“Triumph in Tribulation” – Revelation 12-13 (12:10-12) – Pastor Brian
Jesus guarantees us the greatest eternal future, it assures us during present struggles.
Have you ever heard, “I wish I knew then what I know now?” Looking back, there are things I would have approached differently with wisdom I have now and I would have been less anxious and worried. All the hours of stress and anxiety would be gone. Today’s Scripture from Revelation 12-13 is summarized by verses 10-12 of chapter 12. It informs followers of Jesus Christ that all will be well in the end. The Revelation of John gives us the opportunity to know our future now. Our worries and concerns can be put to rest if we firmly grasp that because of Jesus, we are promised a wonderful future. And because Jesus guarantees us the greatest eternal future, it assures us during present struggles. When you know that Jesus promises His people a great future, a great eternal future, doesn’t it bring a sense of assurance during our current troubles? But how can we be absolutely sure that our future is good and know the struggle will be worth it in the end?
I am using Revelation 12:10-12 to outline chapters 12 and 13. Also I hope the following brief explanations of the main characters will help understand the text as we work our way through it. The woman is both Israel (vv.12:4-5) and the Church (v.12:17). The red dragon is the devil and Satan; deceiver of the whole world (v.12:9). The two beasts, one from the sea (foreign, without) (v.13:1), one from land (familiar, within). With the symbolism of these characters, let’s begin to answer, How can we know our eternal future will be great?
1. We know there is a great eternal future because Jesus has already brought salvation. (v.12:10) For Christ followers, we know there is a great eternal future because Jesus has already brought salvation. Jesus, the Lamb of God has offered the world salvation through His death on the cross and resurrection three days later. For every man, woman, and child who has believed in Jesus and received Him as Savior and Lord can be confident of this great eternal future because of what Jesus has already done. The future is great for those who know Jesus, because He has already brought salvation.
Satan, the accuser, torments followers of Christ 24/7. BUT the wonderful news is God does not abandon His people. God has already provided the power to resist and overthrow the devil through the might and authority of Jesus.
The verses immediately preceding verse 10 describe an epic war in heaven where Michael the archangel and his angels defeat the devil and his angels and throw them down to earth. Salvation has come because Satan has been banished from heaven to earth. Yet God has allowed the devil to trouble believers day and night. Revelation is about Jesus through whom God has graciously given us insight to our future. Because of the salvation already brought through Jesus, followers of Christ are guaranteed the greatest eternal future so we can be assured and find peace in our present troubles. Because Jesus has already brought salvation and we know the end is great, we can be assured and rest during life’s trials and troubles.
2. We know there is a great eternal future because Jesus has already defeated Satan. (v.12:11) We can be sure of a fantastic future despite the hardships that come our way because the devil has already been defeated. No matter how hard Satan tries to discourage and draw us away from God through trials and tribulations, we are assured of a great eternal future because the power of Satan is weak compared the power of God.
Sometimes the future looks bleak. The devil seems to be winning especially hearing about the devastating effects of the fires, climate change, racial divide, growing number of homelessness, unexpected duration of being sheltered in place, political climate, etc. After all this bad news, doesn’t it help to know that Satan has already been defeated? Satan, the deceiver, tries to fool us into believing that he is in control of our fate and has won the battle for our souls. But we know that this is not true because Satan has already been conquered.
Scripture says, Michael and his angels, Jesus (Lamb of God), the two martyrs and witnesses (Rev 11:7-9) have conquered Satan. They have already won the spiritual war. This vision teaches that we are in a bigger conflict than the one we see. John is speaking of spiritual forces not only one between demons and men but also angelic forces. Our present struggles are part of the larger conflict between good and evil. (Revelation 12:4–6) Satan seeks to destroy a male child who would rule the nations but this child was caught up to God’s throne. By this description it is understood that the woman is the nation of Israel from which God’s child, Jesus, would be born and rescued and seated at the right hand of God’s throne, the highest place of honor. Further, this woman, the nation of Israel, would be protected by God for a period of 1,260 days.
Satan is angered and in Rev 12:17 we see that, “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.” Satan in his fury seeks to destroy the offspring of the woman. Who are these offspring? They are those who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus, people of faith, followers of Jesus Christ, those who have received Jesus as Savior and Lord.
Satan sought to destroy Jesus but was defeated at Jesus’ resurrection when He was caught up to God and took a seat at the right hand of God’s throne. Satan then unleashes his wrath upon the faithful. The schemes of Satan include discouragement and doubt to draw us away from God. In our present struggles, the devil does what he can to create fear and anxiety to keep us from seeking the power of God to help us through. If we would only grasp and hold onto this truth, that Satan has already been defeated, we will experience the ultimate and unending power of God to see us through any troubles we may encounter.
3. We know there is a great eternal future because Jesus has already limited Satan. (v.12:12) We can be certain of a great future because Satan has been limited by the authority of Jesus. Though Satan is strong, Jesus by His death and resurrection proves He is stronger. By the blood of the Lamb, the devil’s influence is restricted to a brief period of time.
Knowing our future is in the hand of God is comforting despite the struggles we observe and experience. Because Jesus guarantees us the greatest future, it assures us during present struggles. We have hope in the hardships of today and can rejoice when we rest in the great eternal future God has promised. We are called to rejoice even though the devil will cause great wrath in this world because his time is short.
The spiritual war in heaven has already been won but as a result, Satan is allowed a short period of time to rule the earth. Ephesians 2:2 tells us that Satan, “The prince of the power of the air...is now at work in the sons of disobedience.” The war has been won in the heavens but the battle on earth is allowed for a short time. Satan’s two beasts are allowed to harass followers of Christ (13:7). Jesus was allowed to suffer in the days of His flesh to learn obedience. If God allowed Jesus, His sinless Son to suffer, who are we to question God’s plan that allows Satan and his beasts to bring suffering upon followers of Christ?
In verse 13:1, the first of Satan’s two beasts is introduced as the sea beast, which represents an external enemy. The beast has ten crowns on his horns stressing its dominion. It could be the world or political system that tells us our faith is a joke and a crutch for the weak. Saints, be encouraged and remain strong in your faith, for God has already determined the duration of suffering. The influence of the sea beast is short and limited. The second beast is the land beast which represents the enemy closer to home. For God’s people, it is the temptation to succumb to the inner battles of self-doubt, discouragement, and defeat. Rather than believing that you are a child of God, His beloved and so priceless that Jesus died for you, the land beast tempts us to think we are worthless. Thankfully these beasts only deceive unbelievers. Those who seek first the kingdom of God will not be deceived and the truth will set them free from the grasp of these beasts.
If this is your first time studying Revelation, the events you have heard described thus far may seem unbelievable and even outrageous but the end of chapter 13 points to the reality of these events actually happening. In chapter 13:16-17, the mark of the beast is described as being on the forehead or right hand. It’s a mark that is necessary to purchase things such as food, water, household goods, etc. It’s easy to see how this can happen, especially in countries where technology is king and convenience is god. Verse 10 of chapter 13 is a reminder and encouragement to Christ followers that in the midst of all of this, “Here is a call for the endurance and faith of the saints.” The deception is relying on the world system of Satan rather than the heavenly system of God to care for us. We are called to resist the enticements and temptations of these beasts and remain faithful to the truth that because of Jesus, we have a great eternal future and the sufferings of Satan are limited.
Those who know Jesus as Lord and Savior are guaranteed a great future. Because salvation is already here, the war is already won and Satan’s influence is already limited. God is allowing Satan to rule for a short time so that we would turn to Jesus in our troubles and to learn obedience as Jesus did. Jesus the God/Man, experienced human sufferings so we can know without a doubt that Jesus understands our fight to resist the temptation to seek worldly convenience over Godly conviction, or listen to the lie that we are worthless rather than priceless. We know a personal God in Jesus who allows Satan to rule for a short time but also gives us the power to resist.
God is sovereign and will work out His perfect will. In Jesus, despite the temptation to become fearful, we remain faithful in the Word of God which says, Revelation 12:10 (ESV): “The salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come.” Brothers and sister, are we willing to say, “So Be It,” that whatever happens, I know my eternal future is great, because God is great.
Though there will be trials and trauma, they are temporary because of Jesus. God, in His wisdom, has given His people the unique opportunity to look back to the future and live life in the context of, “If I knew then what I know now.” The war in heaven has been won but the battle, the trouble and tribulation remain on earth to turn our hearts towards Jesus. And because of Jesus, we are guaranteed the greatest eternal future, that assures and comforts us in our present struggles. With that, let us say with confidence, “Amen, So Be It, God is in control, He’s got this.”
Praise Songs: Jesus is Better, Crown Him with Many Crowns, Build My Life, Doxology