“So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him” (Revelation 12:9).
How serious do you take the threat imposed to us by Satan? Are you watchful for how he may be trying to lead you astray or do you not give it much thought? God wants us to take Satan seriously.
It is important to recall that the book of Revelation is highly symbolic in nature (Revelation 1:1). It is filled with symbolic language by which God “signified” the things which would shortly take place and how these things would affect His people. Our adversary, Satan, is symbolized as a great dragon.
Satan is pictured as having been cast out heaven and down to the earth (Revelation 12:9). While in heaven, he had been making accusations of those who had been serving God (Revelation 12:10; cf. Job 1:6-11; 2:1-5). After being cast down to the earth, Satan is filled with great wrath and understands that his time to work his evil upon those on the earth is short. Woe is pronounced to those on the earth because of the adversity they will face from Satan (Revelation 12:12).
Before his being cast out of heaven, the text mentions a woman who would give birth to a Child that would rule the nations. This child was eventually called up to God and His throne (Revelation 12:5). This child is none other than God’s Son, Jesus, born of Mary (Matthew 1:20-23). The great dragon is pictured as having tried to devour this child as soon as He was born (Revelation 12:4). Satan had worked through King Herod to try to accomplish this when Herod murdered all the male children under 2 years old in the region where Jesus was born (Matthew 2:16). But, Joseph and Mary had fled to Egypt to save the Child’s life (Matthew 2:13-15). Later, Satan would, again, try to thwart God’s plan for Jesus by subjecting Jesus to a number of temptations in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1-11).
Having been unsuccessful at destroying God’s Son, Satan turns his efforts towards Christians, the offspring of the woman and Christ: “And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ” (Revelation 12:18). What is so eye opening in these chapters of Revelation is the way Satan influences the kingdoms of the world to accomplish this. A beast is pictured as rising out of the sea and who was given power by the dragon (Revelation 13:1-2). The world is pictured as following this beast as it exercises great influence upon the world (Revelation 13:3-4, 12-17). The beast and the horns on it are representative of kings (Revelation 17:7-13). The beast is even given the ability, at least temporarily, to overcome the saints (Revelation 13:7-8).
Satan is a powerful adversary, but he is not all-powerful. His power is less than God’s. Remember, he lost the initial battle with God as he was cast out of heaven (Revelation 12:7-10). He knows his ultimate destination is a bottomless pit and a lake of fire (Revelation 20:2-3, 10). We can overcome Satan through the blood of the Lamb, heeding God’s Word, and not loving our lives to the death (Revelation 12:11). We need patience and faith (Revelation 13:10).
I acknowledge that my adversary Satan is powerful like a dragon. I respect my opponent, but I trust in God. I rejoice that through God I can overcome the devil as he seeks to devour me!
“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world” (1 Peter 5:8-9).