In the many moves in our marriage, I always desired a house near the water, which God sometimes graciously granted. When Steve felt a call to the medically under-served area of central Nebraska, I knew it was unlikely we’d find water. But God opened a door to buy an affordable home on a pond, the only water, right within the city. It held water for six months and dried up in the winter when the city engineers closed the dam. Here is Annie, our youngest, decades ago, hunting for Easter eggs when little “Kearney Lake” had just been filled.
Even when there was water in the lake, it was never a habitat for eagles. We would have laughed at the thought. Yet, on the day of my husband’s funeral (10/20/04) there were half a dozen eagles flying over the lake for most of the day. My charismatic son saw great meaning in it — but I wasn’t so sure. But as I have studied Revelation 12, and meditated on all the Old Testament passages about eagles’ wings, I was brought to tears. The woman in Revelation 12 represents God’s people, whom Satan harasses and the Father guards. I now believe God sent those eagles as a comforting sign to us that Steve had flown away out of the serpent’s reach. (Rev. 12:14)Unsplash photo by Érik Gonzalez Guerrero
The red dragon of Rev 12 is a personification of Satan, who comes to lie, kill and destroy. Indeed, he persecutes the church, endeavoring to “swallow her up.” He cannot, for his doom is sure, yet he can certainly work us woe in the meantime.
It is vital to realize, as D. A. Carson points out, that “he opposes the woman not only through persecution but also through deception.” With his mighty tail, he sweeps away many from orthodox Christianity. Below is Alisa Childer’s (author of Another Gospel) explanation of why many believers leave the evangelical church and move into the deception of “progressive Christianity,” which indeed, is not Christianity at all. When her pastor, who turned out to be a wolf in sheep’s clothing, tried to lead her away from the original teaching of Christ, from the true gospel, God gave her wings to fly away and dig into the evidence that what she had trusted as a child was, indeed, true. She has now become a wonderful apologist. (I strongly recommend her book: Another Gospel.)
There are two programs from a Reformed Perspective on you-tube called American Gospel. Though long, I found them both so very good. The first was made in 2018 and addressed the prosperity gospel. The second was done in 2019 and addresses ” “Progressive Christianity.” Many who began with the church, even who were with The Gospel Coalition, have left it for progressive Christianity. People like Rob Bell and Jen Hatmaker who truly are descriptions of 1 John 2:18-19. “They went out from us, but they did not really belong with us.” One of the elements of Progressive Christianity is that it denies the atonement, hell, and the judgment of God, claiming a God of love would never send anyone to hell. It is helpful to see their lies so we can better refute them. The Bible says we have a God that is both just and loving, and the “Hallelujahs” of Revelation 19 are about His judgment. Here are links to each. You may need to rent them. There is a longer version of the first, but I can’t find it — some of you might! These are not required for this study — but when you have a chance, you would be blessed to watch and tell others about them.At the end of the week, I will ask you for your comments on this very clear message from Thomas Schreiner who is Professor of New Testament Interpretation at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and whose sermon I found on monergism. It is on Revelation 12 and entitled “Harassed but Victorious.” Listen whenever you can this week.
To prepare your heart for this week’s study, watch this:
It isn’t just death that takes His saints “out of the serpent’s reach,” but indeed, God guards His own and gives them wings to fly away “out of the serpent’s reach.” This is shown in so many biblical stories — such as the Exodus where we are told: “You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself.”
The following is our theme verse for the week:
The woman was given the two wings of a great eagle, so that she might fly to the place prepared for her in the desert, where she would be taken care of for a time, times and half a time, out of the serpent’s reach.
Commentators from the Reformed position seem to agree that “time, times and half a time” which occurs also in Daniel, refers to an extended time between the ascension of Christ and His return. This is the time we live in, and the devil “is filled with fury, because he knows his time is short.” (Rev. 12:12) But we are not alone, as the verse above confirms. He provides a way of escape, giving us the wings of an eagle, so we can fly away to Him, out of the serpent’s reach.For those of you who want to read all of Revelation, at the end of this week you’ll want to read Revelation 13-18. This short video will help you. Again, completely optional for those who want it. Scroll to Part 2. https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/course/revelation/#overview Word Document of Lesson For Those Who Wish to Print it Off Word Document of #4
Day 1. Getting Started
- In what ways have you sensed God’s protection or help in the midst of danger or sorrow this year? Be specific and brief to help us read from many of you.
- What stood out to you from:
A. Dee’s “eagle story?”
B. Alisa Childer’s thoughts on why people leave orthodoxy?C. Anything else in the opening?
Day 2. The Red Dragon Comes To Kill and Destroy3. Read Revelation 12:1–13:1 and find everything you can about the red dragon. 4. How does Jesus describe Satan in John 10:10? We see this throughout Scripture and history. For example, in the book of Esther, we are told that an order was sent out to “destroy, kill and annihilate all the Jews — young and old, women and little children…” (Esther 3:13) D. A. Carson writes “The imagery of the dragon is used throughout the Old Testament to represent evil kingdoms that persecute God’s people. ‘Dragon’ is another word in the Old Testament for the sea monster that symbolizes wicked kingdoms that oppress Israel. God is spoken of as defeating Pharaoh as a sea dragon at the Exodus deliverance and at later points in Israel’s history… The picture of the dragon’s tail sweeping away a third of the stars and casting them to earth is taken from Daniel 8:10…the stars can represent Israelite saints, not just angels.” (Dan. 12:3) (Ibid. p. 1123) Carson also writes: “Perhaps, the reference to a ‘third of the stars’ being swept away indicates that only a portion of the covenant community was suffering attack from the devil’s forces at the time of Christ’s life, whereas at the very end of the age that attack will reach universal proportions.” (p. 1124) 5. Read Exodus 19:4.
A. What does God want Moses to remind His people about?
B. If you are familiar with the story of the Exodus, share some ways God intervened for His people to bring them to a place of safety, “out of the serpent’s reach.”D. A. Carson writes concerning Rev 12:15-16 that the swallowing of waters is another allusion to the escape of the Israelites. The Red Sea threatened to swallow them up, but instead, swallowed up their enemy. 6. Read Ezekiel 29:2-6 and find examples of how God protected His people in Egypt again Pharaoh. 7. Read Job 26:12-14
A. (Rahab is a synonym for Egypt) What did God do to rescue his people according to verses 12 and 13?
B. How does Job describe the power of God that we are allowed to see in verse 14?8. Satan is responsible for many deaths, but death is the final enemy for the believer, and then comes victory. According to Revelation 12:11 how did the martyrs overcome the temptation to deny Christ as Satan urged them to do?
Day 3. The Red Dragon Comes To Deceive9. How is the dragon described in Revelation 12:9? 10. The same John reveals how to spot the enemy, the lies he tells, and how to “fly away” in his letters. Find all three in 1 John 2:18-25
A. What telltale sign of false teaching is here? (19)
B. What lie do false teachers tell? (22-23)
C. How can we “fly away?” (24-25)
Repeatedly John urges us to stick with the original teaching. Heretics always introduce “new and improved” Christianity that lures away from the blood, the resurrection, and the infallibility of Scripture.11. What assurance does John give us in 1 John 4:4? 12. What evidence does he give us to discern the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood in 1 John 4:5-6?
Day 4. Harassed but Victorious13. Listen to the sermon above and share your notes.
Day 5. Contemplation Questions14. Contemplation questions on Revelation 12:1-13:1
A. How can I praise Him on the basis of this text?
B. How can I confess my sins on the basis of this text?
C. If this is really true, what wrong behavior, what harmful emotions & what false attitudes happen when I forget this?
D. What should I be aspiring to — reaching for?
E. Why are You telling me this today?F. What is your take-a-way this week and why?