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May 6 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

Revelation chapter 12 – 05/05/2025



Welcome and Prayer: Nancy Lopez

Good morning, RefleXion!                    Grace and Peace to you!

And Happy Cinco de Mayo!  In addition to this celebration, you might want to note that today is World Portuguese Language Day, International Midwives Day,  International Dawn Chorus Day and International Family Equality Day.  Oh, and it’s the International Day for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation Awareness.

Also, today, Africa celebrates:  World Heritage Day
 Canada: Dutch Heritage Day
 Denmark: Liberation day
 Hungary: Mother’s Day
Israel:  Holocaust Remembrance Day
United Kingdom: Lemonade Day

In the USA, it’s National Cartoonists Day, National Hoagie Day, National Astronaut Day, and National Totally Chipotle Day.

It’s also Orthodox Pascha (Easter) and World Laughter Day.

Whew!   We are a people who love to celebrate, aren’t we? So we mark days to help us remember.
What day shall we use to celebrate the gifts of God?  Today, that’s the day.  Winnie the Pooh said that “Today” was his favorite day.  And every day called Today we can realize and thank God for the gifts he gives more and more. 

Join me as we pray along with the twenty-four elders from last week’s text in Revelation chapter 11: 

“We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty,
    who is and who was,
for you have taken your great power
    and begun to reign.
The nations raged,
    but your wrath came,
    and the time for the dead to be judged,
and for rewarding your servants, the prophets and saints,

    and those who fear your name,
    both small and great,
and for destroying the destroyers of the earth.”

Amen.  May it be so.  Amen

Morning Talk: chuck smith, jr.

Intro: Yesterday Barb asked me, “Are you still in Revelation?”

In answered with a weary, “Yes”
She said, “Oh.” then added, “You’ll probably be in Revelation till the end of the world”

One of the challenges of this mystical book is distraction
– the shifting scenes, outrageous creatures, and sudden surprises pull my thoughts in different directions
• if I blink, my mind turns a corner and I’m on the wrong street
– John has left us with more than a book of visions
• Revelation is a rich resource for our spiritual journey
◦ it helps us to identify who we are in Jesus,
◦ to discover where we are, and where we go from here
• but to understand it, we need to read in two dimensions
◦ events going on in heaven are revealed in symbols
◦ these run parallel to events taking place on heart
What unfolds on earth, mirrors what is going on in heaven

Today’s story begins with “a great sign”
Then God’s temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant was seen within his temple. There were flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, an earthquake, and heavy hail. And a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars Revelation 11:19-12:1

After the drum roll at the end of chapter 11, a woman appears who I’ll describe as resplendent
– turning to the first book of the Bible, we come to Joseph’s dreams
• the images in his second dream match details found in John’s vision:
(Joseph narrates) “Behold, the sun, the moon, and the eleven stars were bowing down to me.”
But when he told it to his father . . . his father rebuked him and said to him, “What is this dream that you have dreamed? Shall I and your mother and your brothers indeed come to bow ourselves to the ground before you?” . . . but his father kept the saying in mind (Gen. 37:9-11)
◦ the two passages are not exact in every detail, but there are enough clues to make a connection
She was pregnant and was crying out in birth pains and the agony of giving birth.  And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads seven diadems.  His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven and cast them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she bore her child he might devour it.  She gave birth to a male child, one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron, but her child was caught up to God and to his throne, and the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, in which she is to be nourished for 1,260 days Revelation 12:2-6
• the woman is on a battlefield and she is giving birth to a child
◦ we recognize the male child – he is Jesus
◦ the woman is an archetype (a universal image of motherhood)
the archetype includes here being a nurturer, caregiver, provider, and protector who will risk her life for her child’s protection
– she is a recurring image in scripture – here she corresponds to the following:
Eve: God said she would have ongoing conflict with the serpent
God said to the serpent:
I will put enmity between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and her offspring;
he shall bruise you head,
and you shall bruise his heel (Gen. 3:15)
To the woman:
I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing;
in pain you shall bring forth children (Gen. 3:16)
• this is a prediction of a perpetual struggle for redemption
Israel: the mother in Joseph’s dream – in Genesis she was represented by the moon, here in Revelation the moon is under her feet
◦ Jacob, the father of Joseph is Israel (the name given to him by God), his twelve sons are “the twelve tribes of Israel”
◦ the Messiah is theirs – he is Israel’s “anointed one”
◦ in the symbolism of Revelation 12, Israel is the mother of the baby
Mary: the mother of Jesus, who would suffer the pain of a sword piercing her soul
◦ the angel Gabriel told her, “He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. . . . The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy–the Son of God” (Lk. 1:31-35)
Mother Earth: we’re made from the dust of the ground – our planet shares our predicament (cf. Ro. 8:19-23)

Why haven’t I included the church in this list?
– these women belonged to Israel and the first covenant
• the Church belongs to the new covenant
• the Church did not give birth to Jesus, Jesus gave birth to the church

“Birthing” is also a key symbol: it speaks of a new addition coming into the world
– Jesus’ birth is the hinge of history – from this point on, there’s hope
• but we cannot assume this comes easily
• the birth pains are especially intense and agonizing
– meanwhile, the power of evil perceived the child as an immediate threat
• Herod the Great was first world leader to recognize the threat that Jesus posed to his reign
◦ Jesus is, in fact, a threat to all world leaders
here in verse 5 we’re told the child will rule all the nations with rod of iron, which picks up a line from Psalm 2
Why do the nations rage
and the people’s plot in vain?
The kings of the earth set themselves,
and the rulers take counsel together,
against the LORD and against his Anointed . . . .
The LORD said to me, “You are my Son;
today I have begotten you.
Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage,
and the ends of the earth you possession.
You shall break them with a rod of iron
and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel” (Psa. 2)
• although they are under the threat of assault, both the child and the woman are protected

With the child in heaven, there’s no more room for Satan
Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels fought back,  but he was defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven.  And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.  And 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 brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God.  And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.  Therefore, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!” Revelation 12:7-12

Here we see a war in heaven, but it is very brief
– it’s more like an eviction – dragon fought back, but there was no contest
• this victory is the result of Jesus entering heaven
◦ this follows chapter 11, with his crucifixion and resurrection
(we’ll see that there’s a reason why Jesus entering heaven means there was no longer any place for the dragon in heaven)
• the dragon is thrown down to the earth, which reminds me of the curse put on the serpent, who was also “grounded”:
Because you have done this,
cursed shall you be above all livestock
and above all beasts of the field;
on your belly you shall go,
and dust you shall eat / all the days of your life (Gen. 3:14)

– we find out as his various identities are revealed:
• two describe his animal nature and the three names that define him
dragon: a mythical creature the OT uses for unbeatable and destructive
serpent: in the garden he was “more crafty than any other beast”
• after the first two chapters that report God’s creation
Jacques Ellul, says the serpent was “creator of a single reality: doubt . . .”
• and not surprisingly, we hear him asking Eve, “Did God actually say . . . ?” (Ge. 3:2)
devil: a slanderer who bad-mouths others, with the result that they cause division
“There are six things that the LORD hates . . .
a false witness who breathes out lies,
and one who sows discord among brothers” (Pr. 6:16-19)
. . . watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the [teaching] that you have been taught; avoid them (Ro. 16:17)
Satan: adversary – is how he is identified in Job
deceiver: Jesus said of the devil, “He . . . does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (Jn. 8:44)
the accuser: the claim he made against Job to God “Does Job serve God for no reason?” (Job 1:9)
• he was suggesting that Job’s motives were mercenary, that he served God only for the favors he received (a false accusation, as it turns out)
Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died–more than that, who was raised–who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us (Ro. 8:33-34)

Being tossed out of heaven, the dragon takes his evil to earth
– however, he can be defeated (v. 11, And they have conquered him . . .)
• their secret of holding out against the enemy:
the blood of Lamb, word of their testimony, and their determined loyalty
• heaven rejoices to be rid of the dragon, but “woe to you, O earth and sea”
– the devil brings the full force of his trouble-making to earth
• the fight comes to us — and, he is furious

The dragon goes after the woman again
And when the dragon saw that he had been thrown down to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child. But the woman was given the two wings of the great eagle so that she might fly from the serpent into the wilderness, to the place where she is to be nourished for a time, and times, and half a time. The serpent poured water like a river out of his mouth after the woman, to sweep her away with a flood. But the earth came to the help of the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed the river that the dragon had poured from his mouth. Then the dragon became furious with the woman and went off to make war on the rest of her offspring, on those who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus. And he stood on the sand of the sea. Revelation 12:13-17

Although the dragon chases her, he cannot catch her – she was given wings to escape into the wilderness
– this recalls Israel’s escape from Egypt
You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself (Ex. 19:4)
– the wilderness is never a destination, but always place of testing
you shall remember the whole way that the LORD your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that he might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart (De. 8:2)
Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil (Mt. 4:1)
• years ago there was a woman in our church who for several months moaned about, what she called, “My wilderness experience”
◦ it was for her a time of darkness, emptiness, and a feeling of being cut off from God
◦ the question we face in the wilderness is, “Will I continue to follow God faithfully?”
• wilderness is a place to experience and overcome temptation
◦ it is what the desert monks sought when they retreated into the wilderness
– v. 17, “the rest of her offspring” refers to the Christian church, which was grafted into Israel – Ro. 11

Conclusion: John is sometimes referred to as a “contemplative”

Other times, as a mystic
– he does the most of any New Testament writer to stretch us toward a spiritual consciousness
• we cannot remain stuck in our material, rational minds and understand Jesus and his teaching in the Gospel of John
◦ otherwise, like Nicodemus, we will get stuck asking repeatedly, “How can these things be?”

When I sense God’s Spirit is working on me,
that he is training me to be more sensitive to his presence,
I condition myself to become more receptive
First, I relax my body by a “letting go,” releasing the tension I feel
I might slowly, gently stretch my neck
(sideways, left and right; then turning it, left to right)
I might gently lift my shoulders, perhaps rotate them, then release them slowly
Second, I notice my breathing and then take over control of it
With slow, deep, cleansing breaths I open myself to the Holy Spirit,
who is the breath of God that brings life to my body
Third, I focus attention on my body in space, where I am,
then in time–that is, the present moment
I allow myself to be “here,” rather than worried I’m not somewhere else,
and “now,” rather than in the past, or the next hour, or the next day
Fourth, I pray. Simple, short, basic prayers
You will find your own way of opening your heart to God
Use those prayers
Sometimes all I say is, “Here I am”

I hope we can benefit from what John relates to us here in Revelation 12
In the past, the devil brought accusations against believers day and night in heaven
Today, he continues to make accusations, but now it is not before God
Now he makes his charge of our unworthiness, failure, and compromise in our own minds
And frequently he enlists our mind’s resources; especially our memories and our imaginations

While John gives us symbols and pictures of spiritual realities,
Paul says rather bluntly, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Ro. 8:1)
We need to integrate that realization into our moment to moment awareness
This involves developing our openness to, and our trust in the Spirit and word of God
When we mature to this awareness, full convinced there is no condemnation,
life becomes so much freer and lighter
Guilt has the weight of gravity
Grace has the energy of antigravity

Satan has no place in heaven
and for us now, our heaven is our inner life
The kingdom of God is within you (Lk. 17:21, KJV)
Satan is kicked out of there too
God is making something of and from himself a reality in us
His new creation

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