A Pregnant Woman Cries Out

Today’s Reading: Revelation 10 – 13

Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand.
Anyone who is destined for prison will be taken to prison.
Anyone destined to die by the sword will die by the sword.
This means that God’s holy people must endure persecution patiently and remain faithful.
– Revelation 13:10b

What took place next during John’s Revelation is like something you would see in a science fiction movie. I imagine it was hard for John to put down in writing all that took place. I had to use the notes in my Study Bible to be able to understand it all myself. It makes sense why God had John eat the scroll – by internalizing God’s message, John was able to communicate all that he saw.

Then I witnessed in heaven an event of great significance… – Rev. 12:1a

A pregnant woman with a crown of twelve stars on her head is crying out in labor pains and agony as she gives birth to a son who is to rule all nations with an iron rod. A large red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and with seven crowns on his head stands in front of her, ready to devour the baby as soon as it is born. But the child is snatched away and caught up to God and His throne.

Next a war breaks out in heaven – Michael and his angels against the dragon and his angels. I love this part: the dragon lost the battle and he and his angels were forced out of heaven. Satan’s attempts to destroy the child born out of Israel were unsuccessful as Jesus was resurrected from the dead and taken up to heaven. The one who was deceiving the whole world was thrown down to the earth with all his angels.

It has come at last – salvation and power
and the Kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ.
For the accuser of our brothers and sisters has been thrown down to earth –
the one who accuses them before our God day and night.
And they have defeated him by the blood of the Lamb and by their testimony.
And they did not love their lives so much that they were afraid to die.
Therefore, rejoice, O heavens!
And you who live in the heavens, rejoice!
But terror will come on the earth and the sea, for the devil has come down to you in great anger, knowing that he has little time.”
– Revelation 12:10-12

This explains why Satan pursues God’s people. He has lost the battle and now, in anger, seeks to destroy God’s people. He has waged war against the woman and against the rest of her children – all who keep God’s commandments and maintain their testimony for Jesus (12:17).

Next a hideous beast rises out of the sea. The dragon gave the beast his own power and throne and great authority. The beast was allowed to speak great blasphemies against God and was given authority to do whatever he wanted for 42 months. The beast was allowed to wage war against God’s holy people and to conquer them. And all the people who belonged to the world worshiped the beast.

Then a second beast came up out of the earth performing miracles that deceived all the people who belong to this world. The beast commanded the people to make a statue of the first beast then commanded all the people to worship the statue, which had come to life and now had the ability to speak. The people were given a mark on their right hand or forehead – the mark of the beast (13:17).

Then John saw the lamb standing on Mount Zion with the 144,000 who had His name and His Father’s name on their foreheads. They had kept themselves pure and had been purchased as a special offering to God and to the Lamb. Then the angels proclaimed to all the people of the earth to fear God and worship Him only. They foretold the destruction of Babylon for forcing the nations to drink of her passionate immorality. Those who have the mark of the beast will drink of God’s anger and they will be tormented with fire and burning sulfur forever and ever (14:1-11).

This means that God’s holy people must endure persecution patiently, obeying his commands and maintaining their faith in Jesus.

And I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write this down: Blessed are those who die in the Lord from now on. Yes, says the Spirit, they are blessed indeed, for they will rest from their hard work; for their good deeds follow them!” – Rev. 14:12-13

I look around at everything happening in the world and I ask, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” John’s Revelation holds the answer. For a time the defeated Satan is allowed to unleash his anger on God’s people. God cares for His people and provides escape for them at times (12:6,14), but we live with the understanding that we must endure persecution patiently, maintaining our faith in God at all times. And for this allegiance to Jesus, we will be blessed and there will be rest. And we hold this promise from God:

The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure. – 1 Corinthians 10:13