Bible Reading: Revelation 12.1-5
A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet and on her head a crown of twelve stars; and she was with child; and she cried out, being in labor and in pain to give birth. Then another sign appeared in heaven: and behold, a great red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads were seven diadems. And his tail swept away a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she gave birth he might devour her child. And she gave birth to a son, a male child, who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron; and her child was caught up to God and to His throne. Revelation 12.1-5
Silent night, holy night, all is calm, all is bright. Wouldn’t it be nice if life was that tranquil? Life is not that tranquil, but chaotic. Life is hectic and moving at speeds that is hard to keep up with. Let’s be honest, we see nothing, but darkness, grim reports on the news, from shooting and terrorist attacks, moral failures left and right and one must ask, where is the brightness? Life is not full of warm fuzzies, like our Christmas songs and carols sometimes portray, in fact, Christmas is not either. We see this manger and this precious Babe and we have this mental picture of this quiet, serene experience, but just like life it was not.
In Revelation 12, we get a cosmic view of Christmas. It is heaven’s perspective of God becoming flesh. We will find that just like life Christmas was not as tranquil as we think. The book of Revelation is about, as it says in Revelation 1.19, the things that Jesus says to, the author John as he “has seen, the things which are, and the things which will take place after these things”. John frequently uses visions, symbols and images as it speaks of the future, of judgment, and of Christ’s return. Here nestled in the middle of tribulation is hope and the story and battle surrounding Christmas.
The symbols and cast that John gives us are as follows: the woman is Israel; the red dragon is Satan; and the Son, a male-child is Christ. The description of the woman as clothed with the sun and the moon is an allusion to Genesis 37.9 and Joseph’s dream where it says, Now he had still another dream, and related it to his brothers, and said, “Lo, I have had still another dream; and behold, the sun and the moon and eleven stars were bowing down to me.” In verse 2 the language used speaks of suffering and persecution referring to the oppression of Israel under Rome in the first century. This was the backdrop of the birth of Christ.
The red dragon is Satan and most notably his tail sweeping away a third of the staffs of heaven refers to Lucifer’s rebellion against God and his attempt to elevate himself above God. A third of the multitude of angels followed him in his rebellion. Satan along with his cohorts seek to defeat God’s purposes and here we see in this text his effort to destroy the Messiah at the first advent of Christ (Matthew 2.16-23). His efforts would fail and will fail, as His reign and rule will be forever. Jesus has been given by the Father the authority to rule all nations (Psalm 2.7-9) and that rule cannot be thwarted. So, at advent we celebrate that Christ is coming back, not as a Babe in a manger, but as King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
There always seems to be opposition and temptations around us to cause our hope to be worn out. Don’t let your hope grow dim. Christmas is about overcoming. We see in the cosmic scene a battle and the battle goes on, but be encouraged, don’t lose confidence or hope. From the manger, to the cross, to the grave and to God’s right hand Christ has proven and show that He is faithful and victorious.
Weekly Bible Verse: The heavens are telling of the glory of God; and their expanse is declaring the work of His hands. Psalm 19.1