Revelation - Lesson 4
The Woman, Dragon, and Two Beasts
Background Information for the Teacher
- The student can identify the main symbols in Revelation and explain its basic story.
- Post any pictures or drawings you plan to have on the wall for reference.
- If you choose to do it, have ready your visuals-overhead projector and transparencies, PowerPoint, or chalkboard.
- Have enough of the Story of Revelation Worksheets for students who were not at the last class or who forgot to bring theirs to class. They can use one in class and then put the information on their previous sheets.
- Have copies of Test 3 ready for students as they enter class. It is provided at the end of this lesson.
- Have pencils/pens ready for use.
- All students should have access to a Bible
Chapter 12 begins Act II of the drama in Revelation with a woman standing on the moon who is about to bear a child. A dragon wants to devour the child but he is protected. The dragon (Satan) makes other attacks to stop the work of the child (Jesus) and finally decides that his best way to destroy the work of Jesus is to destroy His followers. So Satan brings up two beasts (representing the Roman Empire and the Cult of Emperor Worship) to help him destroy the church. Christians, however, are faithful during persecution and their cause survives. God announces, therefore, that Satan's helpers will be destroyed.
Lesson Plan for Conducting the Class
Introduction: (10 minutes)
- If you want to save time, give the test to students as they enter or a few minutes before time for class to start. Ask them to complete it and you will give the answers later. If you prefer, you can wait until class starts and make the test time part of the introduction to the class.
- Call the roll, welcome visitors, and make any necessary announcements.
- Songs (as desired). Two songs are suggested for singing at various times during the lesson so you may want to sing only one or no songs at the first.
- His Name is Wonderful
- On Zion's Glorious Summit (suggested later)
- Faith of Our Fathers (suggested later)
- We Will Glorify (ask students for the connections with our last lesson before you sing this song)
- Prayer of thanks for God's love and care and special requests.
- Give answers to Quiz No. 3.No. 1-A throne with God on it.No. 2-Lamb-representing ChristNo. 3-horsemen; power; nationsNo. 4-martyrs; judge and avengeNo. 5-warnNo. 6-natural disastersNo. 7-immorality or corruptionNo. 8-attacksNo. 9-continueNo. 10-persecution; 1260 daysNo. 11-destroy
- Get your Story of Revelation Worksheet ready. Last time we finished Act 1 so now we are ready to begin Act 2.
Learning Experiences: (30 minutes)
- Chapters 12 through 15 begin Act II. In Chapters 4 through 11 we have seen the drama unfold. John saw the throne room of God, the scroll on God's lap, and the coming of the Lamb to open the scroll in chapters 4 and 5. In chapters 6 through 11 he saw what happens as that scroll is opened. In chapter 10, as the first scroll is coming to an end, the angel gave him a second scroll and told him to "prophesy again." So we conclude that chapters 12-22 reveal the contents of the second scroll. Then comes the 7th seal and the announcement of the defeat of the persecutor. Fill in the key words on both sides of your outline as we go, usually the right side first.
- Visual: John sees a woman standing on the moon with the sun wrapped around her shoulders and 12 stars around her head. Act 2 A 1. She is about to give birth to a child. We'll identify her a little later. Standing by, seeking to devour the child as soon as he is born is a great, red dragon. Now let's identify the dragon and the child. We studied about the dragon before. Q: Who is the dragon? (Rev. 12:9; 20:2-Satan) Everyone read Revelation 12:5 but don't answer until I ask. Q: Who is the child? (Christ. You may want to read Psalms 2:9, a psalm about the coming Christ.) So the first attack Satan seeks to make on Christ is to stop his work on earth. Q: How are some ways He tried to do this? (Get Him killed in Bethlehem, tempted Him to do things that would thwart His real mission, aroused the Jewish leaders against Him, aroused the people against Him, got Him killed.)
- Now the scene moves to heaven where Christ from taking His place as Savior because when Michael and the good angels defeat Satan and his bad angels, a loud voice in heaven says "Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of God and the authority of his Christ"(v. 10). A 2. So Satan's second attack was to try to stop Christ from coming to God in heaven as the risen sacrificial lamb for the sins of the world. But again, Satan failed. Note especially the part of verse 10 that says, "the accuser of our brothers has been hurled down." Q: In what sense is Satan our accuser and in what sense can he no longer do this? (He wants to accuse us of sin because that will keep us away from God and with Him but those who are cleansed by the blood of Jesus no longer be accused. What a glorious thought this is and what an encouragement to access Christ's blood and to be faithful to Him.)
- But Satan does not quit. We are at A 3 but complete these words later. He now takes his attack against the woman. God protects her for a time, times, and half a time. Q: If "time" here means year, how many years would likely be intended? (time=one year; times=two years; half a time=one half year. This would total three and a half years.) Q: What other time period have we seen earlier that would correspond to this? (42 months or 1260 days) Thus the reference here is to the same time period in chapter 11 where the beast (Roman Empire) is going to have the church under severe attack. Whenever, therefore, we see in Revelation this symbolic time reference, whether as 1260 days, 42 months, or 3 _ years, it has reference to the same period when Satan is putting Christians under severe attack. We'll come back to the question of who is the woman in a moment but Satan's third attack is against the woman for the 3 _ year time period. And again, since God protects the woman, he fails.
- Satan's fourth attack is mentioned in 12:17. Q: Who does Satan next seek to attack? (the offspring or children of the woman). Q: How are these offspring described? (They obey God's commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus. That would, of course, only describe Christians in the seven churches and elsewhere.) A 4. So Satan's fourth attack is on Christians. He wants to persecute the church out of existence.
- Now, back to the woman. Q: What do we know about her? (She is glorious, standing on the moon with the sun around her shoulders and with 12 stars around her head. She gives birth to Jesus. She is attacked by Satan and goes into a wilderness where God protects her. She may be said to be the mother of Christians.) Q: What or who would fit these characteristics? (Some possible answers might be: 1. Mary-she gave birth to Jesus but she is not the mother of Christians and never fled into the wilderness for three and a half years; 2. The Jewish nation-Jesus was born of the Jews but one would not consider the Jewish nation, which largely rejected Jesus and the mother of Christians.) Back to A 3. What best fits all of these characteristics would seem to be-the eternal plan of God. His plan of salvation, which began before the world was framed (Eph. 1:3-11), may be pictured as a glorious woman. It was this plan which gave birth to Christ; it was this plan whom Satan opposed and sought to keep from taking effect; it was this plan of whom Christians are the offspring.
- Visual: So, Satan mounts four attacks: (1) against Christ on earth; (2) against Christ in heaven; (3) against the plan of God to keep it from being proclaimed and, having failed in all of these attempts, he now (4) attacks individual Christians by seeking to persecute them. Satan's strategy, which Christ is making known to early Christians through the Book of Revelation, is to persecute the church out of existence. Having failed in his other attempts to thwart Christ's work, Satan now decides that his best approach is to kill Christians and scare people away from Christianity. After all, if no one is left to tell the story of Jesus, it won't matter that He died for the sins of the world. Thus, Satan wins and Christ loses.
- But how will Satan proceed in this attack on the church? That brings us to chapter 13. Here Satan will bring up two allies to carry out his strategy. Visual. A 4 a. The first ally is a beast which comes up from the sea. Q: What are some of the characteristics of this beast? (From Rev. 13:1-8 we find the following 7 heads, 10 horns, mouth like a lion, body like a leopard, paws like a bear (like Daniel's 4th beast), rules over the earth, persecutes Christians, all worship him. From Rev. 17:9-10, we also learn that the seven heads represent seven kings-five are past, one is, one is yet to come-and seven hills.) Q: To what do these characteristics point? (The Roman Empire.) So Satan will use the Roman Empire to try to stamp out the church, a very powerful ally. But why will Rome want to be Satan's ally in this persecution? That brings us to the second part of Satan's strategy. A 4 b. Visual: He brings up a second beast-one with two horns like a lamb. Q: From 13:12, what is the sole purpose of the second beast? (to make people worship the first beast.) The first beast is the Roman Empire and each of its heads is an emperor, so the second beast will set up images of the Roman Emperors and force people to worship them. And this Cult of Emperor Worship became a very strong force in the second and third centuries after Christ. Huge temples were set up in major cities of the Empire and people were required to take a pinch of incense and put it on an altar before an image of an emperor and to confess "Caesar is Lord." Thus, Satan was able to put the Empire on a collision course with the church. If they refused to worship the emperors, they would be traitors to the Empire and thus the Empire would seek to wipe them out. If the did worship the Emperor, then they would be unfaithful to Christ and Satan would have won them away from the church. So, either way Satan wins. There was, however, a third alternative. And that is the one Christ encourages Christians to follow. Be faithful even if it does mean persecution and death. This will not only keep Christians faithful, but it will, in the long-run show that Christianity is so valuable that people will die for it. Others will be attracted to it by the persecution and not run away. And that, of course, is what happened.
- So Satan uses the Roman Empire and the Cult of Emperor Worship to try to persecute the church out of existence. It was this persecution, which lasted generally from about 90 AD to 300 AD (the symbolic 1260 days) for which Christ is seeking to prepare Christians. It was a terrible time of persecution. Some say as many as 6,000,000 Christians were killed. While it was probably not that many, the persecution was terrible and intense. (This would be a good time to sing "Faith of Our Fathers."
- Chapter 14. The time of persecution is over. Q: What has happened to the martyrs? 14:1, 3-4. (They are in heaven (symbolic Mt. Zion, and are following the lamb wherever he goes. This would be a good time to sing "On Zion's Glorious Summit" because it is based on this passage. Ask students to find the connections.) B. Christians have been faithful and, although they have been killed for Christ, they have defeated Satan's efforts to destroy the church.
- Q: What is the announcement in 14:8? C. Who is Babylon? (Babylon is a code word for Rome and this announcement is that God will now make Rome, the persecutor, to fall.) In chapter 11, as Act I ended, we saw a preview of the 1260 days of persecution under the beast and an announcement of the fall at the end of it. Now at the beginning of Act II we have seen that part of the story presented in much more detail. So the last of Act I and the first of Act II overlap in time.
- In Chapter 15 we see those standing beside a body of water. Q: How are these identified? (Those who had been victorious over the beast.) Q: Have we seen these before in the story of Revelation? (yes-martyrs in 6:9; great multitude in 7:9ff; the 144,000 now in heaven in 14:1.) Q: How is it that these who died at the hands of the Roman Empire are said to be victorious over the beast? (Rome killed them physically but they won the victory because their deaths meant that their cause survived and they won the ultimate victory in heaven.) D. So the victorious martyrs celebrate their victory. Q: What do we learn from this about what ultimate victory is? (Winning the spiritual battle regardless of what happens to us on earth.) These anticipate the defeat of their enemy.
Application: (4 minutes)
- Did Satan's strategy about how to destroy the church work as he had hoped?
- Does that mean that Satan has quit trying to hurt Christ's work on earth?
- What do you believe are some of Satan's plans to weaken and destroy the church today?
- What can we learn from the early Christians about how to resist Satan's attacks?
Assignment: (1 minute)
- Review and complete your Story of Revelation Worksheet.
- Prepare for the Test 3 over Revelation 12-15.
- Read Revelation 16-19 for the next class meeting.Evaluation:
- Give a quiz over this material at the next class meeting
TEST OVER LESSON 3
(to be given at the fourth class meeting)
Download test over Lesson 3 below.
Back to Revelation
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