The Coming War – 23
What is your favorite holiday? This is our third week in this chapter, and so far we’ve seen two important holidays that we celebrate—Christmas and Easter. At Christmas, when Jesus came, God in the flesh, it was the declaration of war, and at Easter, with Jesus on the cross and the resurrection, it was the final blow to make certain the end of the war. Satan is still fighting though. But there’s no question how the battle is going to end. That’s a little glimpse of what these last few verses of chapter 12 will show us.
Revelation 12:13 – And when the dragon saw that he had been thrown down to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child.
Satan seeks to destroy God’s people. We saw in verse 6 that the woman is the righteous remnant of Israel or the church. Either way, it is God’s people. The church is ingrafted into God’s covenant promises, and those who are his people by heritage can also not be children of the promise if they aren’t so in their heart (Rom 2:29; Rom 11). Either way, to be one of God’s people, you must have faith in Jesus. But here’s a thing you need to remind yourself. If you are one of God’s people, you are not exempt from hardship. You actually might even have more hardship than people of the world. But, you can have peace amidst any hardship, because you belong to God and God is with you.
“The word used to describe [Satan’s] pursuit of the woman is used elsewhere in the New Testament (Acts 7:52; 9:4; 22:4) to describe the persecution of the church, and that is probably what this pursuit symbolizes.” It is interesting to note that Christianity is the number one most persecuted religion in the world. That could be because there are far more Christians in the world than any other religion. There are far less Jews in the world than there are Christians, yet think about Israel’s history and Israel currently. There has always been someone trying to wipe out Israel. Always. And they were seemingly wiped out from 138AD until just 1948. With how much Israel is mentioned not just in the Bible, but alluded to in Revelation, realizing this history of Israel and how it wasn’t until recently that they became a nation again, should perk you up! Even to this day Israel is constantly attacked. Other nations hate them and would love to see them wiped out. It’s been that way through Israel’s history. And it’s that way with the church right now as well. Satan seeks to destroy God’s people, and it will only get worse as the end approaches.
Revelation 12:14 – But the woman was given the two wings of the great eagle so that she might fly from the serpent into the wilderness, to the place where she is to be nourished for a time, and times, and half a time.
God provides for and protects his people. Even though God’s people are persecuted, and many will die and have died at the hands of Satan and those who follow him, he can never and will never wipe out God’s people. There is a lot of Old Testament imagery here in this verse that adds tons of meaning for us.
“Wings often appear in the Bible as a sign of God’s protection.” Just like the woman is flown in our verse into the wilderness, there is a parallel between the Israelites coming out of Egypt by the hand of God. Listen to Exodus 19:4, inwhich God says at Mt. Sinai, “You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself.” Also, later on, Isaiah prophesied about the return from exile that would happen after the new Exodus in Isaiah 40:31, saying, “but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” Just like God provided for his people in the past, we see him doing it in the future. Even though they are hurting and face death, Satan cannot wipe them out.
I want you to think about what that means for your life. If you are hurting or confused or broken over something that has happened to you or because of your sin, where are you turning? You are safe under the shadow of his wings (Ps 36:7; 57:1; 61:4; 91:4). The world won’t bring you lasting comfort and protection. You can’t drown out your hardships and pretend they aren’t there. Your only help is God.
Revelation 12:15-16 – 15 The serpent poured water like a river out of his mouth after the woman, to sweep her away with a flood. 16 But the earth came to the help of the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed the river that the dragon had poured from his mouth.
Verse 16 is so encouraging. It says, “But the earth came to the help of the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed the river that the dragon had poured out of his mouth.” This is the same way that God delivered Israel from Pharaoh, keeping Moses alive despite Pharaoh trying to destroy him in the Nile, and just as the earth swallowed those who opposed Moses (Num 16:30-34; Deut 11:6). God has completed the new exodus in Jesus, and God will keep his people safe during the exile’s return that is currently taking place as we travel toward the promised land.
In verses 15-16, we see Satan try to destroy God’s people, but what happens? He doesn’t. He can’t. The earth opened, like it’s split from an earthquake, to defend the people of God from Satan’s attacks. Again, your only help is God. Then we come to our final verse of the chapter.
Revelation 12:17 – Then the dragon became furious with the woman and went off to make war on the rest of her offspring, on those who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus. And he stood on the sand of the sea.
Though Satan is defanged, he will attack until the end. Again, God never promises an easy life for Christians. You are actually promised opposition (John 15:18; 16:33).
If you are a Christian, you should join in the fight. Who is it that Satan attacks? It is those who “keep the commands of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus.” If you don’t want a bullseye on your back, don’t join the fight. You will never get shot at if you never go to war. There is a spiritual war currently being waged, and there is an even greater war to end all wars that is on the horizon. We need more bravery in the church if we are going to see the Satan defeated around us. We have a lot of people standing on the sidelines trying to be safe and sound.
I’m reminded of the story of Desmond Doss. He was a medic in World War II. He was also a devout Christian, a Seventh Day Adventist. And because of his beliefs, even though he enlisted, he was a conscientious objector, a non-combatant. That means he didn’t want to kill anybody. So, he didn’t bring a gun. But he still went to battle. He found himself in Okinawa, the bloodiest battle of the Pacific and the second most bloody battle of World War II. Hear how one article describes what he did.
“The fighting took place on the hellish Maeda Escarpment in April 1945. The battlefield, located on top of a sheer 400-foot cliff, was fortified with a deadly network of Japanese machine gun nests and booby traps. The escarpment, nicknamed Hacksaw Ridge for the treacherously steep cliff, was key to winning the battle of Okinawa. The mission was thought to be near-impossible, and when Doss’s battalion was ordered to retreat, the medic refused to leave his fallen comrades behind.
Facing heavy machine gun and artillery fire, Doss repeatedly ran alone into the kill zone, carrying wounded soldiers to the edge of the cliff and singlehandedly lowering them down to safety. Each time he saved a man’s life, Doss prayed out loud, “Lord, please help me get one more.” By the end of the night, he had rescued an estimated 75 men. (The always modest Doss reckoned he saved about 50, but his fellow soldiers gauged it closer to 100.)”
We are in such a war, but even more deadly. Will you have the faith to run out on the battlefield? Over and over and over and over again? To risk being shot at or blown up? To save those who are being attacked by the enemy?
In this last verse, Satan is standing by the seashore, and what we’re going to see next, at the beginning of the next chapter, is his main end-times weapon coming out of the sea—the antichrist. And the world will be led astray by this beast, the antichrist. His way will seem right. He will seem like he’s on the right side of history. Everyone will even be saying, “Who is like the beast, and who can fight against it?” (13:4) Seemingly the whole world thinks its way is certain and right and won’t fall. But here’s the thing…it will.
Just like Satan is standing on the sand, those who build their lives on shifting sand will always fall. It is only on the rock that is Jesus that you will stand. Now and in the end.
Think of the difference between the seed of the woman (God’s people) and the dragon (Satan), as Jesus teaches in Matthew 7:24-27 about those who listen and follow his teachings. Jesus compared those who follow his commands to those who build their house on solid rock, while those who ignore his teachings build their house on unstable sand. The seed of the woman (God’s people), in verse 17, are those who obey God’s commands and follow Jesus. On the other hand, the dragon (Satan) is depicted as standing on the sandy beach.
Are you following Jesus and his teachings, building your foundation on the rock? Are you part of the seed of the woman? Is Satan trying to attack you? If he’s not, there’s a good chance you’re not in the fight. If he is, keep in mind that although Satan may seem powerful, God will always triumph over him. Jesus has disarmed and defanged Satan, and his accusations against you will not hold.
However, if you realize right now that you’re not following Jesus’ commands, or if you’ve placed your trust in things like money, sex, drugs, or pride instead of him, then Jesus has a message for you. He says that you are like a foolish person building their house on sand, and when the rains come, the floods rise, and the winds blow—and they will—your house will eventually collapse. And great will be that collapse.
I want us to end thinking of these words from one commentator. “You don’t want to stand on the sand with Satan.” Don’t align yourself with Satan by standing on the shifting sand that is certain to fall. Don’t seek safety by not joining the fight, all the while heading towards collapse. Instead, turn away from your sins and trust in Jesus.
Join the battle by sharing Christ with the people around you. Start little Bible studies at your school. If you’re living on the side of Satan, don’t let him have the victory over you. Turn to Jesus right now, in faith.
 James M. Hamilton, Jr., Revelation, Preaching the Word (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2012), 254.
 According to Pew Research, there are 2.3 billion Christians in the world and 1.8 billion Muslims. https://research.lifeway.com/2019/04/02/10-countries-with-the-largest-christian-populations
 See Ex 19:4; Deut 32:9-12; Ps 17:8; 18:10; 36:7; 57:1: 61:4; 63:7; 91:4; Is 40:31. Daniel L. Akin, Exalting Jesus in Revelation, Christ-Centered Exposition Commentary (Nashville: B&H, 2016), 216.
 Hamilton, Jr., Revelation, 256.