Do you recognize the Christmas story in these verses?
I’d suggest, along with a number of scholars writing about this passage, that with the beginning of Chapter 12 we have here is a retelling of the nativity story from a cosmic perspective.
In the first six verses, we see a nightmare unfold. A huge reptile, both vicious and violent, waits in front of a pregnant woman (with toothy, slavering mouth open, I imagine) to devour her child the instant it is born. We can hardly bear to watch, as the odds seem stacked against the child’s survival…
But at the last possible second, God snatches the child away to safety. It turns out that the power of God is greater than the power of the dragon, as impressive as it first might seem.
This brings us to today’s verses, where a great war results between the forces of Good and the forces of evil. Jesus, the child born from the pregnant woman, has come to “rule the earth”; that is, to establish the kingdom of God where all is as it should be; where love and goodness and truth and loveliness reign supreme.
But the powers of darkness don’t take this laying down. Starting with Herod in the slaying of infants and continuing through Pilate and Rome, evil fights back. Once again, however, its purposes are thwarted and the dragon and his forces are defeated.
Still the dragon fights on. Unable to claim the child for its dinner, it now pursues the woman. The woman has just given birth; worn out, weak, and weary, she seems unable to fight or even protect herself. And yet…she bests the dragon too!
The dragon is now 0 for the 3…Could it be he is not as powerful, not as fierce, not as dominant as he first seems? The child is safe. The woman is safe. What will it try next?
We don’t have to wait long. The dragon, angrier than ever, now wages war with the “rest of the woman’s children”, who turn out to be the faithful people of God, who turn out to be you and me.
Not that I want to give the ending away, but here is the big question: Is there any reason to think the dragon will be any more successful in his campaign against us than it has been with the woman or the child?
The point: Take heart. Trust God. In the fight against the dragon and his forces—a battle that sometimes fiercely waged and extracts a great price—persevere.