Dec. 21, 2017

A great sign appeared in heaven

Revelation 12 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible

The Woman, Israel

A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars; and she was with child; and she cried out, being in labor and in pain to give birth.

The Red Dragon, Satan

Then another sign appeared in heaven: and behold, a great red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads were seven diadems. And his tail swept away a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she gave birth he might devour her child.

The Male Child, Christ

And she gave birth to a son, a male child, who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron; and her child was caught up to God and to His throne. Then the woman fled into the wilderness where she had a place prepared by God, so that there she would be nourished for one thousand two hundred and sixty days.

The Angel, Michael

And there was war in heaven, Michael and his angels waging war with the dragon. The dragon and his angels waged war, and they were not strong enough, and there was no longer a place found for them in heaven. And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. 10 Then 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 brethren has been thrown down, he who accuses them before our God day and night. 11 And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death. 12 For this reason, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them. Woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, knowing that he has only a short time.”

13 And when the dragon saw that he was thrown down to the earth, he persecuted the woman who gave birth to the male child. 14 But the two wings of the great eagle were given to the woman, so that she could fly into the wilderness to her place, where she was nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent. 15 And the serpent poured water like a river out of his mouth after the woman, so that he might cause her to be swept away with the flood. 16 But the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and drank up the river which the dragon poured out of his mouth. 17 So the dragon was enraged with the woman, and went off to make war with the rest of her children, who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus.

Today’s text is certainly full of imagery and is difficult to read and understand without some interpretation. But keeping in mind what John said in the beginning of his account in Revelation 1:1:  The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show to His bond-servants, the things which must soon take place; and He sent and communicated it by His angel to His bond-servant John, we can understand that what John is being shown and describing a series of events from the beginning, all which point to Christ in God’s plan for people. In Revelation 1:8, the Lord identifies Himself saying:  “I am the Alpha and the Omega,”says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”  John 1;1-4;14 says:  In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men… And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.     So Jesus was with God from the beginning, was part of creation even before He came to be our way to salvation. In John 8:56-58 Jesus is trying to reveal His identity to unbelieving Jews:    “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad.”So the Jews said to Him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?” Jesus said to them,“Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am.”   Finally to solidify the eternal nature of Christ and His role in our lives as creator, Savior and King, Revelation 13:8 says:  All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast--all whose names have not been written in the Lamb's book of life, the Lamb who was slain from the creation of the world.    Because God and Christ are eternal, time is not linear to them. It is not an ongoing sequence of events with a beginning and an end. As He says in revelation 22:13:   "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end."  

All of scripture, from Genesis and the account of creation and first sin, through those who saw God’s plan of salvation through faith, during the accounts recorded in the Old Testament; to the gospels declaring the life, the death and the resurrection of Christ and the letters to the early churches and finally to the final Revelation of Christ, the vision given to John, all of scripture reveals Jesus Christ as creator, Savior and King. In the end it will not matter if Christ was revealed by faith, by sight or by the Spirit all that will matter is that He is Christ, that we believe. One of the most important things for us to remember when we read a text like today’s text which is filled with imagery, is that as it says in 2 Peter 3:8:  Do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day.   We need to think outside of our limitations of finite time to begin to fully understand an infinite God and His spiritual message and vision. 2 Peter 3:9 continues regarding the eternal nature of God and Christ as it relates to us and His plan for us, our redemption, salvation and restoration saying:  The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.    What is important in God’s eternal time is that Jesus is:  “The Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end."   God is more powerful than and is victorious over the devil. At any point in finite time He could have called it finished. The time between Genesis and Revelation is God’s grace, His patience toward people, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.   Genesis tells us of the beginning of our finite time and Revelation speaks of the end of our finite time. The most important thing though for us when we read Revelation is not when but who. The most, the only thing that matters is that we believe in Christ.  God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.   

Heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ; precious Holy Spirit, the three in one God; You are the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. Thank You for the Revelation of Your plan for redemption and Salvation and for Your grace and patience, given in our time. I believe. May others too come to know You as Creator, Savior and King. May they believe before the final revelation of Christ, when at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.     Amen