Dragon is Expelled

With the exaltation of the Son, the Dragon is expelled from heaven and cast to the earth where he persecutes the church – Revelation 12:11. 

In chapter 12, the “sign of the Great Red Dragon” appears in the heavens, signifying the commencement of the “war” between him and the “son” who is destined to “shepherd the nations.” But his attempt to destroy the “son” results in his expulsion from “heaven,” and the victory of the “brethren” over the “ancient serpent.”

The “war” between the “Dragon” and “Michael and his angels” is the heavenly counterpart to the conflicts on the earth described in the passage - Satan’s attempt to destroy the “son,” the woman “clothed with the sun,” and the “rest of her seed.”

Dinosaur Toy - Photo by Hannah Pemberton on Unsplash
[Photo by Hannah Pemberton on Unsplash]

There are several notable verbal links between this story and the description of the imprisonment of Satan in the “
Abyss” in chapter 20. These include his several names, his being “cast down,” and that he is bound from “deceiving the nations” until the final “short season.”

And the cosmic battle portrayed in chapter 12 is echoed in the daily struggles of the seven churches of Asia recorded in the seven letters of chapters 2 and 3, both in the persecuting activities of their opponents and the deception propagated by deceivers within the churches (e.g., “Jezebel… who teaches my servants to eat things offered to idols”).

EXPULSION


The description of the Dragon’s “war” in and expulsion from heaven uses language from the two of Daniel’s visions, including that of Michael when he stands firm in his fight on behalf of God’s people:

  • And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince who stands for the children of your people; and there shall be a time of trouble such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time your people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book” - (Daniel 12:1).
  • And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels going forth to war with the dragon; and the dragon warred and his angels; and they prevailed not, neither was their place found any more in heaven” - (Revelation 12:7-8).
  • Then was the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold, broken in pieces together, and became like the chaff of the summer threshing-floors; and the wind carried them away, so that no place was found for them: and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth” - (Daniel 2:35).

In Revelation, having failed in his attempt to destroy the “son,” no place remains for the “Dragon” in the courts of heaven. This description alludes to the interpretation of King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream by Daniel.

The Babylonian ruler dreamed of a great image composed of several materials representing four “kingdoms.” A “stone cut out without hands” smote the image, meaning all four kingdoms represented by it, and crushed them into dust.

After that, “no place was found for them” and the stone became a great mountain that filled the whole earth, and that stone represents God’s everlasting kingdom - (Daniel 2:35).

The book of Revelation graphically portrays the victory of God’s kingdom, beginning in chapter 12 with the birth and exaltation of the messianic “son.” But first, the “Dragon” must be defeated.

THE SERPENT


Satan is called “the Ancient Serpent,” an identification that links him to the “serpent” in the Garden of Eden. Like Eve, the “woman clothed with the sun” is the mortal enemy of the “Dragon” - (Genesis 3:1, 3:14).

But he is also the “Devil and Satan.” The terms mean “slanderer” and “adversary,” respectively. In Genesis, he claims God’s warning not to eat fruit from the “tree of knowledge of good and evil” is untrue, and thus, he slanders Yahweh by insinuating that He has ulterior motives and speaks falsely - (Genesis 3:1-5).

Dragon in Heaven - Photo by LINLI XU on Unsplash
[Photo by LINLI XU on Unsplash]

In
Revelation chapter 12, the Devil is the one who is “deceiving the whole habitable earth.” This also echoes the Genesis story when Eve excuses her disobedience by blaming the Serpent - “the Serpent deceived me, and I ate.” The reference to the “habitable earth” demonstrates that humanity has always been the target of the Serpent’s deceptive activities - (Genesis 3:13).

Satan is also called the “Great Red Dragon,” an echo of Ezekiel 29:1-3 in which the king of Egypt is compared to a “great dragon.” This is an example of how Revelation folds imagery from the history of Israel into its narrative about the “Lamb” and his “saints.

CHRIST’S VICTORY


In the vision, the expulsion of Satan does not occur at a point in the remote past, nor is it still waiting for a future event. As elsewhere in the New Testament, his defeat results from the death, resurrection, and exaltation of Jesus, the “Lamb” - (Luke 10:18, Colossians 2:14-15, Hebrews 2:14, Revelation 5:5-14).

The “casting” of the Dragon from heaven parallels the earlier image of a “great mountain burning with fire that was cast into the sea,” and the picture of Satan being “cast into the Abyss” at the start of the “thousand years”- (Revelation 8:8, 20:3).

The “loud voice heard in heaven” interprets the vision as it breaks into a hymn of praise, an interpretive pattern found elsewhere in the book.

The hymn declares the defeat of the “Dragon” by “Christ.” The Devil lost his legal basis to accuse the “brethren” before God. Now, they are declared “not guilty” in the heavenly court, and therefore, they are exempt from the “second death” - (Revelation 1:10, 2:11, 5:6-14, 7:9-17,14:2-5, 15:3-4, 20:6).

With Christ’s victory, the Devil’s role as the “accuser of the brethren” has come to an end. No longer does he or death have a legal claim on the lives of the followers of the “Lamb.”

And his defeat means the inauguration of the “kingdom of our God” and the commencement of Christ’s reign (“Now, has come the salvation, the power, and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ”).

But though knocked down, the “Dragon” is not yet out of the fight. Following his expulsion, he assumes the role of the deceiver of the “whole habitable earth,” and he uses it to persecute the “woman” and her “seed.”

HIS REIGN


The hymn sung by heaven echoes the messianic promises in the second Psalm, and it reiterates words heard earlier when the seventh trumpet sounded:

  • The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign unto the ages of ages.”

While the kingdom may wait for its consummation, its commencement began with the death and exaltation of the messianic “son.” This reality was portrayed earlier in the vision of the throne and the “sealed scroll” - (Revelation 5:6-12).

However, from now on, whenever the Devil persecutes “those who have the testimony of Jesus,” he only succeeds in sealing his own doom, thus, demonstrating the victory achieved already by the “son” - (Revelation 6:9, 11:2-3, 12:6-14, 13:5-6). 

Those who are “tabernacling in heaven” refers to the righteous in contrast to the ungodly, “those who dwell on the earth.” The reference is not spatial and does not refer to angels or disembodied spirits.

Instead, the “saints” who follow the “Lamb” are those who “tabernacle in heaven.” Their lives are oriented toward and belong to God, not to the fallen world order or the “Dragon.” They belong to the realm from which Satan has been ejected, and no longer are they under his legal jurisdiction - (Revelation 7:15, 11:1-2, 13:6).

Finally, the declaration of victory for the “saints” provides the explanation for how they “overcome” their “accuser,” the Devil. They “overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and because of the word of their testimony; and they loved not their life even unto death.”

The “brethren” overcome the “Dragon” because of the sacrificial death of Jesus, and by giving faithful “testimony” before their accusers even if doing so means personal loss, economic deprivation, and martyrdom.



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