You think you are learning human history.
Bible has human history from a different perspective. One which includes what has happened and what will happen. It is given in powerful images in Revelation 12.
Have them have a Bible with them.
Draw a picture of one aspect of what you see here.
Make sure there is paper and crayons/pencils etc.
After a while, I will talk about the passage.
1. Identify the historical references.
Notice that the victory over Satan already happens before he is completely defeated.
2. Give lessons that arise out of the passage
Encouragement that God will win
Explanation about the war we are in
Challenge to those things that will help us be on the winning side.
Word of testimony, faithfulness to it. (11, 17)
Martyr willingness (11)
Obey God’s commandments (17)
Sun and moon - symbols of authority
Stars - reminiscent of the 12 tribes.
Power images of Satan - horns, destroying stars etc.
Cf. Psalm 2:9
Escape of the woman into the wilderness is reminiscent of the exodus out of Egypt.
Cf. OT images of protection on eagles wings.
Exodus 19:4; Isaiah 40:31
Believer Wars In This Generation
In baptism, you have said that you want to give primary allegiance to Jesus. Galatians 3:27, "for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ." Do you know what you have gotten yourself into?
A.There Is A Battle Revelation 12
How many of you like cartoons? How many of you like Star Trek or Star Wars?
This morning I want to point you to a passage that is written in Star Wars/Star Trek cartoon type language. In actual fact, it is written in language that uses symbols that come from pagan mythology. However, even though it uses the language of mythology, it is no myth, but rather, it is the story of what you have gotten yourself into. It is about what is happening to you and to all believers right now.
Please open your Bibles to Revelation 12. Listen to the story. Can you wrap your imagination around it? It begins with a description of a woman. But she is no ordinary woman. She is clothed with the sun and has the moon as her footstool. She has a crown of 12 stars. She is pregnant and about to give birth to a child.
Then there is another image that appears. An image of a mean and vicious red dragon. It is grotesque having seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns. It is standing in front of the woman drooling, snapping and growling as it waits to devour the child as soon as it is born.
But as soon as He is born, the child is snatched up to heaven, to the throne of God.
Because the dragon can not devour the child, he begins to pursue the woman. We read in vs 6 and vs 13-16 a description in very strange and picturesque language of the dragon pursuing the woman but because the earth helps the woman the dragon is unable to destroy her. As a result, we read in verse 17, "Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to make war against the rest of her offspring--those who obey God's commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus."
Do you understand the symbolism of this Star Wars cartoon? It isn't that hard to figure out. The woman is Israel. The child who is born is Jesus. The quote in verse 5 about the child comes from Psalm 2:9 and is recognized as a reference to Jesus. The dragon is Satan and his attempts to devour the child refer to the times when Satan tried to destroy Jesus - like when Herod killed all the children 2 years old and under in an attempt to kill the Christ child, when Satan tempted Jesus and when Jesus was killed on the cross. But the attempts of Satan to devour Jesus all failed and through His resurrection and ascension, Jesus was taken up to God and to His throne.
Satan was unable to defeat Jesus and Jesus, in fact, defeated Satan. The song in 12:10-12 expresses that victory. But the song of victory also recognizes that although Satan is now defeated, he is still on earth and like an animal that is cornered he is fighting madly in a last gasp attempt to cause as much pain, suffering and injury as he can before he is cast forever into the lake of fire.
It is in this state of fury that he has gone out and pursued the woman, which I believe refers to the atrocities done against Israel since the time of Christ. The earth helping the woman, refers to the fact that even though Satan has sought to destroy Israel, he has not succeeded.
But notice what he does next. He is now going out to make war against "the rest of her offspring - those who hold to the testimony of Jesus." You know who that is? That is you and me. That is a description of what is happening to believers right now. We are in a terrible battle! Satan is doing everything he can to try to destroy God's people. He is warring against us and wreaking havoc in the church and among the followers of Jesus.
B. Methods of War
There are two primary methods of war.
In the battles fought in Europe, for example, the Napoleonic wars and the first and second world wars, the method of warfare was to draw up battle lines and take shots at each other in an effort to move the line. It is the classic school yard fight in which I draw a line in the sand and if you cross the line, I bop you in the nose.
Satan uses this kind of direct war strategy through persecution. He has sought to destroy many of God's followers by motivating people of this world to kill them for their faith. Stephen was the first martyr and since that early day of the church there have been thousands, perhaps millions of believers who have been persecuted and have even lost their lives because they believed in Jesus.
In the war with Satan and we need to know that Satan may attack us directly through persecution or martyrdom.
I remember from my history classes in school that one reason that the British were defeated in the American revolution was because they used this frontal attack method of war against a bunch of people who were sneaking around in the bush. I have also heard that the Viet Nam war was very difficult to fight because you never knew who the enemy was or where he was hiding. This is an example of the second method of warfare and that is what has become known as guerilla warfare. In guerilla warfare, the attacks are subtle, hidden and methods of infiltration and deception are used. Satan often uses this method of warfare against us.
He invites us to compromise the truth. He doesn't tell us bold faced lies, but he twists the truth ever so slightly and causes us to wonder, "did God say?"
He entices us to compromise holiness. He doesn't tempt us to gross immorality right off, but he does tempt us to think that "just one little thing won't matter." Just one social drink is no big deal, just one date with a non-Christian isn't bad. But a series of "just one..." situations soon become a habit and before we know it, we have developed a lifestyle that deviates from holy living.
Furthermore, he tempts us to compromise love. He doesn't get us to kill someone, but he does give us opportunity to harbor ill will against someone. He does allure us to allow bitterness to grow and suddenly, hate blossoms.
By identifying with the cross of Christ through baptism, you have gotten yourself into a terrible battle against a powerful and angry foe! Satan is devious, he is treacherous, he is dangerous! In fact the Bible tells us that he is a roaring lion seeking someone to devour.
II. Winning The War
Can you imagine a whole army bearing down on you while you are standing there without a means of defense? God has not left us defenseless. Revelation 12:11 tells us how Satan is overcome. There we read, "They overcame 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."
A. By the Blood of Jesus
Victory is gained by realizing that you won't win this war in your own strength. The first means of victory is by the blood of Jesus.
Today you have declared your reliance on the blood of Jesus for salvation. You could not save yourself, Jesus had to do it. As time goes on, I want to encourage you to continue to live in reliance on the blood of Jesus. Don't try to earn God's favor by your works as a Christian. Rest on Christ's finished work and serve Him as a love response.
Remind yourself often of what Jesus has done and who you are in Him.
B. By The Word of Our Testimony
Another way to overcome Satan is by using the weapon that God has given us and that is the word of our testimony. Testimony refers to truth of God. That means the truth of God in the Bible. In Ephesians 6:17, the offensive weapon mentioned is the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. It also means the truth of God as we experience it. We will have victory as we reflect on and learn the truth of God by study and by experience.
But it doesn't just say "testimony," it says "the word of our testimony." That means that we will gain victory as we speak the word of God. The more we speak of the word of God and our experience of the word of God, the greater will be our victory in the battle against our enemy.
There is no doubt that if you forget what Jesus has done or stop speaking about it, you will grow weak. The more you talk about what Jesus has done and about His Word, the stronger you will become.
C. By Martyr Willingness
The third defense against Satan is to be willing to die rather than give up your faith. Those who overcame, were willing to give up their lives rather than succumb to the persecution or the temptations of Satan.
We may be brave and say, "I would be willing to die for Jesus." But that is usually not what we will be asked to do. Rather, we will be asked to live for Jesus in very difficult circumstances. Are we willing to forgo certain pleasures for Jesus? Are we willing to live for Jesus even if it means loss of income? Are we willing to live for Jesus even if none of our friends are? Are we willing to live for Jesus even if it means being laughed at? Are we willing to be seen as stupid or exclusive as a part of our choice to follow Jesus.
Satan is warring against the followers of Jesus and you have made a clear and public testimony that you are a follower of Jesus. If you think that things are going to get easy now, they won't. I probably should have told you before you were baptized that this is what you were getting yourself into. Well, I actually did, but I wanted to remind you and all who identify with Jesus again.
When Jesus comes again, Satan will be thrown into the lake of fire forever. In the mean time, he is an awful dragon trying to take down as many people as possible. I challenge you to daily and faithfully follow Jesus Christ and refuse to be turned aside either by persecution or temptation.
The good news is that because you have chosen to follow Jesus, your name is written in the Lambs book of life and with that assurance there is great reward!