Whatever you make of these verses, this much is clear: evil is real. Because evil is real, a fierce battle between good and evil is also very real. And finally: we find ourselves in the midst of it.
Evil is depicted in these verses as a great dragon. In the first verses of chapter 12, the dragon tries to kill a newborn baby—and fails! (many scholars see the Christmas story told from a cosmic perspective, a view I find quite compelling).
Undeterred, the dragon fights on. It pursues the woman who 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!
What’s this? A fierce dragon on the magnitude of Godzilla can’t beat a newborn infant or a woman weakened and worn out by child birth? Could it be the dragon is not as powerful, not as fierce, not as dominant as he first seemed?
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. This is the war in which we find ourselves, which characterizes so much of our life in this world.
I don’t know about you, but sometimes it gets discouraging. Sometimes it looks like evil is so powerful, so prevalent, so pervasive… how will we ever defeat it?
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.