Robert Jeffress - Slaying The Great Red Dragon
Hi, I'm Robert Jeffress and welcome again to "Pathway to Victory". The classic story of the struggle between good and evil is as old as time itself. It began when an esteemed angel in heaven decided to rebel against God. And ever since that time, God and Satan have been locked in a cosmic battle of epic proportions. But the Bible teaches that this war will eventually come to an end, and that's the moment we're going to witness in today's study of Revelation. My message is titled "Slaying the Great Red Dragon" on today's edition of "Pathway to Victory".
God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life. Satan hates you and has a terrible plan to destroy your life. I hope you'll remember both of those statements, but especially the last one. Satan absolutely hates you and has a terrible plan to destroy your life. Jesus referred to him as a thief in John 10, who comes to kill, steal and destroy. If Satan cannot rob you of eternal life, by keeping you from trusting in Christ the Savior, he'll try to destroy your dreams. He'll try to destroy your relationships, he'll try to destroy your influence for God on this earth, he'll try to destroy your joy. He wants to destroy everything important to you, and he has a plan to carry out that destruction.
Now, Satan is a powerful adversary. We read about that in 1 Peter 5. And yet, as powerful as he is, his power is restrained right now by God. He can't do whatever he wants to. He's limited in his power. Somebody said Satan is like a junkyard dog on a very long chain. His power to destroy is considerable, but it's also limited. But one day, during the last three and a half years of earth's history, that chain is going to be taken off Satan. He is going to be free to do whatever he wants to do on this earth. And the earth is going to experience evil, like it has never experienced before. He will accomplish that evil through a puppet, a human puppet he has, we call the antichrist. In fact, that future time of unrestraint is something Paul prophesied about in 2 Thessalonians 2:6-8. And you know what restraints him now, so that in time he will be revealed. Talking about the antichrist empowered by Satan. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work.
We see it at work right now, only he who now restrains, that is the Holy Spirit, will do so until he, the Holy Spirit, is taken out of the way. That's at the rapture of the church when believers, possessing the Holy Spirit, are taken out of the way. Then, verse eight says, that lawless one, the antichrist, will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of his mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of his coming. And that is what we're going to look at today, those final three and a half years of time when Satan is completely unrestrained. All of the chaos on planet earth, during those final three and a half years, is ultimately traceable to what's happening in heaven, a giant war that is going on between God and Satan. And then in verses 13-17 we're going to see the consequences on earth of that cosmic struggle in heaven.
Now, first of all, let's look at the panorama in verses one to six. Look at verses one and two of Revelation 12, "A great sign appeared in heaven," John said. "A woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head her crown of 12 stars, and she was with child". It's very clear, this woman represents Israel. And it says in verse two she was with child, a woman in labor. You know, the church is never described as a married woman or a woman in labor, she is the bride of Christ. But here, Israel is a woman who's about to give birth, and she cried out being in labor and pain to give birth. As we'll see, in a moment, the child is Jesus Christ. This is the sign of the woman. There was a second sign, verses three to six, the sign of the dragon.
Look at verse three, then another sign appeared in heaven, and behold, a great red dragon, having seven heads and 10 horns, and on his heads were seven diadems. And his, that is the dragon's, tail swept away a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman, Israel, who was about to give birth, so that when she gave birth, he might devour the child. Verse five, and Israel gave birth to a son, a male child who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron, and her child was caught up to God and to his throne. That's a reference to the ascension of Christ. Isn't it interesting that the whole story of Jesus, his birth, his perfect life, his death, his resurrection, his ascension, are told in one half of one sentence? Why is more attention not given to those things? Because that's not the focus of this chapter. This is about the struggle between God and Satan.
So when the dragon was not successful, notice what happens, verse six, in between the end of verse five and verse six in all that white space there, are thousands of years. Because John fast forwards thousands of years, since the ascension of Christ into the future, and specifically the final three and a half years of earth's history. Then the woman, who is the woman? Israel. Then Israel fled into the wilderness where she had a place prepared by God, so that she would be nourished there for 1.260 days. You know how long 1.260 days is? 42 months. You know how long 42 months is? Three and a half years. Every time in Revelation, you find those descriptions for this final period of time, 1.260 years, 42 months, three and a half years, 1.260 days. And that's what you find here. And verse six is a fast forwarding to the final three and a half years, where the dragon is pursuing Israel and she flees into the wilderness for three and a half years. And it's going to be a time of persecution for Israel.
Now, that is a panorama of the whole cosmic struggle. When we come to the next verse, in verse seven, John is going to zero in on those final three and a half years by, first of all, looking at it from a heavenly viewpoint. What's happening in heaven during these final three and a half years? There is a war in heaven. Look at verse seven, and there was a war in heaven. Michael and his angels waging war with the dragon, that is Satan. The dragon and his angels waged war, and they were not strong enough. And there was no longer a place found for them, that is Satan and his angels, in heaven.
Now, Michael is the chief Archangel. He's the only Archangel named in the Bible. He's also known as the patron saint of Israel, the unique protector of Israel. I think, very logically, as the Archangel, he's the one who inherited Lucifer's position as chief of staff, after Lucifer was cast out of heaven. We don't know exactly what happened, but there was a war in heaven, and they lost, Satan and his demons, and look at the result, verse nine. And the great dragon was thrown down. Underline that, he was thrown down. The serpent of old, who has called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world, he was, there you get it again, thrown down, and his angels were thrown down with him. This is what you call a real throw down that takes place here. This is an ultimate, final defeat here. He throws down the great dragon.
Folks, we've got to realize, we're in a war, we're in a war. We are one army, a Christian army. And we cannot do Satan's work in accusing the brethren. That's what Satan does. He accuses the brethren day and night. But now, the accuser of the brethren has been thrown down to earth. And that's good news for heaven, but it's bad news for the earth. Look at verses 10 to 12, woe on earth. Then I heard a loud voice in heaven, I think this is the tribulation saints, those who were martyred for their faith, in heaven saying, "Now the salvation and the power in the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, he who accuses them before God, day and night". But fortunately, Satan isn't the only one in heaven. Hebrews 7:25 says we have an advocate who makes intercession for us day and night.
In 1 John 2:1, John says, "Brethren, I've written these things to you, so that you may not sin. But if you do sin, you have an advocate, a lawyer, in heaven, who is Jesus Christ the righteous". Aren't you glad we've got an advocate in heaven for us? That's who we have, Jesus Christ the Lord. He accuses them before God, day and night. Thank God he has been thrown down. Verse 11, and they, that is the tribulation saints, overcame him because of the blood of the lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life, even when faced with death. He's talking about the tribulation saints, and he says, "And they overcame Satan".
I came across a quote this week, I hope you'll write this down, "Every time you choose to suffer, instead of being disloyal to God, that represents the defeat of Satan. Every time you choose to suffer, instead of being disloyal to God, represents the defeat of Satan". That was true of the tribulation saints, they are overcomers. Verse 12, "For this reason, rejoice, o heavens and you who dwell in them". The throw down of Satan is wonderful news for those who live in heaven or will live in heaven. "But woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, knowing that he only has a short time". It's good news for heaven, it's terrible news for earth when Satan gets cast out of heaven for the final time, because now he knows his time is short. And that explains the final battle on earth, which is the focus of verses 13 to 17. What is it that causes the antichrist, halfway through the tribulation, to suddenly break his covenant with Israel? What's happening on earth is a result of what's happening in heaven. It's that rebellion in heaven and the throwing down of Satan that results in antichrist turning up the heat on Israel.
Look at verse 13. And when the dragon, Satan, saw that he was thrown down to earth, he persecuted the woman, who is that? Israel, who gave birth to the male child. But the two wings of the great eagle were given to Israel, so that she could fly into the wilderness to her place, where she was nourished for a time, times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent. There's another illustration of three and a half years. There's going to be a persecution for three and a half years. Look at verse 15, and the serpent poured water like a river out of his mouth after the woman, so that he might cause her to be swept away with the flood. I don't think this is literal water. Again, this is a sign, and in the Bible a flood represents judgment, persecution. Verse 16, but the earth helped Israel and the earth opened its mouth and drank up the river of persecution, which the dragon poured out of his mouth.
So the dragon was enraged with the woman, and went off to make war with the rest of her children who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus. When the antichrist sees that he's unsuccessful in gaining access to those who are seeking shelter in the wilderness, it only intensifies his hatred for the rest of a woman's children, that is the Jewish Christians who keep the commandments of the Lord. This is a reference, probably, to the 144.000 Jewish evangelists, as well as those Jews who are saved during the tribulation period of time. What principles can we derive from this that will help us through this next week and through the rest of our life? As this battle only intensifies, the closer we get to the end. There are two statements I want you to write down, two promises you can cling to. First of all, God never forgets his people. God never forgets his people.
We see in these final three and a half years that God's elect are going to be protected. It doesn't mean they escape problems, doesn't mean they escape death, but they overcome by being welcomed into heaven. God, won't forget his people, Israel, and he won't forget you either. If you are a child of God, nothing can separate you from his love and his protection. I think about the close of Romans chapter eight, my favorite chapter in the Bible. I think of the way the living Bible puts it, Paul wrote, "For I'm convinced that nothing can ever separate us from the love of God. Death can't and life can't. The angels won't and all the powers of hell itself will not keep God's love away. Or wherever we are, high above the sky or in the deepest ocean, our fears for today, or our worries about tomorrow, nothing will ever separate us from the love of God, demonstrated by our Lord Jesus Christ when he died for us". Isn't that a great promise? That's the promise, God never, never forgets his people.
The second truth that we can hang on to is this, Satan's ultimate defeat is certain. His ultimate defeat is certain. Satan is kind of like a convict on the run right now, who knows he's going to get caught, but he's just trying to wreak as much havoc as he can, until the time that he's finally apprehended. The same is true about Satan. He was defeated at the cross of Jesus Christ, his capture is inevitable. But until that time, remember this, Satan has no more power over your life than you choose to allow him to have. The power, the grip, you think he has on your life right now, is imaginary. Neil Anderson has written a great book in which he describes how he came to realize that truth. This is a great story, listen to it.
"When I was a boy on the farm, my dad, my brother and I would visit our neighbor's farm to share produce and labor. The neighbor had a yappy little dog that scared the socks off me. When it came barking around the corner, my dad and brother stood their ground, but I ran. Guess who the dog chased. I escaped to the top of our pickup truck while the little dog yapped at me from the ground. Everyone except me could see that this little dog had no power over me, except when I gave in. Furthermore, it had no inherent power to throw me up on the pickup. It was my belief that put me up there. Because I chose to believe a lie, I essentially allowed that dog to use my mind, emotions and my will, my muscles, all of which were motivated by fear. Finally, I gathered up my courage, jumped off the pickup and kicked a small rock at the mutt. And low and behold, it ran". Now that's Satan. He has no more power over you, than that little mutt does, and every time you stand your ground and say no to him, you lessen the grip you think he has on your life. James said it this way in James 4:7, "Resist the devil and he will", what? "He will flee from you".