Tuesday, February 08, 2022

2022.02.08 Hopewell @Home ▫ Revelation 12

Read Revelation 12

Questions from the Scripture text: What kind of sign appeared in heaven (Revelation 12:1)? What was the sign? What does this woman do in Revelation 12:2? What appears in Revelation 12:3? What does he do in Revelation 12:4a? What does he do in verse 4b? What does the woman do in Revelation 12:5a? What happens to Him (verse 5b)? Where does the woman go in Revelation 12:6? Who prepared the place for her? For how long is she fed there? What happens in heaven in Revelation 12:7? What was the outcome (Revelation 12:8)? What/who was the dragon (Revelation 12:9)? What happened to him? What does John hear in Revelation 12:10? What four things does the voice say has come? Why—what has happened to whom? What do the brethren do in Revelation 12:11? By what two means? What do they not do? Who should rejoice (Revelation 12:12)? But what about the earth and the sea? Why? What did the dragon do on earth (Revelation 12:13)? What was she given (Revelation 12:14)? To do what? For how long? From what? What did the serpent do (Revelation 12:15)? But what helped her (Revelation 12:16)? How? How did the dragon take this (Revelation 12:17)? What did he go to do? Against whom? Who are her offspring?

Next week’s Call to Worship, Prayer for Help, and first song all come from Revelation 12 so that we will see that we are singing God’s thoughts after Him with Am I Soldier of the Cross.

In this chapter war in heaven concludes (Revelation 12:7) unto the beginning (refreshing?) of a war on earth (Revelation 12:17). By the end of the chapter we realize that this latter war is one that rather specifically involves us. 

At first, we might think that the woman in Revelation 12:1 is Eve. Sun, moon, and stars imply the creation (cf. Genesis 1:16), and she was there on day six. The crying out in labor and in pain to give birth also reminds us of her curse (cf. Genesis 3:16). But the number 12 is significant and points us forward to the tribes of Israel. There’s just one problem with that; they were born not of one mother but of four! Then we think it might be Mary, because the woman actually bears the male Child Who is obviously Christ (Revelation 12:5). But there is no indication in Scripture of a persecution specifically targeting her. 

Rather, the woman is the church, who is persecuted (and nourished!) for “42 months” (Revelation 12:6Revelation 12:14). This is 3.5 years, or half of completion. This seems to be an indication that half of history occurs after the ascension of Christ, but there is much disagreement about this number, and no one knows the timing of His return. What we do know is that since the woman is the church, that we are among “the rest of her offspring.” 

It means that there is only one woman, one church, throughout the ages—not separate “Old Testament” and “New Testament” churches, but one church under various administrations. It means that the serpent of old (Revelation 12:9, cf. Genesis 3:1) who tempted Eve in the garden is still attacking the woman and her offspring. It means that the role of Eve (cf. Genesis 3:15) and of Mary is still, generally speaking, the role of Christian women (cf. 1 Timothy 2:15), but especially the role of the church. The church has offspring—not just covenant children, but all who join the family business, the family military campaign: keeping the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ (Revelation 12:17).

You see, the war in heaven is over (Revelation 12:8), with the happy result that the accuser has been replaced by the Advocate (Revelation 12:10). And now there is war on earth (Revelation 12:17). Our weapons are the blood of Lamb which declares us forgiven (Revelation 12:11a), and the word of our testimony in which we witness to Christ as our God (verse 11b). 

Are you fighting to keep God’s commandments and testify to Jesus Christ (Revelation 12:17)? Do you love this more than your life (Revelation 12:11c)? There are words that describe soldiers who are on the battlefield but not engaged in the battle. Words like traitor. Or casualty.

In what ways are you battling to keep God’s commandments and live as subjects of Christ? By what means can we hope to succeed in that battle? Why isn’t death defeat in that battle?

Sample prayer:  Lord, we praise You for Your own victory, and we thank You for casting down our accuser and taking Your seat upon the throne as our Advocate. Forgive us for when we forget that we are at war, caring little to keep Your commandments or live as Your subjects. Grant that Your Spirit would bring us to our senses so that we can reengage in the battle. And make us to overcome by the blood of the Lamb and the testimony of Jesus Christ, in Whose Name we ask it, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP1 “How Blessed the Man” or TPH539 “Am I a Soldier of the Cross”

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