Flee For Refuge

Sunday, August 25, 2013, 7:44 a.m. – The Lord Jesus woke me with the song “Believe Him.”Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening. I read Revelation 12 (NIV 1984):

The Woman and the Dragon

A great and wondrous sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head. She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth. Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on his heads. His tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth. The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that he might devour her child the moment it was born. She gave birth to a son, a male child, who will rule all the nations with an iron scepter. And her child was snatched up to God and to his throne. The woman fled into the desert to a place prepared for her by God, where she might be taken care of for 1,260 days.

And there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.

Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say:

“Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God,
and the authority of his Christ.
For the accuser of our brothers,
who accuses them before our God day and night,
has been hurled down.
They overcame him
by the blood of the Lamb
and by the word of their testimony;
they did not love their lives so much
as to shrink from death.
Therefore rejoice, you heavens
and you who dwell in them!
But woe to the earth and the sea,
because the devil has gone down to you!
He is filled with fury,
because he knows that his time is short.”

When the dragon saw that he had been hurled to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child. The woman was given the two wings of a great eagle, so that she might fly to the place prepared for her in the desert, where she would be taken care of for a time, times and half a time, out of the serpent’s reach. Then from his mouth the serpent spewed water like a river, to overtake the woman and sweep her away with the torrent. But the earth helped the woman by opening its mouth and swallowing the river that the dragon had spewed out of his mouth. Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to make war against the rest of her offspring—those who obey God’s commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus.

The Dragon

The dragon is Satan, yet he has kings and kingdoms under his control, which do his bidding. The dragon (Satan, the devil, Lucifer) was once a powerful angel in heaven, but he wanted to be God, so he raised himself up against God, along with his angels, and so God hurled him and his angels down to earth, where he now leads the world astray. The dragon stands in direct opposition to Jesus Christ and to his followers. He is the great accuser of Christ’s disciples, i.e. true believers in Jesus. The dragon, Satan, is filled with fury against God and against God’s children, the saints of Almighty God, and true followers of Jesus Christ, yet he knows his time is short, which is why he is filled with fury.

The woman is Israel. She gave birth to Jesus Christ and to the church, the woman’s offspring. Jesus Christ came to the earth, was born as a baby, took on human flesh, became a man, suffered as we suffer and was tempted as we are tempted, yet without sin. He was crucified on a cross as a common criminal, even though he had committed no wrong. They hung him on that cross because they hated him for his life and his testimony. When Jesus died on the cross, he took upon himself all our sins, so that our sins died with him and were buried with him. Then, he arose from the grave, triumphing over death, hell, Satan and sin. He returned to the Father in heaven, and he sent His Holy Spirit to indwell and to empower the lives of his true followers. And, one day Jesus will return to the earth to gather his bride and to rule the world with an iron scepter. His saints will then reign with him on the earth.

The dragon is in constant pursuit of the woman and her offspring, i.e. spiritual Israel. Physical Israel is no longer God’s people because, as a nation, and as a people as whole, they refused to believe in Jesus Christ as their Messiah, though there are many individual believing Jews today. Those who continue in disbelief are numbered among the Gentiles, i.e. unbelievers. So, the woman, and the offspring, that Satan is now pursuing is spiritual Israel, the church, the only true Israel, according to scripture. Only true believers in Jesus Christ, i.e. those who obey God’s commandments and hold to (embrace; incorporate; accept; adopt; and welcome) the testimony of Jesus, stand as a threat to Satan and his kingdom. They are the ones the dragon is after to try to destroy and whom he is making war against.

For Refuge

So God has given both his promise and his oath. These two things are unchangeable because it is impossible for God to lie. Therefore, we who have fled to him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us. Heb. 6:18 NLT

The Lord Jesus gave me an illustration this morning of how this passage in Revelation 12, combined with this Hebrews passage, is being lived out in actuality by many of his followers today. We, as the people of God, were once in an intimate relationship with this sinful world, which is “married” to Satan. Yet, many of us “divorced” our relationship with Satan and the world, and instead we “married” Jesus Christ. This means we left our lives of sin and living for self behind, we have been transformed into new creatures in Christ Jesus by the Spirit of God, and we have fled (sin and self) to take hold of our hope in Jesus Christ and to find our refuge, anchor for the soul, comfort, support and salvation in him alone, forsaking all others. And, so Satan is furious, because he wants us back for himself.

Those who have come into relationship with Jesus Christ corporately make up what is called the church, the body of Christ – not to be confused with the institutional church, which gives a home (a place to meet together) to many of Christ’s followers. Yet, we don’t “go” to church. We, the people of God are the church - not the businesses and institutions of men which house the church. It is important that we understand this. A building is just a building. The New Testament church met daily, and from house to house and in the temple courts. So, we are not confined to a place, day or time when we can meet with the family of God. We can meet with God and his family anytime or place. Meeting with Christians inside a building (institution of humankind) is not more sacred than meeting in a marketplace.

Ok, with that said, the illustration the Lord Jesus gave me this morning was of the institutional church which houses the true church, the body of Christ, but which also houses the world. Professing followers of Christ, who once were “married” to Satan, but “divorced” him, and are now “married” to Jesus Christ have invited their former “spouse” (Satan) back into the church, i.e. much of today’s institutional church has invited Satan back into the meetings of the church, i.e. they are on friendly terms with him once again. The vehicle (means) that has brought Satan back into the church is in the form of games, amusement, and entertainment; diversions to get us off track; and what is advantageous and beneficial to the worldly human, i.e. humanistic philosophy, marketing schemes, and doing what makes everyone comfortable, i.e. not offending them with the gospel of Christ. So, going along with all this is a diluted gospel which “makes nice” with the world instead of inviting the world to death of sin and self and to a walk of faith and obedience to Jesus Christ.

So, many who have “fled to take hold of the hope” they have in Jesus Christ have seen (through Spiritual insight) this return of Satan to the institutional church. Knowing that Satan is furious with them, is enraged against them, and will do all he can to stop them from giving testimony to the truth of the gospel, and has done so, they have fled for refuge in Jesus Christ, who is their anchor for the soul. And, they have gone outside the walls of the institutional church, but not outside the true church. And, in many cases, the institutional church (government + church) and the world inside have been all too eager to accommodate them and to even help them to depart, willingly forfeiting those rejected servants’ witness for Christ and for his gospel, and the fellowship they could have had with the parts of the body of Christ these servants of Christ were assigned to do.

Yet, even though we have a great and powerful enemy – Satan – God is over all things and Satan and his kings and kingdoms are only given authority to do what they do because God allows it for a time. So, we have no need to fear Satan or his attempts to destroy us, because greater is He who is within us (true believers in Jesus) than he who is in the world. There is no temptation or trial that we go through but what God’s grace can handle it and He can bring us through safely into His Kingdom. We are able to overcome Satan, the dragon, by the blood of the Lamb, because of what Jesus did for us in conquering Satan and sin, and through our faith in and testimony for Jesus Christ. This kind of faith refuses to love our own lives more than we love Jesus, and is the kind of faith that brings our old sinful natures to the cross of Christ and that leaves our old lives behind and walks humbly before God in obedience to his commands. This faith will die for Jesus Christ rather than deny Him.

Believe Him / An Original Work / July 15, 2013

My heart cries: Lord, won’t You hear me
Seeking You for the answers
To my heartache and questions
I have concerning my life?
Speak, Lord, to me right now.

“Oh, dear one, why don’t you trust Me
With your life’s circumstances?
Give your all on the altar
In submission of your will
To My purpose for you.

“Surrender your life completely
To your Lord and your Savior.
He has all things planned for you
For His glory and honor.
He’ll work all things for good.

“Believe Him. He will fulfill all
Of His promises to you
For your life and your future.
Trust Him. Rest in His love.
He’ll give you peace from above.”