The Battle Rages On
Here we see the bigger picture of a battle being waged by Satan against God and God’s faithful followers. Even though the battle rages on, God’s victory is certain; therefore, God’s people can stand firm!
Then I heard a loudvoice 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 Godday and night. 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. 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."
As the battle rages on, God’s followers should . . . stand firm!
Recognize the enemy’s strategy!
Then another sign in appeared in heaven: and behold, a great red dragon (v. 3)
These verses reveal a portion of Satan’s battle plan: sweep away (v. 4, 15); devour (4); deceive (v. 9); accuse (v. 10); show great wrath (v. 12); persecute (v. 13). We recognize that Satan is an accusing liar, a real adversary who uses slander and deception to destroy as many people as possible. Satan is also a defeated foe who pours out wrathful persecution against God’s faithful followers.
See Nehemiah 6:3; John 10:10; 1 Corinthians 10:13; James 4:7-8; 1 Peter 5:8.
Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. (James 4:7-8)
Read the entire book of James for practical ways to stay in God’s territory while avoiding Satan’s.
Rejoice in God’s certain victory!
For this reason, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them. (v. 12)
Do not be grieved, for the joy of the LORD is your strength. (Nehemiah 8:10)
For You, O LORD, have made me glad by what You have done, I will sing for joy at the works of Your hands. (Psalm 92:4)
See 2 Chronicles 20:1-30 for a stupendous story of joy and victory.
Memorize and practice Philippians 4:4 week.
Keep the commandments of God!
keep the commandments of God (v. 17)
And He said to him, " 'YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.' This is the great and foremostcommandment. The second is like it, 'YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.' On thesetwocommandmentsdepend the wholeLaw and the Prophets." (Matthew 22:37-40)
See John 14:1-15; 15:1-17.
Spend time reading John 14 and John 15 this week, noticing the commandments Jesus gives.
Hold to the testimony of Jesus!
hold to the testimony of Jesus (v. 17)
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. (v. 11)
See 1 Corinthians 15:1-58; Ephesians 6:10-20; Philippians 1:1-11; 2:1-18; Hebrews 3:6, 14; 4:1; 10:19-25.
“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
Read John 16 through John 21, relishing and obeying Jesus’ words.
Commentary on Revelation Chapter Twelve
This group of visions is connected with the troubles of the church. It is, of course, true that the whole of Revelation is written to a church which faced persecution, and that whatever else it may be meant to do, every section of the book is designed to help harassed believers. But especially is this so with the section to which we now come. It stresses the important truth that God has decisively defeated the devil. Satan opposed Christ from the beginning and tried to destroy Him, but without avail. The evil one has been cast out of heaven. His power on earth is, to be sure, terrifyingly real to believers. But this is not because he is triumphant. It is because he knows that he is beaten and has but a short time. Let the church then take heart. She will have her martyrs, but ultimate triumph is sure. All this is clear. Yet we should add that not part of the book is more difficult to interpret in detail. While we may speak with some confidence of the main thrust of the visions the significance of many of the details eludes us. We must not expect too much.
~ Leon Morris, Revelation: Tyndale New Testament Commentaries, p. 155.
The seventh trumpet (11:15) ushers in the bowl judgments (15:1-16:21), but in the intervening chapters (12-14), an interlude, John saw several signs regarding the cosmic warfare in Revelation—the conflict between God and Satan. He saw the source of all sin, evil, persecution, and suffering on the earth, and he understood why the great battle between the forces of God and Satan must soon take place. In these chapters the nature of evil is exposed, and Satan is revealed in all his wickedness.
In 12:1-6, the reader is given a description of the scene; the rest of the chapter (12:7-17) amplifies various parts of that basic scene. The picture of warfare between good and evil—between God and Satan—is found in 12:1-6. The next three sections—12:7-12; 12:13-17; and chapter 13—expand the story of 12:1-6. Much like a symphony where the first movement sets the theme, so the first six verses set the theme and the next three “movements” supply the variations. The scenes focus on three characters—the dragon, the woman, and the child. The first scene records the birth of the child (12:1-6), the second highlights the expulsion of the dragon from heaven (12:7-12), and the third shows the dragon attacking the woman and her children (12:13-17). Not many of these details can be traced to specific people or events but are used to depict God’s victory over evil and our need to trust in him.
~ Bruce B. Barton, et. al., Revelation: Life Application Bible Commentary, p. 135.
Before looking at the passage in some detail, it might help for one to read the next three chapters together and, by way of overview, to become aware of the primary theological motifs that one encounters in the text. The main theme throughout is the Holy War. The two primary words for this in the Greek are the noun polemos (“war”), plus its cognates, and the verb nikao (“triumph”). Thus in 12:7 “war” between the archangel Michael and the dragon occurred in heaven, resulting in Satan’s being cast out of heaven. Again, in 13:4, but now on earth, the question is put as to “who can make war against [the beast]?” who in verse 7 is said to have been “given power to make war against God’s people and to conquer them.” In this latter passage the verb “to conquer” is the same as that translated as “are victorious” in its appearance at the end of each of the letters to the seven churches. But here also (in 12:11) occurs the key theological sentence of the entire book: “And 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.”
~ Gordon D. Fee, Revelation: New Covenant Commentary Series, p. 162.
Commentary on Revelation Chapter Twelve (continued)
The motif is now expressed explicitly in terms of John’s thoroughgoing “already but not yet” eschatological perspective, which has been noted in earlier chapters. Now in chapter 12 it is spelled out in verses 10-12 with as much clarity as one will ever get in apocalyptic literature. Salvation has already come, and the saints have thus already “triumphed over [Satan]” through “the blood of the Lamb” (v. 11), but “woe to the earth . . . because the devil has gone down to you” (v. 12). Thus John keeps alive the tension one has previously seen at work in chapter 5, where the “Lion of the tribe of Judah” who has triumphed turns out to be a Slain Lamb. So here, the Messiah is pictured in the language of the Davidic Messiah, who “will rule all the nations with an iron scepter” (12:5); yet in all but one of his other appearances in these chapters the Messiah is again the Slain Lamb whose blood has redeemed his people (12:11; 13:8; 14:1, 4). The single exception (in 14:14-16) is a return to the Danielic “son of man,” who reaps the harvest of his own people before the coming of God’s wrath.
Likewise, the church’s dual role of engaging in the Holy War through suffering and death while at the same time bearing witness to the nations is played out in a variety of ways. It begins in the key text noted above (12:11, “they triumphed over [Satan] by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony”) and recurs in 12:17; 13:8-10; and finally in 14:1-5, 6, and 14-16. Thus these three chapters serve as the theological epicenter of the entire book. They are introduced in remarkable fashion through the imagery of the “woman clothed with the sun,” who gives birth to the Messiah and whom the great snake, the dragon, tries to destroy but fails.
~ Gordon D. Fee, Revelation: New Covenant Commentary Series, p. 162-163.
Old Testament References from Revelation Chapter Twelve
Bless the LORD, O my soul! O LORD my God, You are verygreat; You are clothed with splendor and majesty, covering Yourself with light as with a cloak, stretching out heaven like a tent curtain. (Ps. 104:1-2)
Who is this that growslike the dawn, as beautiful as the fullmoon, as pure as the sun, as awesome as an army with banners? (Song of Songs 6:10)
As the pregnantwomanapproaches the time to givebirth, she writhes and cries out in her laborpains, thus were we before You, O LORD. (Isaiah 26:17)
A voice of uproar from the city, a voice from the temple, the voice of the LORD who is renderingrecompense to His enemies. "Before she travailed, she brought forth; before her pain came, she gave birth to a boy. Who has heard such a thing? Who has seen such things? Can a land be born in one day? Can a nation be brought forth all at once? As soon as Zion travailed, she also brought forth her sons. Shall I bring to the point of birth and not give delivery?" says the LORD. "Or shall I who gives delivery shut the womb?" says your God. (Isaiah 66:6-9)
In that day the LORD will punishLeviathan the fleeingserpent, with His fierce and great and mightysword, evenLeviathan the twistedserpent; and He will kill the dragonwho lives in the sea. (Isaiah 27:1)
Afterthis I keptlooking in the nightvisions, and behold, a fourthbeast, dreadful and terrifying and extremelystrong; and it had largeironteeth. It devoured and crushed and trampleddown the remainder with its feet; and it was different from all the beasts that were before it, and it had tenhorns. (Daniel 7:7)
It grew up to the host of heaven and caused some of the host and some of the stars to fall to the earth, and it trampled them down. (Daniel 8:10)
You shall break them with a rod of iron, You shall shatter them like earthenware. (Psalm 2:9)
Now at that timeMichael, the greatprince who stands guard over the sons of your people, will arise. And there will be a time of distresssuch as neveroccurredsince there was a nationuntil that time; and at that time your people, everyone who is foundwritten in the book, will be rescued. (Daniel 12:1)
Now the serpent was morecraftythananybeast of the fieldwhich the LORDGod had made. And he said to the woman, "Indeed, has Godsaid, 'You shall not eat from anytree of the garden'?" (Genesis 3:1)
"But putforth Your handnow and touchall that he has; he will surelycurse You to Your face." (Job 1:11)
Then he showed me Joshua the highprieststandingbefore the angel of the LORD, and Satanstanding at his righthand to accuse him. (Zechariah 3:1)
Let the heavens be glad, and let the earthrejoice; let the searoar, and all it contains. (Psalm 96:11)
Shout for joy, O heavens, for the LORD has done it! Shoutjoyfully, you lowerparts of the earth; breakforth into a shout of joy, you mountains, O forest, and everytree in it; for the LORD has redeemedJacob and in Israel He shows forth His glory. (Isaiah 44:23)
You yourselves have seenwhat I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles'wings, and brought you to Myself. (Exodus 19:4)
Yet those who wait for the LORD Will gainnewstrength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not gettired, they will walk and not becomeweary. (Isaiah 40:31)
And I will putenmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise him on the heel. (Genesis 3:15)