One of the most striking things I have learnt this year is the connection between the visible and the invisible and how, by faith, the invisible actually becomes visible. This was articulated for me in the Aaron Shust song ‘Rushing Waters’ where he sings ‘There’s only one desire in the heart of Your redeemed, to step deeper in the place where earth and heaven meet.’ There is so much which goes on in the spiritual realm of which we are largely unaware, but we need our spiritual eyes opening to see all that God is doing ‘behind-the-scenes’, so to speak.
In the book ‘Unveiled Hope’ which accompanies the album of the same name, Michael Card writes with Scotty Smith about the ‘unveiled hope’ revealed in this last book of the Bible. Revelation is a difficult book to fathom and often leaves us more baffled than ever when we reach the end of it. There can be so many eschatological interpretations of it that we feel bogged down in theory and can end up feeling fearful of these ‘end times’ which seem so dramatic and terrifying. The book starts with the premise that Revelation is a view of the Christian life from God’s perspective. I am convinced we need God’s perspective on things to survive in this confusing and often frightening world.
In the book, we read ‘God has utterly convinced me of the necessity, freedom, and joy of an ongoing surrender to His vantage point and purposes.’ (‘Unveiled Hope’, P 149) In Revelation 12-14, it is as if God pushes back the curtains of human history and lets us peer backstage to know what is really going on behind the scenes. The backstage glimpse into human history is not meant to spoil the show, but to give us ‘hope as we assume our role in His sovereign plans and purposes.’ (ibid. P 150)
Revelation 12 has three main characters: the dragon, the Son and the woman (understood generally to represent not only Mary but the church, the people of God throughout history.) ‘The entire period between the two comings of Christ will be full of conflict in an evil world. But God will protect and provide for His people and safeguard them against all ultimate harm.’ (ibid. P 152)
The imagery in Revelation 12 is of a ‘war in heaven’, representing Satan’s hatred of God and His purposes. The dragon and his allies are not strong enough, however, to prevail against the host of heaven. Satan was hurled down by King Jesus and he, along with the angels who followed him, is en route to eternal fire. (see Luke 10: 17 TNIV, John 12:31 TNIV, Matt 25:41 TNIV, Rev 20:10 TNIV).
Satan does not go down without a fight, represented here by the dragon’s tail swinging wildly and destructively for he is enraged. (Rev 12:17 TNIV) Having failed to destroy Jesus, his wrath is now turned towards those whom Jesus loves – God’s people. Though we have been warned to expect trouble in this world (John 16:33 TNIV), Jesus reminds us of His triumph and we can be confident He will never leave us or forsake us. (Hebrews 13:5 TNIV) Such promises allow us to see with unveiled eyes the hope to which He has called us and the ultimate victory He has gained. Christmas truly is a time for rejoicing, for we have a Saviour who has defeated the dragon and God’s people will triumph by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony. (Rev 12:11 TNIV)