Sermon Overview & Prayer: "Kill the Dragon, Get the Girl"

269558870_5091551624189317_964095643848540209_n

Revelation 12:1-6 – PRAYER POINTS
"Kill the Dragon, Get the Girl" - CJ Mahaney
These written prayers are intended to fuel your meditation on this passage and your enjoyment of God in prayer.

“And a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. She was pregnant and was crying out in birth pains and the agony of giving birth. And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads seven diadems. His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven and cast them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she bore her child he might devour it. She gave birth to a male child, one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron, but her child was caught up to God and to his throne, and the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God,

in which she is to be nourished for 1,260 days.

Revelation 12:1-6

Revelation chapter 12 is the cosmic Christmas story of the long awaited and anticipated dragon slayer.

This is the biblical behind the scenes description of the true meaning of Christmas, perhaps like you’ve never previously heard, making all the difference in your celebration of Christmas.

PRAYER: Father, thank you for heightening our awareness that the meaning of Christmas is not annual or seasonal, but eternal...that it is not confined to a little town or a lowly manger, but is gloriously celestial...that those moments of tranquility were actually the scene of a cosmic conflict...and most miraculously, that this one birth has resulted in the re-birth of multitudes now delivered from the power of darkness! Thank you for opening our eyes and hearts to the meaning of Christmas!

This woman is not Mary but is symbolic of the people of God, both before and after the coming of Christ, however, at this point in the passage the accent is on the Old Covenant people of God because she was: “…pregnant and was crying out in birth pains and the agony of giving birth.” This pregnant woman represents the Messianic Community of the Old Covenant about to give birth to the Messiah as the genealogies at the beginning of Matthew and Luke confirm. And the woman’s “birth pangs” refer to the persecution of the covenant community over the centuries, particularly the opposition to the messianic line leading up to the birth of Christ.

PRAYER: Lord God, we bow in humble gratitude for your promise to have a people, and for including us among them. We likewise give thanks that, by your grace, generations of saints have endured persecution, persevered through challenges, suffered martyrdom, and prayed for the future of your church...of which we are now mercifully a part! Please grant us the grace to carry the same passion and devotion and witness into our own and future generations!

“And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads seven diadems.” And we aren’t left to wonder who this monster is. John informs us in verse 9 “And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world…” And then we are informed about the dragon’s catastrophic intent in verse 4: “And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she bore her child he might devour it.”

PRAYER: Lord, when I am tempted to be overwhelmed and consumed with the trials of this present evil age, please remind me that there is an adversary to be resisted, an enemy to be fought, and a deceiver to be refused. And fortify my soul to do so with the confidence of your having already and gloriously conquered!

This horrific picture of a dragon waiting for the birth of this male child in order to devour this child reflects the hatred of Satan towards the Messiah when he arrives. It was this dragon seeking to devour this child that was behind Herod’s slaughter of the innocent children...And it was the dragon who tempted Jesus in the wilderness at the outset of his ministry in Matthew 4. And it was the dragon who was behind the plots of the Jewish leaders to kill Jesus after he healed the man with the withered hand on the Sabbath. And this hatred of and opposition to the Messiah continued throughout the ministry of Jesus culminating in the crucifixion.

PRAYER: Holy Spirit, as we pray, remind us that we wrestle not against flesh and blood; that there is one prowling about as a roaring lion seeking to devour; that there is a thief who comes to steal, kill, and destroy; and that the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but have divine power to destroy strongholds! Thank you that in all these things we are more than conquerors! 

“She gave birth to a male child, one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron, but her child was caught up to God and his throne…”  In one sentence the birth, life, death, resurrection, and ascension to the throne of God is presented in abbreviated form. And there is this immediate movement from His birth to His ascension and exaltation because John is emphatically making the point that the dragon’s intent to devour the child has failed spectacularly!

PRAYER: Lord, though we see much wickedness, hatred, and chaos in this sin-corrupted world, sustain and strengthen us with a faith that rests in the ultimate triumph–our dragon-slaying, Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!

And no doubt the dragon thought he had devoured the male child through the betrayal, arrest and death of Jesus Christ on the cross only to discover this was part of God’s redemptive plan for sinners like you and me.

The great promise of Genesis 3:15 where God says to the serpent “I will put enmity between you and the woman and between your offspring and her offspring, he shall bruise your head…” has been fulfilled-Satan’s head has been crushed.

PRAYER: Father in heaven, when we are dismayed by what appears to be the victories of our enemy Satan, take us back to the cross. Take us to that place where, in your glorious and sovereign purposes, the most tragic of sorrows was actually accomplishing the most wondrous of conquests! May that inspire within us a fervent faith and peace!

If you are wondering, “why Revelation 12 the Sunday before Christmas?”, it’s because this heavenly scene should inform and transform the celebration of the birth of Christ for all who trust in Christ. Here’s why.

Left to ourselves and because of our sin we were incapable of slaying the dragon. Our only hope is the provision of a dragon slayer we don’t deserve. And each year at this time we celebrate the birth of the dragon slayer God has graciously provided. And John, the author of Revelation reminds us of the purpose of the coming of the dragon slayer: “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.” 1 John 3:8

PRAYER:  Our Lord and Savior, while we were dead in our sin, lost and without hope, you died for us.

What was impossible with us was miraculously provided in your ultimate sacrifice on the cross. We can only thank you with praise and worship! Thank you!

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus…Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died-more than that, who was raised-who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.” Romans 8:1,33-34

The dragon slayer came to destroy the works of the evil one and save His people from their sins.  And that’s why Christmas is a time for boundless merriment!

PRAYER: Lord God, this Christmas, we pause to consider a bright star shining over a small town for a brief moment. We rejoice with exuberant praise and passionate worship...that the brilliance of that light shone in eternity past and will shine into eternity future! Thank you for mercifully bringing us into that light through your life, death, resurrection, ascension, and imminent return!

 

OVERVIEW OF THE SERMON:

We continue to see through John’s eyes, as he describes signs and symbols that reveal heavenly and earthly realities. The woman he sees represents the old covenant people of God, pregnant with the anticipation of the coming Messiah. And the dragon, who John identifies as Satan, intends to devour her newborn child. It appears the dragon will succeed in his evil plan, yet his intent is thwarted by her son, the Dragon Slayer, for the child is caught up to God and to His throne. In His earthly life and sin bearing sacrifice, the Dragon Slayer, Jesus Christ, has freed us from the dragon’s condemnation, the fear of death, and the judgment to follow. An appropriate response is to fall on our knees to worship this ultimate knight in shining armor and to exalt the Dragon Slayer, our Lord Jesus Christ!

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:

  1. J. described the pregnant woman in verses 1-2 as symbolizing the old covenant people of God who agonizingly wait for the Messiah through centuries of trials and failures. In what ways is our anticipation for the second return of Christ like this experience of the old covenant people of God? In what ways is it different? (See also verse 6)
  2. In verse 5, God thwarts the evil intent of the dragon by the life, death, and triumphal resurrection of Jesus. Through this plan, Jesus rescues us from Satan and his dominion of darkness. In what ways has Jesus rescued you from darkness?
  3. In his introduction, C.J. talked about how we love a good damsel-in-distress and knight-in-shining-armor story. Why do you think humanity is drawn to such tales?
  4. The woman, the dragon, and the dragon slayer: What aspect of this retelling of the narrative of Scripture brings you new appreciation and reverence for Christ?
  5. C.J. mentioned this passage should bring us “boundless merriment” during the Christmas season. How can we express this joy to fellow believers for their encouragement? How can we express this joy to nonbelievers?