What better day than today to preach on a Christmas passage. Just a quick update on hearing songs in the stores. I haven’t been shopping that much but when I’ve been in stores I heard a few songs and some have been Christian but most are not. In Stop & Shop I actually heard a song about Santa Claus but then it turned into a song about the God above and becoming born again. I did flips right in the store between the tomatoes and the cucumbers.
I have stated over and over again, we really don’t know when Christmas took place, but I want to say this: it was a very quiet event. Only a few people were at the manger. Of course strong Joseph was protecting his new family and faith-filled Mary was nursing and loving the Baby. Naturally the Baby-the King of Kings was there. I’m sure there were some non-talking animals (Talking animals is only a fairy tale) and later, a few tired shepherds showed up. There were no *seen* angels; they had sent the shepherds. The wise men presented their gifts to the Christ Child, but probably up to two years after Jesus was born. Plus they came in the first family’s house in Nazareth, not to the manger in Bethlehem. (Show picture – beautiful, but not real)
King Herod did not know about Jesus yet, Rome, Jerusalem, Asia, Europe quiet; only a few people knew and it was very hush that night. But… there was a very real war storming at that moment and that war has continued and will intensify because the enemy recognizes his time is short.
The book of Revelation is really a difficult book to preach through. It upsets me when preachers tell us dogmatically what will take place. It’s really not that cut and dry. We have to be contented as we read this chapter that we don’t always know what the chapter is referring to and probably won’t until we see these events fulfilled. (Oh, that’s what it meant!) So you need to get comfortable with me saying here’s what it means, or it means this…
The best way to comprehend the book of Revelation is to realize that the book is a Revelation of Jesus Christ. That’s the real title of the book. It’s really not really about a revelation of the future though the future is in this book. This book is to bring praise from us toward Jesus Christ.
To tell the truth, I almost never have heard a preacher preach on this message around Christmas time. I think you will see as we go through this chapter today why it’s such a key important Christmas passage and how it relates to you and me.
**Scene 1: (12:1-3)**
Remember that this chapter is not meant to be an instruction or description or narrative of something that will take place. Here John saw this vision in the sky. He was in the sense seeing a movie in the sky. The word here*heaven* does not mean the place where God lives, but it refers to looking up and seeing this movie in the heavens- the sky.
John saw a great sign. He saw a woman clothed with the sun and the moon under her feet and she had 12 crowns under her feet. Though I just got through saying that we don’t always know in Revelation what we are reading, this is very clear. In the Old Testament in the book of Genesis chapter 37 Joseph had this vision or dream where he saw the sun, Jacob and the moon, Leah and the stars, 12 tribes of Israel.
So what’s that got to do with us? Remember that Abraham in chapter 12 of Genesis was given a great promise that the number of descendants would be like trying to count the number of stars in the sky. We have to realize that you and I are in that number. God chose the Jewish people, but then the Gentiles were grafted in and we too receive the promises made to Abraham. So listen up this is about you this passage and chapter is also about you and me.
**Scene 2: (12:4-6)**
Continuing with this vision in the skies, John sees an immense red Dragon that has seven heads and 10 horns and seven crowns on those heads. This chapter later tell us that the is the enemy of our souls: Satan. We also know from the book of Daniel John’s description of the heads and crowns represents the evil empires of the world that the antichrist that Satan will rule.
He is so large that 1/3 of the stars fall to the earth. One third of the stars might mean the demons that fell with them though this is one of those we aren’t sure of concepts. There is a Hebrew legend, not really in the Bible that one third of the angels left to to serve Satan. This is where it’s at least hinted at in the Bible.
But the main point is that the Dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth. The Dragon wanted to devour the Baby the moment He was born. Interesting words: devour – to eat, to get rid of. This is very obvious the time that King Herod ordered the death of all the boys in the area of Bethlehem who were two years and under. This does not mean that every two-year-old baby in the world, but this city. Scholars calculate that was anywhere from 20 to 40 boys. That of course is horrific and horrible however we need to understand that Herod killed hundreds of people at a time including some of his own children and wives.
But it wasn’t really King Herod who wanted to kill the Baby, it was the enemy himself. Satan knows that his time is ever more getting short and that Jesus had come to save souls and to rescue people and restore the Kingdom back to his Father the kingdom of God. Just like Moses had been nearly killed, so Jesus and had Joseph not been his brave protector by taking him to Egypt Jesus indeed would have died.
I say that because sometimes we think that we really don’t have a part in this war. Oh, it’ll all work out in the end! No-we have a job to do and we better fulfill it in the name of Jesus Christ.
We are told that this Baby would grow to rule the nations with an iron scepter. A scepter is probably a ruling rod. A sovereign would hold up the rod to mean certain things. The scepter demonstrated His rule authority. A scepter could be made out of wood, but the Bible gives it the hardest metal they know of: iron. I’m really not up on my metals, but if we were writing this ourselves, we would probably say something like a scepter of titanium. It is a poetic way of saying His rule will never end and will always rule with great power and great authority.
Remember this is not a narrative or history but a vision and the Son is snatched up to heaven. In other words, here we are not told of the ministry of Jesus, nor His crucifixion, not even His Resurrection but instead of His Ascension. The vision is to teach how God will protect the ministry of Jesus Christ. And of course Jesus will protect the church ultimately to those who follow him. Incidentally, this is the same Greek word for Rapture-a picture of what God is going to do with the church during the time or before the time or after the time of the Great Tribulation. Personally, I believe it will be before the Great Tribulation, others don’t.
**Scene 3: 7-9**
We aren’t sure when this happens, compared to Jesus’s ministry and life on earth, but we know that there is a great war that either has taken place or that will take place in the heavens. I believe it is already taken place myself, and we know that Michael, who is the only named Archangel in the Bible, (Catholics mention some others) but only Michael is apparently the one who led this war for God. Michael won and Satan lost his place in heaven and we see here his angels with him.
And we’ll see in a moment this is good news and bad news depending on where you live.
**Scene 4: (10-12) **
We get this next three verses which are in most Bibles indented to show that it’s poetic and maybe even an ancient hymn. But heaven is to rejoice because the enemy was cast out of heaven but the earth was to experience great woe because the accuser of the church is hurled down to the earth.
That means the enemy spends his days and nights accusing you of wrongdoing. Jesus on the other hand spends his day interceding for you and building you up.
And we see here that the saints that is people who love Jesus Christ. And they have three weapons: 1) They are covered by the Blood of the Lamb. Jesus Christ alone won the victory over Satan and has defeated the enemy though that war still rages for a while. 2) They had this wonderful testimony that Jesus lives in them and they know it. This is a poetic way of saying Jesus is their reason for living. They don’t wait to the last minute to get saved and they don’t ignored Jesus until the end.
Their passion is not their jobs, family, health, self, but Jesus Christ. You can’t hurt them too much, if that the case. Jesus is to be our everything.
3) Finally, they are incredibly bold and they would rather die then to give into the enemy of this world and of the church. The Bible has always had martyrs, people who willingly died and suffered for the cause of Jesus Christ so that the church could blossom. That happened back when the early church was birthed and it happens today and will increasingly happen. We’ve even seen some of these things on our TVs when some evil people from ISIS have decapitated Christians.
But don’t feel sorry for those who are martyred: there is a special martyrs’ crown for those who provide the ultimate: their life. Jesus died for them and they have this massive privilege to die for Jesus and his church. In the early church.
There are stories where Christians wanted to die. They would be fed to the lions in the Coliseum and the lions would be terrified of the noise from the crowd and the Christian would go after the lion trying to taunt the massive animal so they would be killed for Christ.
To tell the truth it’s really hard to be tempted away from Jesus when that’s your attitude. Every one of us need to have that kind of attitude that our life here on earth is cheap compared to what is going to give us and we need to give everything we can in this life for Jesus so that we will have a more glorious eternity.
The Bible says that the enemy knows his time is short: it’s like a two minute warning in football. In case you don’t know, before the end of the game each team is warned that there are only two minutes to go. (In football that can be a long time). And so both teams out of nowhere suddenly find this energy and strength to fight like they had not up to then. That’s how Satan is because he knows his time is short and he wants to do his best to destroy you and everyone in your church and get as many people as he can on his side because his time is short. (It was true then, it’s more true today)
It might seem like a fable or fairytale, but Satan has fallen from the sky and one day will be bound and cast into the lake of fire, hell forever and ever. If he can get enough people to follow him maybe that won’t happen. Now I know it will happen, but perhaps that’s his thinking.
**Scene 5: (13-17)**
As it says here, the Dragon will take out his fury on Israel and the engrafted church as he has for years. But God promised to protect them ultimately and protect his church. The war is against Israel and those who are going to be part of the church. The Bible says to those who obey him and to hold to the testimony of Jesus.
This does not mean that nobody will die. In fact it means the opposite. Many have died for Christ (show the book of martyrs) there’s a modern book of this too. Many believe that as the days get even more cold and wicked and harsh things will get even worse. Actually, there’s going to be a great revival on the one hand and a great awakening of God’s power button the other hand a great persecution.
1. As I said, that night was very quiet but anything but quiet. Our Nativity today is like that, cute, quiet but I guarantee the enemy hates its remembrance and what if somebody actually grew closer to God today because it?
2. The enemy accuses, Jesus defends us
3. Expect the enemy to ramp up his attacks as his day gets even shorter. Know this that he’s already defeated. He was defeated at Calvary when Jesus died and rose again, but the battle still rages and will not be totally stopped until he is thrown into the lake of fire forever and ever. Lord God bring that day soon.
4. Jesus is King and His rule will soon be consummated by all were we will not look to a president or a king or a Congress our governor but to Jesus himself and I know about you, I’m so sick of politics I can’t wait to he’s the ruler of all.
5. Jesus promises here to fight for you. For your family, for your life, for your salvation, for your soul. Let’s thank God what Christmas means and turned to him today.
6. Will you either commit your life to the One, or recommit to Him today. That you too will love Him and His promised Home more than the here and now?
Charles F. Brown