3rd Tuesday of Advent
Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! In the name of Jesus, dear friends in Christ, We don’t like losing, do we? We all know that in life there are wins and there are losses. And while we can be a good loser and take the high road and complement the winner, deep down, I’m guessing that none of likes to lose. We would much rather like to win. But what would it be like to lose at everything and to know that in the end you will lose completely? That’s where Satan is at. He battles against God and His Church, loses time and after time and faces total loss in the end. But what about us? As we live in this sinful world, yes, we experience many losses, some wins, but in the end we know that the victory is ours.
We’ve been working our way through Revelation chapter 12 in our midweek Advent services. Today we’re looking at the final verses. But let’s take a moment to review where we’ve been. Revelation 12 is about a dragon, a woman, and a child. We have an enormous red dragon- this represents Satan or the devil. He’s red, he’s bent on war and blood. And this dragon stands in front of a woman. The woman is clothed with the sun and wears a crown of 12 stars. And the woman is pregnant and about to give birth. The child whom she is about to give birth to is a son, a male child, who will rule the nations with an iron scepter. The child is a picture of Jesus, the Messiah. So who is the mother? We talked about the truth that the woman isn’t just the virgin Mary, but is representative of the whole people of God, the Church, through whom God brought the Savior into the world. The child was born and although Satan tried in numerous ways leading up to even inciting Judas to betray Jesus, the Jewish leaders to sentence him to death, and the Romans to carry out the crucifixion- the devil’s scheme backfired when God used Jesus’ death on the cross to actually save humans from their sin. Then the child, Jesus, was snatched up to heaven – he ascended in all glory and Satan can never touch him anymore. But the woman fled into the wilderness for 1,260 days to be taken care of by God. In other words, the church remains on the earth for the whole NT era, until Jesus returns.
Then last week we heard about a war that broke out. It seems that this war took place in the spiritual realm between the good angels led by Michael and the devil or the dragon and his angels. The dragon was hurled to the earth and was no longer able to accuse our brothers and sisters. They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and the Word of God. The devil was no longer able to accuse. What took away the devil’s ability to accuse God’s people? It happened when Jesus died on the cross. Since all sins were paid for and forgiven by Jesus, the devil can’t accuse us anymore. But that doesn’t mean the devil doesn’t try. He’s a defeated enemy but he’s fighting hard to take down as many as he can before he’s doomed forever.
Now we’re on the verses for tonight. He sees that he’s hurled down and so he pursues the woman. He’s after the Church, God’s people, you and me. But the woman we see is given two wings of a great eagle, “so that she might fly to the place prepared for her in the wilderness, where she would be taken care of for a time, times, and half a time, out of the serpent’s reach.” Now, an eagle is used often as a symbol of God’s protection of his people, we sing, “He will raise you up on eagles’ wings.” So, while the devil is bent on destroying, God provides supernatural means to save His people. Some suggest that these two wings are the two sacraments – baptism and the Lord’s Supper- that could be, but we really can’t pinpoint it that specifically based on the text. The time, times and half a time are again 3 ½ years, the same time as 1,260 days, half of 7, which symbolizes the NT era from Jesus’ first coming to his second coming.
Then we’re told that the serpent spewed water like a river out of his mouth to overtake the woman, but the earth swallowed the water up and it wasn’t able to destroy the woman. In other words, the devil will try any means in order to destroy God’s Church, but God remains to protect her. It’s most likely that this river spewing out of Satan’s mouth are the plethora of false teachings that he spreads in order to lead people away from Jesus. But false teachings come and go, they have a way of going away after time. God’s people remain.
The devil continues his rage. Continues to try to lead people away from God, doubt God, stray away from God. He wages his war, but in the end he knows he loses. The warning remains: The devil continues to try to distract us, lead us away from God. He tries to get us to focus on everything else this Christmas season rather than the real, glorious meaning of Christmas.
But here’s the comfort: The reason we rejoice at Christmas is that the Christ child came. He came in order to crush the serpent’s head. He did so with His perfect life and innocent death and glorious resurrection from the dead. Our sins are forgiven. Satan can’t accuse us any more.
We cling in faith to Jesus, we keep Him close to our hearts and lives through His Word and Sacrament. Then come what may – Satan and all his demonic forces – he can’t win, he will always lose. And our comfort remains as Martin Luther composed it in his great hymn: “This world’s prince may still scowl fierce as he will, he can harm us none. He’s judged, the deed is done! One little word can fell him.” Because of this Christ child born in Bethlehem we know that ultimately “our victory is won; the kingdom’s ours forever.” Hold fast to Jesus. Amen