"So the dragon was enraged with the woman, and went off to make war with the rest of her children, who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus" (Revelation 12:17).
The reality of Revelation 12:17 and the relevancy of the title of this month's Chariot of Fire are related. Allow me to explain.
An Explanation of Revelation 12:17
Let's begin first with the big picture. From the time God promised Adam that there would be One from his seed who would crush the head of the serpent, the dragon (aka Satan) has waged war against that promised One. The battle intensified once God promised Abraham that One from his seed would bless all the nations of the earth. The entire Old Testament can be viewed as an account of Satan's efforts to annihilate the Seed so the Promised One would never arrive – destroy the seed and the promise is also destroyed. Therefore, Satan has always been enraged against the Seed of Adam and Abraham who would destroy him.
Who is the woman that Satan is so enraged with? Paul told the Galatians (Ch. 3-4) it is the covenant of God which gave birth to Jesus Christ, and her name is Promise. Jesus Christ was the fulfillment, the fruit, the bodily offspring of God's promise to Adam and Abraham. We might think of the promise as the good news or the gospel. Paul wrote to Galatians that believers are children of promise.
"For if the inheritance is based on law, it is no longer based on a promise; but God has granted it to Abraham by means of a promise" (Galatians 3:18). "And you brethren, like Isaac, are children of promise. But as at that time he who was born according to the flesh persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, so it is now also. But what does the Scripture say? ‘Cast out the bondwoman and her son, for the son of the bondwoman shall not be an heir with the son of the free woman.' So then, brethren, we are not children of a bondwoman, but of the free woman" (Galatians 4:28-31).
The apostle Paul considered Sarah as an allegory to the Jerusalem above, both of whom were pregnant with the Promised One. Although we are not sons of Sarah, we who have believed in Jesus Christ are sons and daughters of the woman of promise and therefore are called her children.
Back to Satan. Satan did all that he could to abort the Promised One, but to no avail. Jesus was born as God promised. However, Paul also considered the Holy Spirit to be the Promised One. He wrote, "Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us—for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree'— in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we would receive the promise of the Spirit through faith." (Galatians 3:13-14). The Holy Spirit is also the Promised One – Jesus living in us, the hope of glory. Therefore, Satan's rage is directed at the seed of believers because they are the children of promise and Satan hates the woman of promise and her children! Destroy the seed and the promise is also destroyed. So, I direct your attention back to Revelation 12:17. "So the dragon was enraged with the woman, and went off to make war with the rest of her children, who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus."
The Reality of Revelation 12:17
Can you see Satan's warfare? Consider evolution. If things did not happen as Genesis 1-3 declares and mankind evolved, then there is no God and no need for the Promised One to destroy sin and death. If there is no God, who created man in His image, then there is no soul. If there is no soul, then people are of no more value than termites. If termites are to be hated and destroyed by the millions because they are pests, then there is no difference in hating and destroying babies, the elderly, or people who believe in the Promised One who are considered pests. The teaching of evolution is foundational to Marxism, Socialism, Fascism, and Communism – an expression of Satan's rage and warfare against the Seed, the children of Promise.
Satan was a murderer from the beginning. Consider the millions of people killed by totalitarian dictators throughout history. Muslim extremists in Kenya and Tanzania threatened to burn churches on Easter Sunday. Voice of the Martyrs reports murder, rape, harassment, imprisonment of Christians all over the world.
The anti-Christian policies of our government since the 1960s have increased exponentially in recent times. Policies have become more and more anti-Christian and many are obviously anti-family. Regardless of what is said, it is clear that the government has declared war on everything sacred to the children of Promise. The removal of God from the public forum, schools, and media is obvious. It isn't a conspiracy, it's an agenda.
The culture seems hell-bent on destroying righteousness and exalting evil. What the Bible calls sin, the culture calls "a right." Satan has numerous agents at his disposal to carry out his war against believers. Hollywood, Madison Avenue, Nashville, and Silicon Valley are aligned with him.
Consider the education of our children. Some statistics I read recently in David Swarbrick's The Case for Christian Homeschooling caught my attention. The Nehemiah Institute, which has been investigating and publishing results since the 1980‘s on raising Christian children in a secular culture, revealed a very interesting study. They polled thousands of 18-year-olds who grew up in so-called Christian homes (routine church attendance and considered the Bible of great importance) who were about to graduate. Each student answered a series of questions about God, faith, and the world that revealed their operational worldview. Once answers were tabulated, a score was given ranging from 1 to 100. Scores 1-29 were considered secular/humanistic – their thinking reflected tenants of secular, godless, humanistic, atheistic communism. Scores 30-69 revealed some awareness of the Bible, but not possessing a clear biblical worldview. They were considered moderately "Christian". A young person who scored 70-100 exhibited an understanding of the Bible, God's thinking, and therefore were considered biblically Christian. They divided these scores into three groups: those graduating from public school, Christian school, and homeschool. Nehemiah Institute published its first findings in 1988. All three groups scored in the moderately "Christian" range. The average score of public school, Christian school, and homeschool graduates respectively was 38, 49, and 61. The same survey in 2008 showed troubling results. The average score of public school, Christian school, and homeschool graduates respectively was 4, 13, and 69 (www.nehemiahinstitute.com).
The Barna Group echoed the findings of the Nehemiah Institute. Approximately 80% of Christian families chose government education. More than half of these students believed Jesus had actually sinned. Only 9% held to moral absolutes, and 83% of children from committed Christian families attending public school had adopted a Marxist-Socialist worldview. A recent survey revealed less than 1% of the young adult population in the US has a biblical worldview. Between the ages of 18-23, the number drops to .5% (http://www.gotquestions.org/falling-away.html).
A Southern Baptist Family Advocate Group surveyed parents and children from evangelical homes. They found 88% leave church by the age of 18 never to return. Dr. Brian Ray, an independent researcher, published a report in 2004 indicating that 94% of homeschoolers keep the faith and 93% continue to attend church after high school, but 75-80% of children from Christian homes sent to public school drop out of church after high school (http://www.nheri.org/research/nheri-news/).
I'm not suggesting that homeschooling is God's will for everyone, although the statistics indicate that homeschooling is more effective at producing at least moderately "Christian" offspring than other educational choices. However, according to the Nehemiah Institute, only half of the graduating homeschoolers surveyed fell into the biblical Christian category. In most fields of business, one would consider they had a significant problem if 50% of their product fell short of their quality control standards.
We've probably all seen some impressive Christian young people who have been publicly, privately, and home educated. I'm convinced the commonality of those young people are parents who have an undeniable walk with Christ with integrity, a sound knowledge of God's Word and the gospel, a dedication to discipling and loving their children, a trust in God that refuses to control others, and who are relational and engaging. They recognize there is a spiritual battle raging as described in Revelation 12:17, and therefore walk wisely in their training, protecting, and releasing their children.
Are you discipling your children?
Perhaps now you can see the relevancy of my title to the reality of Revelation 12:17. Satan knows if he can destroy the seed, then the promise will be destroyed. Joseph Stalin echoed this reality when he said, "Give me the children of one generation and I will rule the world." The issue isn't academic, it is spiritual. It's all about who disciples the children and how effective they are.
Can you see that many parents don't realize that their children are being discipled every minute of their young lives. For every minute they are with a peer, they are being discipled by that peer. It's like the frog being boiled to death slowly in the pan. This may be as true for homeschooling parents as those who have their children in a Christian or public school environment. The big question is: are they discipling their children? Every minute counts.
How easy it is to be lured into a spiritual slumber by good activities. Is it possible that part of Satan's scheme against the Seed and the seed of the children of Promise is sports, music, and other activities? Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying these things are bad. Could his strategy be to occupy parents and children with educational and recreational activities so that they have very little time, energy, or money left to adequately disciple their children?
Surely all these thousands of Christian parents did not think they would lose their children to the secular culture. According to four studies mentioned above, exposure to the spirit that is "working in the sons of disobedience," who are "walking according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air" for 10-55 hours a week obviously was not overcome by being raised in a Christian home in 80-90% of those surveyed. Take a moment and consider your own situation. Figure how many hours a week your children are not under the influence of people with the same biblical worldview you have - ____, and then total the number of hours a week you are discipling them - ____. If you make choices that put your children in the world, then you should expect to be more intentional about your discipleship efforts. How can parents engrain the gospel and a biblical worldview in their children sufficient to counteract all the subtle lies, the emotional soul ties of friends who don't have a biblical worldview, and the scoffing of authority rampant in the culture in ten minutes of sporadic Bible reading throughout the week?
Indeed, we should not ignore the spiritual battle going on around us or think we or the ones we love can't be overcome with evil. God will not be mocked. If we sow to the flesh in the world, we will reap the harvest. If we sow our little seeds in the world, expect to reap the world. Satan awaits their arrival in his soil with delight. He will bruise, overwhelm, pre-occupy, and crush them if he can and turn their souls into soil where he can water and nourish the Adam-implanted seed of hatred for God, the Promised One, and the children of Promise. He will disciple them to ignore their parents, their faith, and their teaching because their ideas are archaic, ignorant, oppressive fairy tales which are out of step with the mainstream.
Be a faithful disciplemaker!
I want to encourage you to be parents who recognize the battle raging over and around you and your seed. If you realize the reality of Revelation 12:17, then you should be convinced of the absolute necessity of intentional, committed discipleship of your children. Don't take chances and hope against the statistics. Purposefully sacrifice your pleasures, time, energy, and finances to disciple your seed. Surround your children with faithful people, who will teach them the truth about the big picture battle that is raging and what issues are at stake. Dads and moms, turn your hearts toward your children and make decisions based, not on what seems right in your children's eyes or in the eyes of the culture, but on what is best for your children – what is going to prepare them for the Lord Jesus and the filling of the Promised One, the Holy Spirit.
Faithful parents won't allow activities and work to crowd out the discipleship of their children. The struggle is tremendous. Tough choices must be made – choices that are contrary to your flesh, unpopular perhaps to your children, and certainly out of step with the mainstream of our culture. Faithful parents will seem like peculiar people because they are children of Promise, a promise that the rest of the culture (even within the church) does not know or understand. Because they love their children and trust God to work through them in the lives of their children, they want to spend as much time with them as they can. They realize no one else loves their children like they do. No one else will make the sacrifices, confront their selfishness, expose their sins, enjoy them, and lead them to Christ like they will. They consider the discipleship of their children the most important thing in their lives next to their relationship with Jesus Christ. The expression of their relationship with Jesus gives them the motivation, commitment, and joy in discipling their children. I know the hope and excitement of making these choices. We experienced God's power and grace in our weaknesses, and so can you!
Men, God has placed the responsibility squarely on your shoulders. Where has your heart been turned? Has it been turned to your work, your stuff, and your recreations or has it been turned to the Promised One and the future children of Promise? May God use this article to encourage you to recognize the reality of the battle raging against you and your children and the absolute necessity of discipling your children. The purpose of The Spirit of Elijah Ministries is to express God's heart for His children, to proclaim the gospel of the Promised One, and teach how it can be applied to all of life and relationships. If you need encouragement and vision, visit www.spiritofelijah.com. There are many resources, articles, videos, and mp3 podcasts both free and for sale to help you have a biblical worldview and teach it to your children. Let me suggest a new series entitled,Living the Gospel, as a source of encouragement. Let's make disciples!