The Celestial Struggle
Revelation tells the story of salvation and the history of God's people from several perspectives. It’s kind of like using the zoom feature on a camera. Zoom in for a closer look. Zoom out to see the bigger picture. Revelation zooms in and out several times and focuses on various parts and perspectives of the story. Revelation begins with a zoomed-out history of the church. In chapter 12, it zooms out all the way to show the history of God's people and the plan of salvation.
Chapter 12 is often noted as the chapter highlighting "The Great Controversy" between Christ and Satan. It’s called “The Great Controversy” because this conflict spans many ages and veritably all of the history of our world. It is manifest in countless small spiritual battles and encapsulates every manifestation of spiritual warfare. Ultimately, Satan desires to have dominion over our souls and the entire universe, and he will stop at nothing to realize that nefarious ambition. Here, we have insight into his celestial coup d'état.
It begins with a vision of a woman, “clothed with the sun...and a crown of twelve stars on her head. She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth.” Revelation 12:1-2. Then enters the villain; an “enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns…” Revelation 12:3. It's the next line that is very significant. It says, “His tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth.” Ibid.
It’s important to remember that we believe the woman represents God’s people, who are often referred to in the Bible as a beautiful bride. Revelation 19:7; 21:2. And we know that the child symbolizes the Savior because verse five says that the child “will rule all the nations with an iron scepter.” Revelation 12:5.
At the beginning of the chapter, the woman is standing in her most vulnerable moment, and that’s when the dragon shows up. Revelation 12:4 says that the dragon has come to devour the woman’s newborn baby. God whisks the woman away in a sort of spiritual witness protection program and the child is spared. Yet, the dragon never gives up, and at the end of the chapter, he goes “to make war with the rest of her children, who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus.” Revelation 12:17. This is a major moment because this means that this Great Controversy is about to reach its apex.
Chapter 13 is the beginning of the culmination of Satan’s attempts to destroy God’s people and usurp God’s throne. Nevertheless, shortly after that, we see God's judgments poured out, and then, there is the execution of God's final judgment and eternal peace that ensues with the execution of the evil one. Revelation 16-19. The Scripture says, “And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and He will dwell with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” Revelation 21:3-4.
Here is the message that should give us all courage and hope. At the end of this celestial power struggle, God wins! And not only does God win, but He establishes victory for all those who trust Him! He has adopted us into his family and called us by His name! And “we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us!” Romans 8:37.
By Carlton P. Byrd, D.Min.