BEHIND THE SCENES
Lord, Your final victory is certified.
Read REVELATION 12:1—13:1a
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.
The Beast out of the Sea
13 The dragon[b] stood on the shore of the sea. And I saw a beast coming out of the sea. It had ten horns and seven heads, with ten crowns on its horns, and on each head a blasphemous name.
a Revelation 12:5 Psalm 2:9
b Revelation 13:1 Some manuscripts And I
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.
Lord, help us to see what is really going on in our world. Then help us to pray, to live and to trust.
The cycle of chapters 12–14 gives another parallel view of the era between Christ’s first and second comings. Now we look behind the scenes, where an ongoing spiritual struggle continues—though God alone is God. A pregnant woman enters labor. She is probably not an individual (neither Mary nor Eve) but an embodiment of God’s people from whom Jesus will be born (the male child). But his arrival will not go unopposed; a powerful, though not omnipotent, dragon (Satan), together with his minions, presents an apparently overwhelming force.
The three visions in this chapter all tell the same story of the defeat of the devil, the victory of Christ, and the protection of his church. The Old Testament scenario tells of the labors of the woman, in Egypt, in the desert, under attack or in exile. When the child is born the dragon is frustrated. The child escapes Herod’s clutches, overpowers the demons and, though seemingly defeated on the cross, even there he triumphs and returns victorious to heaven. The familiar Christmas story is given fresh energy through a vision which cannot be ignored, domesticated or commercialized. It finishes in a desert, where God’s people have often gone in times of trouble. The desert can be a lonely and depressing place. Following Christ in any age can leave you feeling alone and abandoned—but you are not.
Then we see a war in heaven, between two armies locked in battle. It is the same story, through a different lens. Michael and the angels are fighting the dragon and his demonic forces. God emerges triumphant, singing fills the portals of heaven, and the persecuted church ends up on the victor’s side. The final picture shows the dragon’s ongoing hostility to the woman. Defeated but still dangerous, he remains bitter to the end. Stand firm, because we are not alone.
Try looking at Christmas not with shepherds and wise men, but as Christ being attacked by a dragon and overcoming!
Lord, powerful are the forces aligned against Your people. Defend us as we continue to fight in the spirit to secure the final victory.
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