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The Woman, her Son, and the Dragon - Part 2

Tom Pennington Revelation 12:1-17


Well, it's exciting for me to return again with you to Revelation. We find ourselves in Revelation 12, where I invite you to turn this evening.

One of the classics of Western literature is Paradise Lost by John Milton. When I was in college, I took an entire semester studying his works. Milton, in Paradise Lost, famously describes Satan's being cast out of heaven and being cast down into hell. Satan has a lengthy conversation with the fallen angels who followed his rebellion. And to those fallen angels, Milton has Satan say this, "Tis better to rule in hell than to serve in heaven."

I love Milton's description of Satan's rebellion and his being cast out of heaven. But let me just tell you, it's not true. Satan wasn't thrown into hell. There's no biblical evidence that he's ever been there. Revelation 20 tells us he'll be bound during the millennium, and he will, after that, be sentenced to the Lake of Fire after he leads one final rebellion against God, at the end of the thousand-year earthly reign of Jesus Christ. Revelation 20 makes that clear. But that's not where Satan is now.

In fact, currently, Satan's domain is in three spheres. His current domain is, first of all, he rules this world in its rebellion against God. Not the creation and the created order - that's under the control of our Lord Jesus Christ who made them and rules it. But the world in rebellion against God, Satan rules. 2 Corinthians 4:4 Paul describes Satan as the God of this world. Secondly, he rules the air or the heavenly realms around this planet. Ephesians 2:2 calls him the "prince of the power of the air". Ephesians 6:12 says, "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places." Thirdly, his domain is occasional access to God's presence. He has access to heaven and God's presence, but only by God's permission. Job 1:6 says, "Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord [Yahweh], and Satan also came among them." In Revelation 12:10, in the passage we come to tonight, Satan is described as "the accuser of our brethren... who accuses them before our God day and night." So, those are Satan's current domains. In the section we're looking at in the book of Revelation, we learn so much about Satan - about his person, his character, his tactics, and his future.

Revelation 12-14 are, as I mentioned last week, the third interlude in this book, a third break in the chronology of its history. These three chapters actually describe events that occur throughout the seven-year Tribulation period. In fact, the events of chapters 12-14 happen contemporaneously with the events that we've already studied in chapters 6-11. The difference is this: chapters 6-11 describe those events primarily in terms of what Christ is doing, chapters 12-14 describe those same events primarily in terms of what Satan is doing.

Now, Satan was created with the rest of the angels before God created the world. So, the question is, when did Satan fall? And I want to make a point of clarification because I misspoke last week, and I don't want you to be confused by it. What I have taught and what I want to affirm to you tonight is this: Satan fell, not before the creation of the world because Genesis 1:31 says at that point, after the six days of creation, God looked at everything He had made and said it was, what? Very good. But then you come to Genesis 3:1, and you find Satan trying to tempt Adam and Eve away from God. So, Satan fell after the creation week, sometime between Genesis 1:31 and Genesis 3:1. We don't know the timeframe, we don't know when, but that's when it happened.

Now, the message of Revelation 12 is that from that point, from the point of his fall, somewhere between chapter 1 of Genesis, verse 31, and chapter 3:1, from that point and throughout human history, Satan has been at war with God, with His Messiah, and with His people. And his attacks will only intensify as the end draws near.

Now, last time we examined versus 1-6 and, specifically, we looked at Satan's continual war against Israel. The first five verses of chapter 12 recount that war, first by identifying Israel in a symbolic form, as a woman. I unfolded for you why we believe that the woman, here in chapter 12, is Israel. She's described in verse 1 with pictures that come from Genesis 37 and that point to a clear reference to Israel in Joseph's dream. And so, I'm not going to go back through that, but just to mention the woman in this chapter is Israel. She is the one who gave birth to the child. Verse 2: "and she was with child", meaning the Messiah. And as she anticipated giving birth to the Messiah, she cried out (verse 2) "being in labor and in pain to give birth."

The second person we meet in this drama is the dragon, who is Satan. He's pictured here in his true character in a series of pictures. Look at verse 3: "Then another sign appeared in heaven: and behold, a great [an enormous, a mega dragon. And he was] red [meaning he was bloodthirsty, murderous]..." And the dragon image says that he is, in his person, ferocious, violent, intimidating. And he has ruling power: "having seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads were seven diadems." And we'll come back to the precise meaning of that when it's spelled out later in this book.

We looked, then, at his past war in heaven. Verse 4 says, "And his tail swept away a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth." When Satan rebelled at the fall, between Genesis 1:31 and Genesis 3:1, a third of the angels joined him in that rebellion. God cast them all out of heaven. Then, Satan directed his attacks against Israel. Ultimately, his true target wasn't Israel; it was the Messiah who was to come from Israel. And, therefore, we looked at his past war against the incarnate Christ in the second-half of verse 4: "And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she gave birth he might devour her child."

That, of course, introduces us to the third character in this drama: the Son, who is Christ. In verse 5 we see His birth: "And she gave birth to a son, a male child..." In spite of Satan's effort to prevent the coming of the Messiah, the birth of the Messiah to Israel, she gave birth to Him. This is the incarnation of the Son of God. His destiny, verse 5 goes on to say is: "...a male child, who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron..." And verse 5 ends with His victory: "...and her child was caught up to God and to His throne." That's a description of the fact that Satan was unable to prevent the saving work of the Messiah. He was totally unsuccessful. And so, the Messiah came. He lived. He died. He was raised from the dead. He ascended to the Father's right hand. He was victorious. So, in verses 1-5, we learn about Satan's past war with Israel, a war that was intended to stop the redemptive work of the Messiah.

With verse 6, we suddenly land, not in the life of Jesus, but in the last 3 1/2 years of the future seven-year Tribulation. So, in verse 6 we see the war of Satan against God and His people, in the Tribulation time, summarized. Look at verse 6: "Then the woman fled into the wilderness where she had a place prepared by God, so that there she would be nourished for one thousand two hundred and sixty days." And as I noted for you, that's a summary that's going to be further explained and developed in versus 13-17.

But before we get to that further explanation, John interrupts himself by telling us about a decisive military battle in Satan's long war against God. You see, the truth is, Satan has already been defeated. He was defeated at the cross. Jesus, even as he anticipated the cross, said in John 12:31, "Now judgment is upon this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out." He was saying, "At my death, Satan will be defeated." That has happened. But the complete divine sentence against Satan has not yet been thoroughly executed. Nevertheless, he understands his final destiny and yet, in spite of that, he continues to relentlessly engage in his losing war against God. He continues to fight at every possible level. But Satan's long war against God will reach its climax during the future Tribulation.

It's described in the passage we come to tonight, where we learn of Satan's coming war in heaven. Satan's coming war in heaven, verses 7-12. Satan's last ditch, reckless, futile effort will be to launch one final military assault against heaven. Satan will actually have the hubris to try to take God's throne by force. The military campaign described in these verses takes place, as we will see, at the midpoint of the future Tribulation. It happens in heaven, but its outcome will dramatically affect the events of the second-half of the Tribulation on earth. In fact, what happens in the coming war in heaven is going to usher in the period that Jesus calls the Great Tribulation, the last 3 1/2 years of that seven-year time period.

Now John begins, as he explains this coming war to us, He begins with a description, a description in verses 7-8. And in verse 7 he tells us about the competing armies involved. Verse 7 says, "And there was war in heaven..." Another translation, and perhaps a better translation, of the Greek word is "war broke out in heaven". Although there has been a constant state of war, a condition of hostility between God and Satan since Satan's fall, this verse is not describing that. It's describing a specific future event. Satan will actually launch a military campaign against God and His throne. The war between God and Satan has historically been fought between angelic beings. In fact, you remember back in the book of Daniel (Daniel 10). There, it even describes the angelic conflict that happens behind the events on earth, but behind the rise and fall of kingdoms and nations. Jesus spoke of angelic armies both holy and evil.

This future war in heaven will be between the holy angels and Satan and his demonic forces. Look at verse 7: "Michael and his angels waging war with the dragon..." Who is Michael? Well, you'll remember, if you were with us when we studied the book of Daniel, back in Daniel 10:13, Daniel is called one of the chief princes. Jude 9 gives us his specific rank. There, he's called "Michael the archangel". By the way, he's the only angel in Scripture called an archangel. Michael is an archangel, then, over vast hordes of other angels in heaven but he has one very specific assignment. Daniel 12:1 says, "Now at that time Michael, the great prince who stands guard over the sons of your people [Daniel]..." In other words, Michael's specific role is to defend the Old Testament people of God, the people of Israel.

Now, understand that these are real beings. These are persons who know and interact with each other. Think about this: Michael and Satan have known each other since the day they were created. In fact, their coming battle, during the Tribulation, will not be the first time that they have confronted each other. Likely, they fought when Satan first fell and led his initial rebellion against God. 1400 years before Jesus Christ, they had another confrontation. Jude describes it. Jude 9 says, "But Michael the archangel, when he disputed with the devil and argued about the body of Moses, did not dare pronounce against him a railing judgment, but said, 'The Lord rebuke you!'" What's Jude talking about? After Moses died in Deuteronomy 34, Satan apparently tried to take Moses' body to use it for some nefarious purpose. But through God's power, Michael won that dispute. In fact, Deuteronomy 34:6 tells us the Lord Himself buried the body of Moses east of the Dead Sea and his burial place was never known.

So, they confronted each other at Satan's initial fall, they confronted each other over the body of Moses, and Michael and Satan will one day face each other again. Look at verse 7: "The dragon and his angels waged war..." By the way, the way that sentence is phrased makes it clear that Michael doesn't originate this war, doesn't initiate it; Satan does. He responds. Satan and, notice, his angels - "the dragon and his angels", that is, the fallen angels that accompanied him, the third of the angels (200 million plus, as we saw) that accompanied him in his rebellion. They waged war. This future war will be between Michael and the holy angels and Satan and his demons.

Now, Scripture leaves a lot out that we'd love to know. It doesn't tell us how angels fight. I'm sure it's not with pillows. And it doesn't tell us with what weapons. But we know this about angels: they are extremely powerful beings. 2 Kings 19:35 tells us that, in a single night, one angel killed 185,000 Assyrian soldiers. Some battle this will be!

Now, when does this future war between Michael and the holy angels and Satan and the demons take place? Well, the evidence here, in context, points to the timing of this war as the middle of the Tribulation, in fact, perhaps, right at the 3 1/2-year point. Now, why would I say that? Because after Satan is cast out of heaven in our passage and he launches a full-scale war against Israel here on earth, the length of that assault is described as 3 1/2 years. You see it described that way in verse 14 and you see it described that way back in verse 6. In addition to that, you'll notice verse 12 says that after that war in heaven, Satan understands that he will only have, what? "A short time". So, apparently, at the midpoint of the Tribulation, Satan will launch this war against God in heaven.

I think it's even possible that his being defeated in heaven and being cast back to earth prompts him to set up the abomination of desolation in the temple that is described by Paul in 2 Thessalonians 2, an image of himself to be worshipped. So, there's a war - a war breaks out in heaven. Three times in verse 7, this conflict is referred to as war. This is not a minor conflict. The language describes the fury of an all-out war. Think about it. In complete desperation, Satan will launch an ill-conceived attack on heaven itself to unseat God from His throne and to prevent the Messiah from establishing His kingdom.

But thank God, there is a certain outcome. You see, from the beginning, Satan's attempts to defeat God have all miserably failed and this will not be the exception. He will lose this future war in heaven as well. Look at verse 8: "and they were not strong enough..." Literally, the Greek text says, "they did not have the power". Satan and his forces will not have the power to defeat Michael and the angels. Verse 8 he goes on to say, "...and there was no longer a place found for them in heaven." Satan and his armies will not be merely defeated, they will be routed. Their defeat will be so complete there's no longer a place found for them in heaven. That's a description of the coming war.

That brings us, then, to the aftermath of that coming war, described in verses 9-12. It begins, the aftermath does, with Satan's banishment in verse 9. Verse 9 says, "And the great dragon was thrown down..." Scripture doesn't tell us, by the way, the duration of this war, but almost certainly it's very brief. Then Satan will be cast out of heaven for the second time. This time, he and his fallen angels will no longer have access to God's presence, and they will never have that access again. Verse 9 says, "And the great dragon [Satan] was thrown down..."

And then, you have him described (his character) in six different ways here, in verses 9 and 10. Just look at them with me briefly. Notice, first of all, he's called the "great dragon". We've already discovered the meaning of that image. He is an enormous, violent, ferocious person. Then he's called the "serpent of old". Chapter 20:2. It describes him this way: "And he laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years..." Clearly, Satan was the serpent that tempted Eve in the Garden of Eden in Genesis 3. Paul says that even in 2 Corinthians 11:3, "the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness". This title for Satan stresses his clever deception - crafty, deceptive.

Verse 3 [he meant verse 2] says he's also called the devil. The Greek word is Diabolos. It means slanderer or false accuser. In verse 10, he's called "the accuser of our brethren". You see, Satan slanders. He slanders us before God, he slanders God to us, and he slanders us to one another. He is a slanderer. That's the meaning of the name devil.

He's also called Satan. That is actually his oldest name. It's actually a Hebrew word transliterated into English. The Hebrew word means adversary. He is simply the enemy. He's an adversary to God, he's an adversary to God's people. Think about it. It's so tragic that the greatest being God ever created, who was once perfectly holy, who was the cherub that covers, who sincerely worshipped the true God, is now the enemy, the adversary.

Another name given to him, here, is the one deceiving the whole world, literally. The Greek word for deceiving means to mislead or to lead astray. And the present tense - he is the one deceiving. This is his constant activity. I mean this is what he did from the beginning. Remember, he lied and deceived Eve in Genesis 3. Jesus describes him this way in John 8:44: "...[the devil] does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies." Where does lying come from? Comes from the heart of the greatest being God made, who was lifted up in pride, and became God's enemy. In 2 Corinthians 2:11, Paul refers to his schemes. Ephesians 6:11, the schemes of the devil. 2 Corinthians 11:14 describes one of those schemes. He "disguises himself as an angel of light". In other words, he robes himself in religion, tries to look like he's promoting religion. Satan's lies and deception will reach new levels of depravity during the future Tribulation. He will deceive through the false prophet. Look over at Chapter 13 of Revelation, verse 14. Speaking of the false prophet: "And he deceives those who dwell on the earth because of the signs which it was given him to perform in the presence of the beast, telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast who had the wound of the sword and has come to life." So, Satan will deceive through the false prophet. He'll deceive through demons. Go over to chapter 16:14: "for they are spirits of demons, performing signs, which go out to the kings of the whole world, to gather [persuade] them together for the war of the great day of God, the Almighty [for Armageddon]." He'll deceive through demons. He'll deceive through Babylon – that commercial and religious empire that will be God's enemy in... Look over chapter 18:23. There, Babylon is described as "all the nations were deceived by your sorcery." Satan is a deceiver. Amazingly, even after he's released at the end of the millennium - Revelation 20, look at it. Chapter 20:8 says, "[he] will come out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth..." And verse 10 says, "And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever." He's the one who deceives. That's who he is.

Can I just say? That's what he does at an international level, it's what he does at a national level, it's what he does in every individual life. Satan is about trying to deceive you - to deceive you about God, to deceive you about sin, to deceive you about how to be right with God. He wants to deceive you in every conceivable way. That is his great scheme.

And then, finally, in verse 10, he's called the accuser, and we'll look at that description in a moment. But go back to verse 9, the end of verse 9. It ends by saying, "...he [this person who has just been described] was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him." After Satan loses his desperate war in heaven, God will cast him out of heaven forever and he will cast him to the earth. Now, think about what that says. This means that Satan and all 200 million plus of his demons will be thrown out of heaven and to the earth with him. That happens at the midpoint of the Tribulation. For the last 3 1/2 years, the time Jesus calls the Great Tribulation, Satan then and his demons will direct their full fury at everyone on this planet who belongs to the true God, especially Israel. So, that's the aftermath; Satan is banished from heaven.

There's another part of the aftermath of that coming war in heaven, and that is, heaven's celebration in verses 10-12. First of all, heaven celebrates Satan's banishment. Verse 10: "Then I heard a loud voice in heaven..." Satan's permanent banishment from heaven prompts a sudden outburst of praise. Now, John doesn't tell us the source of this loud voice but notice the plural pronoun "our". That leads us to conclude that this isn't an individual, but rather a group. And this group can't be angels, because in Scripture, angels refer to believers as their fellow servants, but never their brothers. So, this collective voice in heaven likely comes from the glorified saints in heaven.

And notice the expression of their worship in verse 10: "saying, 'Now the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come..." What a benediction! What a celebration! Look at each of those words. First of all, in this context, salvation likely refers generally to God's rescuing all creation from the curse of sin and the power of Satan. Salvation has come. God is redeeming the universe from Satan and his power. Notice the next word, "and the power". This word doesn't so much describe the fact that God has limitless power as it does God's sovereign power to act. It's the kind of power to act that overcomes all resistance and crushes all opposition. "The kingdom of our God has come and the authority of his Christ [Messiah] has come." This is together telling us that God will establish His kingdom and He will give authority to the Messiah to rule that kingdom.

Now it's interesting, again, these expressions like the ones we encountered last week, are in the past tense, even though they haven't yet occurred. That's because, as heaven celebrates, these things are so certain that they can already be spoken of as if they have.

Now, the event that will initiate this celebration is the permanent banishment of Satan from heaven. Look at verse 10 as it goes on. The reason we're celebrating, the reason we're praising God: "for [because] the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, he who accuses them before our God day and night." You know, I read that verse. It's really shocking when you think about it. I mean, think about this. Satan refuses to give up. He refuses to give up his plan to undermine God's eternal purposes. He just keeps on relentlessly, even though he fails again and again and again, and he knows his doom. He is such an enemy of God. When it comes to his attack on believers, he uses every conceivable opportunity to undermine their confidence in God, to tempt them to sin, to confuse them with error, to destroy their faith, to wreck their lives, to completely undermine their effectiveness as believers.

How does he do all that? Well, notice in verse 10 we learn one of his chief tactics is to accuse. He accuses. Who does Satan accuse? Obviously, it's impossible for Satan to accuse the saints who were already glorified in the Lord's presence. There's nothing to accuse them of. But those glorified saints will be grieved when they hear Satan accusing their brothers and sisters who are still on this earth, still under the throws of the Tribulation. They will be grieved by that. And when God, at the 3 1/2-year point, throws Satan out of heaven, they will celebrate. They will rejoice when the slander is over.

Notice they say that Satan has brought his accusations "before God day and night". It's constant. He never stops haranguing God with his vicious, false accusations. You say, what is Satan trying to accomplish with accusations? Why does he accuse? Well, he accuses God to us because he wants to turn us, as God's children, against our Father. This temptation is as old as the garden. What did Satan do to Eve in the garden? "You know what? God's not good. He's holding out on you. And God's not really truthful and powerful. He's not going to take your life like He said." He tempts us to question God, especially His goodness, His love, His wisdom, and His power. Think about how often, through circumstances, you are tempted to question God. Satan is using circumstances to accuse your Father to you.

But he also accuses us before God, and his point there is to turn God our Father against us, His children. He points out our unworthiness. He emphasizes our sins and flaws. He questions our motives, like he did for Job and Job 1: "Yeah, of course he serves You. Look at all the good things You've done for him. It's not about love for You!" This is what Satan does, and he does it day and night.

You say, what hope do I have with an accuser that powerful? The good news is he will never turn your Father against you. John 10:28-29, Jesus says, "and I give eternal life to them [that is, those who've believed in Me], and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand." Turn to Revelation chapter, I'm sorry, to Romans 8, one of my favorite chapters, as it describes the security of the true believer. It begins in Romans 8:1 with this declaration: "Therefore there is now no condemnation [no guilty verdict and no sentence] for those who are in Christ Jesus." No condemnation! Can't happen! Done! Go down to verse 31: "What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us [who can be against us, if God is for us]? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? [Now watch verse 33. This goes to this very point]. Who will bring a charge against God's elect [who is going to be able to bring a charge against you, one that God chose and for whom Christ died, and make that charge stick]? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns [who can truly condemn you before God]? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us." God is your Father, and He gave His Son for you. Jesus is your intercessor, and He constantly pleads with God on your behalf. Nothing Satan ever says against you, Believer, will stick. God will not receive it. Satan can rant on all he wants, but there is no condemnation and I love the way chapter 8 ends: there is no separation from the love of God that's in Christ Jesus our Lord. Nothing! Nothing will do that. Satan can never shatter the unbreakable bond that unites us to our Lord Jesus Christ. And his accusations fall on completely deaf ears because we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.

Not only will believers in heaven celebrate Satan's banishment, but they'll also be a celebration of the saints' victory. The saints in heaven are going to praise God because their brothers on earth have overcome Satan. You see, after he's thrown out of heaven, Satan and his angels will focus their attack on God's people on the earth. But even in that battle, they lose. Verse 11: "And they [that is, the saints] overcame him..." The saints on earth will overcome him. How? How will they be able to overcome Satan? Notice they won't overcome him by binding him or rebuking him, it won't be through some formula or mantra or exorcism, and it certainly won't be in their own strength. 1 John 4:4 gives us the key: "You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world."

But notice, the saints' victory here. First of all, notice the basis for their victory: "And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb..." They were able to stand in the face of Satan's accusations because of their confidence in Christ's death and the redemption He purchased for them at Calvary. Let me put it bluntly. It's not our action, but Christ's action that defeats Satan. And that's our confidence - what He did, what He did to Satan at the cross and what He did at the cross on our behalf when He satisfied the justice of God and made it possible for God to receive us. That's the basis of our victory over Satan. Once that happens, Satan's done. He's going to lose, ultimately.

Notice the expression of their victory. Verse 11 goes on to say, "...and because of the word of their testimony..." The Tribulation saints who are on earth, they will overcome Satan by remaining faithful in their testimony about Jesus Christ. Fanning writes this: "In real world terms, overcoming Satan means remaining faithful to Jesus and the gospel despite deadly opposition from Satanic evil in the world." Think about that for a moment. Isn't that how our Lord overcame? He remained faithful even in the face of Satan's attacks. He was the faithful witness; the first chapter of this book tells us.

Notice the attitude of their victory. Verse 11 ends, "...and they did not love their life even when faced with death." Christian, that's not a super saint. That's not an unusual Christian. That's what Christ requires of all of His followers. He says, "You must take up your cross and follow Me." You cannot love your life more than you love Jesus Christ. You must love Him more than anything else in life, more than the people you love, and more than life itself. That's what He demands to follow Him.

So, what's the point of verse 11? Just as Jesus was victorious in seeming defeat at the cross, you and I are ultimately victorious over the enemy of our souls, when it appears that we're losing through persecution and even martyrdom, if we remain faithful to our confession of Jesus and our testimony of Him. That's all it takes to win. You've defeated Satan when that happens.

Seven, excuse me, heaven's celebration also includes a call for heaven's joy. Verse 12 says, "For this reason [because of Satan's defeat in heaven, because he's been banished forever from heaven], rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them..." But there's also a warning of earth's woe. Verse 12: "Woe to the earth and the sea [that is, to this planet. Why?], because the devil has come down to you, having great wrath..." Can you imagine? Can you imagine when he launches that last desperate effort to unseat God from His throne and immediately it's shown that he lacks the power to be successful and he is thrown out of heaven forever? Can you imagine the anger in the heart of the genesis of anger. I love the way John Phillips describes this. Talking about after he's cast out of heaven in this war that happens during the Tribulation, Phillips writes this: "Satan is now like a caged lion, enraged beyond words by the limitations now placed upon his freedom. He picks himself up from the dust of the earth, shakes his fist at the sky, and glares around, choking with fury for ways to vent his hatred and his fight upon humankind." Verse 12 ends knowing that he has only a short time. He knows the end is near. He knows there only remains 3 1/2 years for him to try desperately to win his long war against God and to keep Christ from his throne. It's a losing battle.

What are the lessons we learned from this future war in heaven? Well, there are so many but let me just give you a couple to think about. First of all, be encouraged - your God is almighty. There is no limit to His power. Charnock, the great Puritan, writes this: "As God's essence is immense, not to be confined in a place, as it is eternal, not to be measured in time, so it is almighty, not to be limited in regard of action." You can't put God and confine Him in a place, you can't confine God to a time, and you can't confine His power to act. Robert Raymond puts it this way: "God can do and does all His holy will." I love the way Jeremiah puts it. Jeremiah 22:26 [he meant 32:26]: "Then the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah, saying, 'Behold, I am the Lord [Yahweh], the God of all flesh; is anything too difficult for Me?'" That's the God we serve. The answer to that question is, what? No! God can do everything He chooses to do, everything consistent with His holy character. He wants to do it. He wills to do it. He wishes to do it. It's done! So, be encouraged. That's your God. He is the almighty.

Secondly, another lesson that we learn from this passage is that Satan and more than 200 million demons are not going to be able to defeat the holy angels with Michael. How much less can they unseat God or alter the smallest detail of His eternal plan? A.W. Pink writes this: "We're all the denizens of heaven and all the inhabitants of earth [and he's talking about every angel, every human being that's ever lived or ever will live], if all of them were to combine in open revolt against Him [can you imagine if every intelligent being that's ever existed or ever will exist, decided to get together in one great effort to attack God's throne, to combine an open revolt against Him], it would cause Him no uneasiness. It would have less effect upon His eternal, unassailable throne then the spray of the Mediterranean's waves has upon the towering rocks of Gibraltar." Less effect!

I don't know who all's here tonight, what the nature of your heart may be. Perhaps in an audience this size, there's someone who's - you're here because you have to be here, but in your heart of hearts, you have set yourself against God, your Creator. You're angry, perhaps, because of circumstances in your life. I don't know what's brought you to that point. Maybe it's your pride. You've decided that you are going to, you're going to set yourself against the Almighty. Listen, your antagonism against God is like a grain of sand declaring war on the earth. It's like a drop of water raging against the ocean. It's like a single human breath imagining it can overcome the force of a hurricane. It's folly. I plead with you to recognize it for what it is, to humble yourself before God, your Creator, and to cry out for His mercy in Christ.

Satan ends up being cast into the Lake of Fire. Jesus said, in Matthew 25, it was prepared for the devil and his angels. But Revelation 20 (we'll get there) says that those who rebel against God, those who haven't believed in His Son, those whose names are not written in the Lamb's Book of Life, they will end up there with him forever.

A third lesson: God does not and will never receive Satan's accusations against us, and someday, He will banish Satan from His presence forever. No more accusations. Nothing Satan says about you to God sticks because Jesus Christ is there representing you. Who can make a charge against you? Who can condemn you? Don't let Satan accuse your God to you. He is good. He is wise. He is powerful. Trust Him, serve Him, love Him, regardless of what comes into your life.

And, finally, understand that even today, in this life, you can overcome Satan, not by some scheme, not by some rebuking or any other of those common schemes that are out there, but the same way the Tribulation saints will, and that is, by putting your confidence in the finished work of Jesus Christ and continuing to be faithful in your testimony about Jesus Christ and the gospel, whatever comes. May God help us to be faithful to the end.

Let's pray together.


The Woman, her Son, and the Dragon - Part 1

Tom Pennington Revelation 12:1-17

The Woman, her Son, and the Dragon - Part 2

Tom Pennington Revelation 12:1-17

The Woman, her Son, and the Dragon - Part 3

Tom Pennington Revelation 12:1-17

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The Revelation of Jesus Christ - Part 2

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A Vision of the Exalted Christ - Part 2

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Smyrna: Faithful in Suffering

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Sardis: Dead Christianity

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He is Worthy! - Part 3

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He is Worthy! - Part 4

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The First Six Seals: The Tribulation Begins - Part 2

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Tribulation Saints - Part 2

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The Woman, her Son, and the Dragon - Part 2

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The Woman, her Son, and the Dragon - Part 3

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Antichrist - Part 1

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Antichrist - Part 2

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The False Prophet

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A Preview of Jesus' Victory - Part 2

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A Preview of Jesus' Victory - Part 3

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A Preview of Jesus' Victory - Part 4

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Heaven Prepares for the End

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Seven Bowls of Wrath - Part 1

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Seven Bowls of Wrath - Part 2

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Babylon is Fallen! - Part 1

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Babylon is Fallen! - Part 2

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Babylon Is Fallen! - Part 3

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Babylon is Fallen! - Part 4

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The Future Tribulation

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Heaven's Hallelujah Chorus! - Part 1

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Heaven's Hallelujah Chorus - Part 2

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The Glorious Return of Jesus Christ

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The Real Binding of Satan

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The Millennium: Christ's Future Reign on Earth - Part 2

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The Millennium: Christ’s Future Reign on Earth - Part 3

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The Last Judgment

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Our Eternal Home - Part 1

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Our Eternal Home - Part 2

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The Eternal City - Part 1

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The Eternal City - Part 2

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The Eternal City - Part 3

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How Should We Then Live? - Part 1

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How Should We Then Live? - Part 2

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How Should We Then Live? - Part 3

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How Should We Then Live? - Part 4

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