INTO THE WILDERNESS
Sovereign Lord, I open myself to the leading of your Spirit as I read and study your Word today.
Read REVELATION 12
The Woman and the Dragon
12 A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head. 2 She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth. 3 Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on its heads. 4 Its tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth. The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that it might devour her child the moment he was born. 5 She gave birth to a son, a male child, who “will rule all the nations with an iron scepter.”[a] And her child was snatched up to God and to his throne. 6 The woman fled into the wilderness to a place prepared for her by God, where she might be taken care of for 1,260 days.
7 Then war broke out in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. 8 But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. 9 The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.
10 Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say:
“Now have come the salvation and the power
and the kingdom of our God,
and the authority of his Messiah.
For the accuser of our brothers and sisters,
who accuses them before our God day and night,
has been hurled down.
11 They triumphed over him
by the blood of the Lamb
and by the word of their testimony;
they did not love their lives so much
as to shrink from death.
12 Therefore rejoice, you heavens
and you who dwell in them!
But woe to the earth and the sea,
because the devil has gone down to you!
He is filled with fury,
because he knows that his time is short.”
13 When the dragon saw that he had been hurled to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child. 14 The woman was given the two wings of a great eagle, so that she might fly to the place prepared for her in the wilderness, where she would be taken care of for a time, times and half a time, out of the serpent’s reach. 15 Then from his mouth the serpent spewed water like a river, to overtake the woman and sweep her away with the torrent. 16 But the earth helped the woman by opening its mouth and swallowing the river that the dragon had spewed out of his mouth. 17 Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to wage war against the rest of her offspring—those who keep God’s commands and hold fast their testimony about Jesus.
- Revelation 12:5 Psalm 2:9
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectMartin Niemöller, the German theologian and pastor who was imprisoned for his resistance to Hitler, was once visited by a prison chaplain who incredulously asked him why he was in prison. Niemöller retorted: ‘Why are you not in prison?’*
This chapter, at the heart of Revelation, uses dramatic imagery to depict the cosmic conflict between God and Satan, imagery that draws on the Old Testament story of the Exodus, where God powerfully saves his chosen people, leading them through the wilderness to the Promised Land. Here, a pregnant woman and her male child are pitted against the terrifying power of a red dragon (vs 1–4), representing Satan (v 9).
However, this infant represents Christ who will ‘rule all the nations’ (v 5). After ‘war broke out in heaven’ (v 7) Satan is ‘hurled down’, but this triumph comes through a great inversion – through ‘the blood of the Lamb’. Jesus’ followers, outsiders in their society, wandering in the wilderness, will also triumph through weakness and suffering (v 11). In this ‘now and not yet’ framework, the defeated Satan (v 12b) declares war on Christ’s followers who need to ‘keep God’s commands and hold fast their testimony about Jesus’ (v 17b). Many of us live comfortable lives but this passage shows the reality behind reality. How does this passage help you to understand the events taking place around us?
How willing are you to follow the ‘Christ, whose insistent call disturbs our settled lives’ – whatever the cost?**
Lord Jesus, thank you for the peace, security, and forgiveness that you bring to your children. I embrace these gifts anew and praise your name.
*Ben Witherington 111, Revelation: The New Cambridge Bible Commentary, Cambridge University Press, 2003, p.187 **Janet Morley, All Desires Known, SPCK, 2005
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