Tuesday

7 August 2012

Revelation 12:7-12

"The accuser of our comrades has been thrown down" (v. 10)


Background

Biblical prophecy is not so much a matter of predicting specific future events in micro-detail. It is about applying to contemporary situations the principles of living in harmony with God's creative and re-creative love that are set out in the opening books of the Hebrew Scriptures (the Torah - the first five books of the Old Testament). Apocalyptic writings (such as the book of Revelation) are even less concerned with detailed prediction of the future. They are often written when it is hard for people to discern God's creative love in contemporary events. They pull back the curtain, as it were, to show what is happening backstage. In other words, they show things with an added dimension, God's dimension. To do that they use all sorts of ideas and images, drawn from Scripture and elsewhere. These are brought together creatively. Sometimes what is heard in the Scriptures is reinterpreted by what is seen. At other times the inner meaning of what is seen is given by a voice from heaven.

The name "Satan" (v. 9) originally referred to the public prosecutor in the heavenly court. But by referring to the picture of the Serpent in Genesis (Genesis 3) it is shown that Satan has started to entrap people, leading them to do wrong so that he can prosecute them successfully and punish them. It feels as if there is little hope for us. And Michael, the defence counsel, can do little for us. But in resisting Satan's temptation and showing that the punishment arranged by Satan was undeserved, yet voluntarily undergoing it, Jesus (the Lamb of God) has broken Satan's power in heaven. Jesus' followers ("our comrades") who are prepared to walk the way of his cross with him continue to break Satan's power on earth. They do so above all by worshipping (verse 12) because where God is acknowledged the war at the heart of things is resolved.


To ponder

  • What images and ideas help you to see the God-dimension in things?
  • Are there times when you feel both trapped and condemned and unable to do anything about it?
  • How can worship help you accept that Jesus has broken the power of evil and encourage you to walk the way of the cross? 

Bible notes author

Ken Howcroft

Ken Howcroft was designated by the Conference in 2013 to be the President of the 2014 Conference. He is currently a minister of the British Conference of the Methodist Church seconded to the Methodist Church in Italy to look after the English-language Methodist Church in Rome.