/ The Church in Revelation / Richard Holdeman

The Incarnation and the Inevitability of Your Salvation

Note: This article is part of a series.

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 His throne. (Revelation 12:5, NKJ)

Some commentators have called the twelfth chapter of Revelation the interpretative key to the entire book because it is here that many of the images in the book are clearly defined for us.  We are told that the great dragon “is that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world” (v. 9).  Satan attacks a glorious woman, who is clearly a picture of the church because her children are described as “those who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus” (v. 17).  Here we have in graphic terms a picture of the great war between the Seed of the Woman and the seed of the serpent, which began in the Garden of Eden. In Genesis 3:15 God not only tells us that this ongoing war will define all of human history, He tells us that He will send a descendant of Eve who will crush the serpent’s head, bringing deliverance from the curse for God’s people.

When the Son of God came into the world in the incarnation, the dragon’s doom was sealed.  This is why throughout history, the serpent tried everything in his power to wipe out the seed of Eve.  Against the people of God, he tried to use infertility, idolatry, unfaithfulness, incest, betrayal, violence, slavery, fickleness, immorality, pagan syncretism, military defeat, exile, infighting, oppression, religiosity, foreign occupation, and many other things all in an effort to prevent the divine Dragon-slayer from coming into the world.  This vast history is summarized powerfully and succinctly in Revelation 12:4, which says, “And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she bore her child he might devour it.”

During the whole period of time from the Fall until the birth of Jesus, the church had been preparing to bear a child who would be the Deliverer of God’s people and the devil had been seeking to devour Him.  Satan’s efforts to stop the Messiah continued after Jesus was born. The devil attempted to use King Herod to destroy the infant Savior; he met Jesus in the wilderness to tempt Him directly; he raised opposition through the religious leaders; he co-opted one of the disciples; he orchestrated an arrest followed by a kangaroo court trial, conviction, and execution; and he saw Jesus laid to rest in a sealed tomb.

Revelation 12:5 (see above) is a highly-concentrated word of blessing and victory for all who put their faith and hope in Jesus.  It tells us that despite the best efforts of the devil and despite opposition from the greatest powers on earth, the Son of God could not be stopped. He has fulfilled His mission to strike down the great dragon.  Jesus is the promised Messiah of Psalm 2:7-9, who came to rule the nations with a rod of iron.  And instead of being devoured by the devil, He was “caught up to God and his throne.”  This verse summarizes the birth, life, ministry, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus.  Commentator G.K. Beale calls this verse an example of “temporal telescoping” that gives us a “snapshot of Christ’s entire life.”

So verses 4 and 5 tell us that Satan wanted to destroy Jesus more than anything, but Jesus was triumphant and now rules over all.  Jesus’ victory over the dragon was promised in Genesis 3:15. Revelation 12:5 reminds you that God delivered on His promise.  The incarnation was inevitable and so was the victory of the Lord.  Marvel that your salvation occurred despite the fact that the devil has done everything in his power to stop it.  Rejoice that the coming of Christ into the world secured His victory and ascension so that you would be saved.  The incarnation could not be stopped and neither can your salvation.

Richard Holdeman

Richard Holdeman

Called to faith in 1987; to marry Amy in 1989; to coach college hockey in 1992; to have daughters in 1996; to teach at I.U. in 1997; to pastor the Bloomington Reformed Presbyterian Church in 2005.

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