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War in Heaven

After the August 1945 surrender of Japan, which ended World War II, a number of Japanese soldiers refused to stop fighting. Some did not believe that the news of the surrender was accurate. Others simply refused to accept it. The last known holdout did not surrender until 1974.

In the same way, the announcement of the kingdom in the previous chapter does not end hostilities. The struggle continues as a great sign appears and a battle ensues.

The “woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head” (v. 1) is likely a sign of Israel, and the child would be Jesus—Israel’s promised Messiah. The woman is followed by “an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on its heads” (v. 3). The dragon, identified as the devil in verse 12, attempts to destroy the child but is thwarted. The child is “snatched up to God and to his throne” and the woman is given a place of protection (vv. 5–6).

The battle depicts Satan’s last-ditch attempt to take heaven by force (vv. 7–9). His defeat at the hands of Michael and his angels illustrates his weakness. Satan knows what this defeat means (v. 12). Victory is beyond reach, and his doom is imminent. He will attempt to vent his anger upon Israel. When his efforts to do so are thwarted, he will turn his attention to “the rest of her offspring—those who keep God’s commands and hold fast their testimony about Jesus” (v. 17).

These three descriptions use symbolic language to link historical events with those that are yet to come. But the verdict is already in—and Satan himself knows it.

Apply the Word

God’s faithfulness in the past tells us what to expect from Him in the future. If you keep a spiritual journal or prayer record, review past entries to see how God has answered prayer and provided for you. When you face trials and uncertainties, hold on to the truth that God has worked in your past and He will be faithful in your future.

BY Dr. John Koessler

Dr. John Koessler, who retired as professor emeritus from Moody Bible Institute, formerly served in the division of applied theology and church ministry. John and his wife Jane enjoy living in a lakeside town in Michigan. A prolific writer, John’s books include The Radical Pursuit of Rest (InterVarsity), The Surprising Grace of Disappointment (Moody), and True Discipleship (Moody). John is a contributing editor and columnist for Today in the Word.

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