*Satan wages war against God and his people
“The background of satanic evil provides the cosmic background for the mission of Jesus and his proclamation of the Kingdom of God. As to whether such an evil spiritual personage exists, neither science nor philosophy has anything to say. There is really no more difficulty in believing in the existence of a malevolent spirit behind the evils of human history than to believe in the existence of a good spirit – God. Our purpose is primarily to show that the theology of the Kingdom of God is essentially one of conflict and conquest over the Kingdom of Satan” (Ladd, George, A Theology of the New Testament, Revised ed., Eerdmans, 1966,
The Woman and the Dragon (Ch. 12)
The Woman- pregnant. (12:1-2) [Eve, Israel, Mary, Church]
The Dragon: 7 heads/10 horns/7 crowns: Third of the stars [angels] swept from heaven. Devour her child. Child born to rule the nations, snatched up to God. Woman fled to desert, protected. (12:3-6)
War in Heaven. Michael and his angels versus the Dragon and his angels. Dragon hurled down to earth (serpent = devil = Satan) (12:7-9)
Heavenly Response: Salvation, power and kingdom and the authority of his Christ. Accuser hurled down. They overcame him “by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony. They did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.” (12:11) “Woe to the earth…the devil has gone down to you.” (12:12)
Woman (church) persecuted by the serpent/dragon. Protected. War on her offspring. (12:13-13:1)
* God’s people will suffer
1.1 God’s people must patiently persevere through suffering and death“Then each of them was given a white robe, and they were told to wait a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and brothers who were to be killed as they had been was completed” (6:11).“This calls for patient endurance on the part of the saints who obey God’s commandments and remain faithful to Jesus” (14:12).
1.2 God’s people will be vindicated“…for they [those who have the mark of the beast and have worshipped his image] have shed the blood of your saints and prophets, and you have given them blood to drink, as they deserve” (16:6). Bauckham notes, “The role of Christ in Revelation is to establish God’s kingdom on earth: in the words of 11:15, to turn ‘the kingdom of the world’ (currently ruled by evil) into ‘the kingdom of our Lord and his Messiah’. This is a work of both salvation and judgment… [which is] inevitably the two sides of a single coin. It is also a process which begins with his earthly life and death and ends with his parousia [coming]” (p.67). The Millennium vindicates and elevates the martyrs. “And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus and the because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or his image and had not received his mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years…Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years” (20:4-6).
- God’s people will be saved
- 2.1 144,000 sealed by God (Ch. 7) for the “Messianic War.” “Essential to this notion…is that the Messiah does not wage war alone: he leads the armies of Israel against the enemies of Israel” (Bauckham, p.68). “The 144,000 are an army. This is implicit in the fact that in 7:4-8 is a census of the tribes of Israel. In the Old Testament a census was always a reckoning of the military strength of the nation, in which only males of military age were counted” (Bauckham, p.77).
- 2.2 “The messianic war is not purely future. The decisive victory has in fact already been won by Christ. His followers are called to continue the battle in the present. The final victory still lies in the future” (Bauckham, p.70).
- 2.3 They will overcome by the blood of the Lamb and by their testimony“Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down. They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony” (12:10-11). Bauckham notes, “As with the messianic war, John’s use of the new exodus imagery shows that for him the decisive eschatological event has already occurred: the new Passover Lamb has been slaughtered and he has ransomed a people for God” (p.72).
2.4 The Lamb and the 144,000 (14:1-5) Bauckham comments, “Chapters 12-14 portray the combatants in the messianic war. In chapters 12-13 the dragon, the beast and the second beast have been depicted successfully prosecuting war against the people of God (12:17; 13:7). But in 14:1 the Lamb and his army stand to oppose them on Mount Zion, the place of the messianic king’s triumph over the hostile nations (Ps. 2:6). The much misunderstood reference to the virginity of the 144,000 (14:4a) belongs to the image of an army. The followers of Christ are symbolized as an army of adult males who, following the ancient requirement of ritual purity for those who fight in holy war (Deut. 23:9-14; I Sam. 21:5; 2 Sam. 11:9-13; IQM 7:3-6), must avoid the cultic defilement incurred through sexual intercourse. This ritual purity belongs to the image of an army; its literal equivalent in John’s ideal of the church is not sexual asceticism, but moral purity” (p.78).