The Fourth Sunday in Easter

Revelation 12:1-17

God’s Protection of His Church

Chapter twelve of Revelation is one of the most beautiful in the entire book, for in it we see God’s great concern for His Church and anticipate her ultimate triumph.  God loves His Church, for it was for her that He sent His Son, who died and rose again to purchase her redemption.  Because of our Lord’s work on the cross, the Church is lovely, beautiful, cleansed of any defilement; she is a chaste and worthy Bride, without spot or wrinkle (Ephesians 5:27; Revelation 19:7-8).

In this chapter, the woman represents the Church, the people of God, for the way she is dressed indicates that we are not dealing with a single individual.  The dragon is obviously the devil, as is clear from verse nine.  The woman gives birth to a baby whom the dragon waits to devour, but he is caught up to heaven before the dragon can do so.  The baby is the Christ-child since he is described as “the one who is to rule the nations with a rod of iron” (Psalm 2:9; Revelation 2:27 & 19:15).  That the heavenly vision skips our Lord’s earthly ministry and whisks him away to heaven is not important; we are to think of his victory over the dragon in that the devil is cast out of heaven, reminiscent of our Lord’s words in Luke 10:18.  It was our Lord’s passion and resurrection that defeated the dragon and cast him out.

The woman now seeks refuge in the wilderness, which is the earth.  Since the dragon could not slay the baby, he now pours out his wrath upon the Church.  But her Lord protects her, delivering her on eagles’ wings (Exodus 19:4).  This does not mean that the devil is not able to inflict harm upon the Church as Revelation itself bears out (v. 17).  There have been and will be martyrs.  We know that our Adversary goes about “like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8).  He is angry, because he knows his defeat is sure and his time short.

But the overall message of the chapter is one of victory and rejoicing.  Our ancient foe has been conquered by the blood of the Lamb.  As he has been cast out of heaven, he is no longer able to accuse us before God night and day as was his habit.  Like the adulteress, we have no accusers (John 8:10-11).  And as the Apostle Paul said, “Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect?  It is God who justifies” (Romans 8:33).  We have been set free, delivered, purchased, redeemed.  And it is our God’s sovereign will to see us home.

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