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Chris Appleby Ministries

Chris Appleby Ministries

 

Revelation 12-13 audio (5MB)

Rev 12-13

We’re going to start with a questionnaire this morning. I want us all to think about how we would answer these statements, as true or false?  (This is only for private reflection, not to share)

1. I believe that Jesus has saved me from being lost and without hope. (TRUE/FALSE)
2. I live my life in such a way that others around me know I believe this. (TRUE/FALSE)
3. I regularly tell people how Jesus has changed my life. (TRUE/FALSE)
4. Every day I ask God, ‘who do you want me to talk to about you today?’ (TRUE/FALSE)
5. I have to be involved in at least one outreach group to feel like I am part of the church community. (TRUE/FALSE)
6. I believe in Satan. (TRUE/FALSE)

‘Do you believe in Satan?’

I can remember being asked this question, years ago, in my first year at uni. A friend of mine whose name was Belinda, asked me this question. I proudly responded, ‘I believe in God.’

And she said, yeah I know but, ‘Do you believe Satan exists?’

I thought about it. And at the time, I had to say, ‘no, I don’t.’ Because I didn’t like the way that some Christians want to blame the Devil for everything. Some Christians seem to me obsessed with demons, and this can be at the expense of acknowledging that most human suffering is actually the result of sin. So, I said, ‘no, I don’t believe in Satan.’

And she said, ‘But haven’t you ever felt the power of Satan?’

I thought about. And at the time I had to say, ‘no, I haven’t.’

And she said to me, ‘Well, I have.’

I guess at that time in my life I was a bit oversensitive to people trying to check me out with these sorts of questions, to work out whether I was a real Christian or not. After all, the Nicene Creed which sets out the basic doctrines of our faith, makes absolutely no mention of the Devil. It is all about what we believe about God. So, believing in the Devil isn’t what makes you a Christian, and I would say, not believing in the Devil doesn’t make you not a Christian.

But having said that, the bible does tell us a lot about the Devil. And this must be because God wants us to know about him. And to know that in fact,

The Devil is Real
… and that we can expect to encounter him.

A very wise Anglican priest once said to me: “If you work for the Lord, one day you will see the Devil face to face, and when you do, you will recognize him.”

And now I know that to be true.

The Devil comes in many disguises. In the vision that John writes about in chapter 12 of the book of Revelation, the Devil is depicted as a red dragon with seven heads, wearing seven crowns. He is the colour of blood, a slaughterer, and he has authority (7 crowns worth of authority – 7 being the number of completion).

Which means, it would be wrong to say that, whether the Devil is real or not, is of no consequence to us. Because actually, what the bible tells us, over and over again, is that God has allowed him to have total authority over this world.

The Devil has Authority

(Now, I’m going to jump between chapter 12 and 13 a bit here, because, the unfortunate thing about visions given by God, is that they give us multiple layers of meaning in a strange, mixed up order … kind of like in dreams … this makes them very powerful, but very hard for preachers who are used to dealing with letters and narratives that human beings have given structure to)

In chapter 12:7-9, the Devil is defeated in heaven and thrown down to earth, along with his army of angels. There are time periods mentioned in chapter 12 and 13, during which there is a woman who flees to the wilderness (this is an image of Israel) and during which the Devil has authority in the world.
- In 12:6, 1,260 days.
- In 13:5, the beast is allowed to exercise authority for “42 months”, which is the same as 1,260 days.
- Also in chapter 11, the period of persecution is written as “42 months” … this all gives us the message that John’s vision is of the last days … the time between Jesus’ ascension and the last day when he will return … and during this time (symbolically represented as 42 months), here’s what God is going to allow to happen:

“The beast was allowed to exercise authority for 42 months.” (13:5)

“Also it was allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them. It was given authority over every tribe and people and language and nation, and all the inhabitants of the earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb that was slaughtered.” (13:7-8)

In chapter 13 we see two beasts that the dragon has given authority – one that comes out the earth and one that comes out of the sea (creating a false trinity)…
These two beasts represent the earthly authorities who draw their authority from him – the beast out of the earth is a political power, a government, and the beast out of the sea, a religious authority, a false teacher.
There are also other books of the bible that also tell us that in these times in which we live, the Devil has authority over the world:

“… the whole world lies under the power of the evil one.” (1 Jn 5:19)

- those who do not have God as their Father are children of the Devil (John 8:42-44)

These passages remind me of my old friend Belinda … Belinda who was about the funniest girl I ever met. She was SO much fun to be around. One day she told me something sad, that she had been a heroin addict, but that she had been clean for over 12 months, ever since she was saved by the Lord Jesus Christ.

At the end of my first year of uni I didn’t see her over the summer break, we lost touch. Several months into my second year I bumped into her in a stairwell. The moment she saw me she started to have a panic attack. She backed into the corner of the stair well, turned her face from me. She was embarrassed and ashamed. I noticed that she was very pale and skinny, and I realized that she was using again.

Her words echoed in my mind, “Haven’t you ever felt the power of Satan?’

And that’s when I realized, that I had just seen the power of the Devil. I know human beings are sinful and frail, and they make big mistakes. I know that drugs are what you get in a fallen world.

I also know, that there is an angel of darkness who roams this earth, and he wants to take our shame, our guilt, or sinfulness, and use it against us, to destroy us. And there was my friend, anaesthetized from the pain of her life, but drowning in shame, and descending into hell.

And she was a born again Christian who boldly proclaimed her faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

So, I don’t want to say, what some Christians say … that Satan has no power over the believers.. I don’t want to say that if you are filled with the Holy Spirit, you can’t be demonically attacked. In fact, the book of Revelation tells us, that if you are a follower of Jesus Christ, you are the very first person, he wants to attack.

The Devil is at War with Us

- 12:17 - The dragon has gone to make war on the woman’s offspring (the offspring of Israel), those who keep the commandments of God and hold the testimony of Jesus.”

His aim is to make us:

1. ineffective as witnesses (so that others won’t be saved),
2. lose hope, and at best
3. lose our faith (so that we come under his rule).

You might ask,
Is this really our battle to fight? Hasn’t Jesus fought it for us? Isn’t Satan defeated by the cross?

Chapter 12 answers this question, by first giving us a snap-shot of Jesus’ life on earth from the perspective of heaven …
- first, Jesus was born out of Israel - that’s who the woman represents who is clothed with the sun, has the moon under her feet, and is wearing a crown of 12 stars – these are an allusion to Joseph’s dream in Gen 37, in which the sun and moon represent Jacob and Rachael, and the 12 stars, the 12 tribes of Israel
- she is giving birth to a male child, the “one who is to rule the nations with an iron rod” (we know this is Jesus from Rev 2:27)
- Satan waits to devour him, but he is snatched up to heaven (we jump from Jesus’ birth to his ascension – knowing exactly what has taken place in-between, the cross) – as a result of Jesus’ work on earth, Satan is defeated and thrown out of heaven
- But Satan is not fully destroyed until chapter 20 – Jesus is waiting
- So, in these days ‘symbolically represented by the ‘42 months’, Satan has authority and he’s making war against us

Does Jesus want us to fight back? Or does he just want us to stand back and wait, since we know he will have the victory in the end? He wants us to fight! And we know this because of 12:11 …

The Devil is defeated in Three Ways:
Here’s the verse we want to memorise … 12:11

They (the believers) have conquered him by:

1. The blood of the Lamb
2. The word of their testimony
3. For they did not cling to life even in the face of death
(repeat)

Ok, if we were living in a part of the world where we might be tortured or martyred for our faith, we would know very well, the danger of denying Christ. Because every time a Christian denies Christ the devil has a win. (but, I’m just gonna wipe that one out, not because it isn’t important, but because it doesn’t really apply to us in our context)

The blood of the Lamb … this is of course, the victory that Jesus has had for us. His blood is shed, to cleanse us of our sins, and as we are so cleansed, the Devil loses his stronghold, he loses his claim against us (it has always been, from right back in Gen 3, that the Devil only gains power over us because of our sin)

Lazy Christians, want to leave it there and just say, ‘Jesus has defeated Satan, there is nothing for us to do, but claim the protection of his blood.’

But that would ignore the second point 2 .. (highlight)

When I read this I am reminded of my friend Belinda, the way that drugs had robbed her of her bright personality, and were slowly killing the life in her. That experience reminds me that there is more than one kind of death … in this life, sometimes the soul dies long before the body. And though we are not in the part of the church that sees people physically die for their faith …

Sometimes I wonder, have we become the walking dead?

Injuries to the soul, are in many ways more distressing than injuries to the body. We know that when we see soldiers return from war, with post traumatic stress disorder (psychological injury). There’s a line about this, in the film, Scent of a Woman, that Al Pacino says at the end of the film … he plays the part of a war veteran who has lost the will to live … and he says at the end of the film:

“I’ve been around. I’ve seen war. I’ve seen young boys with their arms torn out, their legs ripped off. But there’s nothing like the sight of an amputated spirit. There’s no prosthetic for that.”

So imagine the success the Devil would have if he could get us to lose our heart for the gospel … to become dead on the inside. In fact, when Christians are martyred for their faith it only strengthens the Church, because their life testifies to Jesus Christ.

But when they lose the will to testify, when they retreat into themselves, when they can barely drag themselves out of bed in the morning to go to a boring service, full of people whose stories they don’t know … the Devil knows he’s really winning then …

When we politely back into the corner and turn our heads, because we are ashamed of the name of Jesus …

When we tell ourselves our faith is private, when we are embarrassed to share it.

When we stop telling our friends and families that we were dead, and now we are alive … that we were lost, and now we are found … When we think that story has become tired …

When we stop speaking the word of our testimony, the church slowly dies, and becomes an empty shell, just like all the beautiful stained-glass buildings, that have nobody in them.

So, let’s ask ourselves again, are these statements true or false?

I believe that Jesus has saved me from being lost and without hope. (TRUE/FALSE)

I live my life in such a way that others around me know I believe this. (TRUE/FALSE)

I regularly tell people how Jesus has changed my life. (TRUE/FALSE)

Every day I ask God, ‘who do you want me to talk to about you today?’ (TRUE/FALSE)

I have to be involved in at least one outreach group to feel like I am actually part of the church. (TRUE/FALSE)

 

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Phone: 0422187127
 
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