SAY WHAT? (What is the passage saying?)
- Most bible scholars believe that the woman giving birth to the male baby is meant to symbolize Mary giving birth to Jesus, and the dragon seeking to devour the baby is Satan. If you read the story of Jesus' birth in Matthew and Luke, you'll see that when Jesus was born the king at the time gave an order to have all recently male born babies killed. Mary had to run for her -- and her newborn son's -- life. The (odd, scary) story here in Revelation 12 (especially verses 1-9 and 13-17) seems to parallel that.
- A voice announces (in verses 10-12) that with the birth of this baby has come salvation and power and the kingdom of God.
- The people who triumph (verse 11) over Satan are those who choose the "blood of the lamb" and not "shrink from" their faith and their testimony about Jesus, even in the face of death.
- In verse 12 we see that God's people will rejoice because of Jesus' ultimate victory, but still the earth will see the vengeance of Satan, whose time is short.
SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
- A note in the NIV Study Bible says, "The view of Christ's birth in Revelation 12 gives a glimpse into the pattern of the entire book. John is fusing things seen with things normally not seen. In daily life, two parallel histories occur simultaneously: one on earth and one in heaven. Revelation, however, views them together. It parts the curtain, allowing a quick look behind the scenes at the cosmic impact of what happens on earth." The idea is that while we live here on earth we see and are aware of physical realities. But at the same time there is a spiritual reality we can't see and often go unaware of. There are spiritual forces at work in our lives (both for and against us) that we may have no idea about. But these spiritual realities, though unseen, are just as real as what we can see.
NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
- How does it make you feel to know that there is a lot more going on than you can see? To know that there are evil spiritual forces seeking to ruin your life, and spiritual forces trying to protect you? And how should that change the way you view and live your life?
- For instance, perhaps you argue a lot with your spouse. Maybe it can feel like he/she is the enemy. But now you know that you have a true enemy, and that enemy is trying to splinter your marriage. How does that change the way you think of your marriage? How should it change the way you live out your marriage? Have you been seeking God's help to overcome the spiritual forces that are working against you?
- Or maybe there's something you know is wrong, but you do it because it can sometimes be fun. But now you realize that it's very likely a ploy of the enemy. It's bait he's putting on the hook, trying to reel you in and destroy your life. Does that make you think about it differently? Does it change the way you should go about trying to overcome this temptation?