So the great dragon was thrown down to the earth… ~REVELATION 12:9
At the high risk of intense persecutions and disruption of life if they showed allegiance to Christ over Rome, the people John was writing to no doubt had to wonder, “What’s the point? Why not go along to get along? Why not compromise with Babylon to make this life much easier and more comfortable?” In the incredible verses of 7-12 we get the answer.
Because satan has already lost the war.
At the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, war broke out in heaven between the archangel Michael and his angels against the dragon and his angels. Team Michael won, and the devil was thrown out of heaven and cast down to earth. Apparently, before this salvation event, satan had free access to God’s presence in the heavenly realm to accuse the people of God day and nite, an angelic prosecuting attorney if you will. Recall the story of Job and that the Hebrew word satan means accuser.
But after Jesus was snatched away to God and His throne (Rev 12:5), the devil’s range of operation became severely limited. This was very upsetting for him. Since then, satan has doubled his efforts to inflict as much damage as he can on God’s people and throw them off course, knowing that his time is limited and that he can’t take away believers’ eternal destiny with God. (He really thought that whole crucifixion thing would turn out quite differently.) But he does what he can to get as many as he can to choose for themselves to turn away from God, or at least to live a quiet life of drawing no attention to God or the victory of Christ.
Here’s the crux of the passage: the reason evil is at work so relentlessly in the world is not because satan is so powerful, but because he is desperate and losing.
He’s prowling around like a caged lion in his limited domain desperately inflicting damage because he’s wounded and angry, knowing that he lost the war in heaven and doesn’t have forever to do his dirty work.
Not all of the dragon’s damage is obvious tragedy. A significant portion of what the devil does is to breed a sort of cynical complacency. If he can get you to think the fight is not worth it and that the force of evil is just too strong in this life , then he gains a victory (a battle victory, not the war). Better yet, if he can coax you into thinking their’s nothing to fight, then he wins even more ground in this life since non-fighters will be numbed into marching to the beat of Babylon and joining the dragon’s team. Remember our takeaway from last time, that the point of this letter by John was a call to bear witness to the truth, to the lordship of Jesus Christ.
How is your speech or lifestyle giving testimony to the lordship of Christ?
What do your words and life choices say has ultimate place and is in control?
Are you living a nice, quiet life of little to no influence for Christ the Victor?
Or is your life a witness to the redemptive power of God?
The hope is through now knowing that the forces of evil have a definite time limit, are defeatable, and losing, that you are inspired and strengthened to do what John encouraged the seven churches to do in the face of evil–resist. Resist through the blood of the Lamb, the word of your testimony, and loving Christ more than your life (Rev 12:11). For to capitulate is to sign up with the losing side. I love one teacher’s summary of Revelation: “God’s team wins. Choose your team. Don’t be stupid.”
For more reflection on Revelation 12:11 go here.