So the last time we talked about Revelation, we were in Chapter 11 and talking about the way God triumphs over the Beast, but then in the very next chapter we find out that there is a war in Heaven itself…between Michael the Angel, and the Dragon.
Now it’s at this point that you would think that Keana Reeves would show up. But the story gets more bizarre than a Hollywood script could cover.
We read about how the Dragon is faced off with not just Michael but with a woman great with child. And right as this woman is about to give birth the Dragon goes into for the kill. Now on a lot of levels, I think that this is the Christmas story, just on a Cosmic level. The woman is going to give birth to a great ruler, he’s going to face immediate danger and he’s going to have to run away to the wilderness to escape.
But remember John is also using the Exodus story as a backdrop for a lot of what he’s doing in Revelation. And that’s a story that has a very similar plot to the Christmas story, just with a whole lot more people. God brings His people out of slavery in Egypt and saves them through the Wilderness. But he doesn’t just save them so they can sit around and talk about how great it is to not have to build pyramids anymore. He saves them to partner with him in the world. He doesn’t just save them from slavery…He saves them for service.
Now this whole section of Revelation is about this great War in Heaven. There are Dragons, beasts, and monsters (oh my) and it seems like the world is coming apart. But then John tells us about the elite warriors of The Lamb. There are 144,000 of them and they are fighting and following the Lamb. In fact, many of the details that we stumble on in reading this section (Revelation 14) are details that John is actually telling us to make sure we know that they are warriors. They aren’t married (like Israelite warriors before them abstaining from sex for Holy war) the number is a symbolism of Israel (God’s people) and perfection. But John tells us all these details not so we can decipher some kind of Amageddon code, but to make sure we realize that these are warriors.
Because otherwise you might not know.
The Mark of the Beast so famously talked about in recent American Theology, is not found on them, instead they are found marked by the name of God. And since they don’t play by the rules of the Beast they stand out in Rome, but the good news is they also stand out in the Heavens. They have seen the true King, that is also the Lamb, and they are standing behind Him ready to fight his war, with his weapon of choice.
And that weapon, of course, is a cross, and He’s on it.
One of the interesting thing about the Gospel of John is that a lot of people say that John has the highest Christology of all the Gospels. Basically that means that John presents the clearest picture of Jesus as the Divine Son of God. And on some levels that’s true. John tells us a lot more about Jesus’ explicit teachings about how He is the Resurrection and the Life, or that before Abraham existed He was (I AM). But John is also the only Gospel that tells us that Jesus was thirsty on the cross, or too tired to go into town to get a sandwich.
For some reason John wants to make sure we know about the very human and the very divine Jesus.
And John is also the only Gospel that tells us this: When the Roman officials were coming to arrest Jesus they were in the Garden of Gethsemane looking around for him. They approached his posse and asked which one was Jesus. All Jesus does is answer, “I Am He” and the soldiers fall down.
Think about that. The soldiers are the ones with the swords right? They have all the control here. Why would they hit the deck?
John is trying to tell us the same thing that Revelation has been trying to say for 14 chapters now. The Roman Soldiers are, like all humans, looking for God, they just don’t know it yet. They are going to be successful with their arrest (after one quick ear amputation and re-assembly) they are going to get Jesus tried and executed very efficiently. But first they are going to be a word picture for the way the Gospel works.
They are going to come with swords and fall down in the face of a lamb laying down his life.
You know what’s interesting about this war in Heaven? It’s that in Revelation 12, we read that Michael is fighting the Dragon, he wins and the Dragon is hurled from Heaven. But in the very next verses we read this:
Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say:
“Now have come the salvation and the power
and the kingdom of our God,
and the authority of his Messiah.
For the accuser of our brothers and sisters,
who accuses them before our God day and night,
has been hurled down.
They triumphed over him
by the blood of the Lamb
and by the word of their testimony;
they did not love their lives so much
as to shrink from death.
Here this whole time we thought Michael was the one fighting. God declares His people on earth the ones the victors.
If I had to summarize Revelation in one sentence it would be that what happens on earth matters in Heaven, and what happens in Heaven matters on earth. God is fighting a cosmic battle, he’s dealing fully and finally with evil in all it’s forms. In Heaven it looks like dragons and beasts, on earth it looks like violence and oppression. But while both wars look different, the means of victory don’t.
God looks the beasts and soldiers in the eyes, he faces evil fully and then He lays down his life.
He enters evil fully, let’s it do it’s worst, and the walks away saying, “You should see the other guy.”
That’s the War of Heaven.