You’ve probably figured out by now that I’m a huge fan of Seinfeld. One of the funniest episodes is from an earlier season when Jerry, George, and Elaine spend the entire show waiting for a table at a Chinese restaurant. As their wait drags on, they keep asking the host how long until they’ll be seated. “Oh, five, ten minutes” is his reply every time.
There is a lesser-known song by Elton John from his Blue Moves double-album in which he asks, like many have and still do: if there’s a God in heaven, what’s he waiting for?
I know that God is patient, wanting all people to be saved, but sometimes I wonder why he allows Satan so much power. “All the demonic activity here and in the Gospels is connected to Satan’s frustrated anger (ESV Study Bible).” I don’t think Satan has any misgivings about his defeat, but he will not go quietly. For 2,000 years, he has continued to thrash about, seeking whom he can take down, and he will continue to do so until God says it’s enough.
13 And when the dragon saw that he had been thrown down to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child. 14 But the woman was given the two wings of the great eagle so that she might fly from the serpent into the wilderness, to the place where she is to be nourished for a time, and times, and half a time. 15 The serpent poured water like a river out of his mouth after the woman, to sweep her away with a flood. 16 But the earth came to the help of the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed the river that the dragon had poured from his mouth. 17 Then the dragon became furious with the woman and went off to make war on the rest of her offspring, on those who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus. And he stood on the sand of the sea. —Revelation 12:13–17 ESV
Satan was not only unsuccessful in defeating the Messiah, but he met his demise in the perfect execution of his own plan. Therefore, he has turned his attacks to those “who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus.” It would seem that we who choose to obey God and trust in Jesus’ sacrifice for us should look forward to demonic attacks. Satan does not regard us without hostility. His aim is to devour in any way possible.
When will Jesus return and defeat Satan for good? Why do people die of starvation and curable diseases? Why are young girls kidnapped and forced into the sex trade? We blame God for all these travesties. If there’s a God in heaven, what’s he waiting for? I wonder if God wouldn’t respond: Where are my people? Why has my Church become silent and unmoving? Why do you overeat, pop antacid, and medicate every mild ailment? How can you dally in porn and objectify your enslaved sisters, your daughters?
Satan would like to keep us distracted by fleeting pleasures and sedated under a weight of guilt, because if we were to trust that we are indeed covered in the righteousness of Christ and if we were to “keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus,” then with each prayer we offer and with each action we take, we’ll be digging yet another shovelful for the grave that Satan will not overcome. As we gather this week to sing our Christmas hymns, none of which refer to our being the target of the great red dragon, let’s keep in mind this truth about Christmas, that our God is awaiting our obedience and will protect us when we do venture forth in faith.
Someday the world will know the peace the angels spoke about. But until then, Satan will “make war on the rest of the [woman’s] offspring,” for he does still have much power in the world. We can either cower and hide like refugees, or we can take up arms and join with Jesus in rescuing those held captive. If you will, then I’ll see you on this spiritual Omaha Beach.
Merry Christmas, be strong and courageous, and God be with you.