The Dragon and the Sea (2nd Week)
Satan, Spiritual Warfare, Faith, Testimony
And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars: And she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered. And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads. And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born. And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne. And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days. And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.
Satan wages war against God and God’s people.
This passage starts out with a “great sign” (v. 1) followed by “another sign” (v. 3), language indicating that what John is seeing is understood to be pointing to something beyond itself. The woman in the first sign represents the nation of Israel, and the “male child” who would “rule all the nations with an iron scepter” refers to Jesus Christ (v. 5).
Being clothed with the sun speaks of the glory, dignity, and exalted status of Israel, the people of promise who will be saved and given a kingdom. The picture of the moon under her feet describes God’s covenant relationship with Israel, since new moons were associated with worship. The 12 stars represent the 12 tribes of Israel.
Israel, often pictured as a mother giving birth had agonized and suffered for centuries, longing for the Messiah to come and destroy Satan, sin, and death, and usher in the kingdom.
The dragon in the second sign represents Satan, the devil, who opposes the work of God and wants to destroy God’s plan to redeem the world through the Christ (vv. 4–5, 8). Satan literally means “accuser”; God’s enemy and ours accuses us “before our God day and night” (v. 10). Satan hates God and wants to stop God’s plans to redeem the world. But Satan can’t stop God. So he attacks God’s children.
The woman’s mortal enemy is Satan, who appears as a dragon 13 times in this book. Red speaks of bloodshed (cf. ). seven heads…ten horns…seven diadems. Figurative language depicting Satan’s domination of 7 past worldly kingdoms and 10 future kingdoms (cf. , , ). Satan has and will rule the world until the seventh trumpet blows (11:15). He has inflicted relentless pain on Israel (), desiring to kill the woman before she could bring forth the child that would destroy him (see notes on ).
All acts of terror are distressing and frightening, yet when the intended targets are children, our anger and fear are escalated. In May 2017, teen and preteens were targeted by an act of terror through a bomb explosion killing twenty-two people at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England. Then only eight days later, an ice cream shop in Baghdad was bombed killing ten people and injuring forty more, the vast majority of victims being women and small children (Jason Hanna, “Other Times Terror Attacks Targeted Children,” CNN, May 30, 2017, http://www.cnn.com/2017/05/23/us/manchester-terror-other-childrenattacks-worldwide/index.html). The injustice of attacking the most defenseless target stirs our hearts. Although Satan plays dirty by attacking God’s children, we are not left defenseless. In fact, this passage shows us Satan’s ultimate defeat as well as our line of defense.
More than anything, Satan is out to attack our faith, our trust in the Lord, the one thing he can never possess for himself. “Satan likes to fill us with doubt. To accomplish this he plants questions in our mind about the goodness and love of God. When Satan approached Eve in the garden, his strategy was to cause her to doubt God’s goodness. He insinuated that God did not have her best interest at heart and that God was trying to keep her from what would be best for her” (Chuck Pierce, Restoring Your Shield of Faith [Minneapolis, MN: Chosen Books, 2004], 58).
Satan and his demons were cast out of heaven at the time of their original rebellion, but still have access to it (cf. ; ). That access will then be denied, and they will be forever barred from heaven. Devil and Satan.“Devil” comes from a Gr. verb meaning “to slander” or “to falsely accuse.” He is a malignant liar (; ). His accusations against believers are unsuccessful because of Christ our Advocate (). Satan, meaning “adversary,” or “enemy,” appears especially in Job and the gospels. deceives the whole world. As he has throughout human history, Satan will deceive people during the Tribulation (cf. 13:14; 20:3; ). After his temporary release from the bottomless pit at the end of the Millennium, he will briefly resume his deceitful ways (20:8, 10).
The loud voice John hears in heaven brings good news and encouragement after the showing of Satan’s defeat. The victory and all the glory belong to God and Christ (v. 10). The accuser’s voice is silenced forever as he is “hurled down” (v. 10). And the children of God are victorious over Satan “by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony” (v. 11).
And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.
And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.
Verse 11 here is both encouraging and instructional. It describes two parts of our victory: the finished work of Christ (the blood of the Lamb) as a sacrifice for our sins, and our believing in it (the word of our testimony). The second points to our need to personally receive Jesus’s work for ourselves by grace through faith, and this conversion becomes our personal testimony. The last part of verse 11 also indicates that when we receive the gift of a right relationship with God, we value our eternal life over and above our present one. We are able to let go of our old life and embrace God’s better eternal life for us, an upgrade we are willing to make even in the face of death for God’s purposes.
For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
Sometimes the Lord calms the storm. Sometimes he lets the storm rage and calms his child.
“The Gospels are full of testimonies of God’s power from eyewitnesses who saw Jesus heal the sick and raise the dead. When the blind man received sight, he went and told others. When the Samaritan woman received living water from Jesus, she went back to tell what happened to her, and “many of the Samaritans from that town believed in Him because of the woman’s testimony” (John 4:39). Revelation 12:11 says we overcome the evil one by the word of our testimony. When the orphans tell, they experience God’s power at work in them; when others hear, their faith is strengthened. When we gather to share our stories, I know the devil runs out the door when the smallest, weakest orphan stands up to attest to the goodness of God.
We are Over-comers!