Revelation 12:6-17: The final score
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.7 Then war broke out in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. 8 But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. 9 The great dragon was hurled down – that ancient snake called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.10 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.
11 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.
12 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.’
13 When the dragon saw that he had been hurled to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child. 14 The woman was given the two wings of a great eagle, so that she might fly to the place prepared for her in the wilderness, where she would be taken care of for a time, times and half a time, out of the snake’s reach. 15 Then from his mouth the snake spewed water like a river, to overtake the woman and sweep her away with the torrent. 16 But the earth helped the woman by opening its mouth and swallowing the river that the dragon had spewed out of his mouth. 17 Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to wage war against the rest of her offspring – those who keep God’s commands and hold fast their testimony about Jesus. NIV
This chapter speaks of:
- A decisive victory; and
- An on-going struggle.
As I wrote yesterday, these are truths we have to ‘hold in tension’ because they threaten to pull apart. They are paradoxical truths – seeming contradictions.
We can thank God for the decisive victory. This is reflected in the repeated statement that the devil and his minions were ‘’hurled down’’ (see 9, 10, 13; also Luke 10:18). ‘Hurl’ is a strong word. Satan has not been dealt with gently. This points to a decisive victory.
But look where he has been ‘’hurled’’ to – ‘’the earth’’ (9,13). The paradox is that although the devil is a defeated foe, he is also an active one. In the mystery of the divine purposes, he is still permitted to move ‘’around like a roaring lion’’ here in this world. He has a ravenous appetite for blood; he causes mischief and mayhem. He attacks the church. So there is the further paradoxical truth to wrestle with that, although the church is protected, she is also pursued.
In it all, we need to remember that the devil is ‘God’s devil’, as Martin Luther put it. He is on a long chain, but he is on a chain, and he can only do as God permits. Such is the mystery. But we have read to the end of the Book. We have seen how it all ends. We have heard the final score. We know the devil is the ultimate loser. He won’t be lifting any trophies. He’s not on the winning team.
PRAYER: May this truth sink deeply into my heart, Lord, that the enemy has been ‘’hurled down’’. Although we still have to live in the middle of the great conflict, I pray we will be clear in our thinking that the victory has been won. All glory be to God.
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