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Opening Question

Is there ever a “good war”?


Adventists have spent more time on Revelation 12-14 than most Christian faiths. These passages are familiar in many of the details, but the big picture is sometimes lost sight of. Here is a great war between Satan, pictured as a dragon, and the people of God. In this war, Satan gets two allies forming a false trinity with him. They seek the worship and status that belong to God alone. Adventists have been correct in pointing out how Satan will impersonate God and His Son; chapters 12-13 reveal him doing exactly that!

Fortunately, God also has his three-fold messengers who set the record straight about God. The deception need not catch people unaware, nor leave people ignorant of the truth.

The Text:

Revelation 11:19

As we’ve followed the high-priest by faith through the sanctuary, we come now to the Ark of the Covenant. This was only seen on the Day of Atonement, the great day of Israel’s judgment and the cleansing of the camp from sin in the temple. The good news of this event is that it parallels the Judgement scene in Daniel 7:9-14, 22-27. The judgment is good news because it decides who deserves to reign, removes the beast’s power, and establishes God’s people as co-rulers with Christ!

How does Leviticus 16 describe Israel’s judgement experience on “Yom Kippur”?

Revelation 12:1-9

The imagery here and the “signs” or symbols introduce the dragon and a woman and a male child. We should have Genesis 3:15 firmly in mind where these three occur first in Scripture. The fulfillment of a coming deliverer and the dragon’s enmity against God’s people is the centerpoint of this passage.

After the male child escapes the dragon’s grasp and the woman runs, there is war in heaven. Many Adventists have believed this to be a pre-creation war in heaven. But the context suggests this is another phase of God’s struggle with Satan. Jesus Christ casts Satan from his place as “prince of this world,” fulfilling John 12:31. Jesus’ death on the cross and resurrection won Him a victory that restores to Him Adam’s lost place as having dominion over earth. Christ is the victor over Satan, and now the war extends to heaven. Michael is most likely another title for Christ as “arch-angel,” or ruler over the angelic hosts, and he displaces Satan (see Satan at the council of God in Job 1).

How central is the gospel and the cross to your Christian experience? How many different ways can you think of that Christ’s death on the cross addresses the sin problem, and reveals the character of God?

Revelation 12:9-17

Satan is called “the accuser.” The act of accusing others begins with Satan and those who continue to do so are His followers. He has been exiled to earth for his last hurrah.

The saints of God aren’t powerless against Him, but it isn’t by their own efforts that they overcome or conquer. They are given two weapons: the blood of the lamb, that is, faith in Christ’s completed sacrifice for them and victory over Satan, and their own testimony about what God is doing in them through His transforming grace. Here is seen the power of justification by faith, and sanctification by faith. Salvation is God’s work through and through, and though we’re a part of it, the power will always be of God and His Spirit in us. But let it sink in: there is victory for the people of God because of Christ! They’ve come to love Christ more than their own lives; this is the character of God’s remnant people.

The dragon’s anger leads him against the woman, God’s church. She hides in the wilderness, which we’ll see again later. When the dragon can’t hurt her, he goes after her offspring (we’ll see offspring of a woman in ch. 17 later). They are defined by “keeping” to God’s commandments and “having” the testimony of Jesus. The new covenant relationship is once again in view where God writes His law in their minds and hearts so they keep it naturally. The “testimony of Jesus” in Revelation is also the “spirit of prophecy” and “all that John saw” in his visionary experience (1:3). The gift of prophecy which both John and the Angel possess is a mark of God’s last-day people where God pours out His spirit on all people. Should expect more than just one person to have this gift? Joel 2 suggest so. . .

Do you ever suffer with feelings of inadequacy because of Satan’s accusations? How does Christ’s victory over Satan alleviate those feelings? What evidence have you seen of His resurrection power working in you that you might share with someone else as a testimony to His love and grace?

Closing Comments

We are entering on the final phase of the great controversy. Chapter 12 goes back to the birth of Christ and shows in war-language the struggle people have with Satan. The good news is Christ’s victory!

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