Join for our live streamed Sunday School (9:30am) and Worship Service (10:30am). You can view them HERE.
A. I did it again. I split this week’s sermon into two parts.
1. First of all, it was two much material for the average person to digest in one sitting.
2. And second, this passage contains two verses which, according to many scholars of Revelation, are the very heart of the book of Revelation. And they need more than passing attention.
B. Revelation 12:1-6 And a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. 2 She was pregnant and was crying out in birth pains and the agony of giving birth. 3 And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads seven diadems. 4 His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven and cast them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she bore her child he might devour it. 5 She gave birth to a male child, one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron, but her child was caught up to God and to his throne, 6 and the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, in which she is to be nourished for 1,260 days.
C. Revelation 12:7-12 Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels fought back, 8 but he was defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. 9 And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. 10 And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. 11 And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death. 12 Therefore, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!”
D. Rev.12:13-17 And when the dragon saw that he had been thrown down to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child. 14 But the woman was given the two wings of the great eagle so that she might fly from the serpent into the wilderness, to the place where she is to be nourished for a time, and times, and half a time. 15 The serpent poured water like a river out of his mouth after the woman, to sweep her away with a flood. 16 But the earth came to the help of the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed the river that the dragon had poured from his mouth. 17 Then the dragon became furious with the woman and went off to make war on the rest of her offspring, on those who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus.
1. The last sentence, “And he stood on the sand of the sea,” belongs to the next vision, not to this one, so we’ll cover that with ch.13.
A. 7-9 Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels fought back, 8 but he was defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. 9 And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.
1. Well, we’re told very clearly here who one of the combatants is: Satan himself.
2. But who is this Michael?
a. Well, if you read this on its own, you could easily think that Michael refers to Jesus. but this passage isn’t on its own. In the book of Daniel, Michael appears a number of times. He seems to be the angel of God’s people Israel.
b. Lexham Bible Dictionary: Michael, which means “Who is like God,” first appears in Dan.10:13, and later in Dan.12:1, as Israel’s patron angel. Michael is identified as Israel’s prince (Dan.10:21), the protector of Daniel’s people (Dan 12:1), and thus the one who fights the “prince of the kingdom of Persia” (Dan.10:13). The book of Daniel reveals how the battles between nations on earth are mirrored in the heavenly realm.
c. Remember that we’ve seen this several times before in the book of Revelation and elsewhere in the Bible, whereby Israel, or churches, or individuals have a guardian angel assigned to them by God to protect them and aid them.
d. In Daniel, Michael is seen fighting against the evil angels of other nations. In fact, in Daniel’s vision in Dan.10:16, 20-21 Michael fights alongside the Son of Man but isn’t the same person.
e. So, it is best to view Michael as the angel of God’s people. And here he is said to be throwing out Satan and his buddies, like a heavenly bouncer throwing out those who’ve been causing trouble.
3. Now v.4 talks about Satan having swept a third of the angels down from heaven. That seems to refer to when Satan led the wicked angels into original rebellion against God.
4. In contrast, this being thrown down here in v.9 is different. Rev.12:7-8 seems to depict what took place as a result of Christ’s crucifixion, as we see in 10-11... (And this is the heart of Revelation.)
B. 10-11 And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. 11 And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.
1. Here we have an explanation of how this great victory over Satan whereby he was cast out of heaven is accomplished. It was the work of Christ.
2. “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come!”
a. From the very earliest days of human life, God had promised a day when He would send salvation to His people, when He would display His power, setting up His messiah/Christ as king and ruler over all the earth.
b. And now finally the day has arrived and the announcement has come: “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come!”
3. Satan is referred to as “the accuser of the brethren who accuses them day &night before our God.”
a. It seems that before Christ Satan was allowed a role as the accuser of the brethren. And before the death of Christ, Satan appeared to have a pretty compelling case. Believers had no basis for thinking of themselves as forgiven. Justice had not been met.
b. But when Christ came and suffered on the cross as the sacrificial substitute, when the wrath of God for sinners was poured out upon Him, then justice was satisfied, and Satan had no argument.
c. Now he can no longer bring any legitimate accusation against those for whom Christ died.
d. Greg Beale says, “The devil no longer had any basis for his accusations against the saints, since the penalty that they deserved & that he pleaded for had at last been exacted in Christ’s death.”
e. This week I was at the PCA General Assembly in Memphis. There are very detailed rules as to how the discussion of things are to take place on the floor. Only certain persons can speak at certain times, and they are given a limited amount of time to say what they want to say.
(1) Sometimes one person makes an argument about an issue and then someone else politely and respectfully demolishes his argument. But the demolisher is not allowed to interrupt the first person, no matter how certain he is that the first person’s argument is erroneous.
(2) And so he stands there patiently allowing the first person to ignorantly spout his opinions, knowing that when it’s his turn, his poor adversary will be embarrassed to have spoken at all.
f. This reminds me of what we have here in this passage.
(1) Satan smelled something awry in God’s kindness and forgiveness toward His people.
(2) And he perceived that he had a pretty strong argument in his accusation of the brethren: “How can you justify those who have sinned against You? That’s unjust! They broke Your law. Justice demands they be punished. You know that all those animal sacrifices can’t really satisfy justice for them. They deserve to die!”
(3) And for a long time, God allowed him to level all these accusations.
(4) But then He sent His Son to die on the cross, to bear the penalty His people deserved, and thereby demolished all of Satan’s arguments.
(5) For suddenly it had become clear how God could both be just and be the justifier of His people (Rom.3:26).
4. So, how was Satan overthrown? The brethren “conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.”
a. Well, we’ve already talked about how our accuser has been conquered by the blood of the Lamb – we live because He died; we are forgiven because He was punished; He was the sacrificial Lamb who did count as our substitute, for He was a human lamb, and spotless, and infinite.
b. But what about this second part? They “conquered him by the blood of the Lamb AND BY THE WORD OF THEIR TESTIMONY, for they loved not their lives even unto death.”
(1) They refused to deny him even under threat of death.
(2) They proved the reality of their faith by honoring Christ even if it meant dying.
(3) Remember that at the end of each of the letters to the seven churches in Rev.2-3, we’re told that those who conquer will be rewarded with heavenly treasures. This is saying the same thing.
(4) When a person says, “I am a Christian,” he must prove that his faith is real by conquering, or overcoming, by believing to the end. If he abandons Christ, it proves that he never had true faith in the first place. “He who endures to the end will be saved.” (Matt.24:13)
(5) Revelation 2:26 "He who overcomes, and he who keeps My deeds until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations..."
(6) Revelation 3:21 "He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne."
(7) Revelation 21:7 "He who overcomes shall inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son."
(8) They “conquered by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.”
C. 12 Therefore, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!”
1. We’ll talk more about this verse next week.
2. This week, I just want to point out two things from it.
3. But first, let me ask this question: V.12 speaks of two groups: Those who dwell in heaven and those who are on the earth. Which group are we a part of? Are we counted as among those who dwell in heaven or are we among those who live on earth? Or could we be both?
a. I think we’re in both. I think the first group is believers, citizens of heaven.
(1) Our citizenship is in heaven, & from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. -Phil.3:20
(2) He raised us up with him & seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus. -Eph.2:6
b. The second group is those who dwell upon the earth, which doesn’t include our loved ones who have gone to heaven before us, but does include us.
4. So, here are the two things this verse has to say to us:
a. We have great reason to rejoice! The salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come; our accuser of our brothers has been thrown down; and he has been conquered by the blood of the Lamb and by the perseverance of our faith and our refusal to deny the Savior even in the face of worldly pressure and satanic deception.
b. We need to gird up our loins and get ready for battle. “The devil has come down to us in great wrath, because he knows his time is short!” He has been defeated by Christ, but he is not dead. In fact, he is enraged & is now attacking the people of Christ. As the seed of the woman, through Christ we have dealt the serpent a mortal blow to the head, but the serpent is still capable of wounding their heels.
c. We’ll talk more about this next week.
III. Three things deserve to be said in light of this.
A. By persevering in the face of suffering, we are participating in Christ’s victory over the devil.
1. 11 “And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.”
2. The suffering of Christians is a sign, not of Satan’s victory, but of the saints’ victory over Satan because of their belief in the triumph of the cross.” – Beale
3. Every time we keep moving forward in Christ in spite of pain and obstacles and opposition, we are declaring Christ’s victory over the enemy. And even if no one else notices, heaven notices.
4. Our job isn’t to work to make our lives easier. Our job isn’t to whine about how things are getting worse and worse. Our job is to trust in the blood of the Lamb. Our job is to hold forth His word. Our job is to love not our lives even unto death. That’s how we conquer the devil. That’s how we resist the powers of evil.
5. What does it mean to love not our lives even unto death? It means that no matter how much suffering we experience, we keep trusting in Christ and consider our sufferings as small compared to His reward (Romans 8:18).
a. What’s happening in your life isn’t the big thing. What God is doing in your life – and in the world, and in history – is the big thing.
b. Don’t love your life: don’t love your house and your career and your family and your marriage and your health. Love Jesus Christ – and HIS house and His redemptive purposes, and His kingdom, and His word, and His hope, and His people — even to the point of death. For His lovingkindness is better than life! (Ps.63:3)
B. It’s easy to focus on our trials instead of focusing on our triumph.
1. This is exactly what Paul is talking about when he urges us to set our minds on the things above, not on the things which are on earth (Col.3:2) – because the things of earth can be so gripping.
2. But this passage – and others like it – are here because God wants His embattled people to know that though they are engaged in fierce combat against the forces of darkness, the victory has already been won and they just need to hold on for a little while longer.
3. We have experiences which rivet our attention upon our pain or upon our worry or upon our anger. And the thing God calls us to do in those times is to force ourselves to direct our attention to the realities of Christ in heaven.
4. While Stephen was being stoned he didn’t even seem to notice because he was focusing on Christ in heaven (Acts 7:54-60). Can you imagine having a group of people throwing rocks at you?
5. We don’t need human approval. We have God’s approval!
6. We don’t need the world’s treasures – which can be lost or stolen or destroyed. We have the greatest treasure of all. We have Jesus Christ, the Son of God. And no one can ever take Him away from us!
7. We don’t need to be successful; we just need to be faithful!
C. You don’t need to worry about your future!
1. As we age, it is common to worry about the future. But a Christian has no reason to fear.
2. I know that either the Lord will return in my lifetime, or I’m going to die without growing much older, or I’m going to grow old and die. But even though I may grow old and die, even though I might experience pain, loneliness, loss of my mind, even rejection,
a. I know that whatever happens, I am being sheltered from any unnecessary hardship and any spiritual harm – meaning that God will give me whatever grace I need to persevere;
b. I know that any trials which I experience will be tempered by God’s knowledge of my weakness;
c. I know that Jesus will be with me through it all; and
d. I know that when it’s all over, I will be with Him in paradise.
3. I don’t know what’s going to happen to you, but I can tell you one thing: if you love Christ, your future will be magnificent! Your future is going to be a masterpiece that many will be awed by one day. Their eyes will open wide and they will say, “Wow! What a great God did this!” It will be like when people see Bryce Canyon for the first time, or Yosemite or Crater Lake or Zion NP or Garden of the Gods.
4. We don’t have to hope that things turn out well for us in the future because we know it has been designed by the greatest Designer of all – the Lord Himself.
5. We don’t have to hope that things turn out well for us in the future because the thing we really need to happen has already happened. The Son of God has conquered. It is finished!