We Shall Overcome through the Lamb
Text: Revelation 12:9-12
So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, “Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death. Therefore rejoice, O heavens, and you who dwell in them! Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and the sea! For the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has a short time.”
In Christ Jesus, through Whom we have overcome, dear fellow redeemed:
When I was in Junior High School English Class years ago, my teacher taught us that the first paragraph of any good news story will always answer the five basic “w” questions—who, what, when, where, why. As I considered how best to expound on this portion of Jesus’ Revelation to St. John, I concluded that it does indeed answer all five of those questions just like a good news story, as it goes on to reveal this theme—WE SHALL OVERCOME THROUGH THE LAMB! Let us, therefore, today answer those questions as we take comfort from the message they reveal!
Who is mentioned? Three different groups are discussed—Satan and his angels, God and His Christ, and the members of God’s Church who are identified as “our brethren,” and then further identified as those who “dwell” in the heavens and who are “the inhabitants of the earth and the sea.”
Satan is identified also as “the Devil” and described as “the great dragon…that serpent of old.” Satan is, therefore, described as a powerful force—deceptive in his nature, thus the reference to the Garden of Eden and the “serpent of old” who deceived our first parents, and also dangerous—“a great dragon.” He and his demonic “angels” are certainly a force to be aware of and to be reckoned with, yet not a force to be feared even in the face of persecution in view of the presence and power of our God!
“Our God” and “His Christ” have appeared frequently in the Book of Revelation. In our previous devotions we have seen them on their thrones in heaven surrounded by the good angels and the departed saints who have sung anthems of praise to their saving names. It is our God who brings us salvation; it is our God upon whose strength we can rely; it is our God whose kingdom is everlasting; and it is the power of His Christ that has brought an end to the control of Satan in this world.
“Our brethren” refers to God’s Church—to believers, some of whom already occupy the halls of heaven and so can rejoice in the completed salvation of their Lord, while others of us remain “inhabitants of the earth and of the sea”—individuals who remain in the church militant and of necessity must be on our guard in view of the “great wrath” of Satan, who knows he has been defeated and whose ultimate judgment and sentence to hell will come quickly. Consequently, we must take seriously the apostolic warning that Satan is like a “roaring lion”—a wounded “roaring lion seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8).
What has happened? When did it happen? John is told that Satan and his angels have been “cast out” and together have been “cast (down) to the earth.” One might be tempted to think the Revelation is here referencing Satan’s original rebellion shortly after creation and his being cast out of heaven at that time, but that would not appear to be the case. In Old Testament times it would appear that Satan was given a good measure of freedom. He appears in the court of God to debate with God over Job (cf. Job 1-2). He also appears as the accuser of Joshua the High Priest in the book of Zechariah (Zech. 3:1-2). In the Gospel of John Satan is identified by Jesus no less than three times on Maundy Thursday evening as the “ruler of this world” (cf. John 12:31; John 14:30; John 16:11). But regarding Satan Jesus says: “Now the ruler of this world will be cast out” and “the ruler of this world is judged.” Jesus by fulfilling the eternal plans of God through His sufferings on the cross, His death and burial, and finally His resurrection three days later at that very time destroyed the power of Satan to use the fear of death to terrorize us (cf. Hebrews 2:14) and “disarmed” Satan together with his angels, Paul says, making “a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it” (Colossians 2:15). The apostle Peter says that “Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit, by whom also He went and preached to the spirits in prison” (1 Peter 3:18-19). Those “spirits in prison” were Satan and his evil angels. Satan, as it were, has had his wings clipped. He no longer rules this world—Christ does! Satan can no longer accuse us of sins, for those sins have been removed, having been placed upon Christ our Substitute and Redeemer! The apostle Paul assures us, “He (God the Father) made Him (Jesus) who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21). In that way Jesus “wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And (Paul further says) He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross” (Colossians 2:14). When Satan accuses us of sin, we can simply say, “Be gone, you false accuser, for Christ has borne the burden for me, and I am covered by His righteousness, which will stand now and always before my God!”
Why has this occurred and why is this so important? John heard “a loud voice saying in heaven, 'Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.'” In the midst of being persecuted—in the midst often of seeming defeat—John was being informed that he and his fellow believers were victors. By baptism they were tied to Christ’s death and to His resurrection and the powerful fruits that flowed from them (cf. Romans 6:1ff.). They were “heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ” and so assured that if indeed they suffered with Him, they would also be glorified with Him (cf. Romans 8:17).
We believers have the weapons to win the battle against Satan, this world, and also against our own sinful flesh. The precious “blood of the Lamb” cleanses us from all sin (cf. 1 John 1:7). The “word of our testimony” which are the truths revealed by God in His Scriptures lay the foundation for both faith and life. We live in a world that denies truth and exalts human opinions, but those opinions are constantly changing for they offer nothing solid to those who embrace them. They cannot stand the test and the trials of time. But armed with the word of God the simplest among us has something powerful to share. Jesus came preaching “good tidings to the poor,” proclaiming a message that would “heal the brokenhearted” and provide “liberty to the captive” (Isaiah 61:1). We are privileged to carry that message forward at a time and in places where it is most needed, for even as believers in John’s day were willing to lose their lives in order to gain eternal life, so we want to assure ourselves and to inform others that this life is not all that there is. Far from it! This life is but a prelude to the life that is to come—a life of joy, happiness, and contentment that will last throughout eternity as we dwell in the presence of our God in His new heavens and new earth (2 Peter 3:13).
Finally, where has this and will this all take place? The final words uttered by the loud voice from heaven speak of the reality of both heaven and earth: “Therefore rejoice, O heavens, and you who dwell in them! Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and the sea! For the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has a short time.” The saints of God who have already come out of the “great tribulation” which is life on this earth (cf. Revelation 7:14) and are presently in heaven can and ought to rejoice, for faith has now turned into sight as they praise both God the Father and His Son, the Lamb! This will continue until the consummation of all things at the end of time. For those of us who remain on this earth, we are warned. Be aware! Put on the armor of God (cf. Ephesians 6:10ff.). We are living in a war zone—yes, on occasion, fighting physical enemies of Christ, but most often “we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12). That being the case and having been duly warned, let us remain vigilant in our faith lives, helping and assisting one another to remain faithful to our Lord, who has been so faithful to us! WORTHY IS THE LAMB WHO WAS SLAIN! May we take great comfort and be filled with courage to know that WE SHALL OVERCOME THROUGH THE LAMB! Amen.