This sermon is from the series UNDERSTANDING REVELATION and was preached on July 20, 2014 at Cornerstone Baptist Church in Cherry Log, Georgia by Pastor Paul Mims. You can hear this sermon at www.csbccl.org
Revelation 12:1-17You have heard it said, “It matters not if you win, but how you play the game.” Football season will be starting next month and we want our teams to win. But a good game can be played and lost in the last seconds with a field goal. That is a big disappointment. In life it is important how we play the game and it is vital that we win. The believer in Christ is assured of victory.
In this message we will look at a broad scope of how Satan is against Jesus the Christ and his followers. Chapter 12 of Revelation is a portrayal of the great cosmic battle in which Satan is defeated. I want you to see two major truths from this scripture.
I. THE FOURFOLD ATTACK OF SATAN ON CHRIST AND HIS FOLLOWERS. (vv.1-4)
The first attack of Satan upon Jesus in the New Testament era is at his birth. The woman represents Israel. She is ready to be delivered and in Isaiah and Micah the prophets are saying that Israel is travailing and ready to give birth to the Messiah. Paul expresses it this way: “When the fullness of time came, God sent forth His Son born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law that we might receive the adoption as sons.” When the Messiah is ready to come forth from Israel and for Israel, Satan is poised and ready to devour him at his birth. So viciously does he hate the fact that there is coming a Redeemer of man, Satan arranges for all of the infants one year old and under to be slaughtered.
So the vision on Patmos is taking John back to the birth of Christ and he makes the point that from birth Satan was antichrist. We are going to see that in the remaining part of Revelation, God is sovereign and Satan is pretending to be sovereign.
As Jesus began his ministry, Satan said to him in the temptations in the wilderness, “Bow down to me and I will give you all of the land you can see. Do it my way.” We know that Satan cried for his blood every step of the way from the manger to the cross. He entered into the Jerusalem crowd and they shouted “Crucify Him” “Crucify Him!”
The second of the fourfold attacks is in Heaven. “And she gave birth to a son, a male child, who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron; and her child was caught up to God and to His throne.” (v.5) This is a reference to the ascension of Christ after the resurrection. Satan was not done with his attacks on earth so he followed him to heaven and in 12:7 we read, “And there was war in heaven, Michael and his angels waging war with the dragon. The dragon and his angels waged war, and they were not strong enough, and there was no longer a place found for them in heaven. And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.”
Verse 6 tells us that Satan is not through persecuting Israel for he will bring intense pressure upon them during the last three and a half years of the Great Tribulation. This will be a time of nourishment of Israel by God and the Jews will turn to see Christ as Messiah.
The Third attack is against the followers of Christ. Looks at 12:13: “And when the dragon saw that he was thrown down to the earth, he persecuted the woman who gave birth to the male child.” The early church was made up of Jews who did see Christ as Messiah. Not able to attack the beloved mighty Savior, the Son of God, directly, Satan turns his attack to God’s people, the nation of Israel, and the Christian community.
This was especially meaningful to these early Christians for they were dying by the scores every week. They were facing the Roman Emperor’s madness as he claimed to be lord and god and ordered that the Christians should bow down to him. They refused and it cost them their lives. Have you ever wondered what happened to the early leaders of the church? The Christian Index carried the following account:
“Matthew suffered martyrdom by being slain with a sword in Ethiopia. Mark died at Alexandria after being dragged through the streets of that city. Luke was hanged from an olive tree in Greece. John was put in a caldron of boiling oil, but escaped death in a miraculous manner, and was afterward banished to Patmos.
Peter was crucified at Rome with his head downward. James, the greater, was beheaded at Jerusalem.
James, the less, was thrown from the pinnacle of the temple, and then beaten to death with a club.
Andrew was bound to a cross, where he preached to his persecutors until he died. Thomas was run through the body with a lance. Jude was shot to death with arrows. Matthias was first stoned and then beheaded. Barnabas was stoned to death at Salonica. Paul was beheaded in Rome.”
The fourth attack is in verse 17 and this is where it speaks of you and me. “So the dragon was enraged with the woman, and went off to make war with the rest of her children, who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus.” Here is the account of both Jew and Gentile. This accounts for the great opposition to the Jews through all that they have suffered in losing their homeland, the holocaust, and continued persecution. This also accounts for Satan’s great opposition to the church and Christian believers today.
II. THE SOURCE OF OUR CERTAIN VICTORY. (vv.10-11)
“Then I heard a loud voice in heaven saying, ‘Now the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, he who accused them before our God day and night. And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death.’”
You ought to underline verse 11 in your Bible. The one thing that destroys the power of Satan in a person’s life is the Cross of Christ. The one thing that can set you free from any bondage is the blood of Christ appropriated for your need. When you sense a presence of evil around you say, “I place myself under the blood of Christ.” You can defeat Satan every time by the power of the cross.
How do we win? Not because we are superior in numbers or through influence of social position, or because life may be easy for some. Remember that Jesus prayed in John 17, “I pray not that you would take them out of the world, but that you would keep them from the evil one.”
We win because we are captured by a hope that is bigger than we are. We win because we are willing to pay the price for victory. We do not negotiate the terms. We win because the victory is already won for us in Christ. Jesus said, “Whosoever will save his life shall lose it and whosoever shall lose his life for my sake shall find it.”
When we give ourselves to Christ – we make it possible for God to bless us.
In Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s novel ONE DAY IN THE LIFE OF IVAN DENISOVICH, the cynical Ivan mocks the faith and prayers of his young Baptist Christian friend, Alyoska. He doesn’t see how Christian prayers will help Alyoska get out of the communist prison any faster than anyone else. Alyoska’s response surprises Ivan. In effect he answers, “I don’t pray for that. I pray to do the will of God.” Then he recites to Ivan the Lord’s Prayer. There is not one word in that prayer about getting out of the Russian prison camp, but rather it is his prayer to make it here and now in the twenty four hour cycle in everyone’s lives and to do the will of God in the here and now. What is impressive about Alyoska is that here is a man who has faith and knows that he has meaning for his life in the midst of a hard pathway. He is blessed. Of course, he wants to get out of prison, but he does not need to be out of prison to have faith, hope, and love or to have a mission to fulfill for his life. He is blessed in the present because of the companionship of Christ. It is the unshakable blessing of God that John discovers in this great vision of victory.
Leighton Ford was an evangelist on the Billy Graham team. Decision Magazine carried the story of his twenty-one year old son who underwent heart surgery at Chapel Hill, North Carolina and died as a result of the operation. Four days after Sandy’s funeral Leighton said this to the Graham team:
“Sometimes when people pray for a miracle and the miracle is granted they say, ‘Isn’t God good. Look at what He did.’ I remembered on the day before Sandy’s surgery how I prayed to God and I said, ‘God, be merciful to my boy tomorrow.’ And God did not answer my prayer. Is God not good? I have found in the midst of this, in the midst of heartache that God is good. I would be less than honest if I did not tell you that I wish I could smile and say, ‘I’m thankful for this for there is a part of me that says down deep inside – It’s not right. It’s not right that Sandy is not coming for Christmas. It’s not right that he will not marry and have children. It’s not right that he is not going to fulfill the ministry that we believed might have been there.”
“I say these things inside myself. There are hours of great peace and joy and there are times when it closes in on me and I say, ‘Do I believe my emotions? Am I doubting God? Am I questioning?’
“I still have to believe that my emotions are right. Sandy’s death is not right. And I think that as Christians we sometimes too easily and glibly pass over things that happen with words that we say and forget that it is not right. I remember that our Lord stood over the grave of Lazarus and the scripture says that he was troubled in his spirit.”
“For Sandy, it was not right. We just can’t coat that over. That’s why I believe the final thing I have to say is what Paul said in I Corinthians 15 when he stated, ‘The last enemy to be destroyed is death.’ Death is an enemy. For me as a minister of the gospel as I commit myself again to the work of evangelism, I realize that the gospel is not sugar-coating to make a bitter pill taste better. The gospel is the difference between life and death for if Christ had not been raised from the dead, our preaching is useless. Our faith is vain. It is all useless unless Christ is raised. We are false witnesses, mediums hoodwinking people saying, ‘God raises the dead when he doesn’t if Christ is not raised.’”
As we read these chapters in Revelation that are so difficult to understand the imagery that is strange to us, remember that John is using symbols that will hide his message to the rulers of his day, but will be understood by the audience to whom he is writing. He is writing to their struggle and to ours. He is also writing to the end time believers. For all of us there is a victory of which we can be certain and assured in our hearts.
Are you in need of a victory in your life at present?
E. M. Barlett wrote more than 800 Hymns and the one that has blessed the Christian church most is “Victory In Jesus.” He owned a music company that published Southern Gospel music and traveled across the country to singing events. “Victory In Jesus” remains one of the most popular and widely known songs of the church. In 1939, a stroke rendered Bartlett partially paralyzed and unable to perform or travel. He spent the last two years of his life bedridden. Amid such bleak circumstances, he wrote his final and most beloved song, “Victory in Jesus,” an optimistic number that has been sung by millions in worship services and recorded by gospel’s biggest names. The three verses and refrain enthusiastically tell of one’s own personal salvation experience from beginning to end. It’s said that Bartlett missed traveling and teaching, but he could still study the Bible, a study from which he gave us this wonderful song during a time when much of the earth sat on the brink of World War II.
“O victory in Jesus, my Savior forever, He sought me and bought me with his redeeming blood; He loved me ere I knew him, and all my love is due Him, He plunged me to victory, beneath the cleansing flood.”
PRAISE BE TO HIS NAME!