deceiver and the seducer. Thank God for Jesus in whom we have the Victory
So as I listened to the news this morning, and tweeted about a pregnant woman who was shot to death last night, I was once again, rudely reminded, of the reality of evil in the world.
And so we turn to John Stott’s classic book on The Cross of Christ, as promised. Edited of course! Remember also the Chapter : The conquest of Evil.
” No book of the New Testament bears a clearer testimony to Christ’s victory than the Christian apocalypse which we know as ‘ the book of Revelation….
Written almost certainly during the reign of Emperor Domitian (AD 81-96), its background is the growth both of the persecution of the church ( now systematic rather than spasmodic) and the practice of Emperor worship, the refusal of which by Christians, often sparked off fresh outbreaks of persecution.
What the book of Revelation does, in keeping with apocalyptic genre, is lift the curtain which hides the unseen world of spiritual reality and to show us what is going on behind the scenes…..
My concern, however, is to reach the vision of Chapter 12, which in some ways seems to be the centre of the book. John saw a pregnant woman…who was about to give birth to a Son whose destiny was to ‘ rule all the nations’ ( chapter 5). He is evidently the Messiah, and she the Old Testament Church out of whom the Messiah came.
An enormous and grotesque red dragon, identified in verse 9 as the devil or Satan, stood in front of the woman, ready to ‘ devour her child the moment it was born’. But the child was ‘ snatched up to God and to his throne…..
War in heaven followed in which the dragon and his angels’ were defeated….
This, then, is the situation. The devil had been defeated and dethroned. Far from bringing his activities to an end, however, the rage he feels in the knowledge of his approaching doom leads him to redouble them. Victory over him has been won, but painful conflict with him continues. And in this conflict he relies on three allies who now appear in John’s vision in the guise of two ugly monsters and a lewd and gaudy prostitute. It becomes evident that all three are symbols of the Roman empire, although in three different aspects, namely Rome the persecutor, Rome the deceiver and Rome the seducer…..
Then in the last three chapters are described the final destruction of Satan and death, the new heaven and new earth, and the New Jerusalem, in which there will be no tears, death, pain or night, as God establishes his perfect rule.
The devil had not changed his strategy. Although the Roman Empire has long since passed away, other persecuting, deceiving and corrupting structures have arisen in place.
– Some Hindu and Muslim countries…. to propagate the Gospel and profess conversion are offences punishable by imprisonment and even death. #PakistanAttack
– In most Marxist countries ( written in 1986) restrictions are placed on the teaching of the young and on all religious activities specially registered buildings.
– As for the ‘ beast from the earth’ and the ‘ false prophet’ , he is active through other religions, new cults and secular ideologies.
– As for the ‘ great prostitute’ the assault on traditional ( i.e. Biblical) Christian morality has now penetrated the defences of the church itself. On the sanctity of human life ( e.g. in relation to abortion and experimentation with embryos) the church tends to be equivocal.
There is no united witness against the immorality of indiscriminate weapons. #WMD
Divorce is increasingly tolerated, even among Christian leaders.
Sexual lifestyles other than strict heterosexual monogamy are not always condemned ( to put it very mildly…. my words). And we continue to enjoy in the West a level of affluence which is insensitive to the plight of the desperate millions.
The message of the book of Revelation is that Jesus Chris has defeated Satan and will one day destroy him altogether. It is in the light if these certainties that we are to confront his continuing malicious activity, whether physical ( through persecution), intellectual ( through deception), or moral ( through corruption). How?
1. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.
2. Proclaim Jesus Christ.. proclaim the Cross. ..still the Power of God to turn people ‘ from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God’.
Both in our own lives, and in the mission of the church it is only the Cross by which Satan had been defeated, which can prevail against him.”
It is in this context then I believe I was led to read prayerfully, and reflect on deeply, the words of this profound hymn. For the challenge in this Stephen Curry GSW #multiplerecordbreaking, Netflix – getting more expensive – Bernie Sanders vs Hillary Clinton #Demdebate, Warmington now a Minister #Dontyoudarecross, #MissFluffyDiva, we are very prone to wander from the Cross of Calvary.
And the Satan the persecutor, Satan the deceiver and Satan the seducer will breech our defenses and lead to the #Chibocgirls and #Killingmotherandchild.
Peace, as we patiently endure and ‘ dwell in the secret place of The Most High’. Night and day. Without ceasing lest we perish. Or be corrupted. Or be deceived and become distracted.
Come thou fount of every blessing
Tune my heart to sing thy grace
Streams of mercy never ceasing
Call for songs of loudest praise
Teach me some melodious sonnet
Sung by flaming tongues above
I’ll praise the mount I’m fixed upon it
Mount of thy redeeming love
Here I raise my Ebenezer
Hither by thy help I come
And I hope by thy good pleasure
Safely to arrive at home
Jesus sought me when a stranger
Wondering from the fold of God
He, to rescue me from danger
Interposed His precious blood
O to grace how great a debtor daily I’m constrained to be!
Let thy goodness like a fetter, bind my wandering heart to thee
Prone to wander Lord I feel it, prone to leave the God I love
Here’s my heart, O take an