And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars: And she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered. And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads. And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born. And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne. And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days. And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death. Revelation 12:1-11.

Part I
by Brother Emerson A. Wilson

Three Heavens
We found in a previous message that the "pure woman" was the holy mother church, the Church Of The Living God. We also affirmed that the man child was the host of converts that the morning-time Church brought forth. As we consider the dragon, we want you to see that, according to the Bible, he is stationed in the same heaven as woman. John said that he saw a woman in heaven, and he also saw the dragon right in the same position as the woman.

When the Scripture begins to talk about war in heaven, many people quickly form the conclusion that John actually saw a battle going on over in God's Heaven, and saw the devil being kicked out. The theory that the devil was once an angel and was kicked out of heaven, therefore, begins to fill the minds of men and women. Friend, just a LITTLE serious thought on the Scripture will remove all thoughts of this being God's Heaven, or God's dwelling place.

The Bible, first of all, teaches of THREE heavens. God's dwelling place before He made the heavens and the earth is spoken of in the Scripture as being high above all heavens. When Jesus ascended from the earth, Paul said that He ascended high above, or far above, all heavens. So, God has a dwelling place called Heaven. He created the heavens and the earth, referring to that heaven in the firmament where the stars, the sun and the moon are. Then there is a third heaven--a spiritual heaven--spoken of in the Bible. Ephesians, Chapter 2, teaches us how we, who have been quickened from a dead state in sin by a real, born-again experience, are cuaght up into heavenly places in Christ Jesus, or in the body of Christ. We did not leave this earth or get out of this body, in that sense, but we are still in heavenly places.

All you have to do is to read verse 9 (of our scripture text above) to understand that John was not seeing a battle or a dragon laboring against the woman's children over in God's Heaven, as most preachers preach it. Verse 9 says that the dragon was cast out into the earth. Verse 13 lets us know that the woman was not cast out into the earth, yet the dragon went on and made war against the woman. Verse 5, speaking of the converts who were martyred and killed, says that they were caught up to Heaven, or to God and His throne. Well, if they were already in God's Heaven here, how could they be caught up to that Heaven?

Friend, we want you to understand that when John saw this vision, it was merely of a high, lifted up heavenly position, the position "the Church" stands in. Ever since "the Church of God" existed, she has been in a heavenly place, far above the man-made religions of this world. The reason being, any church that men start to govern is only lifted as high as men can lift it, but the highest, Himself, has exalted Zion! He has put Her in the top of the mountain, high above the hills--in figurative speech--in a heavenly position.

Christianity's First Opposer
The Bible tells us that the dragon's position here is against the woman ("the Church"). He wants to devour, and did devour her man child, or her early converts, as soon as they were born. Since he is so against the true Church, and since he is out to kill her converts, we know beyond a shadow of a doubt that he is an opposing power of "the Church" and the truth that she stands for.

He is not only against the truth she stands for, but he is against her ministry. According to prophecy, he is the opposing power that "the Church" ran into after Christ brought forth "the Church" in the labor room on Mount Calvary. She was sent forth on the Day of Pentecost with a mission to go to the uttermost parts of the earth with the good tidings of the Gospel message. My friend, here is the first opposition that she ran into--an opposing power that the devil was using to stop the work of "the Church", to hinder the word of "the Church", or to kill her converts in one way or another.

All Bible students agree that the first opposer of Christ and the early-morning Church was paganism, or Pagan Rome. Rome dominated the whole then-known world. In Luke 2, you can read that when Christ was born, there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that the whole world should be taxed. Rome's authority governed the whole then-known world. We realize that they did not know about the western hemisphere--as far as they were concerned, Asia WAS the world, and Rome governed the "world".

So this red dragon symbolizes the Pagan Roman Empire. Its seven heads symbolize the seven forms of government that the Roman Empire was under, and the ten horns symbolize the ten kingdoms, or ten powers, that Rome was divided into after she fell. The "great red dragon" is simply a symbolic picture of the Pagan Roman Empire, just as the woman is a symbolic picture of "the Church" of the Living God.

Countless people call this great red dragon the devil, but this is not the devil. This was the Pagan Roman Empire that the devil was working through. It is necessary that we understand this because when we study about the dragon being cast down, we are going to find that the devil did not get cast down. The devil only changed his clothes and stayed right up in that ecclesiastical position all the way through here. The dragon only symbolizes a system that the devil is working through to work against "the Church".

My friend, the devil does not have seven heads and ten horns; the devil is a spirit, just like God is a Spirit. He doesn't even have two horns and a tail--that is only fantasy. The devil is a spirit, and he is bound. He can only work through some substance. At this particular time, he was working against the true Church through the Pagan Roman Empire. So, my friends, when we talk about this dragon, we want to make it plain he is only a symbol of the first opposer of true Christianity--the Pagan Roman Empire. Even though the Jews made the decision to have Christ crucified, it was the Roman Empire that carried it out.

Someone may question, "Why did it have to be a great red dragon to symbolize the Roman Empire? How can you say that is the Roman Empire with seven heads and ten horns?" The standard for Pagan Rome, or their insignia, was a great red dragon. The Grecian insignia was a he-goat; Great Britain's insignia is a circle of lions on a red field; our insignia is the American eagle. When God gave John the vision, he understood it well because these happenings were in his day. When God showed him a great red dragon rising up and killing the Christians, he knew beyond the shadow of a doubt that it was the Pagan Roman Empire. You and I can also know it beyond the shadow of any doubt.

Spiritual Darkness Produces Infidelity
Let's read verse 7, shall we? And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels. Here we see the dragon, the Pagan Roman Empire, as accompanied by angels, or as the Greek puts it, "messengers or ministers". Those messengers, or ministers, who fought with the dragon were actually filled and operating by his spirit, fighting against the cause of God. In other words, we see the dragon and his ministers fighting against Michael and his ministers.

I want you to see the Pagan Roman Empire as being a political-religious system. The reason we know it is a religious system is because it is fighting against the truth. It is up in an ecclesiastical position. It is fighting more than the laws of the land; it is fighting against spiritual things.

When we go back and study what the Pagan Roman Empire really stood for, we can see in a greater way why there was such a battle. The Pagan Roman Empire held to a religion that denied the doctrine of one exclusive God and the divinity of Jesus Christ. The Pagan Roman Empire had a religion of infidelity.

A reason for this was that from Malachi to John the Baptist were four hundred years when man never heard from God. The reason being, old Israel asked God not to speak to them. They wanted somebody to speak smooth things and deceit. This is the same reason that the Word of God has left so many church organizations and congregations today. All you have to do is put forth the attitude, "God, I do not want to hear what You have to say," and you will not hear what God has to say. Those people in the Old Testament did not want to hear from God. They wanted someone to teach them smooth things and preach deceit to them, so God hushed. For over four hundred years man never heard from God, from Malachi to John the Baptist!

Since man did not hear from God, the devil was having a field day down there. He had men worshipping gods of stone, wood, hay, iron, gold, and all kinds of images imaginable, and the Pagan Roman Empire went right along with that. They did not care how many gods you had, as long as you did not say anything against anybody else's god! Well, right into that mess came Jesus Christ with The Truth, teaching that God IS exclusive, that there is ONLY ONE GOD, that every other god is false, and that God is a jealous God. God said, Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Exodus 20:3. Brother, a battle started. Everything was in a kind of peaceful coexistence until Jesus started preaching.

Righteous Division
Well, this is the kind of battle that John (the Revelator) was talking about. Michael symbolizes Christ in that Scripture. Verse 9 of Jude tells us that Michael is the archangel: Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee. I Thessalonians 4:16 tells us, For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first. The Lord, with the voice of the archangel, is going to raise the dead. Jesus, Himself speaking, said, Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation. John 5:28,29.

So Michael is the archangel, with archangel meaning, "chief of angels". Revelation, Chapter 1, tells us that God gave the Revelation unto John through His angel. Who was the angel? When John turned around to see Who was talking to him, he saw Jesus! So Michael, in the Bible, is speaking of Christ.

Christ and His ministers fought against the dragon, or the Pagan Roman Empire, and his ministers. A battle took place. The Roman Empire was built on absolutism of state; it made nothing of personal rights. This was offensive to Chirstianity, and it still is. Brothers and Sisters, true Christianity today is against absolutism of state. What do I mean? That the state rules over the church to the place that the state can dictate and tell you how you can worship and where you can worship and who/what you can worship. Brothers and Sisters, this has MORE than merely sprouted right here in our nation. A forced religion is no religion at all.

So when Christians refused the idolatrous ceremonies that Rome set forth, they were persecuted and killed. Here is where the great martyrdom began, pictured as the man child, the converts, being caught up to God. How did the dragon kill? Through martyrdom!

The Pagan Roman Emperor demanded worship that the Christians could not/would not give. I want to tell you right now, if you get right down to strict Christianity, there are lots of things you can't dabble around with in the religion of our day and still be a true Christian--true to CHRIST! Some people feel their spiritual backbone must be made of rubber because they can bow to most anything and think they can be true to Christ. Back in that very day and time, just being a Christian was a crime.

They were so against true Christianity because true Christianity would not make room for any other kind of religion, and it will not still today! That old dragon spirit fights me from every side: "You need to be a little more sociable. You need to bow: you need to let go of some of your scruples and kind of line up with other religions." True Christianity will not recognize any other religion. Now NOTE that: I said, true Christianity, NOT some denominational doctrine of man. I said, true Christianity, as in being sold out to Christ and Christ ONLY. There is only ONE true religion and every other one is false. You will stir up plenty of devils today if you take that kind of stand!

True Christianity still calls for a division, a righteous division. It not only comes down between religious organizations--the Bible says it comes down right in the home. You must tell your family that you love them, but God is FIRST. You will see some companions getting saved when you take that kind of stand. You have to be wise enough to realize that this is a spiritual conflict: it is not a person (husband, wife, etc.,) who is fighting you. It is the devil who is fighting you!

The Accuser Of The Brethren
In those days, it was a crime to be a Christian. Because they failed to burn incense on pagan altars, they were despised, hated, and persecuted. Any disaster that happened in the empire was blamed on the Christians. That is why this dragon is called the accuser of the brethren (Revelation 12:10). If there was a drought, it was the Christians' fault.

Why was it their fault? Well, the goddess of Pagan Rome that most of them worshipped was not made of gold or silver--it was an ETERNAL LIGHT that kept burning. The Christian was forced by the Roman emperor to come and burn just a little incense: "You do not have to forget your God, you can still love your God, but burn just a little incense to our god." They refused to do it, and when they refused to do it, say some disaster of nature occurred--it might not rain for three weeks--they would kill a thousand Christians, accusing them of having made the pagan god angry and she withheld the rain. Or, if the rains came too strongly and they had a flood, they would kill a thousand Christians (or however many they so chose), saying the Christians had angered the god because they would not burn incense to it. My friends, no matter what happened, if it was bad, it was blamed on the Christians. (If it was good, the pagan gods got all the credit, you see.)

Isn't that a picture of some who are trying to live for the Lord today? The devil is against your being a Christian--he is against anyone being a Christian (a sold-out, fully-committed to Christ Christian). The very reason we need to get a deep, settled experience is because the devil has many, many out in the world to work through against you. There are many more against you than are for you, so there is not any need looking to people. There is no need trying to rest on brothers and sisters--you might as well get it fixed and settled in Jesus Christ alone: He and ONLY HE is the One Who can take you through. If you will get it settled there, He will take you through.

They Counted The Cost
Someone may contend: "He did not take 'the Church' through here. About sixty million were killed. Is that 'taking them through'?" Well, do not forget that Jesus holds the keys of Hades and death. My friend, He promised never to let us be tempted beyond that which we are able to bear. And when we are troubled beyond that which we are able to bear, we CAN rely on Him to bring us through. (Sadly, we expect Him to always deliver us "out of"--to keep us from EVER having to go through any troubles or trials, but sometimes there are lessons that need to be learned, faith that needs to be built, and it is necessary that we endure those things.) He was with everyone who was martyred. When they came to the limit of what they could take, Thank God, He unlocked Hades and they went to be with Him which is far better anyway!

They were tortured because they "made the pagan gods angry". Nero gloated to see human blood flowing in the arena with wild beasts. He had dozens of Christians killed, night after night after night, much like us going to a football game today. I want you to see what a devil-possessed, corrupt individual this fellow was, who got his pleasure out of watching men, women and children thrown to hungry lions.

Nero had the Christians put in waxen shirts, alive, and fastened to axletrees, using the women's long hair for a wick. With these human candles, he lighted his garden while he drank liquor. You should read Fox's Book of Martyrs--it would do you good to learn some of the awful tortures the early Christians had to suffer. We think "we" have it so bad in this day and age simply because we have to endure a few inconveniences or don't get our way once in a while--the early Christians, those who were fully and completely committed to Christ, who refused to turn aside even in the face of death, suffered horribly. We all need to remember that in places where the darkness of this old red dragon still exists, through Communism and a lot of the other "isms" in this world today, they are still carrying out the same misdeeds. No doubt, history taught them how to be so cruel.

Nero had his own mother killed to please another man's wife that he wanted--he later took her for his own wife. She gained only death--he later kicked her to death (while she was pregnant). He set the city of Rome on fire and watched it burn from the top of a high tower, then blamed it on the Christians and killed many thousands more of them. When his own sister refused his advances, he had her killed. He walked away from her and had another man killed, then took his wife. In his rage, he killed the Apostle Paul. In describing Nero, I am talking about the dragon and his messengers (ministers such as Nero), warring against Christ and His ministers.

I want to state right here and now that Christianity never fought to overthrow a CIVIL empire, and never will. Christianity was not fighting against the Roman Empire. Nowhere in the Bible or in history can you find where Christianity ever used carnal weapons. Not once did the Christians strike back with carnal weapons. I want to repeat, she was not fighting against the Roman Empire--but she was fighting against that false religion which guided the Roman Empire to carry on in such a way.

Satan's Devices
There are those who might say, "I did not know the devil had angels. I did not know the dragon had angels. I thought all angels were good angels." Paul, in approximately AD 66 or 67 was right in some of that massacre. He lost his head on Nero's chopping block. He was in on it. He said in II Corinthians 11:13-15, For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works. Paul wanted to warn "the Church" that the devil had ministers, too!

John also saw those angels, or those ministers, who belonged to the dragon, fighting for the falsity of their religion. He saw them get stirred because the true messengers of the Gospel would not back off the truth.

Paul said in II Corinthians 2:11, Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices. My friend, we are preaching about the first device that Satan used against the morning-time Church. Since then, he has used many devices, and Paul said that we are not ignorant of them. We could go clear back to the beginning when, against Eve, he used a serpent. Against Adam, he used Eve. Against Samson, he used Delilah. Against Peter, he used a young damsel.

Too many get the idea that he is ALWAYS a "roaring lion going around" seeking whom he may devour. No! Let me tell you, he may come around as a beautiful young lady or a handsome young man, telling a young Christian, "If you are going to marry me, you are not going to be involved in that church or all that praying stuff you've been doing." Brothers and sisters, when ANYone wants you to decrease your service to God, quit going to church, quit paying your tithes, quit witnessing the Gospel of Jesus Christ, quit singing the songs of praise and worship and victory in Jesus, it is the devil--no matter what color his/her hair is, or how good looking he/she is! You need to study up on Satan's devices. He did not come as a roaring lion to Samson! No, when the "roaring lion" came at Samson, Samson killed it! But a pretty young harlot got to him, remember? Satan has many devices, many more than could be covered in one message. Read the Word of God--this is another GOOD reason to study it, learn it, hide it away in your heart and mind!

Someone may wonder, "How are you going to know whether it is the devil using something on you?" My friends, when ANYthing or ANYone tries to daunt your zeal in living for God, by causing you to turn away from your service to Him, mark it to the devil! Even if they claim to be a "good brother" or a "good sister" of the church, the devil is using them! Never think for a moment that the devil doesn't use one Christian against another--many times, they can be more use to him than sinners! Too many are knocked out of this race of patience because they are misguided into thinking all they have to watch out for are the BIG things of sin. No my friends, there are STILL tares in the wheat. There are still people who are not up to par spiritually, and most of us are in excellent shape to become a tool of the devil. You read it right--most of us don't know what we need to know, aren't living what we need to live, to recognize the many forms and guises of our soul's enemy!

Let us NOT be ignorant of his devices. Sometimes he uses a wife or a husband. Sometimes he comes as an angel of light. He will use a preacher/pastor to tell you, "I have the very light you need to stand in. Thank God for every bit of light that you have, but I have some light that you cannot get at your church." Some folks are so deluded and unlearned and foolish as to think the devil is "afraid" of the Bible or that they are "safe" in church--let me tell you, the devil is the most faithful attendee there is! And he knows the Word of God better than any of the rest of us so called Christians--he uses it to twist, pervert, mislead so many every day! That's because we REFUSE to study it and know it for ourselves, so we "follow" whatever "sounds good" or "sounds right". We cannot afford to be ignorant of Satan's devices, my friends!

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