-6 victory that day.
That is essentially what is going on when we get to Revelation 12. For the first 11 chapters, John’s visions record the action on the field, so to speak. But when we get to chapter 12, it’s as if God gives John a sideline pass and allows him to see what is going on behind the scenes that is causing all the other things that John has seen so far.
Before we read our passage from chapter 12 this morning, let me take a moment to set the stage. Chapters 12 through 15 represent one long scene that provides a look at the reasons for all the events that have been portrayed in the first 11 chapters of Revelation. Not surprisingly, we will find that this block of material can be further divided into seven sub-scenes in which we will find seven major characters. As we’ll see this morning, this material covers a wide panorama of history that begins before Adam and Eve and extends through Daniel’s 70th week, a seven year period also known as the tribulation.
With that in mind go ahead and open your Bibles to Revelation 12 and follow along as I read:
1 And 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. 2 She was pregnant and was crying out in birth pains and the agony of giving birth. 3 And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads seven diadems. 4 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. 5 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, 6 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.
7 Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels fought back, 8 but he was defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. 9 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. 10 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. 11 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. 12 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!”
13 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. 14 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. 15 The serpent poured water like a river out of his mouth after the woman, to sweep her away with a flood. 16 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. 17 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.