In Revelation 12 we see, as it were, a glimpse into the spiritual history of God’s people. At the very start of the chapter, we are introduced to a woman. She is clothed with the sun, the moon is under her feet, and she wears a crown of 12 stars. She is, in other words, gloriously attired. She rules on God’s behalf; creation is under her feet. Who does she represent? I believe she stands for the people of God: 12 stars making up her crown representing the 12 tribes of Israel and also the 12 apostles. She is the church. She is the chosen race of God.
And she is pregnant. The history of salvation pivots on the birth of her child – the birth of Christ. Even before his birth, we are told that there is a dragon whose one desire is to destroy the child. This, we’re told is Satan. He is merely waiting his arrival in weakness – in the expectation of using that moment of weakness to utterly destroy him. This is what we read in the gospels – and not just in the Christmas story. While Jesus – the Christ – walked among us, Satan tried to destroy him. Consider the way that he tempted Jesus – seeking to turn him away from the Father as he had done with humanity at the start. Consider the way that Satan sought to destroy Jesus by having him executed – not realising that in the very act of execution the kingdom of God would come!
At some point – and I would argue that point was the death and resurrection of Christ – Satan had a place in heaven. I know that this sounds strange to us – but that seems to be what the Bible taught. Certainly the book of Job knows of this too. Satan’s position in heaven was one of accuser. His job was to act as prosecutor against us – to bear witness to our faults before our God.
But Satan wanted more. He wanted to be both judge and prosecutor. He did not want God to reign. He did not want God’s kingdom to come – the kingdom made possible by grace. The kingdom where all the citizens have a new heart, and are like the Son of God. The kingdom where all seek after God’s own heart – the kingdom where there would be no need for a prosecutor, for all would serve the Lord God wholeheartedly.
And so there was a battle. A battle between the forces of God, led by the archangel Michael, and the forces of Satan. And Satan lost. Jesus, he who is the very Son of God – God himself – conquered death. The kingdom was inaugurated. Satan was cast down.
And this is where we know live. The kingdom has come in Christ resurrected. But it has not yet been fully consummated. We await the return of the King. And until then, the defeated Satan is stranded here on earth. For those who are in Christ, there can be no accusation. Our defender – Christ Jesus himself – his blood and our trust and testimony of him – means that we have already been declared righteous by God our judge.
Naturally, Satan isn’t happy with things as they are. He stands with all of his wrath against the church – against the people of God, all who keep God’s commandments and maintain their testimony for Jesus. He will try to destroy us. But, we can be sure that God himself is our refuge. He cares for us. Ultimately, nothing Satan can do can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus; nothing can snatch us from his tender hands.
I need to remember that Satan is a defeated foe; that there is safety in God my rock. And I need to remind myself that because of that I need not love my life to the point that I am afraid to die. Christ has already defeated that enemy: am I willing to put my life on the line for the sake of the gospel – like Jesus did?