Thursday, December 24, 2009

Cosmic Christmas: Accuser vs. Advocate

Were you ever taunted on the school playground. "Hey four eyes!" "Get out of here carrot top." " I don't like you pizza face!" You get the idea. Well, my favorite taunt is, "I'm rubber and you're glue; whatever you say bounces off me and sticks to you." If you step up and exclaim this taunt, you have definitely won!

Now we get to the meat of Revelation 12. It is the heart of the Christmas story and can really be summed up with the above taunt. We no longer have an accuser. Our sins have been forgiven. We are rubber and Satan is glue; whatever he says bounces off of us and sticks to him!

Christ's victory over Satan on the cross enabled Michael to have a heavenly victory over Satan. We have seen Michael and Satan battle before. In the book of Jude we find a strange story where Michael and Satan are fighting over the bones of Moses. Here, because of the actions of Christ, Michael takes Satan to school! Jesus said during his ministry that he came to destroy the work of the devil and that is exactly what he did!

According to Jewish tradition Michael is one of seven archangels. As far as our canon goes, Michael is the only known archangel. The book of Daniel prophesies that he will have a huge role in shifting power in the end-times, and Jewish tradition pictures him as a protector for Israel, kind of like a defense attorney. Here he protects God's people militarily. He and the angelic host that answers to him battle against Satan and his minions and they win, barring Satan any access to heaven.

But, what does it mean that Satan is barred access to heaven? In what sense? In the OT, we see that Satan is part of a heavenly council (Job 1-2; Zech. 3; Ps. 82, etc.). The most famous example of that is in the book of Job. God invites Satan, who is one of the spirits around his throne, to take a look at Job, because he is a very godly man. Satan states his counter hypothesis. The only reason that Job is righteous is because of how nice God is to him. Satan asks for permission to strike Job, so that they can see how righteous he really is. So, Satan becomes Job's prosecuting attorney. He accuses Job of not really being godly. He accuses him of being a fair-weather friend, only loving God because God has been so kind to him.

We see the exact same thing in Zechariah 3. Satan stands at the right hand of God accusing Joshua of sin. The Lord rebukes Satan, because Joshua's sins have been forgiven. His filthy clothes have been replaced with clean clothes. Before Christ's work, in a sense, accusations could stick. However, now that Christ has purchased redemption, accusations fail to stick to saints. Therefore, there is no longer a place for Satan accusing before the throne of God. He has now been kicked out of heaven and thrown down to earth for good!

All of this means that the hymn of Revelation 12:10-12 is the heart of this entire chapter and explains John's main point very plainly. Our accuser has been replaced with our advocate. Under emperor Domitan (emperor when Revelation was written), the image of accuser would have been very frightening. This would have reminded John's readers of the paid Roman informer who made a career out of accusing people. During Domitan's reign, Christianity was illegal, so they had many run-ins with these "accusers".

Here we see Satan as the ultimate paid informer, trying to accuse the saints in any way possible. But now, the accuser has been thrown out of the courtroom and held in contempt. He will never be allowed to return and accuse God's people. He has been disbarred. His accusations have no basis because of Christ's work of atonement.

Jesus is now our new defense attorney and nothing Satan does or says can change the reality of the situation. Our sin is gone because of Christ's work! This is the heart of the Christmas story. Nothing can stand against God's kingdom, not even the gates of hell. So, when you think about Christmas or Revelation 12 think about that old playground taunt, "I'm rubber and you're glue; whatever you say bounces off me and sticks to you!"

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