10 And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. 11 And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death. 12 Therefore, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!” – Rev 12:10-12 (ESV)
The final trumpet has sounded. Christ has come. The walls are falling down. Satan has been cast from heaven and his accusations against God’s children will be heard no more… and he is ticked off. Heaven rejoices, for it is cleansed of that devil’s presence, but woe to those who inhabit the earth, for he has come in great wrath.
How quickly and easily we attribute our sufferings to God, reasoning that God is all-powerful and all-knowing, therefore if we suffer, it must ultimately be at His hands and likely as punishment for some wrongdoing. Or perhaps we consider it all a test to see if we are worthy of God’s affections. Like Job’s wrong-headed friends, the voices we hear come at us with a wide array of beliefs and explanation – all of which make us feel and cause us to pull further away from God. They all boil down to: it’s either God’s fault or ours. There’s no break from those accusations either, for here even those in heaven attest “night and day” the devil poured out his accusations before God. He may be losing, but he is persistent.
How then, are we to deal with living and suffering in a sin-sick world that God has promised to redeem, and is redeeming, but has not yet fully redeemed? That is the Big Question for the churches this was written to, and for us as well. Verse 11 tells us that the saints, who ran the race before us, and received their victory crowns “conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony”. They did not suffer alone, but with the Lamb of God. Indeed, it was only because of Christ’s suffering that they were enabled to overcome the accusations against them by the devil. Because of the loving sacrifice of Jesus, they had a testimony – proof you might say, that God did indeed love them and wanted to be with them… regardless of what the circumstantial evidence of the moment might appear. Indeed, so intense was their yearning for God that they were willing to go through even greater suffering, even lose their lives as a loving response to God’s love for them. They understood, and believed, that this mortal life is temporary, but the life we have hidden in Christ is abundant and everlasting, and they chose to live that life in the midst of suffering as a testimony against sin and evil accusations.
So today, as we scan the broken field before you and hear the stream of voices that counsel us to run, or hide, or point the blaming finger in response to the brokenness we feel in our lives… turn your ear instead to God’s voice: the sound of many waters that roars like a lion to overthrow the devil’s accusations and cuts like a trumpet through his deceit. Know that our suffering is a result of our distance from God, not from being too close to His holy presence, and that He bridged that gap and chose to suffer with us rather than lose us forever, and that love overwhelms and conquers any suffering the devil or this broken world can throw our way. Remember God’s love for us is forever… and the devil’s time is short.
With tidings of Peace and Great Joy