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1st Wed of Advent
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! In the name of Jesus, dear friends in Christ, when Adam and Eve disobeyed God in the Garden of Eden they took fruit from the tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Ever since then there has been this battle between good and evil raging in the world and even inside of us. I think that perhaps this is portrayed to a certain extent in various forms of entertainment. It seems to me that most shows or movies or novels or books have this good and evil opposition. There’s the good person whom we identify with, who we want to win, to triumph, but then there’s the antagonist, the wicked witch, the evil villain, the enemy who wants to destroy the good person. I’m always amazed – whether it’s a children’s movie or a grown-up drama – how they can make the bad guy out so bad, that you just detest him, can’t stand him, want nothing less than for him to lose and be destroyed. What’s the worst villain, the scariest enemy you picture in your mind?
Well, the worst enemy that the world tries to picture is only the slightest glimmer of the arch enemy, the worst enemy, Satan. Satan wants nothing less than to tear you and me down, to make us suffer, to laugh at our misery. The entertainment industry – no matter how awful of an enemy they can picture – doesn’t even come close to evil and wickedness of our real worst enemy and that’s Satan.
Here, in our text this this evening, God pictures Satan in a way that helps us understand just how evil and wicked he is. He’s pictured as an “enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on its heads.” The number 7 in the Bible is often used as the covenant number that represents God’s interaction with the earth. The fact that Satan has seven heads and seven crowns perhaps indicates that Satan tries to set himself up in place of God. The word “crown” in the Greek is “diadem” and it was the crown that the Roman emperor wore to claim that he was “Deus et Dominus” “God and Lord.” The horns indicate strength to hurt and harm. His tail swept 1/3 of the stars out of the sky. That probably is talking about how when Satan rebelled against God he took a bunch of evil angels with him and now are his demon minions.
Well, then we have this woman. She’s clothed with the sun, has the moon under her feet and wears a crown of 12 stars on her head. 12 is used throughout Revelation as the number of the Church, the sum total of all believers, 12 tribes in the OT, 12 apostles in the NT. We’re also told that the woman is pregnant and cries out in pain as she is about to give birth. Immediately our minds might take us to the Virgin Mary. She’s is included, but this woman is really the Church, all who believed in the coming Savior. The Savior would be brought into the world through the Church, God’s people, believers. But they endured many hardships leading up to the Savior’s birth.
Well, then we have this dragon, Satan, who stands in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that it might devour her child the moment he was born. It looks very precarious doesn’t it? An enormous red dragon who’s about to devour a little baby. That was Satan’s intention. So what did he do? He instigated Herod to make an order for all baby boys in Bethlehem to be murdered, Satan tempted Jesus for 40 days in the desert, Satan caused all kinds of demon possession during Jesus’ ministry, Satan tried to even use Peter to dissuade Jesus from completing his mission. But what happened? “Her child was snatched up to God and to his throne.” After Jesus lived perfectly, died innocently on the cross, and rose gloriously from the dead, he ascended into heaven and Satan is no longer able to touch or tempt Him.
But the woman is still here. The woman, again, the church, the believers, fled into the wilderness to a place prepared for her by God where she might be taken care of for 1,260 days. As the Israelites wandered in the wilderness for 40 years before they entered the Promised Land, so we believers will wander in a place, this world, which isn’t our home, until God takes us to the Promised Land of heaven. 1,260 days is also 42 months is also 3 ½ years. In Revelation that number is used over and over again to represent the time of the NT, the time from Christ’s first coming to His second coming on the Last day.
So what does this all mean for us? As we watch, as we wait, as we prepare for Christ’s coming, we face this enormous red dragon, Satan. He wants nothing less than for us to be distracted, for us to be caught up with this life, for us to be captivated by fear of him, every day he wages a battle in this world and even on us in order to lead us away from God and His Word.
But the reality is, he’s a doomed enemy. It’s almost comical: This enormous red dragon and he can’t devour a little child.
I don’t know what kind of movies you like to watch, but I always enjoy a happy ending. Satan is a powerful red dragon, he’s not a pet kitty to play with, he’s not a harmless being you don’t have to worry about, he’s a ferocious lion looking for someone to devour. Don’t toy with temptation, don’t see how close you can get to sin before you’re burned. Satan wants to devour you.
But also, be relieved, be at peace, God has won the battle, Satan stands defeated, God is your protector from the evil one, your provider, he promises to take care of you and to bring you safely into the heavenly Promised Land. Be at peace, because of Jesus, we already know the ending and it’s a happy ending. Amen.