Revelation 12: 10-17
Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say:
‘Now have come the salvation and the power
and the kingdom of our God,
and the authority of his Messiah.
For the accuser of our brothers and sisters,
who accuses them before our God day and night,
has been hurled down.
They triumphed over him
by the blood of the Lamb
and by the word of their testimony;
they did not love their lives so much
as to shrink from death.
Therefore rejoice, you heavens
and you who dwell in them!
But woe to the earth and the sea,
because the devil has gone down to you!
He is filled with fury,
because he knows that his time is short.’
When the dragon saw that he had been hurled to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child. The woman was given the 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 snake’s reach. Then from his mouth the snake spewed water like a river, to overtake the woman and sweep her away with the torrent. But the earth helped the woman by opening its mouth and swallowing the river that the dragon had spewed out of his mouth. Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to wage war against the rest of her offspring – those who keep God’s commands and hold fast their testimony about Jesus.
Yesterday we saw that Satan was cast out of heaven and is now at work down here on earth. He is filled with fury because he knows his days are numbered.
So what’s his plan, what’s his strategy during this period before he is finally destroyed once and for all?
WHAT ARE SATAN’S STRATEGIES?
In many sports, before you go out and face your opposition you seek to learn as much as you can about them and their strategy. Take boxing for example. Before a boxer goes out and fights in a championship bout, he will watch videos of his opponent in previous fights and study his every movement – where is he strong, where are his weaknesses - and use all the information he can get to prepare himself to win.
We even see it in football. Managers and coaches will watch matches of their opposing team and work out strategies and tactics to win.
It’s exactly the same for us as Christians and as the Church of Jesus. We have an enemy who is out to destroy us, and if we are to have any chance of winning against him, we need to understand him and his strategies and tactics. That’s what chapters 12 and 13 help us to do.
“When the dragon saw that he had been hurled to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child.” (12: 13)
Who is this woman it’s talking about? We need to go back to the imagery of verses 1-6.
The woman here symbolises God’s people, Israel in the Old Testament and the Church of Jesus Christ in the New Testament and today. The male child is Jesus, God’s Messiah, born out of the people of Israel.
What this is telling us then is that, because Satan no longer has access to heaven or to God himself, he has turned his attention to God’s people here on earth. In other words, Satan’s main strategy here on earth is to attack God’s people and to destroy the church.
Verse 17 says the same thing again:
“Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to make war against the rest of her offspring— those who obey God's commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus.”
Satan’s strategy is to go after Christians. It is to destroy anyone who is on God’s side.
Sometimes we see a similar thing happen with gangsters and terrorists today. If they can’t attack the people at the top, their real enemies, they get to them indirectly by attacking those they love. Satan has lost in the battle directly with God, and so he wants to attack God indirectly and the best way he can do that here on earth is by attacking those who God loves, God’s people Christians.
If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, Satan is out to get you. He’s out to destroy you. He’s out to destroy the church.
Jesus in John 10 described him as a “thief who comes to steal, kill and destroy.”
In 1 Peter 5: 8 it says: “Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”
The devil not some funny little red figure with a pitch fork. He’s a real evil spiritual force who has one mission and that is to destroy you.
You are in a battle, where you know it or not, and whether you like it or not.
When people talk about the church today they use all sorts of images and one that I hear more and more is the church being described as being like a hospital where we all go as broken, wounded people to be cared for and made well.
I actually don’t think that’s a biblical image of what Jesus wants his church to be because it makes us all kind of helpless, passive, bedridden and just there to be taken care of and made well. A more accurate biblical image is that the church is like an army with an infirmary wing.
As Christians we are Christ’s soldiers engaged in warfare with our enemy the devil. In the course of this battle we will at times get injured and need to be cared for in the hospital wing of the army base. But we are cared for to be made well enough to go back into battle again.