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The Primary Players

Scripture: Revelation 12:1-17
Date: 12/20/2003 
This story is about the primary players in the great cosmic conflict between good and evil. There are lessons we can learn from references in Scripture about a woman and a serpent. The woman represents the church and the serpent is Satan. Seven miracle babies in the Bible are also spoken of as types of Christ.
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Note: This is an unedited, verbatim transcript of the live broadcast.

This morning I would like to deliver a message that is the commingling of something that is both seasonal, prophetic and hopefully redemptive. And the title of the message this morning is The Primary Players. We're going to be looking at a theme, and it will all be centered around Revelation 12, that deals with the primary players in this great battle that we can see acted out in our world and in our hearts between the forces of good and evil. I thought maybe I'd begin with a little amazing fact. I think most of us have heard of Cleopatra. Every now and then we run into somebody who thinks they were Cleopatra in another life. But one of the things that I thought was interesting, you realize she was the last king, so to speak, or Pharaoh, queen of Egypt. She began to reign somewhere between the age of 14 and 18. They're not exactly sure. She was supposed to be traditionally a very beautiful woman. Had all of the cosmetics of Egypt at her disposal. Sometimes they'll say, “Well, that woman looks like $1 million,” and they forget it costs $1 million to keep her looking that way. But she was in that category.

Had a relationship not only with Julius Caesar, but also Marc Anthony. When she realized that her kingdom at her autonomy was going to be lost should call for her servants to bring a viper hidden in a basket of figs. And this specific brand of viper was supposed to have a painless bite and a very quick death. And she reached into the basket, tradition tells us, so that she could be bit by the viper and basically kill herself. And then supposedly her servants also took hold of the viper, so that they could follow her and serve her in the next life as well.

It's interesting that you look at some of the legends and stories of history; this theme of a woman and a serpent keeps popping up. I don't know if you realize that the Bible begins with the story of a contest, a battle between a woman and a serpent. And the book of Revelation ends with the serpent making war on the woman. We're going to look at some of the lessons that are taught, both prophetically, and the redemptive lessons. And I think you'll be surprised how it even ties in to this time of year, as we consider those things. To begin with, remember in Genesis it tells us, there was a prophecy made that the woman would crush the serpent's head, but the serpent would bite the heel of the seed of the woman. Actually, it's the seed of the woman that crushes the serpent's head. And then you get back into Revelation and you see that war is continuing. I'll submit to you that war has been going on from the days of Adam and Eve to the present day and it will be the core of the final conflict in the last days.

Turn with me in your Bibles, and I'll do my best to read through without too much comment. We're going to read Revelation 12. And it deals with this woman that is seen as standing on the moon, clothed with the sun, stars above her head. Revelation 12:1-17. “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 she being with child, cried out in labor and pain to give birth. And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great, fiery red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads. And he drew a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was ready to give birth, to devour her Child as soon as it was born. And she bore a male Child who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron. And her Child was caught up to God and to His throne. Then the woman fled into the wilderness, where she had a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there one thousand two hundred and sixty days. And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they did not prevail, nor was there place found for them in heaven any longer. So that great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the old Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, “Now salvation, strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God, day and night, has been cast down. And they overcame by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives unto the death. 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 his time is short.” That when the devil saw that he had been cast to the earth, he persecuted the woman who gave birth to the male Child. But the woman was given two wings of an eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness to her place, where she is nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent. So the serpent spewed water out of his mouth like a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away by the flood. But the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed up the flood that the dragon had spewed out of his mouth. And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring,” the remnant of her seed, “that keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus.

All right, well, we've identified the primary players, the characters, in this drama. But you'll find in this story everybody's involved. The story talks about, you. Sometimes I'll give a friend of book. And I want them to read the book. And I'll say, “I'm not sure, you might be in there somewhere,” discovering is that they're more inclined to read the book they think they are in it. I usually tease when I say that. But it's true. There was the author I heard about. Whenever he’d write a book, and he'd want someone to read it, he'd say, “You’re mentioned in one of the pages in there.” And they’d find that people would read the book, because they want to see where they're in it. Be honest, when you're in a group picture and you see it for the first time, who do you look for in the picture? Well, I thought I'd let you know right now; you're in the story. And that's true. The Devil’s in the story. Christ is in the story. And you're in the story. All the primary players are in here, with some additional characters that will explain.

First of all, in chapter 12 it begins by picturing this woman. And we want to know who is the woman? She's standing upon the moon, she's clothed with the sun, a garland of 12 stars above her head, and we believe this woman represents the church. She represents the word of God. The Bible says that you're the light of the world. God's Word is a light. Our mission is to deliver that light. You notice the light is the light that is natural: the sun, the moon, and the stars. This is the light that God made, not contrasted with the woman and Revelation 17. She's got all artificial illumination: gold, and pearls, and costly array. But this woman is clothed with the light of God. Her beauty is a divine beauty. It's a divine light. It's not artificial light.

You remember perhaps, in the Bible tells us that in Genesis 37 Joseph had a dream. And in one of Joseph's dreams he said, “I saw the sun and the moon and the 11 stars bow down to me.” Joseph was a type of Christ in the story. And here it was a symbol of the church. His father and mother and his brothers bowed to him. They were the church back then. That was Israel, God's people. And so this is a symbol for God’s church. Beginning in the Old Testament, and it carries on beyond that. You realize, God had a church in the Old Testament. Some people think the church was born after the resurrection. Well, the New Testament church was born at Pentecost. But God had a church in the Old Testament. He's had his people all through the ages. Amen? And so that's what it represents.

Notice something else here. It says that this woman is pregnant. One of the reasons I am reluctant sometimes to use these artists renderings, very seldom do they depict the woman as pregnant. Like that one I just showed you. I’ve got one later I’ll show you where she was pregnant. She's going to bring forth a man-child later. And what the church is to do is to help people experience that new birth of Christ. Even when you sing that song O Little Town of Bethlehem, the hymn writers understood this concept. Where it says “be born in us today,” any of you remember that line? “Be born in us today.” This was all symbolized in that. Now is she having an easy labor, that we read about there and Revelation 12? Or is she travailing? Do you notice, one of the curses that was pronounced on woman in the beginning? Did you read that there in Genesis 3:16? “And to the woman He said, I will greatly multiply your sorrow in conception.” Now conception is different than birth. Everyone know what conception is? That's morning sickness, is what conception is. “And in sorrow you'll bring forth children.”

Have you ever noticed that people often go through a struggle before deliverance? There's labor before liberation. Before the freedom of the slaves was there labor? The bloodiest war in North America. Before the children of Israel came out of slavery was there labor? Were there plagues? Was their strain and stress? Were they pursued? Before the new birth, is there a struggle? When Jesus cast out devils, did they come easy? Did they hang out a sign on the doorknob that said, “Make up room early. I'm out.” Or do they turn it over and say, “Do not disturb”? They don't want to come out, do they? Have you noticed that whenever Christ cast out devils they convulsed their victims? There's labor before deliverance. Before our world is delivered, the Bible says the whole world labors and travails together in pain. Is it going to convulse before Jesus comes back and we’re liberated? It's going to be the greatest time of trouble. And so we see that there is this; before the deliverance of the man-child, Christ, there is this labor. There is this intensity. So we know whom this woman is. She represents the church. “You are the light of the world.”

Now I need to pause here. And I don't mean to be critical, but it is important. A good part of the Christian world believes this woman in Revelation 12 is none other than Mary herself. Now I do believe that Mary is a symbol of the woman in Revelation 12. But I don't believe the woman is Mary. [discussion of picture on screen] She’s standing on the moon. It doesn't come out well in this picture. I can see it, though. There are 12 stars, around her head and she’s shining like the sun. Now I've got a problem with that. Mary may have been one of the many symbols of that woman, but Mary is not the woman you see in Revelation 12. I'll explain that a little better as we go on. And a lot of my dear friends from other faiths that embrace this, I have to labor with them. For one thing, there's nothing in the Bible that tells us that we should deify or pray to Mary.

Another thing, is if it's Mary how could it also represent the Old Testament church all through the ages? Beyond that, the Bible does not tell us that Mary was born of a virgin. You realize that we believe that Jesus was born of a virgin, right? Merry was a virgin. But there are some churches that teach Mary was born of an immaculate conception as well. And they go on to teach that she was assumed to heaven. Well let's just say it. The Catholic Church teaches that, right? She was assumed to heaven without dying. The Bible doesn't teach these things. The Bible does not teach we’re supposed to pray to Mary. And so the concept that this woman and Revelation 12 is Mary, it destroys the prophecy.

And if you have doubts about that, let me just give you a couple of quotes. In the book Glories of Mary written by the catholic writer [Leurigi?]. “Whoever asks and wishes to obtain graces without the intercession of Mary is attempting to fly without wings.” And furthermore, this is a quote from Pope John Paul II. He came and he was dedicating an audience to Mary in one of the shrines to Mary. He urged all Christians to accept Mary as their mother. He noted the words spoken by Jesus, “Behold, thy mother,” when He was hanging upon the cross. Pope John Paul II underlined that the history of Christian piety teaches that Mary is the path that leads to Christ. To see why it's dangerous not to know this woman was not Mary? Because they're so many Christians who deify Mary. They almost make it a holy quartet by putting Mary on the same plateau as Christ; that she’s the intercessor. “Mary is the path that leads to Christ and that filial devotion to her does not at all diminish intimacy with Jesus, but rather increases it.” You want to increase intimacy with Jesus you need to have devotion for Mary. He concluded by asking all Christians to make room for Mary in their daily lives, acknowledging her providential role in the path of salvation. I don't find the Bible teaching that. And I think that's dangerous. So I just wanted to take a moment and separate these characters.

This woman is God's church, clothed with the sun, the moon, and the stars. The Bible does not say that Mary ascended to heaven. It does not say we should pray to Mary. We have one intercessor between God and man, that's Jesus Christ. If there's any other intercessor it’s the Holy Spirit, but it's not a mortal that were to pray to or through. So this woman, why 12 stars above the head? Above the head represents authority. In the Old Testament, well, we already know from Joseph’s dream it was his 12 brothers, 12 tribes of Israel. Israel also had 12 judges, leadership. And then you’ve got the apostles, 12 apostles. And even after Judas killed himself they replaced Judas, right? So that was the leadership of the church. That’s all that means. God’s always used the number 12 as a symbol for leadership of the church.

Standing on the moon. That’s the truth, the light of the Old Testament. Clothed with the sun. That’s the glory, the reality of the New Testament. But it’s God’s word is what is symbolized by this woman in the church. The word is the light that shines through you and me. We’re the church. We have no light of our own, but Christ’s word shines through us. You are the light of the world. Am I clear or did I take that too far?

Who’s the dragon? Well, we don’t have to guess about that. You read in verses 3-4, “another sign appeared in heaven; great fiery dragon.” And you can read then in verse 9, “So that great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old,” there’s the snake again, “called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world.” Now you know what’s interesting. My friend, Joe [Manescalco], who is a Christian artist, he traveled the world and took pictures of the religions and the art of different religions. And he found that a common theme that you will see in virtually every major pagan religion of the world is a serpent and they are often winged serpents. And sometimes they look more like dinosaurs than they do snakes, dragons.

First of all, I believe there were dinosaurs. I just don’t think they’re billions of years old. And you can’t help but wonder what that creature must have looked like that the devil spoke through. Whatever it is it’s extinct. You know, the fossils that they find of dragonflies, insects. I’m not talking about dragons now. Have wingspans of two feet. Everything was bigger back then. You know, they’ve got a beetle called the Bombardier Beetle that mingles two chemicals when it sprays, and the two chemicals burn. And some have speculated, some of these dinosaurs, we know so little about them because all we’ve got are their bones. We’ve got woolly mammoths that are caught in ice, but not the lizards. They all sank to the bottom and rotted. And all we’ve got is bones. Some have suggested that they may have even had the ability to breathe fire by combining two chemicals. I don’t know, but I thought it would keep you awake.

These symbols, the pterodactyls, they were reptiles that flew. Some of the ancients knew about that. Maybe they saw the same fossils. There are stories from before the flood that were passed on. But this dragon, this flying winged serpent could have been a beautiful creature. I know you ladies hate to admit it, but let’s face it; some of those snakes have beautiful patterns, right? I know most women think leopards have nice patterns, because they wear them. But some of the snakes had beautiful patterns. Can you imagine, try to cross a pterodactyl with a hummingbird, flying, beautiful iridescent, wrapping its tail around the tree and appearing to Eve. It's probably mesmerizing. And so that became, this flying reptile somehow became a symbol for the devil all through the ages because it was the first creature through which Satan spoke to the human race. And so obviously the image stuck. We don't need to guess who he is.

Now it goes on, and it tells us, what does the dragon want to do? He wants to devour the baby, but I'll get to that in just a minute. Let's talk about the baby. Who is the male child that this woman is bringing forth? It says, “She brought forth a male Child, who is to rule all nations with a rod of iron. And the child was caught up to God into His throne.” Do we have to guess who that was? Jesus always refers to Himself as the Son of Man. It Acts 7:56 when Stephen is dying he says, “Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!”

Who is this man-child that the church brought forth? You think about it, for 4,000 years of Old Testament history, every woman hoped that her baby was going to be the promised child. They knew that God would come to the earth in the form of a man. And I suppose that Mary [Eve?], she thought. Imagine how disappointed she was. She thought Cain was the one. They didn’t dream it would take so long. And every Jewish mother down through the ages was hoping that her baby would be the Messiah.

Now you've heard me make this speech before, some of you who attend here regularly, but it's so profound, I think, that it bears repeating. There are seven stories in the Bible of women who had miracle baby boys. They're always baby boys. They're never baby girls. And you help maintain them. The first three barren women that had miracle baby boys were the wives of the patriarchs: Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Abraham's wife, Sarah, could not have a baby. Through a miracle she got pregnant. [She was] past the age of bearing, been through menopause. She has a baby, names him laughter. And Isaac is a type of Christ. Abraham takes him up the mountain. He has the wood on his back. He’s a willing sacrifice as Jesus was. Father offering the son. All these miracle baby boys were types of Christ.

Then, who’s next? Abraham, Isaac; Isaac has twin boys: Jacob and Esau. And Jacob is the one who is the heir of the covenant. He’s a type of Christ. He is the father. And remember, Rebecca was barren. And it was a miracle through prayer and intercession. Twenty years she couldn’t have a baby. Finally, he prays, and you’ve got to be careful what you pray for, they have twins. So Jacob is the fulfillment of that. He has the 12 sons, just like Jesus had the 12 apostles.

Then you've got Rachel, Jacob's wife. Barren. Matter of fact, she takes them by the throat and says, “Give me children or I'll die.” And he says, “Wait, don't blame me. This is in God's hands.” But through intervention, she finally has her first son, Joseph. Is Joseph a type of Christ? Sold by his brothers for the price of a slave, and ends up forgiving them and saving the whole world because of what he did. And he suffered for their sin. Blood covered robe is brought back to Jacob to cover their sin. And it's the bloodstained robe. [There is] a great, great symbol of Jesus in the life of Joseph.

We've got Hannah. She was barren. She prays. Her adversary, another woman, provoked her. [There are] two women in Revelation. She, through prayer, is given Samuel. Samuel means God hears. He's a type of Christ. Samuel was the judge, the high priest, and the prophet of Israel. Is Jesus our Judge? Is He our High Priest? Is He our Prophet?

And then you’ve got the story of the Shunamite woman. I sort of regret that we don't know her name. She's just called a great woman of Shunam. And she invites the prophet to stay in her upper room, just as the church should have Jesus in our upper room, right? And through a miracle she has a son. Her son dies while working in the field with his father. Didn’t Jesus say the field is the world and didn’t He die for us? And then that boy’s resurrected. I mean, that doesn’t happen that often. That’s an obvious symbol of Jesus, right?

And then you've got Samson. Samson’s mother was barren. We don't know her name. We know her husband’s name was Manoah, but it just calls her Manoah’s wife. And I regret that, but I'm not responsible. So don't blame me. We just know that her name was Mrs. Manoah. And she has this miracle child, and Samson's a type of Christ. And people sometimes struggle with that. “I mean, wasn't he a bachelor? Just running around and getting in trouble? And how could he be a type of Christ?” Well, first of all, one of the last acts of his life is to stretch out his arms and to willingly die to defend God's people from their enemies. And he's mentioned in Hebrews that he will be saved.

Then you get to the New Testament and you have John the Baptist, who is the greatest prophet. And he's the last miracle baby until Jesus comes. And so you got these seven miracle babies that lead up to Christ. But you notice that they're all in the Old Testament. Even technically John the Baptist is an Old Testament character because Christ has not sealed the new covenant yet with His blood. Have you ever thought of it that way? Or you could say the Old Testament dispensation, if you want to use that word. As they've got this theme of these women, and these miracle baby boys all through the Bible, who are all types of Christ, who would be the one who would deliver the world from the persecution of the Dragon.

Now, first the Dragon wants to devour the man-child as soon as it's born. You know, we came back from Korea, and we were there at the borders of North and South Korea. And the government of North Korea has been largely influenced by China, as I think we all know. China has a birth limit of one child per family. But because of the patriarchal nature of their culture; they are a very chauvinistic society. Matter of fact, that's a little that way in Korea. When Mrs. Batchelor came up to answer questions with me they looked and said, “Oh, that's a nice idea. Liberated Americans.” It's a very male-dominated culture. And I know they're going to see this and I'll get some letters, but it's true.

ABC news reported, August 25, Beijing, China, “In garbage dumps on the outskirts of Beijing, scavengers occasionally uncover the unthinkable, newborn baby girls abandoned and left to die. In China, where the government allows one child per couple, baby boys are so highly desired that baby girls are being left for dead. Officials say millions of female births have probably gone unreported. No one knows exactly how many of those babies may have been abandoned or killed.” Because of ultrasound now they are using it to do selective abortions. They find out it's a girl, they abort. And it's having a profound affect on their culture, because typically in America, more baby boys are born than girls. Slightly more, but girls survive better, and so there are more girls than boys. The whole complexion of the culture is being altered there. There are about 120 boys that survive for every 100 girls in China. They’re killing them, in some cases. And you think, “How could they do that? A baby.”

You know, the Bible says that the Devil wants to devour this baby. Now you need to think about this for a second. Remember when Jesus was born, in the Bible story. I know most of you weren’t alive back then. When Jesus was born the wise men came and after Herod found out that there was competition he said, “Yes, tell me about where the child is so I too may come and worship Him.” But when he found out that he wasn’t told, and the angel warned Joseph and Mary to flee to Egypt, then he was infuriated and he sent his soldiers in to kill all the baby children two years old and under. Because that’s about how old the baby was at that time.

That’s not the only time that’s happened. The Dragon has tried to devour the baby all through history. You remember, of course, Moses, when he was in the little basket. Why was he in a basket, floating among the crocodiles in the Nile? Because the pharaoh, inspired by the devil made a law that all the baby, girls or boys? The baby boys should be killed. Because he was trying to eliminate the possibility of the Messiah coming. And they you’ve got Joash. The little king, Athaliah, has all the royal seed of David exterminated because they know that the Messiah is going to come through the offspring of David, and they’re trying to keep it from happening. And then of course, when Jesus was a baby, those soldiers went through Bethlehem. That’s that famous picture by Carl Block [?] of the women weeping in Bethlehem, because all the babies were slaughtered. Why? To prevent the Messiah from coming.

Now there’s redemptive value in that. That’s not just a historical footnote. The devil does not want the baby to be born in you. He is brutal and he is ruthless to do whatever he can to prevent us from experiencing a genuine conversion. He doesn’t mind, indeed, he would rather a counterfeit. He doesn’t mind a nominal profession of Christianity. Just don’t let the baby be born. He just doesn’t want the new birth inside. [end side one]

I was making a hospital visit yesterday. And I was talking to someone about their loved one and they said, “You know, pray for him. He believes it all. He’s going to church. He wants to be baptized. But I don’t think he’s in love with Jesus. I don’t think he’s been born again.” And that’s a concern for pastors because there’s a temptation to chalk up the rolls and baptize people before they’ve had the new birth. Jesus didn’t say, “Unless you’re baptized you can’t see the kingdom of heaven.” He said, “Unless you’re born-again.” That has to come first. There must be that new birth. And the devil wants to keep the baby from being born.

Now something interesting happens. As you read on through the story it looks like somehow the baby wins. How can a baby slay a dragon? You’ll find lots of stories and pictures about knights in shining armor that kill dragons, right? How many of you have heard stories about that? But you don’t hear about too many babies killing dragons. But the Bible really teaches this theme. First of all, it’s sort of like that in David and Goliath, isn’t it? You’ve got not just the average sized son of Jesse. You’ve got the youngest son of Jesse going against the champion of the Philistines. We see this theme all through the Bible. Where you’ve got the weak defeating the strong if God is with them. Here you have some examples of this.

In Joshua 23:10, “One man of you will chase a thousand, for the Lord your God, is He who fights for you.” If God is with you, then “greater is He that is in you,” Jesus says, “than he who is in the world.” Now that’s encouraging to remember because, don’t forget, in this chapter we just read the beings in heaven are shaking their heads in sympathy for us. “Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and the sea! For the devil has come down unto you, having great wrath.” And when you see a dragon coming after you, it can be intimidating. “How can we win?” Well, if a baby can beat the dragon then so can we, amen? If the baby’s in us. Are you with me?

Revelation 11, they overcome. How do they win? “By the blood of the Lamb, and the word of their testimony.” If we’ve got the DNA of that baby, that man-child, in us. “And the word of their testimony.” I think this can be taken to ways, and either way works. First of all, we overcome by faith in Christ. And there is saving value; there is redemptive value in your sharing your experience with others. I am convinced that one reason God has me in ministry is for me. I don’t know if anyone else benefits, but for me. Because as I’m involved in telling others there’s a redemptive quality to that. Paul said to Timothy, “In telling others you’ll save them and yourself.” So we overcome by our faith in the blood of the Lamb and by the word of our testimony. Are you bearing testimony that Christ is in you? As you share that with others it seals your commitment. We can overcome, but we can’t keep quiet. I think if you don’t use it you lose it. That’s how Christianity works. As you share with others it becomes rooted in our hearts. “They overcome by the blood of the Lamb, and the word of their testimony.”

Now as we’re reading on, it tells us here in Revelation 12 that the scene changes. Now it tells us that the dragon is being fought by, not the baby, but the baby is now a champion. It says Michael and his angels fight with the dragon and his angels. Who does the Dragon represent? Who would his angels be? There’s been a rebellion in heaven and the Dragon has taken some angels with him. One third of the angels, one third of the stars were cast to the earth. But then it says Michael and his angels fight. Now whenever you talk about this subject, about who Michael is, some people start to squirm. A lot of us for years, and I was one of those people, have a preconceived idea. I used to go to Catholic school, where they tell you about the angel Raphael, who’s not in the Bible, and Michael, who are these archangels. I would respectfully disagree.

First of all, Michael in the Bible is never called an angel. He’s only called, a couple of times, the archangel. And that’s different entirely. He’s not called a cherub. He’s not called a [serif]. The word angel in the Bible means messenger. Arch means highest or chief or greatest messenger. The word Michael means, who is as God? Now I will agree with John Wesley. Do you think John Wesley was a smart man? You know what John Wesley says? He says that, “Michael is commonly understood to mean Christ.” People choke on that. “What? You’re calling Jesus an angel? No, no, no, don’t believe that. Why, it’s a cult if you think Jesus was an angel.” Now there are some denominations that believe in a former life, Jesus was an angel. We don’t believe that. But we believe that the Michael is the way that Christ appeared as the captain of God’s Army in the Old Testament.

Let me give you some examples for that. In Joshua 5:14-15 Joshua is about to attack Jericho and the commander of the Lord’s army appears to him. Actually, they’ve already conquered Jericho. They’re going to attack some other cities. And he sees this glorious being, who is dressed like a soldier, and he says, “Who are you? Are you for us or are you for our enemies?” And he says, “No, but neither. But now as commander of the Army of the Lord have I come. And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped Him. And he says, “What does my Lord say to His servant?” “Take your shoes off your feet, because the place where you’re standing is holy ground.” Are we to worship angels? Are we to take our shoes off for angels? When John tried to worship an angel, Gabriel, in Revelation, what did the angel say? Don’t do it. “See that you do not do it. I am of your fellow servants.” But here is Michael accepting worship. And you remember when this being also appeared to Manoah and Gideon, they made a sacrifice to Him. And He accepted it. The Messenger of the Lord, Christ in His pre-incarnation, before He came to earth as a baby, He often appeared as this being, who is as God. And I believe that this is Christ in His pre-existent form.

Think about it. Daniel 12:1, “At that time Michael will stand up, the great prince that stands for thy people.” And that word stands means intercedes. Who is it that intercedes for us? Oh, that’s Jesus. And then think about it. I Thessalonians 4, “The Lord Himself.” Who is that? That’s Jesus. “The Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, and the voice of the archangel.” The Lord with the voice of the archangel. That means the greatest messenger. The devil, does he really look like these pictures with scales and a forked tongue and the horns? Is that how the devil really looks, or is that a symbol? So if you’ve got the word Dragon as a symbol for the chief of evil and evil angels on one side of this heavenly battle, and then you’ve got Michael. Does it make sense that could be a symbolic name for the chief of the victorious forces, which would be who? It’s another name for Christ, I believe.

And so here they are fighting. And you notice it says, “Satan is cast out.” I started looking that there’s quite a few places in the Bible where it says Satan is cast out. And you’re going to be glad for this news. First of all, it says and Revelation 12:8-9, “that great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.” That’s three times: cast out, cast out, cast out. That’s good news. He’s not in heaven anymore. He’s been evicted. Why? Well, you read about the devil in Ezekiel 28:16, “By the multitude of your merchandise you have filled the midst of you with violence, and you sinned; therefore I will cast thee as profane out of the mountain of God; I’ll destroy thee, O covering cherub, in the midst of the stones of fire.”

Isaiah 14:19, “But you are cast out.” In John 12:31 Jesus said, “Now is the judgment of this world come; now shall the prince of this world,” who is the prince of this world? “be cast out.” When Jesus completed His mission and He said, “It is finished,” Satan lost his access to the gates of heaven at that point. He was permanently limited to this earth. This division dates all the way back to the time in the first rebellion in heaven when there was a war. I don’t know what kind of weapons they used, but Satan was cast out.

Now here’s something interesting I want you to consider. In the Bible, and this may confuse you, when the Dragon tries to devour the baby, did Mary see a dragon running around the manger or the stable? Did they see one going around the house? What power did the dragon use? What political power? The power of Rome. Often in prophecy, it will talk about the devil, but he’s working through some pagan political empire. This comes in handy, so, I want you to stay with me here. You’d be surprised how often in the Bible it starts out talking about a pagan power, and then it transitions into the devil. Isaiah 14, “Take up this proverb against the king of Babylon.” And then he goes on and he says, “How you have fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, Son of the nations.” Well, that was one of the enemies of God’s people. It starts out talking about the king of Babylon, this political power, then he starts to tell about the devil. Ezekiel 28, “Son of man take up this lamentation upon the king of Tyre,” another enemy to the north of God’s people. And then he says, “You were in the Garden of Eden. You were full of wisdom. You were perfect in all your ways. You’re the anointed cherub.” Is it talking about the king of Tyre or the devil? It talks about the power behind it. And so this dragon now, who’s trying to devour the baby, what king did he work through? King Herod, didn’t he? Let’s face it, was King Herod demon possessed? Well, I think so. The good news is that the devil is cast out.

Now, I am not say you’re demon possessed, but every one of us is demon harassed. And if you don’t think you’re demon harassed, then you’re really in trouble. Everybody who tries to serve Jesus is harassed by the devil; even Jesus was harassed by the devil. Isn’t that right? And what we ultimately want is to have him cast out. You see, Satan was cast out because of sin. God’s dwelling place could not have the devil there. And sometimes churches don’t thrive spiritually because they don’t have the courage to cast out when it needs to happen. Right? Achen had to be dealt with. Your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. Your mind is the Holy of Holies. It’s good news that Satan was cast out, and we need to pray that He casts him out of us.

You know, there’s a story in the Bible about a man who had a legion of demons. They're easy to spot, those people. I mean, they're running around raving, foaming at the mouth. They've got chains, they're naked, they're easy to spot. But if it takes 6,000 Roman soldiers and a legion. Let's say this man had 6,000 devils, maybe there are some of us who have two or three. We are possessed by a few, but we’re still able to look civilized. No one would ever want to admit that, but I am convinced it's true. That some of us aren't just tempted and harassed like all Christians are, some of us have varying degrees of possession. And we need the baby to come in and cast the devil out. We need to be delivered from the Dragon and what he does to us. Amen?

We found out who the Dragon is. We found out he's going to be cast out. Then it says the Dragon. The man-child’s caught up to God's throne. We all know Jesus ascended. Where is He now? He's of the right hand of the power. It says, “He rules all nations with a rod of iron.” The Devil hates Jesus. The battle that's acted out here on the stage of earth, the battle is acted out in your life and mine is really not about you and me. It's about Christ and Satan. It's about good and evil. And we are caught up. You and I are the territory on which the war is fought, in our minds and hearts. And every time you and I give in to a temptation, the Devil’s forces are in one side of the arena cheering. And there's sadness on the other side. And whenever you and I are victorious, the angels sing, and the devil is mad. And they're watching this battle rage. And you and I actually have the ability to make heaven rejoice by our faithfulness. The devil can't reach Jesus anymore so he tries to hurt Jesus by hurting His bride.

Now doesn't it seem strange? Who is this woman? But she's giving birth to Christ, and yet He’s her husband. How can that be? Well let me get you something to think about. The first wife married her father. Who is the first wife in the world? Eve. You know where you get the word woman? Because she came from man. Womb of man. The first woman came out of man. Every other man came out of woman, right? When Jesus died on the cross they pierced His side and the church was born. Adam was put to sleep, his side was opened up, and his bride came out. Isn't that right? Jesus died on the cross. He went to sleep, His side was pierced, and that stream of blood and water came out, and it symbolized that we are washed by the living water in His blood, and the church was born. How she could give birth to the baby and then Him also be the husband, I don't entirely know. I heard that Cleopatra did the same thing. She's not our example. Let's forget I said that.

So the Devil persecutes the woman. And it says, “Then the dragon when he saw that he was cast to the earth, he persecuted the woman who gave birth to the male Child. But the woman was given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness to her place, where she is nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent.” So she needs to flee, and the Dragon is trying to devour her and God preserves this woman from the Dragon, giving her two wings of an eagle. Notice the time period is mentioned twice in this chapter. It's 42 months. It's 1,260 days. It's a time, a time and half the time are 3 1/2 years. It's 1,260 is the number.

You know, Christ ministered for 3 1/2 years on earth. Elijah fled into the wilderness and was fed for 3 1/2 years, during a famine. During 3 1/2 years of the Dark Ages, when the devil could no longer reach Jesus, the church had to go into the wilderness. And he sent a flood of armies and people after the woman to try to destroy the Christian Church, but he could not. She was nourished there. What did God feed His bride? Well, the Bible says Elijah was fed angel’s bread. Jesus was fed after He fasted in the wilderness. The children of Israel were fed with heavenly bread. It's the bread of God. She was nourished. And what was it that kept her away from the Devil? She was strengthened to run by the bread of life. How is it that we're able to do that? Can a mother nurse a baby if she doesn't eat? Can we keep Christ alive in us if we're not nourished? So she fled into the wilderness, and she was nourished there. Now the devil, he was really mad because he couldn't reach her. And he finally calls an all out war on the woman.

Now, before we close, I want you to think about this. We’ve just looked at a prophecy and you might think, “Oh, Doug, are always talking about prophecy and these images, and these nebulous pictures and beasts. And it is entertaining, but what does it mean to me? What's the redemptive value of this?” Let me tell you what we just discovered by reading this together. First of all, you're the light of the world. Jesus said you're the light. “Let your light so shine before men that they might see your good works.” You and I should be standing on the moon of the Old Testament, clothed with reality of the New Testament, trusting that God will speak to us through His leadership (the stars above the head). This is a symbol of your being the light of the world.

We also can see that the Devil does everything he can to prevent the new birth from happening. There is very rarely a birth without a little bit of pain and crying and sometimes blood. And it is a struggle. The greatest struggle is when you and I pray like Jesus, “not my will, thy will be done.” And even Jesus sweat blood at that time, didn't He? And so, there's a struggle and the Devil tries to oppose that. The good news is that Jesus is in heaven. He is ruling. Now it says He has authority. He's got the right hand of the Father. We have a friend in high places. Amen? And even though He says, “Woe to the inhabitants of the earth,” it says, “rejoice you who are in the heavens,” in the same chapter. We have an intercessor. “If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father.” He is there at the right hand of the Father, and He has won.

And how jealously do you think that He is going to watch over His bride? And His mother? Who are the two most important women in a man's life? Wouldn't it be his mother and his bride? Yes, they tell him what to do his whole life. Does Jesus care what happens to His church on earth? And look, gets here. She comes out of the Old Testament church. She is the bride of the New Testament church. He's going to watch over you and me. You and I are the Church of Jesus.

Michael is fighting the Dragon for us. Michael is a Dragon slayer, and if we allow Him in our hearts He will defeat the Dragon and cast him out. That's good news.

We are sustained by a heavenly food. The Bible says that God feeds her. God will nourish us. Can God supply food when we think it's impossible? Yes, even when it seems unlikely. And also, we can overcome. Keep in mind Revelation begins by Jesus saying seven times, “to him that overcomes.” And then you get to Revelation 12 and it says, “they overcome.” That’s good news. This woman overcomes, “by the blood of the Lamb and the word of her testimony.”

And then here’s the part I don’t want you to miss. “Woe to the inhabitants of the earth,” not the woe part, “and the sea, for Satan has come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knows his time is short.” The Devil knows time is short. He knew that back when this was written 2,000 years ago. How much time does he have left now? If the shorter the time the greater his wrath, does that make sense to you? The shorter the time the greater his wrath. The more frantic before he comes out. We’ve got some exciting days ahead. But if the Devil knows time is short do we know it? Do we know that time is short? Are we allowing Christ to be born inside?

And finally, this whole story ends with, “he goes to make war with the woman,” Revelation 12:17. And she’s identified in two specific ways. She keeps the commandments of God. Jesus said, “If you love me, keep my commandments.” And has the testimony of Jesus. And I think principally what this means is the law and the prophets. The Bible tells us that the testimony of Jesus is the Spirit of Prophecy. The Old Testament ends by, “Remember the law of Moses. I send you Elijah the prophet. Bind up the testimony. Seal the law among my disciples.” Jesus said, “O fools, and slow of heart to believe. All the prophets have spoken, beginning at Moses,” the law, “and all the prophets He expounded unto them and all the things concerning Himself.” She is characterized as a woman that lives by the word. That’s why she’s shining with the light. God wants us to hide His word, His bread, in us.

As we prepare to embark on a new year, I’d like to encourage you to experience the new birth. I believe that if we’re eating the word that the seed will germinate in us. Jesus is the seed of the woman, isn’t’ He? And we’ll experience that genuine new birth. There may be a struggle involved because the Devil doesn’t want that to happen. But you know, if you do what is normal it happens naturally. And if we’re feeding on the word, if we’re looking to Christ, if we have that intimate relationship with Him, if we know Him, we’ll have a new birth, won’t we? And then we can begin the year, if you’re not doing it already, plan now to mark out, do whatever you need, a Bible program, a devotional program so that you can have a growing relationship with the Lord. And that He can live out His life in you.

This story has all the primary players in it. It tells us about Jesus. It tells us about the church, that’s you. It tells us about the enemy. And it tells us about the ultimate victory that’s going to happen. Friends, there are some tough days ahead. There’s going to be a battle, but the same way He gave the victory to Jesus when Joseph had to flee and they survived that assault, we can have a victory in the last days. We can be overcomers. Would you like to? Why don’t you reach for your hymnals? We’re going to sing our closing hymn, Tell Me the Story of Jesus. I love this song. It’s got great words.

[verse]

It is the sweetest story. It’s all the way from Genesis to Revelation. It’s all about Jesus, amen? And especially this time of year, when we focus on the time He really did come, the first time, it inspires us to be ready. Because time is short. He’s coming the second time. Do you know that He is born in you? Have you experienced that new birth? Maybe you’ve experienced the resistance. Maybe you are having that spiritual labor of Jesus being born inside. And you’d like to come and ask for Him to send His help, to deliver the man-child that you might have that new birth experience. Would you like to life your hands and say, “Lord, I accept the purpose for His coming.” Let’s sing verse three together.

[verse]

Father in heaven, my heart, I am sure our hearts, are stirred as we consider the magnificent, beautiful, panoramic scenes that are portrayed in this truth, that we are living on the stage in the most climactic times in the history of the universe. Lord, help us not to become so preoccupied with the cares of this life that we forget that time is short, that there is a great battle that is raging between the dragon, Michael, the woman. And Lord, I would pray that the principles in this story can be experienced in our life. That Jesus would be born in us, that we can be sustained by your word, that we can overcome by the blood of the Lamb and the word of His testimony, and win that war that is being raged against the woman. Lord, I pray that we will let our lights shine and that we can be representatives. Bless us as we prepare to embark on a new year, to know that we have Jesus with us. I pray that the stony hearts will be melted and you’ll give us that new covenant heart, that tender heart, that new birth experience. Bless us Lord, as a church that we can be a light in our community. Thank you for what you have done in the past. And in our lives individually help us to reflect the love of Jesus. We pray that in His name, amen.

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The Prophecies of Daniel and Revelation by Jim Pinkoski

The Prophecies of Daniel and Revelation by Jim Pinkoski
God's Promises




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