Summary: An Exposition of Rev. 12
The Dragon Wars
I suppose it’s not unusual for monsters to come up in conversation on Halloween night, but you probably didn’t expect to hear about them at church. Nevertheless, that’s just what we’re going to talk about—a monster, more specifically, a dragon.
Dragons are mythical creatures that haunt the culture of almost every civilization, from the Babylonians to the Chinese to the Europeans. Long ago, when much of the world was still undiscovered, mapmakers when they reached the edge of their knowledge, would insert the ominous lines—“here be dragons.” Today most of us leave dragons for fairy tales, or books or movies. But the dragon I want to talk about is no fairy tale. He is real. He’s been around a long time, and he’s just as deadly and diabolical as he’s ever been. He is the monster behind all other monsters, the bogeyman who really is there, the ultimate horror of the universe. And this monster, this dragon wages war right now against the church of Jesus Christ, against the very God of the universe, and against you and me. Tonight we’ll take a look at 3 aspects of the dragon wars, and look at how you and I can win against this ancient monster. Let’s begin in Rev. 12:1-6., where we read about the first war of the dragon.
John begins by clarifying the nature of his vision. He describes a great and wondrous sign…another sign…John’s vision is expressed in symbols, but don’t forget these symbols represent reality, not fantasy.
The first symbol in vs. 1-2 is a woman in labor, about to give birth. Her clothes shine like the sun, the moon is at her feet, and on her head is a crown of 12 stars---all of which remind us of Joseph’s dream back in
Ge 37:9 “Listen,” he said, “I had another dream, and this time the sun and moon and eleven stars were bowing down to me.”
Any Jew reading this for the first time associated this woman with the nation of Israel—an image used by the OT prophets many times.
Is 54:5 For your Maker is your husband— the LORD Almighty is his name…
As these birth pangs keep coming, another image comes into John’s view: a huge, red, seven-headed dragon. On each head is a crown, symbolizing great authority, and ten horns, symbolizing great strength. The dragon’s tail sweeps 1/3 of the stars from heaven. Again, the first readers would immediately associate this image with the serpent of Gen. 3, Satan, the devil, who led a third of the angels in revolt against God. Peter describes it this way:
2 Pe 2:4 …God did not spare the angels who sinned, but cast them down to hell and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment;
This dragon stands in front of the woman, waiting greedily to devour the child as soon as He is born. Suddenly the pains increase, and the Child enters the world---a Son, whom John describes in vs. 5 …who will rule all the nations with an iron scepter. Aha—here is another OT reference, referring to the Messiah described in
Ps 2:9 You will rule them with an iron scepter; you will dash them to pieces like pottery.