Well, congratulations, everybody: we are now, officially, half-way through the Book of Revelation.
During our introduction to this series, if you remember, I mentioned that John’s visions are basically organized into four main cycles: he witnesses the events leading up to Judgement Day four times, from four different perspectives. And we have now finished the first two: the Cycle of the Seven Seals, and the Cycle of the Seven Trumpets.
Today, as we cross into the second half of the book, we are going to begin the Cycle of the Seven Signs.
Now, I have just called this next section the Cycle of the Seven Signs. However, I do want to point out that this next cycle is less clearly defined than the others:
The other cycles are very obviously organized by the number seven, and they are very obviously defined by certain symbolic objects: seals and trumpets, which were both objects Old Testament priests used to conduct worship in the temple.
This cycle is more blur. Almost everyone agrees that this is the Cycle of Signs, because it begins here with, “A great sign appeared…” and it closes in Chapter 15 with, “I saw in heaven another sign…” And almost everyone agrees that there is a some kind of seven-fold structure to this cycle as well — but no one agrees on where exactly the breaks are.
But the blur itself seems to be part of the message of this cycle. The Cycle of Seals gave us a big-picture overview of how God judges all the nations. The Cycle of Trumpets zoomed in a bit to give us an overview of how God judges particularly powerful nations, revealing the large role demonic deception plays in that process.
Well, this cycle is going to zoom into the details even more, with a special focus on the details of the demonic deception that must consume the empires of the world.
And details, just by themselves, can be confusing! but deceptive details are even more confusing.
It’s just like the situation we have today: reading the news to find out what is really going on is difficult enough! But throw some fake news into the mix and suddenly the task is a thousand times more difficult.
So: welcome to the Cycle of the Seven Signs. It is about signs. And there are — probably — seven of them. But we are going to have to keep our wits about us as we proceed, because at this point in the Book of Revelation we are being led through the deepest parts of the valley of death. If we survive this section of the journey, the rest of the book will outline our climb back up into the light on the other side.
But as we learned last week: death must come before resurrection. So let’s get started…
In the beginning, God created the universe as a cosmic temple with the heavens above, the earth in the middle, and the Abyss below, a structure going from perfect order above to perfect disorder below, with the earth as the transition point in the center, containing elements of both order and disorder: day and night, land and sea, garden and wilderness, domesticated animals and wild animals, animals that swarm across the skies and crawling animals that swarm in the soil and in the seas.
And the early chapters of Genesis make it clear that God looked at this whole structure and saw that it was good! because it was properly balanced. Even the creatures that swarm through the darkness of the Abyss are actually part of God’s greater order. This is why the Old Testament conceptually links those swarming spiritual creatures to the swarming insects of our own world: we do not find insects very attractive at all, but we know their chaotic, swarming activities actually serve an essential purpose in keeping our earth’s ecology in proper order. They only become evil when they break out of their natural habitat and try to take over ours — like a locust swarm that grows out of control, or cockroaches in our kitchens. Normally we do not worry about them, but when we see them invading our territory, that is when we restore order by laying out traps and poisons.
Well, that is exactly what God created mankind to do: stand in the center between the heavens and the Abyss, between land and sea, to protect and maintain the proper balance between order and disorder. Now, since the Abyss is connected upward to the earth through the seas, chaos constantly eating away at the edges of the more orderly land, God also made sure to connect the heavens downward to the earth through a garden set in the mountains. And he placed his newly created humanity there to work the garden and extend heaven’s order into the wilderness of the surrounding lands. Eventually, when all the lands have been brought into proper order, the garden will extend even to the seas and thus to the Abyss, making sure the creatures there can never swarm out of control but serve their proper purpose forever.
This is was a heavy responsibility! And that is why God gave his first children — Adam and Eve — a very stern warning. He said, “Listen! This is very important: through this garden I have connected heaven to earth, so that my Holy Spirit of order can flow downward and help you protect and maintain the proper order of creation. And that is great! I am very happy to have this connection. But bear in mind: this connection can also be reversed. If you let this garden be overtaken by disorderly swarming wild creatures, they will also gain access upward into the heavenly places. So your number one job here is to protect this garden! Your job is to keep the swarming wild creatures of the universe out of this place.”
Well…Genesis, Chapter 3, reveals that one of the spiritual wild creatures from the Abyss, while acting according to his swarming, climbing nature, became actively evil when he decided to violate the boundaries God had set up between order and disorder. He left his proper place and set about projecting the disorder of the Abyss onto the more orderly physical levels of creation. However, this particular creature was more crafty than any of the others: instead of attacking the earth directly and putting God’s children on their guard so that they would be inspired to fight back, this spiritual wild creature from the spiritual wilderness took possession of a physical wild creature from the physical wilderness and slipped quiety into the physical garden…the physical garden that was also connected to the spiritual throne-room of heaven.
Now, Eve failed to recognize the danger: she was deceived by the serpent’s lies. Adam, however, recognized the enemy and deliberately failed to cast him out. Adam chose to act on what he knew to be false. He chose disorder over order. Which opened him up to a legitimate accusation by the serpent.
That is why, when God arrived, he questioned Adam, then he questioned Eve, but he did not question the serpent. He did not need to, because he already knew how the serpent would answer: “Sure, I violated your boundaries between order and disorder. So if you want to restore order now you must throw me back into the Abyss where I belong. But your son Adam here has also violated your boundaries! He has become a disorderly creature, like me. So, if you want to restore proper order to your creation now you must also throw him into the Abyss where he belongs. However, if you decide to allow Adam continued access to earth and heaven…then you are legally obligated to allow me access to earth and heaven.”
In this way, the goodness of God’s creation was overtaken by the swarming creatures of the Abyss. The serpent used deception to gain illegal access to the garden, and then used the truth gain legal access to the heavenly places, setting himself up as a lawyer for the prosecution against Adam. The serpent’s very simple argument was this: “Adam has violated the proper order of your universe: he chose my disorder over your order. The natural penalty — according to this structure you have created — is that he must reap what he has sown, he must become what he has chosen to be: he must move inevitably toward more and more disorder until he reaches the ultimate disorder of death. And because you made Adam with an immortal spirit, even after he is dead his disordered spirit must continue to descend into the ultimate place of disorder: the Abyss, which is my natural habitat. If, however, you decide to take Adam’s disordered spirit up into your heavenly presence anyway, not only will you be infecting your perfect order with the disorder of the Abyss but you will also be violating your own standards of justice: you will cease to be the Righteous Judge. You will cease to be yourself!”
Well, God split the difference: he agreed to drive Adam out of the garden into the wilderness, thus handing Adam’s physical body over to death and corruption. But he refused to hand Adam’s immortal spirit over to the ultimate death and disorder of the Abyss.
And of course the serpent, the Accuser, said, “Objection! The penalty must be paid in full, or this judge found guilty of corruption and removed from the bench!”
But God said, “Wait. It is true that Adam chose disorder. But he deeply regrets that now. And his cries for mercy are breaking my heart. So, out of my deep compassion, I am re-adopting him as my son, and I am leaving his sins unpunished — for now. But let the court bear witness: I swear, by my own imperishable nature, that when the time is right I will voluntarily give up my imperishable nature so that Adam can legally receive this eternal life I have given him, this eternal life he does not deserve. I will become mortal, I will go down into death, so that Adam will be lifted up into life.”
And I’m sure this sounded like a good deal to the serpent! After all, which one is the greater triumph: dragging the soul of God’s son Adam down into the Abyss, or dragging God himself down into the Abyss?
So, as God cast his children — and the serpent — out of the garden, into the wilderness, he made three promises, one each to each of the three individuals involved in the disaster:
First, he promised the serpent that mankind would always fight back against his accusations, and that one day one of Eve’s sons would crush the serpent’s head and cast him down from the place he had claimed for himself in God’s heavenly courtroom, while also allowing the serpent to bite his heel, thus paying the full penalty of death required to redeem Adam and Eve from the condemnation of the law.
In the meantime, however — as a partial pre-payment of that penalty — God promised Eve that giving birth to the son of her salvation would be a long, agonizing and dangerous process. And he promised Adam that, until the day the serpent was cast down, his efforts to bring life out of the earth would always end with the earth dragging his body down into death and decay.
But the serpent’s court case did not stop there. Because Adam and Eve also had children, and those children also consistently chose disorder over order. And so, every time God would give some human being the hope of eternal life instead of death, the serpent would renew his mocking accusations. Like: “Are you sure you want to re-adopt this one also? You know they don’t deserve it. Sure, they are crying now, but you know they are just going to betray you again if you forgive them! And remember: with every sin you leave unpunished you are just putting yourself deeper into debt to your own legal system! Come on, enough already: you have violated your own laws for long enough, it is time for you to give up your imperishable nature and accept death like you promised!” And we know these constant accusations were going on because the Old Testament describes at least two of those trials for us: one in the Book of Job, another in the Book of Zechariah.
Well, finally, when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, so that Adam’s children might receive adoption to sonship, so that the serpent’s head might be crushed, the serpent cast down.
This is how it all happened; this is where the Cycle of the Seven Signs begins:
 A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head.  She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth.
So, this woman is a sign, a symbol, which means she is not one particular woman in history, she is some kind of…collective expression of womanhood? — just like, last week, the “great city” that defeated Jesus’ Church was not one particular city but a collective expression of “city-hood”.
However, this woman is not a symbol for womanhood in general.
And we can tell because of how she is described:
First of all, she is clothed with the sun. In the Old Testament, the sun is often seen as an expression of God’s power to create or destroy life. Also, in the Old Testament, when women are married they are said to be clothed with their husband’s garments.
So this symbolic woman is God’s bride, clothed with his power to create and destroy life.
Second, she has the moon under her feet. In the Old Testament, the moon often expresses the beauty and the permanent rhythms of God’s order in creation. Also, in the Old Testament, placing an object under someone’s feet symbolizes authority.
So God’s bride has been given the authority to rule over the rhythms of her husband’s household.
Third, she has a crown of twelve stars. In the Old Testament, twelve stars symbolize the twelve tribes of God’s people. And crowns symbolize the honour and glory that comes after the successful completion of a great task.
So God’s bride is crowned with the children of Israel, who are also the children of God, who are also an expression of the honour and glory God’s bride enjoys as the mother of God’s children.
And fourth, she is crying out in pain as she gives birth to yet another child. In the Old Testament, when the prophets talk about symbolic women crying out in pain as they give birth, they are always talking about the agony of God’s people as they keep trying to give birth to the Messiah, the promised son of their salvation.
So, putting all the pieces together here:
This woman symbolizes the original spirit of Eve, the original mother of all the living, together with all the children the LORD has given her. In other words: this woman symbolizes God’s household.
But  then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on its heads.  Its tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth.
First question: what is a dragon?
Well, in the Old Testament, dragons are seen as monstrous sea-serpents that live in the Abyss beneath the earth. Like the rest of the creatures of the Abyss, dragons were created to play an essential role in the ecosystem of the universe; they are often described as lords or princes of the sea: vast, untouchable, indifferent but deadly if threatened — perhaps as we might think of whales today…
Okay. Interesting. Second question: if dragons in the bible are sea-serpents, why is this one in heaven?
Well, in the Old Testament, from the very beginning we find that some of the creatures of the Abyss do try to expand their disorderly realm across boundaries set by God: upward onto the earth, and even into the heavenly places if they can. Apparently this particular dragon is one of those creatures: that is why it is red, the colour of blood, the colour of destruction and disorder.
Okay. Seven heads? Ten horns? Seven crowns? What is this all about?
Well, in the Old Testament, heads and horns and crowns all symbolize kingdoms and kings and the strength to rule. Adding onto that: sevens and tens always symbolize various qualities of completeness. So apparently this dragon has become some sort of ultimate prince over all the kingdoms of the earth. And this makes sense. Because, in the Old Testament, when dragons violate God’s boundaries, they do so uniting themselves spiritually with earthly kings and earthly empires. For instance, ancient Egypt is described as a water-monster, cut in half when God parted the Red Sea so his people could escape. King Nebuchadezzar of Babylon is described as an all-consuming serpent, later forced by God to vomit out all the nations he has swallowed.
Okay. But then what is this thing about sweeping stars out of the sky?
Well, in the Old Testament, stars sometimes symbolize angels, sometimes human beings, usually princes or kings. And, in the Old Testament, when a dragon seizes control of an earthly empire and then goes on a rampage — conquering all the princes of the surrounding nations — those dethroned princes are often described as fallen stars.
So, putting all the pieces together here:
This dragon symbolizes some ancient spiritual power from the Abyss, some great spirit of rebellion against God that has managed to rise up and and seize spiritual control over some great human empire — an empire that went on to sweep aside one third of the world’s princes and conquer one third of the earth’s surface.
Let’s go on:
The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that it might devour her child the moment he was born.
This makes sense: since this woman symbolizes God’s household straining to produce the serpent-crushing Messiah, of course the dragon — which is a kind of serpent — wants to destroy this child.
 She gave birth to a son, a male child, who “will rule all the nations with an iron scepter.” And her child was snatched up to God and to his throne.  The woman fled into the wilderness to a place prepared for her by God, where she might be taken care of for 1,260 days.
Whoa. What just happened here?
Well, let’s see: in the Old Testament, the one who “will rule all the nations with an iron scepter” is a description of how God’s Messiah is going to crush the head of the serpent, and the heads of all the kings and empires that serve the serpent. And way back in Chapter 2 of Revelation, Jesus actually identified himself as the one who “will rule with an iron scepter.”
So when it says “she gave birth to a son” here, that is the Christmas story contained in a single sentence!
But then why does it say her child was snatched up to God and to his throne? I don’t remember any snatching in the Christmas story.
Well, back in Chapter 5 of Revelation we did see Jesus enter his Father’s throne-room, in the form of a Lamb that had been slain, and receive the scroll containing his inheritance.
So apparently, when it says her child was snatched up to God and to his throne, this is the entire gospel story contained in a single sentence! Basically: Jesus was born, the dragon tried to destroy him during his earthly ministry — did actually manage to kill him — but ultimately the dragon failed because God snatched Jesus up to heaven and crowned him king over the universe.
But if Jesus is already crowned king, why does the woman flee into the wilderness to be taken care of for 1,260 days? What is this all about?
Well, back in Chapter 11 we saw a vision of two witnesses who were also taken care of for 1,260 days while they preached God’s Word in the “great city” of a great bestial empire. And we realized that the two witnesses symbolize Jesus’ Church during this age.
So apparently this woman — who symbolizes the twelve tribes of God’s Old Testament Church — is somehow transformed into the two witnesses — who symbolize God’s New Testament Church. And that makes sense, because that is what the rest of the New Testament teaches.
But does this mean that the wilderness in this chapter is the same place as the “great city” back in Chapter 11? Is this child-devouring dragon the same as the Church-devouring ”beast from the Abyss” of Chapter 11?
That is not yet clear. Keep coming back over the next few weeks and we’ll find the answers together.
In the meantime, putting all the rest of the pieces together here:
Apparently these two verses are a summary of the entire New Testament, from the birth of Jesus, through his death and resurrection, right up to the ministry of the two witnesses in the last chapter. By this point in the narrative the Messiah has established his rule over the earth, and returned home, leaving his people behind to announce his new government throughout the nations.
Okay. So the woman’s child is safe in heaven. And the woman is safe in a wilderness somewhere. But what happened to the dragon?
 Then war broke out in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back.  But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven.  The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray.
Ah. So here, finally, the dragon is given a name: Satan, a name that means “Accuser”. Here, finally, it is confirmed for us that this dragon is in fact the very same serpent who led Adam and Eve astray in the beginning, the one whose head was destined to be crushed by Eve’s promised Son.
But now we have some questions, don’t we?
Because if the “real” war was between Jesus and Satan on earth, who is this “Michael” guy, and why did he — and his angels — also have to fight against Satan in heaven? What is the relationship between Jesus’ death and resurrection on earth, and Michael’s defeat of the dragon in heaven?
Well, in the Old Testament, Michael is an archangel — a chief prince among God’s angels — who was assigned to protect God’s people from rebellious angels. And while it is true that, in the Old Testament, wars between angels are described in military terms — with swords and arrows and everything — the ancient people of God understood that these are symbolic descriptions: angels are spirit-beings, they are not stabbing each other with physical weapons the way human beings do, they are fighting with words. Like…lawyers in a courtroom.
And this explains why, in scripture, the archangel Michael is primarily seen as an attorney-type figure. He is a warrior and defender of God’s people, yes, but his primary weapon is God’s Word, his primary place is making legal arguments before God’s throne.
This also explains why, in scripture, the evil archangel Satan is also primarily seen as an attorney-type figure. He is the attacker of God’s people, but his primary weapons are accusations of guilt, his primary place is making legal arguments before God’s throne. So:
The reason the earthly war between Jesus and Satan is also described as a heavenly war between Michael and Satan is to help remind us that this whole conflict — in heaven and on earth, from beginning to end — has fundamentally been a court case: a question of justice. Adam is guilty. Adam deserves death. If God gives life to Adam — or to any of Adam’s children — then he opens himself up to the charge of judicial corruption, and he ceases to be God. Therefore, if God wants to give life to Adam — or to any of Adam’s children — then God will have to pay the penalty of death himself. But surely, if God pays the penalty of death himself, he also ceases to be God?
From Satan’s perspective, he had trapped God in a lose/lose situation. God could either remain faithful to his imperishable nature — and give his son Adam over to eternal death and corruption; or he could remain faithful to his son Adam, give him the eternal life he does not deserve — and give up his own imperishable nature.
Well, God did exactly as he had promised: he voluntarily gave up his imperishable nature. He clothed himself in perishable human flesh. Even though he was not guilty of disorder himself, he submitted himself to disorder in order to satisfy the law that requires all those who choose disorder to experience disorder. He accepted mortality, and offered to die so that Adam could legally be lifted up into eternal life, along with any of his children who had chosen death and then later regretted it.
And Satan seized upon God’s offer. Jesus was born into a mortal body, and the Accuser, the Angel of Death, sprang into action: he officially accused Jesus of treason against the dragon’s earthly empire — which was the Roman empire at the time — and then used that empire to put Jesus to death. To describe it in Old Testament imagery: the great dragon swept a great star, a great prince — the sun itself! — out of the sky and flung him down, plunging the earth into darkness.
Apparently, Satan thought that, by stripping the heavenly Son of God of all his power and then bringing him down into direct contact with the power of death, the unholy decay of death would flow backwards, upwards through the dead body of God’s Son to infect the holiness of God himself, thus destroying the original heavenly source of all life and bringing existence itself to an end.
But as it says here in verse 8: the dragon was not strong enough. The Angel of Death was not strong enough. Satan underestimated the power of holiness, the simple power of perfect innocence.
Basically, to put it in philosophical terms, the Accuser made a category mistake: he assumed that, because Jesus had taken on a perishable human body, he had also taken on a corruptible human spirit. Now, it is true that perishability and corruptibility often do go together, but they are not actually the same thing. Because Jesus became fully human, his body could die; but because Jesus was also fully God, he remained holy even in death.
And so, quite by mistake, Satan brought the original source of holiness into direct contact with the source of corruption, and corruption lost. Instead of infecting heaven with death, heaven infected death with life.
So when Jesus’ conquered physical death through his physical body on earth, this earthly victory empowered Michael the Angelic Attorney to declare spiritual victory over spiritual death in heaven.
And as a result, the great dragon was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.
 Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: “Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Messiah. For the accuser of our brothers and sisters, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down.  They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.”
So…what just happened here, in this vision?
To put it in the simplest way possible: Satan lost his legal place in heaven because his accusations against God’s children ceased to be true.
During all the generations between Adam and Jesus, Satan had a legitimate case to bring before God’s heavenly court: he could, legitimately, declare that God’s children do not deserve eternal life. He could, legitimately, accuse God of judicial corruption for leaving the sins committed beforehand unpunished.
But the moment Jesus was snatched up to God and to his throne, he proved that he had paid the penalty for all the sins of all God’s people. In that moment, all of God’s children were marked on the forehead with the name of Jesus, written with the indelible blood of the Lamb. And this mark legally declared God’s children worthy to enter God’s presence and receive eternal life. In that moment, Satan lost his case. More than that: during the trial, his own corruption as a lawyer was exposed and he was disbarred; he lost his license to practice law in the heavenly court. So Michael threw him out.
That is what this closing hymn here is all about: because of Jesus’ blood, the foundation of God’s kingdom has been laid, and the inner sanctuary completed and measured and marked off as “Holy to the Lord” — with us on the inside, the devil on the outside.
 “Therefore rejoice, you heavens and you who dwell in them!”
We are out of Satan’s reach! He can no longer accuse of guilt, because our guilt has been paid for and deleted from our record.
“But woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has gone down to you! He is filled with fury, because he knows that his time is short.”
…come back next week if you want to find out what this last sentence means.
In conclusion here, we really have to ask: what are we going to do now in response to this? What is our practical application for today?
Well, how about this:
If you are here today and you are not a Christian, then this is what your Creator is calling you to do: open your eyes and see the danger you are in.
See, we live in a reality where our physical order of matter and energy is slowly dissolving into a simmering disorder that scientists have named the “heat-death” at the end of the universe. Now, scientists do say that — if the laws of physics do not change — this heat-death is many billions of years away in the future. But your personal heat-death, your personal break-down into your component atoms, will happen much sooner than that. You will die. Your body will decay. I think you know that.
But our bible tells us that your living spirit will not die, not decay. At least, not in the same way your body must. Instead, scripture says, over the ages to come your essence is going to continue down the track of dissolution that you began in this life. You are going to be a participant in what ancient people called the Abyss, a place of darkness, filled with all the swarming, crawling, chaotic creatures that serve the universe just as insects serve our ecology now.
Now, we do not know much about the spiritual lives of insects — physical or spiritual. But I think we can say that cockroaches are probably the most fulfilled when they are in the darkness, eating garbage. And at the end of the age, when all of the swarming spiritual creatures of the Abyss have been returned to their natural habitat and sealed in there, unable to overrun earth or heaven ever again…well, I don’t know that they will feel especially fulfilled, but at least they will have the advantage of living in their natural habitat.
You, however, will not have that advantage. Because you are a human being. You were designed to administer the creation rhythms of order and disorder, life and death, day and night, sowing and harvesting. You were not designed to exist in eternal darkness and disorder. But even worse than not being equipped to fit in to that habitat, scripture indicates that you will know you do not fit in. Even in that place of darkness and disorder, you will still retain some kind of awareness of who you used to be, and where you used to live, you will exist in the endless regret of knowing that you chose this existence when you did not have to.
That is the very real danger you are in. And I think you secretly know that this danger is real, though in your conscious mind you want to deny it. But here is a simple test you can take, within yourself: do you experience regret? Do you look back at the wreckage of your life and wish you had made some different decisions?
If your answer is no, then: don’t worry. I’m not talking to you. Please, if you think you have figured out how to live life without regret then I am not going to try to persuade you otherwise.
But if you do experience regret, if you are self-aware enough to know that you have screwed up your life in a variety of ways, then guess what: that voice of regret you are hearing is the voice of the Accuser, saying that you deserve death and eternal disorder because of your failures in this life. And if you are self-aware enough to be hearing that voice, then you know he is speaking the truth: you do deserve death. Because you know that your failures in this life are going to continue to affect your loved ones long after you are gone. And because you love them, you do not want to die and leave them reaping the terrible harvest of your mistakes, you want to reverse the damage, you want to pay the penalty and leave your family unburdened, but at the same time you know this is impossible because it is impossible for us to turn back time and even if we could we would just screw our lives up in slightly different ways…
Friend, if that is you, then I have some Good News: Jesus Christ has opened up a way of escape. Because he defeated death, and put a stop to the spreading decay of the Abyss, now you have a choice: you can continue on in your slavery to the voice of the Accuser, or you can be adopted into the household of God and be carried away into the wilderness to a place prepared for us by God, where we might be taken care of.
This is your practical application: confess your regrets to Jesus. Ask him to absorb your penalty of death required by the law…and he will do it.
But if you are here today and you are already a member of God’s household, our application for today is actually found in this closing song of praise. Our accuser has been thrown down, it says, because we triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of our testimony. And then it says we did not love our lives so much as to shrink from death.
We triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb. In other words: credit for Jesus’ victory has been given to us. As Eve’s great Son he fought and died and rose again to redeem his Old Testament mother, together with all the children the LORD had given her. As the second Adam he also redeemed a New Testament bride for himself: a new Eve, together with all the children the LORD would give her. And as the perfect son, as the perfect husband, Jesus shares all of the privileges he has earned with us, his household — including the power and glory of his great triumph.
So what can we do in response to such generosity? We can extend our Saviour’s triumph by the word of our testimony, and by not loving our lives so much as to shrink from death.
But how does that work?
Well, we know Satan has been cast down while we have been lifted up into the heavenly places. At the same time, we still live on this earth, an earth that is more troubled than ever now because of Satan’s frustrated rage. Which means that holding on to the word of our testimony about Jesus’ triumph takes courage. It can — and it will — cost us our lives. But every time we do hold on to the word of our testimony without shrinking from death, we triumph over the Accuser all over again by proving that we know the truth about death and life.
Through the blood of the Lamb we have been adopted into God’s household. We have become his children, and his bride. We are his Church, the new mother of all the living. We are going to draw life out of death — we are doing it already.
So let’s just keep on doing that.