Never forget these two statements: God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life. Satan hates you and has a terrible plan for your life.
Satan hates you because you have been made in the image of God. And since God loves you, you have nothing to fear from Satan’s hate. He has power, but he is not all-powerful—that attribute belongs to our God alone. And with His great power, the Lord is restraining evil in our day.
But when we get to Revelation 12, we see God’s restricting hand removed from Satan, which sets the stage for the Great Tribulation that will befall the earth in the last days.
John saw a sign that suddenly appeared in heaven, that of a dragon (Revelation 12:3-6). Drakon, the Greek word for “dragon,” occurs twelve times in the New Testament. In every instance it refers to Satan (Revelation 12:3–4, 7, 9, 13, 16–17; 13:2, 4, 11; 16:13; 20:2).
In frustration and anger, for failing to prevent the coming of Messiah, Israel’s Son, Satan lashes out against the Messiah’s mother—Israel. The last half of the Tribulation will be a time of intense persecution of Israel, which is detailed in Revelation 12:13–17.
The perspective suddenly shifts from an earthly wilderness to a heavenly battlefield that really explains the reason for Satan’s intense persecution of Israel during the final three and a half years of the Tribulation.
At the midpoint of the Great Tribulation, John saw Michael and the holy angels engaged in battle with Satan and his unholy angels—demons (Revelation 12:7-9). Satan and his forces are no match for Michael and his forces—“they were not strong enough”—because the Lord of creation stood against Satan. In fact, God will grab Satan by the scruff of the neck and throw him out of heaven, no longer granting him access to God’s throne to bark accusations against God’s people.
Expelled from heaven, God identifies the dragon as “Satan,” which literally means “adversary.” God calls Satan the “great dragon” because he is fierce, cruel, and monstrous in nature. He is also “the serpent of old” because he is crafty and subtle. Finally, the Lord calls Satan “the devil,” which means “defamer,” “accuser,” or “slanderer.” In John 8:44 Jesus called Satan the original “murderer” and “the father of lies,” which fits the description of Satan in Revelation 12:9 as the one “who deceives the whole world.” Satan is pure evil. There is no truth in him. He is a consummate liar and consummately deceptive.
Three times John records that Satan and his demons are “thrown down” from heaven. The repetition not only stresses the humiliation of Satan, it also stresses the absolute barring of Satan from God’s presence.
At the defeat of Satan a “loud voice in heaven”—probably from the tribulation martyrs—cried out in praise (Revelation 12:10-12).
Their praise outlines how tribulation believers can overcome Satan: They rely on the death of Jesus—“the blood of the Lamb.” They become active witnesses of the Lamb—“the word of their testimony.” And they are willing to be martyrs rather than deny Christ—“they did not love their life even when faced with death.” They do not seek martyrdom, but they do not regard their lives as more precious than their witness for Christ.
No longer able to antagonize or harm Christ or His church, during the Great Tribulation, Satan turns his full fury and vengeance on Israel—“he persecuted the woman” (Revelation 12:1, 4, 6). The reason Satan will go after the Jews is that Christ, his archenemy, came from them and is one of them. They are the special objects of His favor.
In the Olivet Discourse, Jesus predicted the flight of the Jews into the mountainous wilderness (Matthew 24:15–28; Mark 13:14–23). Evidently, many Jews will flee from Jerusalem into desolate places to escape Satan’s persecution (Zechariah 14:1–8).
It’s not exactly clear how Satan will attempt to sweep away the Jews, but it is clear that God will protect them. Enraged because he will not be successful in sweeping away all of the Jews, “the dragon . . . went off to make war with the rest of her children, who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus.” Satan will make Jews (those “who keep the commandments of God”) who believe in Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ (who “hold to the testimony of Jesus”), his special target of wrath. This group is probably the Jews who make up the 144,000 as well as those who come to faith in Christ (Revelation 7:1–8; 14:1–5).
It’s true that Christians today won’t experience the unrestrained vengeance of Satan that Jews and believers during the days of the Great Tribulation will have to endure, but that doesn’t mean there is nothing for us to learn and apply to our lives based on the lessons in Revelation 12.
- God never forgets His people.
Because God loves His people, He remembers them and preserves them. He will protect them when persecution comes, and will ultimately fulfill His promise to return them to their own land under the lordship of the Messiah. Though most ethnic Jews today have not accepted Jesus as their Messiah, God will still safeguard His people (Romans 11:28–29). Paul asked in Romans 11:1: “God has not rejected His people, has He? May it never be!”
This should give you hope. Whenever you feel lonely, put upon, stressed, abandoned, or attacked, remember that the same God who stands by His promises to protect His chosen people, the Jews, stands by His promise to you: “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5). He loves you.
- Satan’s ultimate defeat is certain.
Satan is powerful and aggressive, and because he hates God’s people, he prowls around like a lion looking for his next meal (1 Peter 5:8). Satan may accuse us before God day and night (Revelation 12:10), but Jesus, our Advocate, intercedes for us day and night (Hebrews 7:25).
The truth is that Satan has no more power over your life than you choose to allow him to have.