Scripture Genesis 3:14, 15 Revelation 12 NIV


(Lord's Supper Service)

(c) Copyright 2000 Rev. Bill Versteeg

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Revelation 12:1 A great and wondrous sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head. She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth. Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on his heads. His tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth. The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that he might devour her child the moment it was born. She gave birth to a son, a male child, who will rule all the nations with an iron scepter. And her child was snatched up to God and to his throne. The woman fled into the desert to a place prepared for her by God, where she might be taken care of for 1,260 days.

7 And there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. The great dragon was hurled down--that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.

10 Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: "Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down. They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death. Therefore rejoice, you heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has gone down to you! He is filled with fury, because he knows that his time is short."

13 When the dragon saw that he had been hurled to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child. The woman was given the two wings of a great eagle, so that she might fly to the place prepared for her in the desert, where she would be taken care of for a time, times and half a time, out of the serpent's reach. Then from his mouth the serpent spewed water like a river, to overtake the woman and sweep her away with the torrent. But the earth helped the woman by opening its mouth and swallowing the river that the dragon had spewed out of his mouth. Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to make war against the rest of her offspring--those who obey God's commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus.

People of God:

We have begun our study of the 7th commandment and a few weeks ago we found that the reason for us to maintain marital fidelity has everything to do with God. God is faithful to all his promises, he will never leave us or forsake us! We are called to reflect his image in this world in our marriage commitments.

Yet, this 7th commandment is one of the most contested, most often broken commands in the scriptures. A college ethics class was asked which of the 10 commandments should be removed, surveys showed a consistent answer:  the 7th. The rational is that it is broken all the time any ways. Why is that? Why is it that stealing and murder hardly rate compared to this one? Why do people accept the myth that adultery doesn't really hurt anyone when it is estimated that in excess of 80% of marriages that end in divorce do so because of the betrayal of trust, the corruption of adultery? Can't people see what is really going on?  Don't people see the plot that is destroying our families, our culture, our civilization?

There is a conspiracy against marriage, the evidence is everywhere if we would but see it! This conspiracy is outlined in the scripture. It starts in Genesis immediately after the temptation by Satan and the fall into sin.  I invite you to turn with me to Genesis 3:14,15.

14 So the LORD God said to the serpent, "Because you have done this, "Cursed are you above all the livestock and all the wild animals! You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life. And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel."

Listen again to this prophetic future word to Satan. And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel." God promises that a battle will rage in which the women, which is an image of the church, and her offspring will be mortal enemies, and in the end the offspring of the women will destroy, crush the head of Satan.

In hearing what is coming in the future, what would you anticipate Satan would do to save his skin? The answer is fairly obvious: Do everything within his power to destroy or corrupt the offspring, wage a war against the child. And so we see in the very next chapter, Satan's first frontal attack! Abel, the righteous son, looks like the offspring of choice, and so Satan sets himself up at Cain's door to entice him to envy and then anger and finally to murder when Satan has control of him.

But this did not stop the march of God's promises. So throughout history Satan's adopts alternative strategies, the most effective of which is a flank attack on the offspring of the women. And this flank attack is to corrupt or adulterate the marriages from which the child arises. Satan's attack on marriages is not only an attack on the image of God in this world, it is above all, an attack against the children, the offspring of the women. Let me spend just a few minutes developing this truth first from the OT and then the NT.

Jump in your bibles to Genesis 12. Notice these promises - promises of blessing and salvation given to Abram.

12:1 The LORD had said to Abram, "Leave your country, your people and your father's household and go to the land I will show you. "I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you."

And then a few verses later in verse 7:

The LORD appeared to Abram and said, "To your offspring I will give this land." So he built an altar there to the LORD, who had appeared to him.

The promise of God is this: The inheritance will go to, the blessings will flow through the offspring. Satan hearing this promise to Abram knows that in the cursed world, God's blessing means nothing less than salvation and his own defeat. What is the very next thing in that passage that happens? Abram enters Egypt, and knowing that his wife Sarai is beautiful, he convinces her to lie that she is his sister, an eligible bride, just to save his own skin. Abram was setting up the Pharaoh to commit adultery with his own wife. Behind the scenes this was Satan attempting to corrupt the seed, foil the promises of God, by getting Abram to be unfaithful to his marriage vows. If you remember the story, God out of concern for the offspring that would come through Abram, inflicted Pharaoh with diseases to keep him from sin.

In Genesis 38, we find Judah's faithlessness contrasted with Joseph's faithfulness with regard to Potiphar's wife in chapter 39. Judah, through whom the blessed offspring would come to all the nations refused to fulfill his obligations to Tamar.   Judah refused to be faithful to his promises, refused to be a kinsman redeemer, until finally Tamar deceived him into faithfulness and Perez is born who was the ancestor of Christ.

Again in the book of Ruth, again a kinsman redeemer, one who had the responsibility in the family that a relative would have offspring proved unfaithful to his responsibilities. And so the Lord provided Boaz, a faithful man, to provide the offspring.  The child that resulted was named Obed, th father of Jesse, the Father of King David, through whom the blessings would come.

And then we find an interesting twist...

We come to David the ancestor of Christ. But the twist is this:  The blessing, it appears does not come through David's adulterous relationship with Bathsheba. Matthew records that Jesus ancestor was Uriah's wife, Bathsheba but it appears that this was to demonstrate that Joseph, Jesus supposed father was of Royal lineage. Luke however, tells us that the offspring that would bring blessing to the world was not from Bathsheba, for from another wife who received a son named Nathan who was the ancestor of Mary, Jesus true Mother. Satan attempted a flank attack by Adultery, only to discover that God had another way.

If we look at the history of Israel in the scripture, we find a much more blunt flank attack, an attempt to corrupt the people of Israel, largely successfully. He tempted them into being unfaithful to the law of God, the people of Israel freely married the nations around them and became spiritual adulterers, bowing before Baal and Ashtoreth, the gods of the Canaanites, totally unfaithful to the God of the covenant.. By corrupting the whole nation, Satan tried to attack the seed.  But what he was prevented from doing was corrupting the faithful remnant in Israel, that small group of people who did not bow the knee to Baal, those who remained true to their promises, true to the Lord their God. From that faithful remnant, a shoot from the stump of Jesse, the righteous branch would bear fruit.

Finally we get to the New Testament. There the faithful remnant is represented by those who wait for the consolation of Israel, the blessing and salvation of God. There we find Mary and Joseph engaged to be married and Mary pregnant by the Holy Spirit. What is Joseph's first reaction? Assuming unfaithfulness on Mary's part, he anticipates divorcing her; except that God steps in and keeps Joseph faithful and true to his wife. This last time, Satan tried to attack a marriage to get at the offspring, only to find that God protects the one who will be the promised blessing.

Throughout the OT, we find Satan, attacking marriages, attacking the faithfulness of God's people to their promises, for the sole purpose of making war against the children, the offspring through whom the blessing would come.

But we discover something wonderful in our research. God is sovereign! For all of Satan's attempts to destroy the plan of God and usurp his promises, even at the frontal attack on the cross where certainly, he thought he had destroyed the offspring of the women, God sovereignly enabled the cross to be the weapon that destroyed the works of the evil one. By Jesus death on the cross, every law that Satan used to prosecute the children of God has been satisfied, the penalty paid, for us who by faith are joined to Jesus. Jesus body broken and blood shed disarmed the devil and crushed his head. The wonder of God is that evil is checked when he wants it checked, at other times evil is used for God's own purposes, because God and God alone is the sovereign Lord.

And so today, we celebrate in worship because Satan has lost the fight, and we join in the victory celebration of the lamb of God.

The question remains though: Is there evidence that Satan continues to conspire against the children?

The answer of scripture is a clear yes. That is why we read from Revelation chapter 12. Commentators understand the women, depicted in Revelation 12 to be God's holy people throughout the ages. First of the OT faithful remnant who gave birth to the Christ but also the church that Christ established. Notice the last words of chapter 12 again , these words obviously after Satan had been defeated, here the women clearly represents the church. "Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to make war against the rest of her offspring--those who obey God's commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus."

This passage gives us Satan's continuing intent. If he cannot get the women, or the offspring that ultimately defeats him, then get the rest of her offspring. Get to the children of believers. And so Satan's flank attack against the offspring continues. His strategy, destroy marriages, turn faithfulness to betrayal .  Teach the children, who need to be rooted and grounded in love to understand the love of God, that love is not very reliable. Raise them in an atmosphere of unfaithfulness and they will never learn the faithfulness of God. Turn the hearts of the children away from the fathers while they are young, so that the land will be cursed. (The curse that ends the old testament)

People of God

Understand this morning that the church triumphant in Christ is also the church at continuing war, and the focus of our enemy is our children. We who by the grace of God have become secure in our faith stand firm and protected but what about our children? If Satan's main strategy is to attack the children, what are you doing to protect them? What are you doing in your marriages to protect them? How are you involved as parents, as grandparents, so that the children will discover through you the faithfulness of God?    We never retire from protecting the children.  

Congregational Prayer

Lord, your word tells us that in your gifted church, it is the young who will overcome the evil one, the children who inherit the kingdom. 1 John 2:13,14

13 I write to you, fathers, because you have known him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. I write to you, dear children, because you have known the Father.

14 I write to you, fathers, because you have known him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God lives in you, and you have overcome the evil one.

You teach us that the young will be storng because their strength stands on the hard lessons learned in the lives of their parents, and the strengths of the faith that parents have handed down to them.

May we truly give them strength in our marriages. My are homes be places where children can be rooted and established in love, in faithfulness. Protect our marrages. Keep us faithful and true.

Thank you for Jesus - who has given us the victory, the Spirit, the gifts, the weapons of warfare by which we will overcome the wiles of the devil, who prowls around seeking who he may devour.  In Jesus Name, Amen

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(NIV) Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright (C) 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.

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