Friday, November 11, 2016

Revelation 12:3-6

Revelation 12:3-6
And another sign in heaven was seen: and look, a great fiery red dragon who has seven heads, ten horns, and upon his heads seven diadems.  And his tail was dragging away the third of the stars of heaven and he threw them into the earth.  And the dragon has set in the presence of the woman – the one who was about to give birth, in order that whenever she should give birth a child he should devour her child.  And she gave birth to a male son who was about to tend all the nations with an iron scepter as a flock.  And her child was snatched to God and to his throne.  And the woman fled into the wilderness where she has a place there which has been prepared from God in order that there he should preserve her for one thousand two hundred and sixty days.

Thoughts for Today

First Thought:

The idea of the dragon being the antithesis of God is an idea that is spread across many different kinds of religious, not just Judaism and Christianity.  Once more we see John playing symbolically off of what he knows and the people themselves know.  When we look at this dragon, we see that it has seven heads (sounds like a hydra, a mythological creature) and seven diadems upon the heads.  Seven is the symbolic number for completeness.  What is John saying about this dragon?  The dragon’s power over the earth is complete.  This dragon can do anything it wants when it comes to the things of the earth.  We also know that this dragon has ten horns.  Personally, I find there no coincidence that John is writing this book in the middle of the reign of the tenth Roman Emperor.  We know that this book was an apocalyptic book written to help the people have an eternal perspective in the midst of persecution.  Why wouldn’t the dragon take on images of the great persecutor of the church in John’s day?  As it persecutes the church, why wouldn’t the Roman Empire be seen as a great extension of the power of even Satan.

What do you think about this idea that there are evil powers in this world whose power seems complete and unlimited?  Does this necessarily contradict with the idea of an omnipotent God?  What are the sources of evil in our day?

Second Thought:

We are told that the dragon swept a third of the stars out of heaven.  This is one of the very few places where we get a glimpse of spiritual warfare.  Many people, myself included, understand this passage as a symbolic retelling of the fall of Satan.  In fact, this is one of the passages that truly got me thinking that the book of Revelation may have more to do with the past than the future, which is why I always begin my study of Revelation with a focus on the past before advancing into what we can learn about humanity and then the future.  If this perspective is correct, then John is telling us that when Satan fell, he did not fall alone.  Satan’s corruption took a third of God’s angels with him.  Imagine being an angel dwelling in the place of God.  Imagine living with God on a daily basis.  Yet, imagine turning from that God you know and rebelling.  Now, in truth, that’s not really any different than any time that we sin, either.  We rebel against God all the time.  But the point that I’m making is that even beings who lived in God’s presence, knew His power, and dwelled with Him were willing to rebel against Him.  Such is the incredible power of sin.  Our lust to satisfy our own desires is one of the most powerful forces in the universe.  It was powerful enough to cause God’s own angels to rebel against Him.

Why do you think living beings have such a difficulty with obedience and instead desire to seek their own passion?  What does this really say about the power of sin in the individual?

Third Thought:

As the woman gives birth, the child is snatched up into heaven and the woman is cast into the wilderness, where her safety has been prepared for a great length of time.  Here we have yet another symbolic story that convinces me that this is really a story about Jesus than a look into the future.  Jesus came and was snatched up into heaven.  After the resurrection, the nation of the Hebrew people was scattered into the rest of the world for a considerable amount of time.  We call this the diaspora.  In fact, while we do have a nation called Israel, the reality is that most of the Jews in the world still live scattered among the nations!  Almost half of the Jews in the world today live in America alone.  Through this story, John is explaining to his audience why it is that the Jewish people are still scattered in the world.  They are scattered as a part of God’s desire to protect them.  That is still largely true to this day, even though there is a nation called Israel.

How does this perspective continue to teach us about the ability of Revelation to look into the past and teach us about the present and occasionally the future?  How do you think God can use the scattering of His people as a means of protecting them?

Passage for Tomorrow: Revelation 12:7-9
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