We are returning to the second half of Revelation after an 8 week break in Romans. Even though Romans and Revelation are very different kinds of literature, they are part of God’s same story. For both, the heart is the mystery of God, which is the gospel. This is the secret that God is revealing to His own throughout the ages. It is the secret the devil hates and fights against.
We are also headed into the holidays. And you know what? It works. For we need to make this time of year so centered on Christ, and on strengthening our inner life, that we are a light in the darkness with our family, our friends, and our community.
As we return to Revelation, we hit the heart of the book in chapter 12, so even if you have not been with us, you can step in, for I’ll keep summarizing. It will help you to get David Campbell’s commentary: Mystery Revealed.
Revelation is apocalytpic literature, meaning God communicates through signs and symbols, pictures that are puzzles. In Revelation 12 there is a picture of a woman about to give birth and a dragon who wants to swallow her child up. The woman and her child represent not only Mary and Jesus, whom the dragon tried to swallow up at Christ’s birth, but all of God’s people from the beginning of time, whom the dragon is still trying to swallow up.
The dragon is Satan and all the spiritual forces of darkness. He failed to kill Jesus at his birth, and thought he succeeded at His crucifixion
Do you remember Paige’s kindergarten “show and tell” story when she brought her tonsils in a jar? The teacher threw up. Paige said, at the resurrection of Christ, Satan threw up.
This is basically where we at Revelation 12. It summarizes the battle, and at the close, after Satan’s huge failure (the resurrection) “…the dragon became furious with the woman and went off to make war on the rest of her offspring, on those who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus. And he stood on the sand of the sea.” (Rev. 12:17)
Though there are many interpretative views of Revelation, they all agree that it shows a battle between Satan and God, between Satan’s children and God’s children, and, because of the gospel, the power that came through the death and resurrection of Christ, God and His children will win in the end. But for now, we are at war.
The disagreement occurs not about the fact of this, but the timing of it all. The view this study takes is the Idealist view which believes the tribulation began at the resurrection, when “Satan threw up.” It will continue until the return of Christ, though will intensify, like the birth pangs of a woman intensify before the actual birth (the return of Christ.)
The idealist view does not believe there will be a rapture. But whatever view you take, know that we are in a battle, and the battle is not with flesh and blood, but with the forces of darkness. How are we to prevail? Through the power of the gospel which can deliver us not just from the penalty of sin, but the power of sin.
Here we go!
The Benham Brothers, David and Jason, were so excited to land a reality house flipping show, but though it was all set to go and HGTV said they were solidly behind them even though they knew they were pro-life and pro-God’s plan for marriage, when those that disagreed starting circling the network’s wagons, they caved and scrapped the show. Though they had been tempted, the Benham brothers refused to hide their light under a bushel, and they paid the cost. They said:
This is not a fight between conservative and liberal or Republican and Democrat, this is a fight between the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent.
That is what we must realize and what Revelation 12 is all about. There is a dragon who wants us to hide our light, who wants us to compromise with the world. The Benham brothers also said that when God gives us something we love (like a reality tv show) we must hold it loosely or He will pry our fingers away. Many of you have already watched the Benham brothers at the Wilberforce Weekend — here is a shorter interview for Focus on the Family:
We must be vigilant against the dragon dividing us in our homes and in our churches. because of our pride. For he loves to divide the sheep and then pluck them off one by one.
While a woman would seem to be no match against a fire-breathing dragon, that woman is Christ’s Beloved Bride, so she has a MIGHTY WARRIOR within.
This Christmas I’m giving a little red dragon to each of my children to put in their Nativity sets, for I plan to tell my grandchildren about the fight God’s children are in with a very real dragon. Then I’ll show them this animated poem by Glen Shivener:
A DRAGON lurks among us who LOVES TO TEMPT US TO HIDE OUR LIGHT.
A DRAGON lurks among us who LOVES TO DIVIDE OUR MARRIAGES AND OUR CHURCHES.
We have been so divided this year over masks, vaccines, politics — and we often fail to see who is really behind our discord. At the close of the week. let’s ponder strategy against our real enemy. I’m excited to do it with you, such thoughtful and wise sisters.
WE, THE SEED OF THE WOMAN ARE IN A FIGHT WITH THE SEED OF THE SERPENT.
LET US WIN IT TOGETHER.
Rev. 12 word document
- What stands out to you from the above and why?
- How might this be relevant to you right now in your life?
Monday: The Woman in Agony
3. Read Revelation 12:1-6 aloud to yourself and share initial thoughts.
4. Read Revelation 12:1-2
A. Describe the first sight that appeared in heaven.
B. Before reading Campbell, what do you think this represents and why?
5. In Mystery Explained, in the chapter about Revelation 12, read the first three paragraphs under THE FIRST VISION all the way up to “The vision continues: And another sign appeared in heaven.”
A. How does Joseph’s vision in Gen. 37 help us identify who this woman represents?
B. In the 2nd paragraph, what other Old Testament passages shed light on the identity of the woman?
C. The woman is in agony – what does this mean in the New Testament and what does mean for believers?
6. Read John 16:17-24.
A. What analogy does Jesus make to a woman in labor for the disciples? Why does He does this, do you think?
B. When we suffer agony from persecution or trial, how might this analogy give us hope?
C. How might this analogy help you to pay the cost of not compromising or the cost of humbling yourself?
Tuesday: The Great Red Dragon
7. Read Revelation 12:3-4 and describe the second vision.
8. Continue reading under “Another sign appeared” up to “The battle is engaged.” What light do the Old Testament references Dr. Campbell gives shed on this vision?
9. Dr. Campbell says the dragon “is in fact the very real evil force behind all human kingdoms which persecute the church.” How do the seven heads, ten horns, and red color demonstrate this?
10. Read the paragraph that begins “the battle is engaged” up to “the condensation of Christ’s life.” How does the battle in heaven mirror the battle on earth?
Wednesday: The Child and The Woman in the Wilderness
11. Read Revelation 12:5-6
A. What do you learn about the child from verse 5?
B. How can you identify Him with Christ? (Psalm 2 may help)
12. Read the paragraph that begins The Condensation…up to “As the child”
A. When did Christ receive the rod of iron?
B. Why does this matter to us?
13. What do you learn about the woman in the wilderness from Revelation 12:6?
14. Read the last long paragraph that begins with “As the child” up to Warfare in Heaven.”
A. What does the wilderness represent in Scripture?
B. Dr. Campbell has a different perspective than I have always thought of the place Jesus has gone to prepare. What does he say? What do you think and why? (I myself am not sure — for I have always loved the thought of my bridegroom going to prepare a home for me, as bridegrooms did in biblical days, with the help of their fathers. But, indeed, it is a mystery.)
C. What do you learn about the numbers in this passage?
D. Who is the Babylonian harlot?
I want to take some time applying these lessons to various situations where the dragon is endeavoring to get us to compromise God’s Word or to divide us in our families or the family of God.
15. Read 1 John 4:4-6
A. What is one way, according to this passage, to recognize that the dragon is speaking?
B. Give a few illustrations of the viewpoint of the world — for many Christians have been swayed!
C. How might you let your light shine brighter in the world?
I was very moved by an illustration one of the Benham brothers gave about a hostile woman on an airplane. He was ready to fight but the Spirit told him to just listen to her, and he did. He discovered she was a hurting woman overcome with anxiety. He finally read Psalm 139 to her and she began to weep. He said that the people in the world are held captive and they need a warrior, a warrior who will both truly love them and speak truth to them.
16. Read 1 John 4:7-12
A. Describe the kind of love we are called to have.
B. Can you think of a situation or person in your life where you could overcome evil with sacrificial love?
17. Read 1 John 4:19-21
A. What strong statement does John make?
B. Why does the dragon try to divide us as brothers and sisters?
C. What has been effective for you in the past to reconcile with an offended brother? Be specific.
D. Is there an application for your life now?
18. What is your take-a-way and why?