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Winning the War

Learn to recognize your invisible enemy, Satan, because he will entice you with what you already desire, tempt you to take what you think you deserve, and encourage you to follow a path you know to be a path of destruction.

 

Revelation 12:1-17 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. 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. 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.

 

What do you do when you are fighting an invisible enemy? When you are being dragged by an invisible power to do exactly what you know you should not be doing? Last week, I was talking to a brother who wanted to know how to win the war against temptation.

 

The problem is not the temptation; it's the tempter behind the temptation, the invisible enemy— Satan. People need to know they are in a state of war and unless they claim the blood of Jesus and maintain the testimony of Jesus, they stand no chance against Satan.

 

As we continue “Uncovering Revelation” verse by verse, Revelation 12 shows that people can win the war against Satan only by the blood and the testimony of Jesus.

 

The big idea is that if you want to win the war against the invisible enemy, Satan, the source of all sin, suffering and temptation, then you must claim the blood of Jesus daily and maintain your testimony of Jesus daily. Revelation 12 tells us that Satan is relentless and he will not stop waging war against God’s plan of salvation, God’s power of salvation, and God’s people of salvation.

 

Satan Wars Against God’s Plan of Salvation

 

Revelation 12:1-2 reads, “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.

 

Three of the most critical aspects of Revelation 12 are interpretation, identification, and implication.

 

Interpretation. Always interpret the Scripture literally unless the text indicates otherwise. The very first phrase of the text tells us this is a sign. A sign usually points to something else. This means what is written is symbolic of something else. Borrowing from Pastor John MacArthur, “A sign is a symbol of the reality.” So, from the start of Rev. 12 we are told it is not to be taken literally but symbolically. Now the question is symbolic of what? What does this pregnant woman represent? That takes us to the second most critical aspect of this chapter. 

 

Identification. Essentially, there are four views on the identity of the woman in Revelation 12:1-2: Eve, Israel, Mary the mother of Jesus, and the church. All of those views hold some validity because the text touches on all four.

 

However, if you remain consistent with the context of this chapter and the metanarrative of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, it becomes clear that the woman is Israel because Israel was God’s plan of salvation for the nations.

 

It started in Genesis 3:15 when after the fall, God said to the serpent, “I will put enmity between you and the woman and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” Jesus was the only one who was not born with a man’s contribution but was solely a virgin birth, thus, offspring of the woman.

To execute the plan of salvation, God elected one man, Abraham, and one nation, Israel. As to the description of the sun, the moon and the stars, Genesis 37:9 says, “Behold, I have dreamed another dream. Behold, the sun, the moon, and eleven stars were bowing down to me.” This identical description reinforces that the woman is Israel.

 

Implication. The cosmic invisible war between God and Satan has been going on since before we were created but the choosing of Israel turned Satan’s focus onto Israel and that will not change, not even in the end times. Just as God's choosing of man to be His image bearer to rule the earth made Adam and Eve a target, God's choosing of Israel to be His people to bring salvation into the world also made them a target.

 

Revelation 3:3 reads, “And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads seven diadems.” The conniving serpent of Genesis and the cruel dragon of Revelation is the morning star Lucifer, once a cherub of God but now the lord of darkness.

 

Perhaps the color red represents Satan’s fury, seven heads are seven kings, and ten horns represent the strength of ten kingdoms all of which, we will study in Revelation 17. The heads of the dragon have seven diadems, which are crowns. This shows how Satan will have complete sovereignty over the worldly kingdoms.

 

Revelation 3:4 says, “His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven and cast them to the earth.” It could mean that Satan will be very strong in the end time, or it could be a reference to the third of the angels who fell from heaven with Satan when he rebelled against God.

 

Either way, Satan is not alone in this war against God and the pursuit of Israel. Verse 4 continues, “And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she bore her child he might devour it,” followed by verse 5, which says. “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.” The dragon, namely, Satan, tried but failed to kill the baby Jesus; however when Jesus was killed on the cross, Satan thought he had won, but only to witness victory over death as Jesus rose to glory to claim his throne with God which was His from the beginning.

 

Clearly, he was not allowed to touch the mother of the child, Mary, but he was allowed to harm the mother, Israel, which he has done ever since God chose Israel to bring forth salvation for nations but that harm will end because God will protect Israel. Thus, verse 6 says, “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.

 

Some say that in verse 6, the woman is the church. The problem is twofold.

 

First, we cannot just change the main character in the story whenever we want to. For example, you cannot start a story about Superman and when he is trapped by his enemy, suddenly say that it was not Superman, but rather, it must be Batman. It does not work that way.

 

Second, in many places in the Bible, Israel is called “woman,” but, the church is never called “woman” and most certainly, not a pregnant woman because she is the bride of Christ waiting for consummation. 

 

Just as in the past with all his power, Satan could not stop the birth of Jesus, He will not stop what comes in the end time for the salvation of Israel. Just as Israel fled to the wilderness when Pharaoh and his armies chased her and God protected and provided for her, similarly in the last days Israel will be protected and provided for by God.

 

The application for us here is that nothing can stop God’s plan of salvation for the nations through Israel. God will deliver her as He has done in the past.

 

Satan Wars Against God’s Power of Salvation

 

Revelation 12:7-8 reads. “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.” This may sound like it already happened in the past, but a close study shows that this is yet to be in the future.

 

Satan is not ruling Hell as some think; Satan is in the heavenly places. In the end time, Satan will again war against God in heaven and Michael and his angels will defeat and kick Satan and his angels out of heavenly places for good, as it says in verse 8, “no longer any place for them in heaven.

 

In Revelation 12:9, we read, “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.” You may ask, what will Satan be doing in heaven until then? Verse 10 answers that, “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.”

 

While Satan wars against God's plan of salvation on earth whether by making sin acceptable in the world, or generating animosity against God, verse 10 tells us that he also regularly undermines the work of the gospel in heaven by accusing us before the throne of God of our sins. However, our advocate, Jesus, testifies before the Father that His atoning blood paid for our every sin of the past, present, and future. It is His blood and His testimony that makes us victorious. 

 

Last week, I was at a lunch meeting with several faith leaders including some Christian leaders. It was interesting how not only other faiths, but some Christian leaders do not believe in original sin, meaning Adam and Eve’s sin corrupted our nature and the world. By denying that, they deny the power of salvation through His Son Jesus. 

 

Looking at Revelation 12:11-12, as an application, it reads “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!” This means no that matter what shape Satan takes, whether a snake or dragon, as long as we claim the blood of Jesus and maintain the testimony of Jesus, we will be victorious.

 

Satan Wars Against God’s People of Salvation

 

The rest of Revelation 12 reads, “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. That is again from Daniel's vision describing the three and a half years of the intense tribulation of Israel. 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.” Satan is defeated again. He leaps toward anything he can grab to declare his victory— certainly not before God, but before his demons and followers.

 

This reminds me of the Iranian attack on Israel this past week. It was the first time that Iran attacked Israel directly by firing some 330 drones and missiles at Israel. Though it was the largest-ever drone attack in the world, there was no significant harm to Israel.

 

Even so, the Supreme Leader of Iran declared it a victory. In the Iranian main square, there's a sign in Farsi and Hebrew. In Farsi, it declared victory but in Hebrew, it said that it was just warning shots. In other words, the claim was that those drones and missiles were not even meant to hit Israel.

 

To maintain his political control and alliance, Satan, in the end times, will do the same. He will go after the offspring of Israel— those who became Christians during the tribulation, whether from a Jewish or gentile background. 

 

Do not be afraid of Satan and his power. The Bible teaches that the One who is in us is greater than the one who is in the world. God will win every war.

 

Last Thursday, in our small group, we talked about why the kingdom of the world still belongs to Satan. The reason may be that the people of salvation, that is from whom the salvation of the world came through, the nation of Israel, as a whole is yet to be saved.

 

So yes, Satan may not stop war against God’s plan, power, and people of salvation but we can be victorious if we claim the blood of Jesus and maintain the testimony of Jesus daily.

 

Trust God, no matter what war you are fighting in, and through all of this, God will deliver you. 

 

Learn to recognize your invisible enemy, Satan, because he will entice you with what you already desire, tempt you to take what you think you deserve, and encourage you to follow a path you know to be a path of destruction.

 

Study Questions

 

1.       Why was there a war in heaven? Was it the first time? 

 

2.       What does the war in heaven tell you about the invisible war? 

 

3.       What do we learn about the woman, the dragon and the child?

 

Deeper Study Questions

 

1.       Read Daniel 10:12-13 and Revelation 12:7-8. Discuss the fact that the power of darkness might be fighting against us, but we have the blessed assurance that God’s armies are always fighting for us.  

 

2.       Revelation 12:10 declares Satan as the accuser of believers. How might Satan be accusing you before God’s throne? 

 

3.       Revelation 12:11 says believers overcame Satan by the blood of the lamb and by the word of their testimony for they loved not their lives even unto death. How are you overcoming Satan? 


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