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The Woman and the Dragon

What was happening behind the manger scene at Christmas?

by Andy Davis on December 10, 2023

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. Revelation 12:4-5


When we think of Christmas devotionals, it is reasonable to think primarily of the peace, joy, and love flowing from scenes of a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and of shepherds and wise men and farmers and all. The terrifying image of a ferocious dragon hovering over a pregnant woman in labor, ready to devour her child the moment it was born is so far beyond unseemly as to be almost obscene. No one wants to hear a Christmas sermon based on this passage, though (amazingly) I actually did preach such a sermon a number of years ago!

But in a larger sense this image is vital to understanding Christmas in its fullness. The incarnation was an act of warfare against Satan and his dark kingdom. Jesus came to rescue a people enslaved by Satan and demons, a people who could not deliver themselves. Jesus described his exorcisms in this way: “When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own house, his possessions are safe. But when someone stronger attacks and overpowers him, he takes away the armor in which the man trusted and divides up the spoils.” (Luke 11:21-22) So Jesus came to strip Satan of his power and plunder his house of his former possessions—people. The author to the Hebrews agrees: “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.” (Hebrews 2:14-15) This is the violent mission of Christ—to destroy Satan’s dark kingdom by his preaching, by his healings, and especially by his death on the cross and resurrection from the dead. These things all dealt Satan’s empire a blow from which it could never recover.

"The incarnation was an act of warfare against Satan and his dark kingdom. Jesus came to rescue a people enslaved by Satan and demons, a people who could not deliver themselves."

Yet Satan has fought Jesus every step of the way. And if we could see into the invisible spiritual realms around the little town of Bethlehem, it would not surprise me that the angelic army that appeared to the shepherds that night was also there to keep the demons at bay. That Satan, the dragon, was hovering over the woman when she gave birth to the male child who would rule the nations (Jesus) is made painfully obvious in Matthew 2 when the Satanic puppet, Herod, ordered all the boy babies in Bethlehem slaughtered to make certain that this special baby was dead and no threat to his throne.

In Revelation 12, where this shocking “Christmas” text resides, there is clear depiction of warfare in the heavens (that Satan lost), and of his being cast down to the earth in humiliation, and of his failed attempt to kill the baby as soon as it was born, and of his vicious attacks on the followers of Jesus after Jesus’ ascension. In all these things, Satan is thwarted and ultimately defeated. But it is reasonable for us to see the dark side of Christmas—that the sweet little Jesus boy came to destroy an evil empire.

Tags: spiritual warfare, satan, birth of christ