In my previous post, I told you about an unlikely character that is most definitely part of the Christmas story: “Old Red,” the dragon. The post described the events of Revelation 12, where Old Red tries to kill the infant, who is snatched away to safety.
We continue today with the war in Heaven:
Now Old Red is mad. He wants to fight. So Michael obliges him. They crawl into heaven’s ring. And the ring announcer speaks, “In this corner, wearing white trunks, bearing the mark of the Cross, Michael and his angels!” (Heaven erupts in applause. You can tell the crowd is prejudiced!) “And in this corner, wearing red trunks, bearing the mark of arrogance, the Dragon, the Ancient Serpent, the Devil, Satan himself, along with his angels.” (The crowd hisses and boos.)
The fight begins. It is a first-round technical knockout. Michael body-slams Old Red through the heavenly mat, through the ozone layer, through the clouds, all the way down to earth. And the ring announcer makes the call: “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 comrades has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. But they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they did not cling to life even in the face of death” (Revelation 12:10-11).
The Dragon Is Defeated
Did you notice that the referee doesn’t hold up Michael’s hand? He says, “They have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony” (emphasis added). Apparently, we participate in a battle that has already been fought and won. And we become the victors when we enter into the suffering of the Lamb, bear witness to His life, and lay down our lives.
The ring announcer continues: “Rejoice then, you heavens and those who dwell in them! But woe to the earth and the sea, for the devil has come down to you with great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!” (v. 12).
Old Red hits the earth snorting mad. He goes after the woman but can’t catch her. She is given eagles’ wings. She flies away into the wilderness for three and a half years, the time span representing this present evil age. Old Red gives up chasing the woman with wings. She’s too fast. So in a last desperate act of vengeance, Old Red flings a flood at her, trying to drown her.
But the earth refuses to cooperate. Creation opens up and swallows the rampaging flood. Old Red can’t even get God’s creation to help him out. Frustrated and angry, Old Red vows war against the children of the woman, those who obey God and witness to Jesus.
I like John’s Christmas story. Right from the beginning of our battle with Old Red, we learn that he is winless in heaven and is banned from further competition there. He can’t bite a child. He can’t beat an angel. He can’t catch a woman. He can’t make dirt cooperate with his evil plans.
This gives me confidence in my 1,260-day (or 42-month or three-and-a-half-year) fight. I am called to endure his anger, to withstand his attempts to destroy me.
I can overcome Old Red by the blood of the Lamb.
This brings us to my favorite Christmas song:
“A Mighty Fortress Is Our God”
Words and Music: Martin Luther (Public Domain)
A mighty Fortress is our God, A Bulwark never failing;
Our Helper He, amid the flood Of mortal ills prevailing.
For still our ancient foe Doth seek to work us woe;
His craft and power are great, And, armed with cruel hate,
On earth is not his equal.
Did we in our own strength confide, Our striving would be losing,
Were not the right Man on our side, The Man of God’s own choosing.
Dost ask who that may be? Christ Jesus, it is He;
Lord Sabaoth, His name, From age to age the same,
And He must win the battle.
And though this world, with devils filled, Should threaten to undo us,
We will not fear, for God hath willed His truth to triumph through us.
The prince of darkness grim— We tremble not for him.
His rage we can endure, For, lo, his doom is sure;
One little word shall fell him.
That word, above all earthly powers, No thanks to them, abideth;
The Spirit and the gifts are ours Through Him who with us sideth.
Let goods and kindred go, This mortal life also.
The body they may kill; God’s truth abideth still.
His kingdom is forever.