Sermon: “Conquering Grace” (Revelation 12)
The manner in which we naturally move about in the world is often and almost inescapably narrow and finite. What often seems most real to us is that which our natural faculties tell us is true. But what if we don’t see the whole picture? Or worse, what if the picture we see more accurately represents the antithesis of reality? Revelation 12 is one such chapter that suggests the reality of things in heaven and on earth may not always correspond with what our methods of evaluation suggest to us. But that which we often misidentify by sight, divine revelation clarifies by changing our perspective, and inviting us to peer into the true nature of things in heaven and things on earth. Revelation 12 offers a truer picture of reality that challenges our perspective on the same picture. Revelation 12 invites us to peer behind the curtain and see the heavenly interpretation of several foundational elements of the Christian life.
It shows us first the true nature of ‘the conflict.’ The text suggests that the primary battle in which the church is engaged is one that presses us to believe lies and renege on our confession of Christ. This isn’t a battle against flesh and blood; this is primarily a battle against spiritual forces marshalled by Satan against the bride of Christ. Second, this text shows us the true nature of the victory. As the church fights to hold fast to our confession we do so by the power of Christ, who by virtue of his death and resurrection is seated at the right hand of God the Father from where he rules and governs his church and subdues his and our enemies. Third, this text shows us the true nature of the church. The church, represented by the woman clothed with the sun and the moon, is depicted resting in the desert, in a place that’s foreign and potentially hostile. But even as she’s pursued by the foe, she’s also provided for by Christ. The church is fed in the desert through the means Christ has instituted for the good of the church and for the glory of God. These are the realities that we often fail to behold as we live, move, and have our being. But these same realities are symbolically pictured for us as the truer analogue to that which we often see dimly, and we’re invited to behold and rest upon these truer realities by beholding the message of Revelation 12.