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The Book of Revelation
“The Dragon Wars”
We are living in a day when most people want to deny the real cause of the trouble we see in our world. We don’t want to see the results of what’s going on in our world or even in our lives as the works of sin and the devil.
Yet this is exactly what we see happening as the author of sin is on a warpath, and we’re his intended targets.
Dragons are mythical creatures that haunt the culture of every civilization, from the Babylonians to the Chinese to the Europeans. Long ago, when much of the world was still undiscovered, mapmakers would insert the ominous lines—“here be dragons,” and dragons would be drawn by these map makers in the blank spaces.
Today most of us leave dragons for fairy tales, books, or movies. But the dragon we’ll be looking at today is no fairy tale. He is real, and he’s been around a long time, and he’s just as deadly and diabolical as he’s ever been.
He is the monster behind all other monsters, the ultimate horror of the universe. And this monster, this dragon wages war right now against Israel and Jesus Christ, not to mention you and me.
And so in our time together I’d like to look at three wars that Satan gets engaged in and we need to understand so that we can be not only wise, but overcomers.
Read Revelation 12
The First War – Against Israel and the Messiah
This dragon stands in front of the woman, waiting greedily to devour the child as soon as He’s born. Suddenly the pains increase, and the Child enters the world, but before the dragon can destroy the Child, He is snatched up and taken to heaven, to God’s throne, and the woman flees into the desert to a refuge prepared by God for 1260 days.
What does it all mean? To begin, this is a past, present and future war that has been, and continues to be played out in our midst.
In this chapter there are three main characters.
The Woman: Israel
John says in verse one, “Now a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a garland of twelve stars.” (Revelation 12:1 NKJV)
This has interesting parallel to Joseph’s dream back in Genesis. In this dream his father was the sun, his mother the moon, and his brother’s stars. Jacob and his 12 sons represent the nation of Israel. And so the 12 stars on her head symbolize the 12 tribes of Israel.
The Child: Jesus
The male child is Jesus the Messiah. Verse five says, “She bore a male Child who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron. And her Child was caught up to God and His throne.” (Revelation 12:5 NKJV)
The iron scepter comes right out of Psalm 2:9 speaking about the Messiah who shall be King, who is no one less than the Son of God. It says of Him that He “Shall break them with a rod of iron; You shall dash them to pieces like a potter’s vessel.” (Psalm 2:9 NKJV) The “them” are the nations that rise up against God and His Messiah.
The kind of rod it’s talking about is a “shepherds rod,” and because it’s made out of iron, it means that this shepherd is very strong. Jesus spoke of Himself as the ‘good shepherd’, but He’s also a very powerful!
Note that it says her child was snatched up to God and to his throne. John is compacting the entire life and ministry of Jesus Christ into three events, His birth, death and resurrection, and His ascension into heaven.
The Dragon: Satan
The dragon is described in verse four. “A great, fiery red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems on his heads.” (Revelation 12:3 NKJV) because of its heads, horns, and crowns, some say it’s the Antichrist. But John tells us exactly who this is in verse nine.
“So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.” (Revelation 12:9 NKJV)
While this has implication as to the coming Antichrist, which we’ll see more about next week, what we do know is that seven is the number of completeness, ten is the number of authority. And so you might say that Satan is really strong and deadly, seeing that he is fiery red, the color of blood. But it also encompasses the Antichrist’s dominion.
And so the war is waged. First it is against the woman, Israel, in the attempt to stop and destroy the male child, Jesus. But before he could succeed Jesus was caught up to heaven, where He is now at the right hand of God, and He is coming again to put all things right, that is, put evil in its place, which is hell and the lake of fire.
What we see is that the woman flees into the desert to a refuge prepared by God for 1260 days. Jesus said that when the Jews who remain saw the abomination of desolation, they were to flee, and so the 1260 days, the “time, times and half a time,” is 3 ½ years, which would be the last half of the Tribulation.
The refuge many believe is the city of Petra, which Christians have stocked full of supplies, , Bibles, and tracts about Jesus being the Messiah.
If ever there were a people who have been hounded and hated, it’s Israel. Satan has done all he can, from the empires of the past, and tyrants like Antiochus Epiphanies, the Creaser’s of Rome, to Adolph Hitler’s final solution. These are the result of Satan’s intense hatred of God’s chosen people, the Jews.
And here’s the point, if Satan can destroy the Jews, he can stop God’s plan from being implemented, because the end time is all about the Jews and God’s final redemption.
But after the day of Pentecost the dragon expands his war toward the rest of the woman’s offspring, that is, those who obey God and confess Jesus Christ. This is seen at the end saying,
“And he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.” (Revelation 12:17 NKJV)
We’ll look at this in the last of the Dragon Wars.
But what we all must grasp is that Satan is taking out his wrath on Israel and Christians because he can’t get to his true prey, the male child, the Messiah, Jesus. And so he’s trying instead to defeat Jesus plan and purpose. So He blinding the eyes of this world to the truth, and turning the world against both Jew and Christian. It’s an all out attempt to destroy the witness of God in this world.
And today we really don’t have to look far as we see evolution being taught and accepted over God our Creator. We also see all sorts and types of immorality being taught as being right, and what is moral and right is being taught as being wrong. And then there are the nations, including the United States, turning away from Israel and Christians, where both are being persecuted around the world, including in our own country.
The Second War – Against Heaven
We see this second war of the dragon in verses seven and eight:
“And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer. So the great dragon was cast out.” (Revelation 12:7-9a NKJV)
Michael in the Old Testament is the guardian angel of Israel. So this war has to do with God’s people. And the war is between Michael, representing God, and the dragon, Satan. And Michael and the host of heaven win the battle and cast out Satan and his army, which is one-third of the angels, those that had fallen with Satan.
Now we wonder what weaponry did Michael use to win, seeing how strong Satan is? Well the war for heaven, like the war for human souls was won through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. And so all of heaven cries out in a loud voice …
“Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down.” (Revelation 12:10 NKJV)
Some have wondered at this thinking that Satan is ruling in hell, but in reality he’s in heaven accusing you and I before God. This is seen in what Job sees in heaven. He says, “Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them.” (Job 1:6 NKJV) And while he was before God Satan accuses Him of favoring Job.
The war that is described here is at the end of the first half of Tribulation, and there’s only 3 ½ years remaining. And so the Devil comes hard against the believers through his two henchmen, the Antichrist and False Prophet, whom we’ll look at next week.
The Third War – Against Believers
The Devil is really ticked off now. It says in verse twelve,
“For the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has a short time.” (Revelation 12:12b NKJV)
He’s mad because in football terms it’s the 4th quarter, and the 2-minute warning has sounded, and he’s on the losing team.
And while he knows the score, and knows that he’s losing and has lost, he doesn’t give up, because he wants to take as many people to hell with him as possible. So he’s unleashing his entire arsenal against not only Israel, but believers in Jesus Christ as well.
The evil we see the world today doesn’t mean Satan is winning, but quite the opposite. It’s because he is losing that he’s now throwing out all stops. He doesn’t want Jesus to be King, but it’s too late, he can hear it, and that’s why he made war in heaven.
What did he hear? It’s what we talked about last week in Revelation 11:5:
“The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign for ever and ever.” (Revelation 11:5 NKJV)
And so we come to the end and the middle of the Tribulation. First, we see that it’s against Christians saying,
“And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.” (Revelation 12:17 NKJV)
Since he couldn’t get Israel, they escaped to the wilderness as Jesus warned and told them to do when they saw the abomination of desolation; he’s coming against her offspring, believers in Jesus Christ.
If you are a believer in Jesus Christ know that Satan is going to attack you with accusation and condemnation. That’s who he is, that’s what his name means. In the Hebrew it means accuser. So, he’s going to take your sins and continually throw them in your face, as well as doing everything possible to make your life a living hell.
The Apostle Paul tells us of this war we’re in. He said,
“For we are not fighting against people made of flesh and blood, but against the evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against those mighty powers of darkness who rule this world, and against wicked spirits in the heavenly realms.” (Ephesians 6:12 NLT)
Now against this attack God has given to us, like he did Michael and His angels, the power and tools to defeat Satan and be overcomers.
When His disciples realized that the demons had to obey because of Jesus’ name, Jesus said,
“I saw Satan falling from heaven as a flash of lightning! And I have given you authority over all the power of the enemy, and you can walk among snakes and scorpions and crush them. Nothing will injure you. But don’t rejoice just because evil spirits obey you; rejoice because your names are registered as citizens of heaven.” (Luke 10:18-20 NKJV)
And so now the Lord proclaims victory for His people and gives them the tools to be those overcomers in verse 11.
“And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.” (Revelation 12:11 NKJV)
What we need to know is these same tools are available for us today to defeat Satan and His demons.
The blood of the lamb is the blood of Jesus. In the Old Testament an innocent lamb was sacrificed to symbolically pay for peoples sin. It illustrates the destructiveness of sin, that when we sin an innocent had to pay the price.
Jesus was the ultimate solution. Only a perfect God could die for others, and so the perfect Son of God, paid for our sin with His lifeblood.
The blood of Jesus is a weapon that has never lost its power but we haven’t learned to use it. Too much of the church has forsaken the blood in search of a more “appealing” gospel. But a trail of blood runs from Genesis to Revelation and is necessary for us to overcome. There is power in the blood of Jesus.
The devil is defeated every time you refuse to listen to his lying accusations saying, “You can’t change! You’ll never be any different! Life will never change!” Instead you reach out and believe that Jesus really did die to bring us new life!
The Blood of Jesus redeems us through its power.
“In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace.” (Ephesians 1:7 NKJV)
Morality may keep you out of jail, but it will take the blood of Jesus to keep you out of hell.
The Apostle Paul also said,
But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” (Ephesians 2:13 NKJV)
It doesn’t matter where a person is in life, and what sins they have committed, the blood of Jesus can forgive every sin.
In quoting the Law of Moses the writer of Hebrews said, “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.” (Hebrews 9:22 NIV)
The second tool or weapon it says is by “the word of their testimony.”
When we think about testimony we think about our lives; the way we lead our lives and how God has helped us live successful Christian lives. But the prophet Isaiah has this to say about our own righteous acts, that they’re like filthy rags, Isaiah 64:6. What this means is that no matter how good we are, it’s never good enough for God. The Bible says that there is no one who is righteous enough to make it into heaven on their own.
Testimony means to be a witness, and to give evidence to an experience. What they did was confessed their relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.
When Abraham’s servant went to Haran to find a wife for Isaac, when he met Rebekah at the well he didn’t talk about himself or his master, Abraham. Rather he made Isaac so attractive that she said yes, that she would go and marry Isaac.
Don’t despise your own testimony! Every test that Jesus has gotten you through is a testimony of God’s grace and mercy, and this is what people pay attention to more than all our doctrine.
Also, one of the main reasons many believers are overcome rather than overcoming is they quickly forget what God has done and can do! An overcomer sees their current test as an opportunity for God’s power to produce another testimony.
To the demon possessed man Jesus healed in the region of Gerasenes, Jesus said,
“Go home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” (Mark 5:19 NIV)
We need to go first to our own household, our family, and then our friends and then beyond in our community and to the world. But it starts at home.
But it isn’t only by our experiences we also overcome, but also by the word of God.
Jesus overcame Satan by the word of God. In Ephesians 6, one of the main offensive weapons in this battle is the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And so we become overcomers by taking the Sword out, that is the Bible, quoting scripture and sharing our faith.
Not Loving Our Lives
John says that the devil is defeated when we don’t fear of death!
If we expect to defeat the devil at his own game, we have to be willing to suffer any and all inconveniences, put up with any hardship, and make any sacrifice in order to further the cause of Christ in our world. This is the attitude of an overcomer.
A believer’s death isn’t the last word; rather it’s the second to the last word. The last word comes from the Lord saying, “Well done,” he says, “good and faithful servant.”
These believers were committed to Jesus all the way, even to death. Not only were they willing to live for the Lord, but they were also willing to die for the Lord!
You begin by putting your flesh to death while you’re still alive. The Apostle Paul tells us
“Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry, and he goes on to list out anger, wrath, malice, slander, filthy language, and lies, saying, since you have taken off your old self with its practices” (Colossians 3:5-9 NIV)
I eagerly hope that we will in no way be ashamed of Christ and when the time comes have sufficient courage to exalt Christ, whether by life or by death.
The Apostle Paul said,
“For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” (Philippians 1:20-21)
The Bible tells us to be alert to the presence of our spiritual enemy, the devil. Be sober minded and vigilant the Apostle Peter said, and that’s because our adversary the devil walks around like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour, 1 Peter 5:8.
As we move through each day, we must neither pretend that Satan doesn’t exist, or become paralyzed with fear of his presence. Knowing his destructive potential, we must depend on God’s power to “resist him, steadfast in the faith“
Wednesday Evening Bible Study