TRIUMPH AND TESTIMONY

TRIUMPH AND TESTIMONY

Opening Prayer

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. She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth. Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on its heads. 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. 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. 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.

Then war broke out in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. 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.

Footnotes

  1. 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.

Meditate

Father, give me greater insight into the triumph ‘by the blood of the Lamb’. As I live this out, grant me my own ‘word of testimony’.1

Think Further

This chapter presents us with a paradox. On the one hand, it is of central importance, written in a different style from the rest of the book. Instead of ‘And I saw’, John writes, ‘A great sign appeared’ (v 1), reverting to his usual language in the next chapter: he seems to want us to pay special attention to this sign. On the other hand, the structure, imagery and ideas seem baffling to the modern reader!

The central narrative is about a woman who gives birth, a dragon who threatens her, the woman being taken to safety and the child defeating and destroying the dragon. Anyone in the first century would immediately recognize this (it is the myth of Leto, Python and Apollo, in which Python threatened a pregnant Leto only to be killed by her child Apollo), not least because this story was deployed in imperial propaganda: the emperor becomes Apollo, who slays the monster Python, representing the forces of chaos and disorder. John, however, changes the story so that the dragon is the one who stands behind Roman power2 and it is Jesus, not the emperor, who is the powerful ruler that ends chaos and brings peace.

John does this by inserting biblical characters into this pagan story: the suffering people of God,3 images of Satan from across the Old Testament and the promised Messiah (v 5).4 He also pauses the main story to add an explanation: Israel’s angelic prince Michael has thrown down Satan (v 9); and it is the sacrifice of Jesus (‘the blood of the Lamb’, v 11) that has defeated every power and freed us from condemnation.5 It is only in Jesus that we find peace, security and forgiveness. Anyone else who claims to provide this is usurping the place of God and deceiving us.

Apply

What stories does my culture relate about itself? How does the gospel subvert these? How can we connect them with the story of what God has done in Jesus?

Closing prayer

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.

Last Updated on May 10, 2023 by kingstar

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