Day 3: Revelation 12:1-12
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.” 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.
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.
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.
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.
As a young kid, I loved the Chronicles of Narnia. It wasn’t until I grew older that I realized C.S. Lewis was really just using fantastic imagery and storytelling to retell the story of Jesus and to describe what God was like. This is what is happening in today’s reading.
This is narrative art at its finest. Our temptation is to try and decode every detail to figure out the futuristic meaning, but in doing that we miss the point. John writes from captivity for being a follower of Christ, and he is trying to warn the church that they are about to face a holocaust by Rome that will claim thousands of Christian lives over the next 200 years. To get his message out he retells the Gospel story using narrative art. He begins with the woman (faithful Israel) who has a child (the Messiah), who later goes on to defeat the dragon (the devil).
It is important not to get so lost in figuring out the imagery that we miss the whole point of the narrative. John is telling the church to be courageous in the face of persecution. The whole point of the narrative is not to predict the future but to give them a prophetic message about remaining faithful even in the face of death. We see this clearly illustrated in verse 11: “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.” It’s easy for us 2,000 years later to read these words a bit casually, but for them, these were the words from a prophet that they desperately needed to hear as they faced certain martyrdom.
Justin Lewis | Facilities Director/Young Adult Pastor