Tuesday, December 15, 2015
Author – Dave Butts
I love nativity scenes. The one I have at my office was made in Bethlehem, carved out of Olive wood. It’s a full-service scene including Mary, Joseph, baby Jesus, shepherds, donkeys, sheep, and even three wise men and their camels, although biblically they weren’t actually on the scene at that time!
But there is something missing from my scene, and most others as well. It’s a Dragon. If you really want to be biblical, lose the wise men and find a Dragon. The Bible talks about a Dragon, or rather, The Dragon, being present at the birth of Jesus. This most unusual nativity story is found in The Book of Revelation, chapter 12.
Revelation 12:1-6, 17 says, “And a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. She was pregnant and was crying out in birth pains and the agony of giving birth. And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads seven diadems. His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven and cast them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she bore her child he might devour it. She gave birth to a male child, one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron, but her child was caught up to God and to his throne, and the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, in which she is to be nourished for 1,260 days….Then the dragon became furious with the woman and went off to make war on the rest of her offspring, on those who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus.”
The Lord gives us in His Word, a heavenly perspective of the birth of Jesus that doesn’t fit most of our nice, neat nativity scenes. Satan, the great Dragon was present in the events of Bethlehem and using the human instrument of Herod, attempted to end the earthly ministry of Jesus before it could begin. But Joseph, being warned in a dream, took Mary and the baby to Egypt (the wilderness described in Revelation 12) until the danger had passed.
This is an amazing story that continues through our day. I included Rev.12:17 in the text because it shows that the great Dragon is still making war on the woman and her children; in this case, “those who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus.” As we celebrate the birth of Jesus this year, can we remember that we have brothers and sisters in Christ around the world who are being pursued by the Dragon. It’s a long story and it’s not over yet.
You and I, along with all followers of Jesus are still in the story. Pray for those on the front lines, whose very lives are threatened by our common enemy, the Dragon of the nativity story. Our current part of the story however, is not the end. That comes later, though perhaps not much later. The Bible tells us about what happens to the Dragon. In Revelation 20:2 we read, “And he seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years. Revelation 20:10 says, “…and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.
The victory is complete, but that doesn’t make the current battle less real. Our prayers today connect us with the victory of the Cross in the past and the vanquishing of the dragon in the future.
Lord Jesus, we are so grateful for the victory that is ours because of who You are and all You have accomplished. We pray especially today for our brothers and sisters who are being persecuted by the same evil one who desired to kill You. Grant them strength and victory in their struggle. Show us how to pray in a way that expands Your Kingdom and defeats the enemy. In this special time of year in which we celebrate Your Coming as a baby to bring life, we also cry out for Your return as Conquering King!