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Worship Series: Undefeated - Our Journey to the Empty Tomb
Worship Theme: Undefeated - The Battle Above
First Lesson & Sermon Text: Revelation 12:7-12 (EHV)
Gospel: John 20:19-31 (EHV)
Hymns & Songs: CW153 Alleluia! Jesus Lives, CW160 This Joyful Eastertide, CW165 O Sons and Daughters of the King, Aaron’s Blessing, Christ Is Risen He Is Risen Indeed (in worship folder)
Message Notes & Growth Group Questions
Message: Undefeated - The Battle Above
Our sermon text is taken from one of the most interesting and often confusing books of the Bible: the book of Revelation. Whenever a church announces, “Hey, our next Bible Study series will be on Revelation.” Boom! Bible study attendance doubles or even triples. People are curiously drawn to this unique book of the Bible. I’m going to give you a quick breakdown on how to understand properly this book of mystery and majesty.
Here it is. There are just two things to remember when reading Revelation. 1) The BREAKDOWN of the book and 2) who was left BROKEN at the end of the book. That’s it! Remember these two focus points while reading Revelation and you’ll stay on point.
1) The BREAKDOWN of the book of Revelation is the fact that the first three chapters record seven actual letters to seven actual churches. The pastors at those churches are called “angels” because the word angel can also be translated “messenger” which is what pastors are...messengers delivering God’s message to God’s people. The first three chapters record events that literally happened. After those first three chapters, the rest of Revelation is picture language recording the dream or vision John was given of the End of Time. Since it is picture or vision language, the words do not have to have a literal meaning. They could picture something else. For instance, if there are only 144,000 believers in heaven (a literal interpretation of the vision/picture language section of Revelation) then heaven’s already full and we didn’t make it. Don’t worry. “[God] wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy 2:4) That’s why it’s so important to remember if it is a literal part of the book (chapters 1-3) or the vision section (chapters 4-22) where it speaks in picture language of the End of Time.
2) We also need to remember who was left BROKEN at the end of Revelation. Spoiler alert: Jesus wins! The devil loses! Shocking, I know, right?! Reading through the vision section of Revelation can be rather terrifying. There are bowls of wrath, plagues, a multi-headed dragon, two beasts coming sea and land and even four living creatures completely covered with eyes. Like I said, there’s some freak-you-out-stuff in there! But as long as you remember: Jesus wins! The devil loses! You’ll remember there’s no reason to fear or flee. God wins! The battle’s been won!
This is a great truth to remember because it’s not just scary reading the book of Revelation, it’s scary to read the newspaper and watch the news. It’s scary to trust someone new or even to step foot outside your home. With sin running rampant in this world, it makes life in this broken world terrifying.
Do you know why this world’s such a dangerous place? It’s because of who lives here with us. “And there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back.” (Revelation 12:7) This is the archangel, Michael. The dragon (remember this is the figurative language part of Revelation) is a picture of the devil. When the devil and his evil angels rebelled against the Lord God they fought against the archangel Michael and all the good angels with him. It was the battle above, the battle that took place in heaven.
The devil thought he could overtake the Lord and His holy angels “but he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven.” (Revelation 12:8) The devil was not strong enough to overcome the archangel Michael and the perfect angels with him who were truth and purity. So the devil and the other fallen angels were cast from heaven never to return again. But where did they go? Where did God send them?
“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.” (Revelation 12:9) Woah, wait? God sent them where? God sent them here? Here among us to rule and ruin this world, our world? This text reveals the world is the devil’s playground and in many ways we end up being his play things, his toys to use and abuse and mistreat. At least that’s how it feels sometimes to live in this broken world.
And it’s not just the devil who’s with us. “And his angels with him.” How many angels is that? We don’t know an exact number but we have an idea of the percentage. In verse four of this same chapter, we hear that the devil, pictured here as a dragon, did this. “Its tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth.” (Revelation 12:4) The only things swept out of heaven with the devil were the fallen angels who rebelled against God with him. So approximately one third of all the created angels are now exceedingly powerful evil angels. That’s rather terrifying!
We see their handiwork of horror in this world as they, with the devil, lead people astray and away from the Lord into the darkness of evil. For many of us, there was a time when you were away from the Lord. You didn’t prioritize Him in worship or prayer. You knew what the Bible said on how you were to live but you lived a different way, your way instead. The influence of the evil one, the devil, was upon you.
It still is. We all are tempted to be led away from the Lord’s love and mercy. That’s the devil’s goal and plan upon this earth to gather as many souls with him in the misery of hell as he can. He swept his tail and a third of the angels fell with him. Every day he sweeps his tail to knock more people off the pathway of righteousness as he tempts us to sin.
His temptations and distractions do not stop! While writing this sermon, someone came to my office door. After speaking with him, I returned to my desk to continue writing. A fly slipped into my office when I opened the outside door and that fly dive-bombed me for the next 45 minutes! It wouldn’t land so I couldn’t kill it. It didn’t leave when I swatted it away. It just kept flying around my head between me and my computer. It drove me nuts! Zrooom! There he went again. Zrooom! Zrooom! Zrooom! Again and again and again. It was impossible to focus on writing my sermon.
The devil and his evil angels are like that fly...they won’t stop; they’ll never stop pestering you to sin. Zrooom! Zrooom! Zrooom! Again and again and again temptation comes attacking you, enticing you to break God’s heart by breaking His law. But you want to focus on God’s Word and will for your life just like how I wanted to write a sermon! But when distractions and temptations are on you, it’s so hard to focus. What temptation comes your way constantly dive-bombing your heart and pulling you astray? No matter what it is...pride, lust, greed, addiction or even the doubt that God’s love could be merciful enough to save a sinner like you...no matter what the temptation is upon you, it’s not going to stop. Ever. Never. It will not stop. Why? Because the devil lives among us because God cast him here. Why? Why would God do that to us? It seems unfair, as if He is setting us up to sin.
Just as we need to read the Book of Revelation remembering two truths, there are also two amazing truths to know and remember which reveal WHY God banished the devil from heaven down to earth. When you know these truths, you know Christ’s powerful love and mercy for you!
1) Jesus won and BANISHED the devil from heaven’s throne. First of all, Jesus won! Always remember, Jesus won! He always does. Even when you feel defeated, Jesus won! When temptation has overcome you and you feel weak and worn out, Jesus won! Jesus defeated the devil in heaven above and Jesus defeated the devil on the earth below. JESUS WON! And you are on Christ’s winning team. Remember Jesus won and banished the devil from heaven’s throne. Do you realize how significant this is to your soul especially as you sin? Because Jesus won, He can give the gift of forgiveness.
When the devil was cast from heaven, he no longer stood in God’s throne room able to accuse you and lie about you. “The accuser of our brothers and sisters, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down.” (Revelation 12:10) The devil never stops accusing you before God, day and night he cries out against you trying to get you banished to hell with him. But the devil’s no longer in heaven! He’s no longer in the courtroom! Whenever there is a controversial trial going on in the US, there are protestors outside the courtroom yelling and screaming for that person to be convicted and even killed. But they’re outside the courtroom. They can yell and scream all they want but they have no say.
Because Jesus won and defeated the devil, because the devil was banished from heaven and from God’s holy throne room, he can yell and scream and accuse you all he wants but he has no say in your trial. Jesus alone stands beside you to defend or banish. If you have faith in Him, which you do, and if you trust that His perfect death on the cross paid for every single one of your sins making you washed clean and holy before the Lord, which you do, then Jesus defends you and God declares you “Not guilty”! And the devil can do nothing about it because he was banished from heaven.
But for those who reject Jesus, which you don’t, and those who live a life of sin without care of what God thinks, which you don’t, those unbelieving people Jesus will not defend before the Father but He will banish like the devil was because they rejected Jesus’ forgiveness and the gift of salvation. The devil has no say in the judgment; he was banished to earth.
Why to earth? Why would God do that? Isn’t He setting us up for failure sending the devil among us? Take comfort, find peace in this final truth.
2) Jesus won and BOUND the devil on earth. Jesus won! He always does! And because He won He bound the devil. “He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him...” (Revelation 20:2). The book of Jude verse six tells us it wasn’t just the devil who was bound. “And the angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their proper dwelling—these He has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains...” Jesus won which means the devil is bound up! Yes, he is here among us but Jesus bound up his influence over you. The devil can only go so far; he can only tempt you. He can’t make you do anything! He’s chained up like an angry dog.
When I was first dating Debbi and I went over to her house to meet her parents, she warned me about their dog Buddha. He was a huge, muscular, angry dog that would rip to shreds anyone who wasn’t family. And so to protect other people, he was chained up in the backyard. Sure enough, when I pulled up to their house, Buddha was barking and snarling and trying to rip his chain apart to get to me. The ground all around his doghouse was mangled and trampled because wherever he could roam—as far as that chain allowed—was dead and desolate because of him. He was a terrifying animal.
You know what, he never once bit me. You know why? I wasn’t dumb enough to go near him! His chain kept him bound up and kept me safe. Friends, Jesus won! He booted the devil from heaven so he cannot accuse you before your Father in heaven. And while the devil is here on earth, he is bound with everlasting chains and cannot harm you! So don’t go near him! Don’t get drawn in by his temptations and you won’t get bit! Stay away and stay near Christ! Jesus won the battle above and the battle below, the battle for your heart. Take heart, have joy... Jesus wins! He always does! Amen.