“Conquer the Dragon” | Revelation 12:7-12 | Festival of Saint Michael and All Angels

Jesus saw Satan fall from heaven like lightning. Can you picture that? Our greatest enemy being cast out of the sky by our greatest hero. I think it helps, too, if you picture Satan as he is described here, as a dragon. Here is this massive, deadly creature, falling from the sky faster than you can see. On minute he’s there, and the next he’s already crashed into the earth. That is a fantastic picture. But how does that happen? When Jesus describes that scene, what time is he talking about. If you are like some people, you assume that this is talking about the beginning of the world. Sometime after God created everything, one angel, who we now call Satan, fell. We don’t know exactly how that all went down, but at some point Satan rejected God. We don’t know exactly why; we don’t know exactly when. The Bible does not answer those questions for us. But, we know it happened, because shortly after Satan shows up as a serpent. He sets himself up as God’s enemy, and the enemy of those first two human beings, and brings about humanity’s fall as well.

But is that the time we are talking about? Was Jesus talking about what happened at the beginning of the world? And when we read from the book of revelation today, were we talking about that same time? We were no longer talking about just a mere serpent, but one who has eaten and gorged himself into an enormous dragon. Is the picture of that war—fought between Michael and the faithful angels against the Dragon and his demons—is that a picture from just after creation? I don’t know think so. I don’t want to fret too much about the time frame, but I want you to know that if you realize that these words—this war spoken of—was fought on one particular day, and continues until now, then you will find yourself ready. And you must be ready. Because today we’ll talk about angels, spiritual war, and how you Conquer the Dragon (1) because of the blood of the Lamb and (2) because of the Word.

I don’t know how much fantasy literature you have read in your life, but if I had to guess it’s probably not much. We have a book club at Saint Peter, and the one time I had everyone read a fantasy novel didn’t go too well. I get that. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea. And dragons fit perfectly into fantasy literature. They’re giant scaly beasts that breath fire, guard treasure, and can eat people whole. But here in the book of Revelation, we’re not talking about fantasy. Friends, dragons are real. Let that sink in for a moment. If you were at the Minneapolis zoo, and suddenly, an announcement came from the loudspeakers that a lion had gotten out, and no one knew where it was. How would you feel? Would you think, “No big deal. Let’s grab a hot dog and go see the giraffes.” Of course not. You’d probably try to get as far away as possible. But imagine how you would feel if you start heading for your car, when you hear a roar in front of you. There stalking you among the rows of cars, you see the lion looking right at you hungrily. Can you picture that? Can you feel the imaginary fear of that situation?

Now imagine that it’s not a lion, which is deadly and scary, but that it’s a dragon. It’s forty feet tall. It’s breathing fire and snacking on the zebras. And now it’s looking at you. It’s got wings. It can fly. And now, it wants to know what fried you tastes like. You are not going to confront any lions tonight. But, you will confront the Dragon. He’ll be there waiting for you when you get home. He’ll be there when you rest your head, when you go to work—even right now as you sit in this church. The Dragon is here. He’s hungry. I’m not talking fantasy, because hell is not a made up story. There’s much we don’t know about Satan, but I can assure that Satan has one goal for you. He wants you to burn forever. He’s smarter than you. He’s faster, bigger, stronger. In every way he has the advantage, and you should be afraid of him. He’s a dangerous opponent. Don’t be caught unawares. Don’t underestimate him.

Conquer him. Conquer the dragon. I know he’s bigger. I know he’s scary and more powerful, but you can do it. Just not by yourself. Listen to what the Apostle John writes in the book of Revelation: “There was also a war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought with the dragon. The dragon fought back along with his angels, but he was not strong enough. There was no longer a place for them in heaven. The great dragon was thrown down—the ancient serpent, the one called the Devil and Satan, the one who leads the whole inhabited earth astray—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him” (Revelation 12:7-9). In this battle, you have allies. And, they’re stronger than the dragon. We don’t talk a lot about angels, not because we don’t like them, or because they aren’t important, but because they like to be in the background. Angels don’t really show up in the Bible very often either, except when something big is happening. In a couple months when we celebrate Christmas, we’re going to hear the angels sing, “Glory to God in the highest!” When Jesus rises, we hear the angels say, “He is not here. He is risen!” Those were huge events, and the angels were there, but most of the time they stay hidden.

So, we don’t talk about them very often, but it’s good for us to have this festival and talk about what they do. In our culture, angels tend to look like humans with wings, and often times they’re pictured as little babies with wings. That is not how the Bible talks about them. Angels are horrific, terrifying warrior creatures, and if you saw one, you would be as scared of them as you are of the Dragon, but with one difference. These creatures are on your side. They fight the dragon. They’re led by Michael, an angel powerful enough to drive back the dragon and throw him down to earth. But, even that, all happens behind the scenes. Here in revelation, this hidden battle is shown to us, but just a glimpse. It’s just enough for us to see who wins, and how to do it.

Listen to this song sung in heaven: “Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ, because the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, the one who accuses them before our God day and night” (Revelation 12:10). Do some of those words sound familiar to you? They should. We include part of this passage before communion sometimes, and it fits perfectly. In Communion, we receive the forgiveness of sins. It’s truly a time when God’s salvation, power, kingdom and authority come to us. And if all of that is ours, then that Dragon’s power, kingdom and authority is done away—especially his accusations. Those are Satan’s main tool. He is the Accuser. But, his accusations have no power if every single sin has been taken away. Listen to how the song goes on: “They conquered him because of the blood of the Lamb” (Revelation 12:11). Did you catch who the word, “they,” refers to? It refers back to the brothers. We’re not just talking about men here, though. Any Christian who has been accused by Satan has conquered Satan.

That victory comes by Jesus’s blood. I asked you earlier when you picture these verses happening, and here is the first answer. That day as Christ suffered and died on the cross, there was an enormous battle happening. It was a battle Satan and his demons lost. It was a battle won by the Christ on the cross. His angels drove back Satan, and Jesus crushed his head. Because of the blood Jesus shed, the victory he won that day was given to you. When the dragon comes your way, and he will, conquer him because you have been forgiven in the blood of the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ.

But, there’s more to this. The battle that was fought that day continues. Satan and his armies will never win, but they will find on. It’s a battle of attrition. It’s not about victory anymore. It’s about hurting as many people as possible. It’s about dragging as many people away from God as they can to find their damnation in hell. It’s about grieving our Savior who died for all. But, still, conquer the dragon. The battle goes on, but Satan is still cast down: “They conquered him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony. They did not love their lives in the face of death. 12 For this reason, rejoice, you heavens and those who dwell in them. Woe to the earth and the sea, for the Devil has gone down to you. He is full of rage, because he knows that his time is short” (Revelation 12:11-12).

Satan fights his unwinnable battle and he knows his time is short. When I talked to Pastor Kelly about this, he compared to the end of a football game. Those last two minutes are often the most exciting. Who’s going to win? Can they stop the clock? Are they in field goal range? Everyone is on the edge of their seats. We are living in the last minutes of this earth. Satan is trying as hard as he can to claim as many as he can. I want you to know that that these words say is true. He’s full of rage. He knows his time is short. So, he wanders this earth. But, you need not worry. On that day the lamb’s blood was shed, the victory was truly won, but each time that message is spoken, the victory is renewed. Christian conquer the dragon when they speak the gospel. In fact, right now, if Satan is present, I want him to know that we are forgiven because of the blood of Christ, and because right now I proclaim the gospel. Jesus has saved us. Let Satan rage, but you, O Christians, rejoice. When you speak those words, when I speak those words, Satan is driven out. “Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ” (Revelation 12:10).

Conquer the dragon because of the blood of the lamb and because of the gospel. Do you want to know how to do it? It’s like this. Have you ever had an argument with someone, and they’re vehemently trying to make their point. For example, if someone would say to you, “You know, the Packers are the best football team. The Vikings are terrible (and they are).” If you want everyone to get super angry, you can start trying to convince them that the Vikings really are worth following, but after everyone gets angry, likely no one is going to be convinced of anything. Everyone loses. But, what if you just agree. “You think the Packers are the best. Cool.” Then there’s no argument. It’s over. When the Dragon comes your way, and he accuses you, “You are a sinner. You are not worthy of God’s love. You deserve hell.” You know what you do? You agree with him. He’s right. But your next words take away all of his power: “But Jesus saved me anyway.” Go conquer the dragon, friends. Amen.

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