Summary: Christmas day is often depicted as a time of peace, tranquillity and hope. However there is another aspect to the arrival of Jesus which should make the church realise that we are in a serious battle with Satan.
Congregation in the Lord Jesus Christ
Think of “Christmas” and what are the thoughts that come to your mind?
• peace and tranquillity.
• shepherds on a hill being serenaded by an angelic choir.
• Magi crossing the desert on a quiet night as they make the long journey to Bethlehem.
• a child wrapped in a blanket and hugged by a young mother with delight in her eyes.
These are the sort of images we have when we think about Christmas.
But there is another side to the whole Christmas event that is not so obvious. It is a side which is much more brutal. This side involves a multi-headed dragon that wants to eat an infant. This side is the side where mighty heavenly beings are doing battle. It is a side which focuses on war, anger, frustration and enemy fighting enemy. We don’t often think of Christmas in these terms, but it is a reality. And to top it all off, we need to recognise that we are heavily involved in this battle.
That puts a whole new light onto the Christmas event doesn’t it. To see how it all fits together we need to have a step by step look at this passage in Revelation 12. The two main characters that immediately leap out at us are the woman and the dragon.
The dragon is a terrible, frightfully powerful creature. Large and rearing up on hind legs … overwhelming the sky … lashing his tail across the horizon and ripping out a third of the stars. The seven heads with seven crowns is symbolic of his tremendous authority. The ten horns symbolises his great power. He has authority; and the power to back up that authority. What he wants, it seems, he can pretty much get.
Who is the dragon? Verse 9 makes the answer easy to find. “The great dragon was hurled down – that ancient serpent called the devil or Satan, who leads the whole world astray”. The dragon symbolises the devil! His destructive acts first appear in Genesis – destroying the perfection of God’s creation. Now again we see him in Revelation, wanting to destroy the only One who can bring perfection back into God’s creation.
Alongside that dragon is a woman. She is decked out in the glory of heavenly bodies, the sun and moon and stars. Obviously she has an intimate connection with heaven itself. Who is she? Well, when the text talks about her being pregnant and then about her giving birth to a male child, who will rule all the nations with an iron sceptre it is natural to think of this woman as Mary, the mother of the Lord. But, as we consider the text more closely, we realise the woman is actually an image of the church through the ages.
In the early part of the text she is pictured as the one who gave birth to the Messiah – the one who would rule. In verse 17 her offspring are described as “those who obey God’s commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus”. The women represents the church in all her glory. The precious people of God who have been called into His family right through the ages. She is the bride of God, the one who has been wooed by God, courted by God, cared for and – dare we say it – married by God! She is the special object of his attention; fully under God’s protection.
It is the job of the woman – of the church of all ages – to bring forth the Messiah. She is pregnant and about to give birth as the dragon is poised to devour the child. Satan doesn’t want the Christ-child to be born. And he has been trying for centuries to have it stopped. The birth of the Messiah – of Jesus – is not just the result of Mary successfully having a baby. The birth of the Messiah is the result of the ancestral line of Jesus being protected through the centuries. Satan has been trying again and again to stop this line.
• Had Noah not been faithful, the line would have stopped; and no Messiah would be born.
• We know that Sarah, the mother of Isaac, was taken into a harem … twice … by a pagan king. Had she stayed there no Messiah would be born.
• Remember when Moses was born? The Pharaoh decreed that all male Israelites infants be put to death. But the plan failed.
• There was an occasion when Saul nearly speared David, before he became king. Had the plan succeeded no Messiah would arise.
• On another occasion wicked Queen Athaliah tried to destroy all the royal seed of the House of Judah but one infant, Joash, was hidden from her.