Rev 12:1-9 Our Christmas Hope

NOTE:  I have been delinquent in posting things the past few weeks.  My congregation was very gracious and granted me a series of sundays to simply come and worship without being responsible for leading or preaching.  Today is my first day back.

 

Merry Christmas!  Today is certainly the Lord’s Day, in fact every day is the Lord’s Day since Christ has come!

 

As we continue our study in Revelation, we come to an amazing passage, the 12th chapter where we are told that a Great and wondrous sign appeared in heaven (Rev 12:1a).  I want to remind us that Great and wondrous signs are not normal events in the history of the world, more than that, all of the great and wondrous signs that I could find in the scripture had to do with God’s miraculous provision and salvation of his people.  For instance, of the Exodus from Egypt it is declared, “Before our eyes the Lord sent miraculous signs and wonders — great and terrible — upon Egypt and Pharaoh and his whole household” (Deut. 6:22). Those 10 plagues and the amazing exit through the river are all miraculous signs and wonders, great and terrible.  They were God’s wonderful display of his power for the benefit of his people and their salvation. 

 

The only other great and wondrous sign I could find was mentioned in Daniel 4:3, “How great are his signs, how mighty his wonders! His kingdom is an eternal kingdom; his dominion endures from generation to generation.”  In this story, Nebuchadnezzar has just had a dream, the one about the great tree under which all the beasts of the field found shelter.  In that vision, God calls for the tree to be cut down, but the stump is to remain and this is a picture of what God does to Nebuchadnezzar as he removed his kingdom from him and then later restores it when the king gives glory to God.  Again God’s wonderful display of power is for the benefit of bringing a man to repentance so that he himself says “Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, because everything he does is right and all his ways are just” (Dan 4:37)

 

So knowing that great and wondrous signs are for the salvation of God’s people, what is the Great and Wondrous sign we get to look at this Christmas morning?  Let me read it again, “a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head.  She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth (Rev 12:1b-2).

 

In this sign, we have a picture of the spiritual people of God, the holy Catholic Church and as we will see later, we also have a picture of the savior of the church and the great enemy of the church and her people.  John is seeing a pictorial representation of the church before the coming of the messiah and again after.  This woman has the radiance of the sun, stands on the moon and is crowned with twelve stars.  All of these images, sun, moon and stars are reminiscent of Joseph’s dram in Genesis 37 where the Jacob is the sun, Rachel the moon and the brothers the stars.  This is a highly allegorical picture of the people of Israel, the members of the household of the Jerusalem above “and she is our mother” according to Gal 4:26.  And it is right in line with the way John refers to the church in his 2nd epistle where he declares, “To the chosen lady and her children…the children of your chosen sister send their greetings” (2Jn 1, 13).

 

She is pregnant, because she is awaiting her Messiah, the seed that will crush the serpent.  She is crying because she is in longing for the Savior to come and make things right, but she is near that time with the ages will be consummated.  Do you see it?  This is the people of God up until Christmas Eve.  Now before we go on, let me ask you why this is marvelous?  Why is this marvelous?  Where are these people pictured? Let me read it to you again, “A great and marvelous sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head.” (Rev 12:1). The woman and all she pictures are in heaven, they are radiant, they are exalted, and they are glorious.  They are God’s people in God’s realm.  That would be quite a wondrous sign for John; the church before Christ was exalted and heavenly.  What a Comfort, what a joy, what a hope!

 

Now I wish I could tell you that the Christmas story was just this nice tidy, clean arrangement, but there is more to Christmas than simply a great and wondrous sign, for there is another sign in the heaven as well: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on his heads (Rev 12:3).  We know this dragon, he is the “ancient serpent called the evil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray” (Rev 12:9).  The Christmas story isn’t just about God’s people; it is also about a dragon, a purely evil, vile, monstrous dragon who has great amounts of power, authority and ability to rule. That is what the heads, horns and crowns are all about.  This is the nemesis who is called “the ruler of the kingdom of the air” (Eph 2:2) or “the god of this age” (2Cor 4:4).

 

This dragon isn’t to be trifled with.  The entire image is meant to portray the pure evil that resides in him and the raw power that he misuses.  He is able to sweep stars from heaven and he wants to each babies.  I would love to go more into the symbolism here of the stars being swept from heaven, the image is drawn from Daniel 8 where a kingdom is pictured as a horn that grows very high and reaches the “host of the heavens, and it threw some of the starry host down to the earth and trampled on them” (Dan 8:10).  Suffice it to say, this dragon is doing the same thing, he is exalting himself greatly, he thinks more highly of himself than he ought and his pride will bring about not only his destruction but it has also brought about the fall of many angels in the heavens.

 

This dragon is maniacal without any sense of decency, bounds or proper behavior.  Not only does he want to devour the child, but when he fails at that, he wants to devour the woman and when he can’t do that, he tries to devour the saints, by making war on the Christians.  Are you sensing the reason why our western ideas of a soft, hallmark Christmas don’t do justice to the Christmas story and why “Advent in a war zone” is a more apt picture of the coming of the Messiah?  2000 years ago, a war was fought and it has had great effects on you and I.

 

When this male child was born, the long awaited Messiah who would crush the head of the serpent, Satan knew that his days were few, so he tries everything to kill the child.  He calls out Herod and his grave jealousy to slaughter every male child under two.  He tempts him as he grows up, and we see one of those temptations in the 3 tests in the wilderness regarding turning rocks to food, jumping off the temple and worshipping the evil one in exchange for ruling the nations.  Satan stirs up the priests and gets the male child killed, But even that was all part of God’s plan, for in the death of Christ, the words it is finished are prophetic utterances declaring that sin has been defeated, and death wil be vanquished and Satan will have no more right to enter into the heavenly courts.  And so Jesus rises from the dead and ascends to heaven.  All of this is summed up in the “birth of a son…snatched up to God and to his throne” (Rv 12:5).  And that is because he was the one the people of Israel were awaiting from the Psalm 2:6-9 where God says, “I have installed my King on Zion, my holy hill. I will proclaim the decree of the Lord: he said to me, “You are my Son, today I have become your Father.  Ask of me and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession.  You will rule them with an iron scepter…”.

 

And with that birth-ascension couplet, everything changes.  There is war in heaven, the angels versus the demons.  The angelic host defeated the demonic hoard and they are cast out of heaven forevermore.  Think about that, Satan looses his privilege of entering into the throne room of God.  Ever since the times of Job Satan has freely walked into God’s presence and brought accusation.  But God no longer listens to the accuser and his rubbish talk because the child has been born and he has ascended to the throne of heaven to rule and mediate on behalf of his people, a people protected in the wilderness, ultimately secure from the plans of evil.

 

It is no wonder that Romans 8:33-39 declares, “Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen?…For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, no anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

 

This is our Christmas hope, but that hope was hard fought, it literally was a battle of cosmic and epic proportions. So on this Christmas Day, be assured that there is no longer any accuser in the throne room of God for the people of God.  The battle has been won. The day belongs to the Lord and As his people you can boldly enter into the throne room of grace!

 

 

Bulletin Outline – Rev 12;1-9 Our Christmas Hope

 

  1. Great and Wondrous Sign (Rev 12:1)
    1. All G&W signs have to do with God’s Salvation of his people
    2. Other OT miraculous signs and wonders
      1.                                                i.     Exodus – Dt 6:22, 7:19
      2.                                              ii.     Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream of Great Tree cut down (Dan 4:3)
    3. Woman clothed with sun, moon under feet, crown 12 stars on head (Rv 12:1-2)
      1.                                                i.     Picture of spiritual people of Israel (Gen 37:9, Gal 4:26, 2Jn 1, 13
      2.                                              ii.     Why marvelous?
  2. Another sign (Rev 12:3)
    1. Red Dragon (Rev 12:9)
      1.                                                i.     7 Heads, 10 horns, 7 crowns (Eph 2:2, 2Cor 4:4)
        1. Power, authority, rule – great amounts
      2.                                              ii.     Not to be trifled with
        1. Swept 1/3 stars out of sky (Rv 12:4, Dan 8)
        2. Wants to devour the Messiah, Woman and her children (Rev 12:13-17)
    2. Child is born (Rev 12:5)
      1.                                                i.     Male child (Gen 3:15)
      2.                                              ii.     Rule with Iron Scepter – descendant of David, Son of King (Ps 2:6-9)
    3. War in Heaven – Christmas story
      1.                                                i.     Angels v. Demons
      2.                                              ii.     Demons/Satan cast out, hurled down
      3.                                             iii.     Implications
        1. Times of Job, Zech with accuser entering in and laying charge to us is past
        2. God no longer listens to Satan’s rubbish talk.- The child has been born, he has died, he has ascended!
        3. Rom 8:33-39

 

 

Rev 12;1-9 Our Christmas Hope

 

  1. Great and Wondrous Sign (Rev 12:1)
    1. All G&W signs have to do with God’s Salvation of his people
    2. Other OT miraculous signs and wonders
      1.                                                i.     Exodus – Dt 6:22, 7:19
        1. “Before our eyes the Lord sent miraculous signs and wonders — great and terrible — upon Egypt and Pharaoh and his whole household” (Deut. 6:22).
      2.                                              ii.     Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream of Great Tree cut down (Dan 4:3)
        1. Daniel 4:3, “How great are his signs, how mighty his wonders! His kingdom is an eternal kingdom; his dominion endures from generation to generation.”
        2. Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, because everything he does is right and all his ways are just” (Dan 4:37)
    3. Woman clothed with sun, moon under feet, crown 12 stars on head (Rv 12:1)
      1.                                                i.     Picture of spiritual people of Israel
        1. Modeled on Gen 37:9 where Joseph has dream with Abe, Sarah, 11 bro
        2. Gal 4:26 Jerusalem above is our mother But the Jerusalem that is above is free and she is our mother.
        3. 2John 1, 13  To the chosen lady and her children…the children of your chosen sister send their greetings.
      2.                                              ii.     Pregnant (Rv 12:2)
        1. Awaiting her Messiah
        2. Seed crush serpent (Gen 3:15)
        3. God’s people pre-incarnation.  Longing…
      3.                                             iii.     Why marvelous?
        1. Chosen People are pictured in heaven, radiant, exalted, glorious
        2. God’s people in God’s realm
  2. Another sign
    1. Red Dragon (Rev 12:3)
      1.                                                i.     Aka Devil, Satan, serpent (Rv 12:9)
      2.                                              ii.     7 Heads, 10 horns, 7 crowns
        1. Power, authority, rule – great amounts
        2. Eph 2:2 – ruler of the kingdom of the air
        3. 2Cor 4:4 God of this age
      3.                                             iii.     Not to be trifled with
        1. Swept 1/3 stars out of sky (Rv 12:4)
          1. Daniel 8 vision speaks of Kingdoms oppose God.  One of these kingdoms is pictured as a horn that grows very high.  “It grew until it reached the host of the heavens, and it threw some of the starry host down to the earth and trampled on them” (Dan 8:10).
          2. Dragon is doing same thing.  When he fell, many other angels fell with him.
          3. Wants to devour the Messiah
            1. Maniacally crazed, willing to attack Son of God
            2. No sense of place, bounds
            3. Wants to devour Woman (Rev 12;13-15)
            4. Makes war on the Christians (Rev 12:17)
    2. Child is born (Rev 12:5)
      1.                                                i.     Male child
        1. Who is the Long awaited male child in the Scriptural story?
          1. Gen 3:15 – “I will put enmity between you and the woman and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, you will bruise his heel.”
          2. This is the male child of male children and Dragon knows it, why he wants to kill him before he grows up!
      2.                                              ii.     Rule with Iron Scepter – descendant of David, Son of King
        1. Ps 2:6-9 I have installed my King on Zion, my holy hill. I will proclaim the decree of the Lord: he said to me, “You are my Son, today I have become your Father.  Ask of me and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession.  You will rule them with an iron scepter…”
      3.                                             iii.     Snatched up to God and to his throne
        1. Fast forward to the ascension.  Christmas must be viewed as a step in the battle toward the establishing of a kingdom.
        2. Safely enthroned! Ruling! Crushing the head of serpent!
    3. War in Heaven – Christmas story
      1.                                                i.     Angels v. Demons
      2.                                              ii.     Demons/Satan cast out, hurled down
        1. Satan lost his privilege to enter the Throne room
        2. Implications
          1. Times of Job, Zech with accuser entering in and laying charge to us is past
          2. God no longer listens to Satan’s rubbish talk.- The child has been born, he has died, he has ascended!
          3. Rom 8:33-39 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen?…For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, no anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

 

This is our Christmas hope, but that hope was hard fought, it literally was a battle of cosmic and epic proportions. So on this Christmas Day, be assured that there is no longer any accuser in the throne room of God for the people of God.  The battle has been won. The day belongs to the Lord and As his people you can boldly enter into the throne room of grace!

 

 

 

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About Scott Roberts

pastor of Hope in Christ Church, Bellingham, WA
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