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8th July 2012
Some passages of the Bible are completely baffling! Yet we're told that ALL Scripture is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16). So how do we apply the verses that leave us perplexed?
Revelation 12 is one of those chapters that makes very little sense when you first read it. It is apocalyptic writing, which we don't see much of these days, and that can lead to us misunderstanding how we're supposed to think about it: we can imagine that it's meant literally and is like a crystal ball, through which we gaze at the future. But it is actually not intended to be read that way; rather, it is symbolic language describing heavenly realities.
Looking at the chapter in three chunks – Satan versus Jesus (1-9), Satan versus God's people (12-17) and how God's people win (10-11) – we can start to figure out some of the weird and wonderful symbols in the text. For example, the woman in verses 1 and 2 most likely represents Israel, the dragon is Satan, the male child is Jesus, etc. Exploring the passage in this way and comparing it to other parts of the Bible, we start to see that Satan used to have access to heaven (see the book of Job), where he could stand before God and accuse people, but because of Jesus he has been cast out and no longer has that access.
This is great news for heaven, but terrible news for the Earth as Satan's rage and hatred of Jesus is now directed at God's people! Like other defeated tyrants throughout history, Satan wants to destroy us because he knows his time is short. There is a huge, cosmic, spiritual battle raging in our world and apocalyptic Bible passages such as this are designed to expose us to it. They remind us that we are at war – and we mustn't forget this or we will easily become disillusioned at the faintest sign of conflict.
Maybe this all sounds a bit bleak: there's a big dragon with 10 horns and seven heads, he's tried to destroy Jesus and now he's after you! But the truth is this: JESUS WINS! And if we follow him, so do we! The cross of Christ means that no accusations against us stick. Satan can bring up the worst thing you've ever done, but he's got nothing. If you're in Christ, the blood of Jesus has covered all your sins. It's not the strength of our faith that saves us, but the object of our faith.
Christians who don't fear death, do preach the gospel, are covered by Jesus' blood and are free from accusation, are unstoppable. That is how the devil is overcome! Jesus wins because of his blood, because of the word of his testimony, and because he didn't love his life even to death. What a saviour!
Verses: Revelation 12 (see also 2 Timothy 3:16)
Food for thought:
Posted by Andrew Wilson