Revelation 12:3-4

Sermon preached on November 3, 2013 by Laurence W. Veinott. © Copyright 2013. All rights reserved. Other sermons can be found at

Unless otherwise noted, quotations are from The Holy Bible: New International Version (NIV). Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House.

In September of 1972 there was a great hockey series between Canada and the Soviet Union. Before the series the Soviets were an unknown factor—people didn't know how good they were. A lot of people in Canada were predicting that the Canadians would win every game handily—by 10 or 20 goals.

But the Soviets shocked the Canadians by easily winning game one by a score of 7-3. All of a sudden everyone realized that the Soviets were really good and that for the Canadians to win they were going to need a miracle. Many of the NHL players were not in prime form—because the series was being played in September, before the hockey season started. Not only that but many of the Canadian players said that the Soviets were playing dirty—spearing them with their sticks all the time—and getting away with it because the referees weren't calling penalties on the Soviets for that. In addition to that one player on the Soviet team had them particularly worried. Valeri Kharlamov was an outstanding skater and scorer. It was like the Soviet's had their own Bobby Orr, and he was zooming past the Canadian defenders like they were standing still. In order to fix Kharlamov, John Ferguson, an assistant coach with Team Canada, called one of his players, Bobby Clarke, over to the bench, looked over at Kharlamov and said,

"I think he needs a tap on the ankle."

A little while later Clarke slashed Kharlamov on his left ankle and fractured it. Kharlamov stayed in the game but he was clearly injured. Some people think that this was a turning point in the series and turned the tide in Canada's favor.

The Canadians targeted the best player on the Soviet team. They thought that if they took him out of the series, they would win.

That illustration doesn't really capture the point I'm trying to make because the Soviets could still have won the series without Kharlamov. But sometimes taking out one particular individual will actually guarantee victory. That's what we see in 2 Samuel 17 when Absalom rebelled against his father David. David escaped from Jerusalem just before Absalom and his men arrived. When Absalom realized that his father had escaped, he asked the wise man Ahithophel for advice. Ahithophel said,

"I would choose twelve thousand men
and set out tonight in pursuit of David.
I would attack him
while he is weary and weak.
I would strike him with terror, and
then all the people with him will flee.
I would strike down only the king
and bring all the people back to you.
The death of the man you seek
will mean the return of all;
all the people will be unharmed."

Ahithophel was right. If Absalom's men were able to kill David—that would have been it. The battle, the whole war, would have been over. Absalom would have been king. The death of one individual would have changed everything.

That's what we have in our text. It shows us that

Jesus is everything. He is key to salvation.

We read, (Revelation 12:4)

"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."

The dragon knew that if he could kill the child there would be no salvation for human beings. Jesus was that important. The child was that important. This is why the dragon targeted the child.

If Jesus was not able to carry out His mission, salvation would be impossible. The Bible tells us that there is no salvation apart from Jesus. In John 14:6 Jesus said,

"I am the way and the truth and the life.
No one comes to the Father except through me."

And in Acts 4:12 the apostle Peter, preaching before the Sanhedrin, said about Jesus,

"Salvation is found in no one else,
for there is no other name under heaven
given to men by which we must be saved."

What is it that is so important about Jesus? Why is He central to salvation? There are two parts to the answers. To answer we need to look at the problem Jesus solved for human beings and how He did that.

What problem did Jesus solve?

According to the Bible, Jesus solved the problem of sin and its punishment.

Our basic problem as human beings is that we're sinners.

Adam sinned as our representative and when he sinned, he plunged the whole human race into sin. Everyone descended from Adam is a sinner. As David wrote in Psalm 51:5,

"Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time
my mother conceived me."

As we read in Romans 5:12,

"sin entered the world through one man,
and death through sin,
and in this way death came to all men,
because all sinned—"

Romans 5:15 goes on to tell us that,

"many died by the trespass of the one man,"

Verse 17 says,

"by the trespass of the one man,
death reigned through that one man"

Verse 18 says,

"as the result of one trespass
was condemnation for all men…"

Adam was our representative, our federal head. When he sinned he plunged all of his descendants into sin. Cain was born a sinner. His sin manifested itself in his killing of his brother Abel. Cain and all of Adam's descendants, are sinners. As we read in Psalm 14:2–3,

"The LORD looks down from heaven
on the sons of men to see
if there are any who understand,
any who seek God.
All have turned aside,
they have together become corrupt;
there is no one who does good,
not even one."

So we're all sinners. Romans 3:10, after looking at both the Jews and the Gentiles says,

"There is no one righteous, not even one;"

Romans 3:23 adds,

"for all have sinned
and fall short of the glory of God…"

You're a sinner. I'm a sinner. We're all sinners.

Secondly, the Bible tells us that the curse of sin is death.

God told Adam and Eve that the day that they ate of the forbidden fruit they would die. And they did. They didn't die physically that day, but they died spiritually. That very day they were separated from God. They were afraid to be in His presence. They saw that they were naked. They were no longer clothed with the glory of God. They were cast out of the Garden of Eden. Then, years later, both Adam and Eve died physically. Physical death is part of the curse of sin. Many of the sacrifices of the Old Testament also reminded the people that the penalty for sin was death. The animals had to be put to death. Physical death is part of the curse of sin.

But physical death does not exhaust the punishment of our sin. When our bodies die our souls live on. In Luke 16 Jesus told the story of Lazarus and the rich man. When Lazarus died, he went to Abraham's bosom. Jesus then said, (Luke 16:22–23)

"The rich man also died and was buried.
In hell, where he was in torment…"

In Matthew 10:28 Jesus told us about the reality of hell. He said,

"Do not be afraid of those who
kill the body but cannot kill the soul.
Rather, be afraid of the One who
can destroy both soul and body in hell."

And in Matthew 13:41–42 Jesus spoke about the end of time when,

"The Son of Man will send out his angels,
and they will weed out of his kingdom
everything that causes sin
and all who do evil.
They will throw them into the fiery furnace,
where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth."

The book of Revelation expresses this in terms of the lake of fire. Revelation 20:10 tells us about the punishment of those who lead God's enemies.

"And the devil, who deceived them,
was thrown into the lake
of burning sulfur, where the beast
and the false prophet had been thrown.
They will be tormented day and night
for ever and ever."

Revelation 21:8 tells us the fate of sinners who are not saved by Jesus,

"But the cowardly, the unbelieving,
the vile, the murderers,
the sexually immoral,
those who practice magic arts,
the idolaters and all liars—
their place will be in the
fiery lake of burning sulfur.
This is the second death."

Revelation 20:14–15 says,

"Then death and Hades were thrown
into the lake of fire.
The lake of fire is the second death.
If anyone's name was
not found written in the book of life,
he was thrown into the lake of fire."

The wages of sin is death—death in all its horrible fullness.

So putting both of these things together we see that

on our own we human beings are lost.

It's as simple as that. As Paul told the Ephesians Christians that before they were Christians they were, (Ephesians 2:1)

"dead in your transgressions and sins,
in which you used to live
when you followed the ways
of this world and of
the ruler of the kingdom of the air,
the spirit who is now at work
in those who are disobedient.
All of us also lived among them
at one time, gratifying
the cravings of our sinful nature
and following its desires and thoughts.
Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath."

The picture there is one of human beings being lost. They were spiritually dead in their sins. They were under the control of the devil. They were, by nature, objects of God's wrath.

All this means that

your good works can never pay the penalty for our sin.

Many people today think that they're good people and that when they die God will let them into heaven. Many religions are based on good works.

But we've already seen that we're all sinners and that the wages of sin is death. Christianity is not about trying to be good and earning your way into heaven. It's not about going to church and thereby getting in good with God. Over and over again the Bible tells us that we cannot be saved by our works. For example, Galatians 3:10 says,

"All who rely on observing the law
are under a curse, for it is written:
'Cursed is everyone who does
not continue to do everything written
in the Book of the Law.'"

Romans 3:19–20 says,

"Now we know that whatever the law says,
it says to those who are under the law,
so that every mouth may be silenced
and the whole world
held accountable to God.
Therefore no one will be declared righteous
in his sight by observing the law;
rather, through the law we become conscious of sin."

Galatians 2:15–16 adds,

"We who are Jews by birth
and not 'Gentile sinners'
know that a man is not justified
by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ."

Even if you could live a perfect life for the rest of your life—that wouldn't be good enough. When you died and you were examined, and you were asked why God should let you into heaven, and you replied,

"I've lived a really good life for the 60 years."

That won't mean a thing. The wages of sin is death, not that you live a good life for 60 years.

That's like trying to pay for something with the wrong currency. Peter tells us how we were redeemed in 1 Peter 1:18–21. He wrote,

"For you know that it was not with
perishable things such as silver or gold
that you were redeemed
from the empty way of life handed down
to you from your forefathers,
but with the precious blood of Christ,
a lamb without blemish or defect.
He was chosen before the creation
of the world, but was revealed
in these last times for your sake.
Through him you believe in God,
who raised him from the dead
and glorified him,
and so your faith and hope are in God."

What do you need in order to be saved?

You need Jesus.

You need to believe in Him. You need to trust Him to save you.

There is no one like Jesus. He is absolutely unique. He's the only one qualified to save us. He is the only one able to save us.

He is the God-man. He is God Himself, the second person of the Trinity. That made Him eminently qualified to save us. Before the creation of the world, in the counsels of the Trinity, it was decided that Jesus would come to this earth to save sinners. The Father would send Him. The Holy Spirit would apply the salvation.

Over 2000 years ago Jesus came to this earth and took our nature on Himself. He was made in like us in every way—except without sin. He was born supernaturally, of a virgin. He did not have a human father. The Holy Spirit overshadowed Mary and one of the means that He did not inherit original sin from Adam. He was born sinless. Not only that, but He lived a perfect life. As Peter wrote in 1 Peter 2:22,

"He committed no sin…"

When the devil tempted Jesus, Jesus stood firm and did not sin. He was truly human, but without sin. This means that He could save us. He could die for us. Hebrews 2:14–17 says,

"Since the children have flesh and blood,
he too shared in their humanity
so that by his death he might destroy him
who holds the power of death—
that is, the devil—and free those
who all their lives were held in slavery
by their fear of death.
For surely it is not angels he helps,
but Abraham's descendants.
For this reason he had to be
made like his brothers in every way,
in order that he might become
a merciful and faithful high priest
in service to God, and that he might
make atonement for the sins of the people."

The book of Hebrews is all about the uniqueness and superiority of Jesus. The first chapters show us how He is superior to the angels. Chapter 3 shows us that He is superior to Moses. Then it goes on to show how He is superior to the Levitical priests. He was a priest after the order of Melchizedek. He is absolutely qualified to save us. As we read in Hebrews 7:26–28,

"Such a high priest meets our need—
one who is holy, blameless, pure,
set apart from sinners,
exalted above the heavens.
Unlike the other high priests, he does not need
to offer sacrifices day after day,
first for his own sins,
and then for the sins of the people.
He sacrificed for their sins
once for all when he offered himself.
For the law appoints as high priests men
who are weak; but the oath,
which came after the law, appointed the Son,
who has been made perfect forever."

Hebrews 9 tells us that Jesus entered the heavenly most holy place with His own blood. He didn't enter with the blood of animals, but with His blood. By the sacrifice of Himself He was able to once and for all to do away with sin. (Hebrews 9:26) Hebrews 10 tells us that in contrast to the Levitical priests, which offered the same sacrifices which could never take away sins—(Hebrews 10:12)

"But when this priest had offered
for all time one sacrifice for sins,
he sat down at the right hand of God."

Jesus died for us. He is the only one who could take away our sin. Christianity is about substitutionary atonement. As we read in 2 Corinthians 5:21,

"God made him who had no sin
to be sin for us, so that in him we might
become the righteousness of God."

The whole Old Testament pointed to the coming Messiah. The Old Testament animal sacrifices showed the people that sin required death but that there was a way for them to escape death. One of the clearest indications of this was the time when Abraham was told to kill his son Isaac. Isaac was the son of promise. He had to live. He did. God provided a substitute. A ram was caught by its horns in the bushes, and the ram was offered in Isaac's place. That pointed to the coming Messiah. We read the same thing in Isaiah 53:4–6. 700 years before Jesus, Isaiah wrote about substitutionary atonement.

"Surely he took up our infirmities
and carried our sorrows,
yet we considered him stricken by God,
smitten by him, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace
was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.
We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to his own way;
and the LORD has laid on him
the iniquity of us all."

This salvation is all about Jesus. It is through Him that we get the forgiveness of sins. It is through Him that we are made righteous. In Romans 3, after Paul had concluded that all were in sin, both Jews and Gentiles, shows us what we need. He wrote, (Romans 3:21–24)

"But now a righteousness from God,
apart from law,
has been made known, to which
the Law and the Prophets testify.
This righteousness from God comes
through faith in Jesus Christ
to all who believe."

The last thing I will say about salvation being only through Jesus has to do with the fact that there are indications in Scripture that show that

salvation could only come through Jesus.

I'll mention only one. In the Garden of Gethsemane, when He was in agony, Jesus prayed and said, (Matthew 26:39)

"My Father, if it is possible,
may this cup be taken from me.
Yet not as I will, but as you will."

Was it possible for the cup to pass from Him? No. There was no other way for human beings to be saved. In order to save them, Jesus had to die. How hard this must have been for the Father. Romans 8:32 speaks about the Father,

"who did not spare his own Son,
but gave him up for us all…"

In his excellent book, Redemption, Accomplished and Applied, John Murray writes about the Bible's teaching on how God saved us. Some Christians believe that God could have forgiven sin and saved His elect without atonement. But Murray argues, (correctly, I believe) that, (p. 12)

"God, having elected some to everlasting life out of his mere good pleasure, was under the necessity of accomplishing this purpose through the sacrifice of his own Son, a necessity arising from the perfections of his own nature. In a word, while it was not inherently necessary for God to save, yet, since salvation had been purposed, it was necessary to secure this salvation through a satisfaction that could be rendered only through substitutionary sacrifice and blood-brought redemption."

Was it possible for the cup to pass from Jesus? No.

The great question is:

Are you saved?

Do you believe in Jesus? Are you trusting in Him to save you? If you're not, you're lost.

Go to Jesus. He's your only hope.

He came into this world of danger to do battle because it was the only way for human beings to be saved. You need Him. Go to Him for salvation. John 3:16 says,

"For God so loved the world
that he gave his one and only Son,
that whoever believes in him
shall not perish but have eternal life."