She gave birth to a Son, a male who is going to rule all nations with an iron rod. Her child was caught up to God and to his throne.-Revelation 12:5
Merry Christmas! In a year fraught with suffering on many fronts it’s all the more important to remember the birth of Jesus in light of God’s grand plan of redemption. His birth was a big deal.
Jesus entering the world was not merely the inauguration of the plan of salvation coming to be, it was also the inauguration of the defeat of evil. Christmas really is about “peace on earth”—not in a trite, catch-phrase sense, but in an authentic, “yes, evil will end” sense.
In Revelation 12 the apostle John is given a vision that summarizes the history of the world in relation to the mission of the Messiah versus the attempts of Satan to thwart it. In this vision a woman representing Eve/humanity is pregnant with the Messiah and Satan is presented as a great dragon/snake, seeking to devour him upon his birth:
And the dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she did give birth it might devour her child.-Revelation 12:4
The imagery of this vision connects the events described with the record of sin entering the world in Genesis 3. The arrival of the Messiah is presented in truly epic terms—nothing less is at stake than the rescue of sinners and the universe from evil. The pregnant woman and Satan pictured as a dragon/snake are images that directly link Revelation 12 to Genesis 3:15 where God promises the Serpent in the garden that he will be defeated by a descendant of Eve,
I will put hostility between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring. He will strike your head, and you will strike his heel.-Genesis 3:15
John describes the arrival of the Messiah in striking brevity, “She gave birth to a Son, a male who is going to rule all nations with an iron rod” (Rev. 12:4). Note that the Messiah will have authority over all nations, and his rule will be unassailable. He will bring order, peace, and prosperity to a universe tainted by sin and evil. While not originally a Christmas hymn, the familiar lines from the Isaac Watts classic “Joy to the World” ring true here,
No more let sins and sorrows grow, Nor thorns infest the ground; He comes to make His blessings flow Far as the curse is found
This Son born of a woman was not devoured by the dragon; instead he conquered the raging serpent by his life, death, and resurrection. The vision of Revelation 12 is a vision of defeat for Satan and evil. The arrival of the Son was the beginning of the end for Satan.
The fact of the Messiah’s victory over Satan yields some important takeaways as we celebrate Jesus’s birth in 2020:
- After a controversial presidential election, we look to the future with hope because Jesus will ultimately reign over the nations.
- After a year filled with conflict between ethnic groups, we find real peace in the Messiah who defeated Satan. He offers lasting peace between all people through his life, death, and resurrection.
- After a year of mourning and panic over sickness and death, we rest in Jesus whose victory marked the start of sin’s curse being removed from the universe forever. His resurrection is the first installment of eternal life for his church.
- After a year of sinful responses to inconvenience and restriction, we move forward in faith-driven contentment knowing that sin and Satan have already lost the war.
We do not know what God has ordained for 2021. We know that Satan tried and failed to thwart the mission of the Messiah. We know that the birth of Jesus meant the start of the fulfillment of the promise of God in Genesis 3:15. We know that in the end evil’s day is done, and therefore we have truly lasting hope. The Son was born, and so the world will be made right. The snake lost. That makes for a Merry Christmas indeed.