In almost any good movie, the villain plays a vital role. Without a strong villain, the hero has nothing to triumph over. In Revelation 12-13, the villain is pictured as very strong and terrifying. But unlike most good movies, we know that the ending of the war in the bible is anticlimactic in nature. When God comes and reveals Himself at the end, all His “mighty” enemies will be defeated immediately – there is no great struggle between them. But while it is anticlimactic, this ending is almost always the assumption of a good movie – the antagonist will always be defeated. This certainty of a happy ending provides consolation to the people of God, who often experience difficulties and challenges because of His name today. Revelation gives us a broader understanding of God’s perspective and what is really going on in relation to the opposition that the people of God experience in this world. We also know that these challenges are still happening, because ultimately God allowed them to happen. God has also said that “if they persecute me, they will also persecute you”, so this persecution that the people of God experience today is inevitable.
This truth has been established since Genesis 3:15 “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” While this verse from Genesis gives us a hint that at the end God and His people will prevail, but there will be enmity between the serpent’s offspring and the woman’s offspring – God’s people.
Revelation 12 provides two signs (out of the only three signs in the book of revelation), a woman and a red dragon, and they can be considered as the centre of the whole book. Here, the same warfare between the woman and the dragon are depicted from two different perspectives, verse 1-6 from the earth’s perspective and verse 7-9 from the heaven’s perspective. We know that at the end Satan will lose, but before that happens, he will mislead many people. This is a warning for us, that while God promised to protect us, there will be people who confess to be Christians but are now or eventually be misled by Satan.
One of the ways for Satan to mislead us is by distracting us so we lose focus on what’s important in our life. An example of a great distraction in today’s world is the use of social media which can easily take away most of our precious time from what really matters. God wants us to be faithful, live a selfless life, and pay the price to live according to His will. This is difficult to do if we are greatly distracted by other things in this world. We can only beat Satan by depending on God, through the lamb’s blood and faith in Him who died for us.
In relation to the suffering of God’s people, Revelation 13:10 calls us to have the endurance and to have faith: “If anyone is to be taken captive, to captivity he goes; if anyone is to be slain with the sword, with the sword must he be slain. Here is a call for the endurance and faith of the saints.”. Revelation 13 talks about how the red dragon will use certain people and the systems of the world to intimidate and persecute Christians. Systems of the world can refer to governments or rules and laws in places we live in. The two “beasts” mentioned in Revelation 13 represent fake prophets who will try to trick and deceive the people of God. We need to be aware that Satan will always use enticing distractions and ideas that for a moment will appear interesting or profitable, but in fact are counterfeits.
May we be reminded by Revelation 12-13 to stay awake and be faithful in following God and to do His will. While facing persecutions and challenges in our lives, we are called to endure and depend on His guidance and protection. We know that there will be a complete victory and consolation at the end. Revelation 12:10 says “And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death. Therefore, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!””