Read: Revelation 12:1 – 18

Focus: “It has come at last—
    salvation and power
and the Kingdom of our God,
    and the authority of his Christ.
For the accuser of our brothers and sisters
    has been thrown down to earth—
the one who accuses them
    before our God day and night.
11 And they have defeated him by the blood of the Lamb
    and by their testimony.
And they did not love their lives so much
    that they were afraid to die.
12 Therefore, rejoice, O heavens!
    And you who live in the heavens, rejoice!
But terror will come on the earth and the sea,
    for the devil has come down to you in great anger,
    knowing that he has little time.” Revelation 18:10 – 12

Anyone think Revelation is easy to read? By easy, I mean understanding the symbolism and the cultural context as well as coming to grips with some of the gruesome imagery throughout, especially the 21 judgements – wars, famine, earthquakes, poisoned waters, boils, non-stop stinging insect like things, etc. You know the joyful parts of the Bible.

Confession time – up until a few years ago, I just stayed away from the Book of Revelation. I didn’t tell that to many people. As was written in 1 Corinthians 3 and in Hebrews 5, I don’t think I was mature enough for that solid food yet. About five years ago or so after listening to a sermon by Charles Stanley online about Revelation, I was convicted that I needed to spend some time reading and studying this important book. I remember Dr. Stanley quoting Revelation 1: 3 as one of the significant reasons why believers shouldn’t avoid reading the Book of Revelation. Revelation 1:3 tells us: “God blesses the one who reads the words of this prophecy to the church, and He blesses all who listen to its message and obey what it says, for the time is near.” Wow; that’s pretty clear that we are supposed to read, understand, and obey what’s written in Revelation. We know from the timeline of the Bible that this is the last revelation we have in the Bible from Jesus Christ to His followers. As someone who strongly believes that God speaks most clearly and directly to His believers through the Bible, by avoiding the Book of Revelation, I was choosing to avoid the words of my Lord and Savior. So I buckled up, put my big boy pants on, and dug in. Before, during, and after, I spent time in prayer asking the Holy Spirit to give me wisdom, discernment, and understanding so I would be able to understand and obey Jesus’ revelation to His church. When I ran into symbolism I didn’t understand, I looked for explanations. There is a lot of “end-time” information out there; some of it can be very sketchy and veers quite a bit away from the Bible. I called on resources I trusted; I avoided resources that didn’t seem trustworthy (I tend to avoid any resource that starts predicting the whens since Jesus Himself told us only the Father knows the timeline). I learned a lot as I read and researched; one thing in particular – God wants us to understand His Revelation because in doing so, it helps us to know Him better. While there is a lot of symbolism, a lot of it can be explained by looking back through other books in the Bible (especially looking through the books by the Old Testament prophets). I still have some questions in my mind and by reading and listening to people I trust and respect, I can see that there isn’t a clear consensus on the meaning of some of the aspects of Revelation that aren’t what would be called classified as.

Reading Revelation helped me to better know God and to draw closer to Him. Obviously this side of heaven (if ever), we won’t be able to fully understand God (I don’t think our human minds are capable of fully comprehending Him); however, He chooses to reveal what we can know and understand about Him through His Word. The Book of Revelation is an important part of that – it shows us that He is a God who hasn’t forgotten His people. He is a God who is just (“It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God!” Hebrews 1o:31), and yet, He chooses to delay the fulfillment of His judgement and justice out of love (But God is so rich in mercy, and He loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, He gave us life when He raised Christ from the dead. It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!” Ephesians 2:4-5). He is a God who fulfills His promise, and how He will fulfill His promise that Jesus will return for His people is spelled out clearly in this book.

That’s a very long introduction for today’s reading. In today’s reading, there’s a healthy dose of symbolism, history, and prophecy. Scholars debate how much is meant to be metaphorical symbolism and how much is an accurate retelling of how the battle in the heavens happened. I’m much more of a realist than a scholar though, so I’ll leave that to them. What I do get from today’s reading are a few ground truths that are backed up throughout the Bible. First, the world is a nasty place, and we, as humans, need salvation from ourselves and our condition. As we see in today’s focus verses, God provided that salvation through Jesus Christ, our Savior. Secondly, there has been and there currently is (past and present tenses) a great spiritual battle going on. As a result of this battle, we have an enemy in Satan who comes to us in great anger with the purpose of tormenting and waging war on God’s people. Thirdly, in very clear language over the final chapter of Revelation, God tells us the future outcome of this great battle (it’s like we have access to the box score before the game has happened) – here’s a spoiler alert: God wins!

So what does today’s reading mean for us? I think it’s a wake up call. We all know bad things happen (some of us are probably going through some pretty crappy life events right now). However, it’s important to keep some things in mind:  Satan has declared war against the followers of Christ (it says that pretty clearly in today’s reading). We need to recognize and remember that. As we’re told in Ephesians 6:16, “For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.”

Secondly, we can’t win or even hope to fight that war on our own. However, God doesn’t expect or want us to fight it on our own. As a matter of fact, He provides us everything we need. In Ephesians 6:12 – 18, He tells us how to stand firm in this war.

Finally, God gives us the outcome. It’s no secret; by revealing His victory plan in Revelation, it makes me think of the baseball movies where the legendary slugger points his bat to centerfield and announces he will end the game with a home run – at that point, you know how it’s going to end. We know God wins this war and ends all pain, tears, wars for all time  Rejoice and praise God!!!

And they have defeated him by the blood of the Lamb
    and by their testimony.
And they did not love their lives so much
    that they were afraid to die.
Therefore, rejoice, O heavens!
    And you who live in the heavens, rejoice! Revelation 12:11 – 12

He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever. Revelation 21:4

Father, thank You that you have chosen to reveal Yourself and Your plan to us through Your Bible. I pray for wisdom to understand what you would have me to understand. Please help me to know You as much as possible. Please help me to stand firm against all attacks by the enemy, and use me to spread Your light and love in the darkness so other can also know You. In Jesus’ name… Amen.

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