David Jeremiah - The Dragon
Do you believe in dragons? I do. Throughout the centuries, dragons have played a role in the folklore of many of the world's ancient cultures. Dragons are legendary serpentine creatures in Chinese mythology symbolizing potent and auspicious powers controlling water, rainfall, hurricane, and floods. In European folklore, the winged dragon took shape. Written into the legends passed down through the ages, these dragons were distinct in that they were fierce, fire-breathing creatures ravaging peaceful countryside villages and mighty castles alike. Many a knight in shining armor did battle with these venomous reptiles to save a fair princess from the clutches of these monsters. But are dragons just mythical creatures found only in ancient legends?
It may surprise you to know that the word "dragon" is found at least 21 times in the Old Testament portion of the Bible alone. We find a dragon in the New Testament as well. And if we travel to the very last book of the Bible, the book of Revelation, we find a fierce dragon prowling the heavens searching not for a princess but a king. You see, this vicious dragon considers himself to be the ruler of this world and will let nothing stop him from devouring the king that threatens his existence. So who is this ferocious and formidable dragon we encounter in the Book of Revelation? Satan, an agent of the apocalypse.
In the great drama of the end times, Satan's role is that of the antagonist. He's the villain. There wouldn't be any end times drama if Satan had not rebelled against God and corrupted His perfect creation. The role of Satan is detailed in the Bible in just one place primarily, and that's Revelation 12. This chapter presents four significant truths about Satan's goal, what his nature is like, what his vendetta is, and how he will end up. And interestingly enough, if you're an inductive student of the word of God, each one of these four things is introduced in the 12th chapter by the word "great", and so if you underline in your Bible, wherever you find that little word, you might want to underline it, because it will help you see the structure of Revelation 12.
We begin in verses 1 and 2 of chapter 12 with what I've called the Great Sign of a Woman. Here's what it says in Revelation 12, "Now a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a garland of twelve stars. Then being with child, she cried out in labor and in pain to give birth". As you know, there's a lot of symbolism and imagery in the Book of Revelation, and some people say, "I can't understand it", and, of course, one of the reasons we don't understand it, first of all, is, we don't read it, and we don't read it far enough, because in my estimation, the book of Revelation is the most self-interpreting book in the Bible.
Usually, if you see something symbolically and you don't know what it is, if you just keep reading, it will explain itself to you later, and that is truly the case in this passage. There are many ideas about what this means. Who is this woman clothed with sun with the moon under her feet? Well, this woman represents the nation of Israel. Throughout the Old Testament, in the prophets, often this was the case. For instance, Isaiah wrote about this. Isaiah said, "As a woman with child is in pain and cries out in her pangs, wen she draws near the time of her delivery, so have we been in Your sight, O Lord. We have been with child, we have been in pain; we have, as it were, brought forth wind; we have not accomplished any deliverance in the earth".
When Isaiah wrote this, he was picturing this woman in labor failing to give birth to a child, which described the failure of the Jewish people to bring about hope and salvation for humanity. And yet, believe it or not, after hundreds of years of disappointed hopes, the Jewish people had the privilege of bringing this deliverer into the world. Look at Revelation 12:5. "She", who's the woman? Come on, now. Who's the woman? Israel. "Israel bore a male child who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron. And her child was caught up to God and His throne".
This remarkable statement captures the life of Jesus Christ in a very unique way. First of all, it captures His incarnation. Israel bore a male child. Jesus was born into humanity. He was incarnated. He became part of us. This teaches us about His ascension. Her child was caught up to God and His throne. Jesus went up to heaven after His resurrection. But it also speaks that He's coming back again. He was to rule all nations with a rod of iron. That hasn't happened yet. That will take place in the millennium. So in this one little verse, the prophecy tells us about Jesus being born, about His ascending to heaven, and about the fact that He's coming back someday to rule the earth. The first great sign in Revelation 12 is a woman, Israel. Her child will be Satan's ultimate nemesis, Christ Himself, the grand hero of the end times drama.
Now we notice the great dragon. Here's the next "great" in Revelation 12:9, "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". The first thing you notice about the Scripture and its instruction to us about Satan is that Satan has a downward path. He comes from heaven to the earth, from the earth to the bottomless pit, and from the bottomless pit to the lake of fire - never up, always down. By the way, if you get involved with him, that's where you're going too. He takes everybody with him that direction. He has a sense of gravity. The pull of gravity is the pull of Satan: down, down, down. Never up, always down.
And the 9th verse here in the 12th chapter of Revelation perhaps gives us the greatest succinct description of Satan you will find anyplace in the Bible. If you look for key verses about key things, this is one you don't want to miss. Listen to what this verse says, "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". He is called the great dragon, the old serpent, the devil, Satan, and the deceiver of the whole world in one verse. Don't get the impression that this means he's an ugly creature. When we say "dragon", he has a dragon heart. But the Bible says he's a creature of light.
You know, I grew up in the generation when people thought the devil had a pitchfork, and he wore red clothing, and he had these things sticking out of the top of his head. And I've always thought, "How would he tempt anybody? You'd see him coming a mile away. Here comes the devil, you know. Here he comes". No, he's not like that at all. He has an evil dragon serpent heart, but the Bible says he's a creature of light created in beautiful light to be attractive to those whom he tempts. Literally, the word "devil" that describes him here in this verse means "slanderer".
Do you know what Satan does now? He has an audience in heaven, and he goes into heaven and into the courtroom of heaven, and he defames us before Christ. He's like a corrupt prosecuting attorney. He tries to condemn us and destroy our reputation before the judge of all the earth. And the final phrase used in verse 9 to describe the devil is that he deceives the whole world. And according to the apostle Paul, he's still doing that today. Do you know that the greatest thing about Satan is his deception? Have you ever noticed that when you get involved with him in sin, it always looks good at the front end and ends up bad at the back end. His promises always greater than he delivers.
Somebody says, "You have your right to choose your kicks, but you can't control the kickbacks". Satan always pays his dues. He gets you up front with all of his promises, and before you know it, it's down, down, down. He's the great deceiver. Paul wrote to the Corinthians these words. He said, "Whose minds the God of this age has blinded", the God of this age is Satan, "lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them". The Bible says that Satan's determination is to blind us so we can't see the gospel.
I oftentimes preach the gospel, and I try to tell people how much Jesus loves them, how much God wants them to be a part of His forever family, and they sit there and don't do anything, and I wonder, "How could they hear that and not want to know God"? Well, you forget there's another force at work, and that force is the deceiver, who's reminding them of the things they need to do after church and the reason why they shouldn't contribute to this and why they shouldn't listen, and before you know it, he's got them, and they're off on their way, and they have not heard the gospel and responded to it.
Notice his power. Verse 3, "...behold, a great, fiery red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems on his heads". Now, again, in the symbolism of Revelation, this is not hard to figure out. Seven is the perfect number. When you hear of somebody having seven heads, that's about their intelligence. Satan is a very intelligent being. The Bible refers to him as being cunning and scheming. Notice in verse 4, Satan not only has power; he has some partners. It says in verse 4, "His tail drew a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth".
Now, the stars represent angels. And the Bible says that when Satan was thrown out of heaven, he didn't come alone. He took 1/3 of the angels with him. Is it any wonder that he's as effective as he is? He's got a lot of helpers. His angels are not good. They're filled with the same hatred for God and for His people that Satan has, and they help him do his work. Now, what is Satan's purpose? We've seen his power, and we've met his partners. In verse 4, we learn of his purpose, "And the dragon stood before the woman who was ready to give birth, to devour her Child as soon as it was born".
Did everybody get that? Who is the woman? Israel. Who is the child? Jesus. And what does the dragon want to do with Jesus? Destroy him. When God told Satan in the Garden of Eden that, "The seed of the woman will crush your head", Satan heard it. And he began his campaign to eradicate that promised seed. Knowing from prophecy that the promised one would spring from Israel, Satan did everything he could do to keep that nation from ever coming into existence at all. He incited Esau to try to kill Jacob, who was the father of Israel. And when that failed, he incited Pharaoh to murder all the Jewish boys in Egypt. Had either Jacob or Moses not survived, the nation of Israel would never have existed.
When the prophesied child was finally born, Satan instilled fear and hatred into King Herod. Do you remember what he did? He had all the babies in Bethlehem murdered. But the sovereign hand of God intervened and directed Joseph to go to Egypt with his family, sparing Jesus' life. And on a Friday afternoon, Satan saw the fruition of his long campaign when the Son of God succumbed to a bloody death on a Roman cross. And when Christ's mangled body was wrapped in linen, embalmed in spices, and sealed in a sepulchre, Satan thought he had won. But God had purposed for this promised child to rescue and rule the world, and God never changes his purposes. And on the third day, he raised Jesus from the dead, and Satan was cooked. He was done.
The great dragon. And now we read in verses 7 and 8 about the great war, "And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer". These verses do not refer to just one battle but to a long war with many battles on many fronts. These include the battle between Michael and Satan, the battle between the Satan-led angels and the God-led angels, and the battle between Satan-led and God-led people. The Book of Revelation tells us that a final battle between these fierce enemies is to occur in the end times.
And perhaps you were thinking, "Come on, Jeremiah. I thought Satan was judged at the cross. Why is he doing so well today? Doesn't look to me like he's dead. Looks to me like he's having a heyday among God's people and in the world and in Israel especially". And that's correct. He was defeated on the cross. The Bible says in Hebrews 2:14, "Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil". When Christ died on the cross, the devil was doomed. He was judged. So why does he seem to be so active and winning today?
I know that's a hard question, and I'm not gonna dodge it. I'm gonna try to help you understand it as I do. The answer is that, legally, Calvary was Satan's complete undoing. Like any legal action, however, the decision has to be enforced. In our nation's court's today, convicted murderers are seldom executed until years after their conviction. The ultimate victory has been won at Calvary, but it won't be totally implemented until some point in the future. In the meantime, we know that Satan is no longer able to do what he wants to do, and when we give him an edge in our life, we're doing something very silly. He doesn't have power over us.
Satan is not the ultimate force. The Bible says, "...greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world". Satan does not have the power over your life. Satan is a doomed, judged enemy. His judgment was at the cross. It will be carried out ultimately when he is thrown into the lake of fire forever and ever and ever, but between now and then, his presence is still here without any ultimate power but with all kinds of ability to disturb and discourage and distress us. Can I get a witness?
How many of you know Satan is alive and well? He was working in your life and in mine this last week, if we're honest. It's interesting to me that the way we enforce his judgment now is through prayer. I believe this with all of my life. When we pray and we pray against the enemy, we enforce the judgment that was passed on him at the cross. We can pray that into operation even today before it is finally completed. When I pray and say, "Lord, I'm praying against the enemy today. Defeat him in his every attempt to destroy this marriage or to hurt this family or to ruin this organization or to sow discontent in this church".
When we pray against him, we help to enforce the victory that was won at the cross until it's ultimately carried out in its completion. The Bible tells us, listen to this, that, "the weapons of our warfare are not carnal", we don't have carnal weapons. That means fleshly weapons, like things you'd hold in your hands. "But our weapons are mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, for casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ".
Ladies and gentlemen, we are not powerless even in this intermission between the judgment and its fruition. We have been given everything we need. The Bible says, "Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the evil one and having done all, to stand". James 4:7, "Resist the devil and he will flee from you". The great war. Now the great wrath. Revelation 12 says, "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".
When we get to heaven, we're going to be made perfect in holiness, and the devil will never be able to accuse us of anything else. We'll be beyond accusation, perfect as Jesus is. But heaven's purification without the devil is earth's pollution, 'cause he's coming down here, y'all. And I'm happy for heaven. I'm sad for Earth. And he's going to have fury like you would never know. The Bible says, "In those last days when Satan is on this earth, he will be furious in his attacks because he knows that his time is short".
Satan knows he's been judged, and he knows the sentence is gonna be carried out in a short time, so he's packing everything he can into the interim to do as much damage to the cause of Christ as he can and especially to the people of Israel, "To the woman who brought forth the male child". And his assault is aggravated. Verse 12 says, "He will come having great wrath". Satan's assault against the Jewish people will be marked by the desecration of the temple and the all-out persecution of the Jewish people. It's an anti-Semitic assault, if you will.
Revelation 12:13 and 15 says, "When the dragon saw that he had been cast to the earth", now, watch this, "He persecuted the woman who gave birth to the child". who is the woman that gave birth to the child? Israel. So stop for a moment and look up here, you guys. Do you now understand what's going on over there? Have you ever stopped to think about this? Here's this little nation that's in a postage stamp piece of property no bigger than New Jersey, and everybody talks about them every day, and all the nations around them are trying to wipe them off the face of this earth.
Is that not strange? Why would they do that? Have you ever thought, "Why don't you just leave those poor people alone? They're good people. They do good things. They're growing crops. They're feeding the Middle East. Why don't you leave them alone"? They won't leave them alone, because underneath and behind all of this persecution of the Jewish people is the enemy of the world, the old serpent, the devil, the dragon, Satan himself. What does it say? His attempt now is to persecute the woman who gave birth to the male child. Don't forget that. It is also an angry assault.
Notice verse 17. The last verse in Revelation 12 says that the dragon is enraged to the point of making war, now, watch carefully this language, "With those within the nation of Israel who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ". This is not a reference to the Jews in general but to some specific Jews. Who are the people who keep the commandments and the testimony of Jesus Christ? Well, we know some of them, don't we? The martyrs, the two witnesses, 144.000.
All the messianic Jews who live in Israel, they're part of that group, and the Bible says that not only does Satan want to take out Israel, he specifically wants to take out the Christians who are in Israel, the people who are obeying the word of God and giving the testimony of Jesus Christ, so there's this great global attack against the Jewish nation but an even stronger attack against those within Judaism who have embraced Jesus Christ as their messiah and are living for the real Savior of the world. An angry assault, and Satan is going to be angry with these faithful followers for one reason: because they have aligned themselves with his greatest enemy, Jesus Christ, the son of God.
One of these days, the heavens are gonna open, and the trumpets are gonna sound, and we're gonna hear the voice, and the Lord Jesus is gonna descend, and he's gonna take those who have put their trust in Him to heaven forever and ever. In the meantime, while the enemy is thrashing, we need to be doing our job preaching the gospel. Because once again, I want to remind you, we've already won the war. We should not be fighting this war as defeated ones but as victorious ones. We should be marching with our heads up high and our shoulders back and not being always the brunt of everything but being the thrust of everything. Because we are victorious. We are victors.