The Kingdom of Heaven Suffers Violence (T.F. Torrance on Revelation 12)

Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels fought back, but he was defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death. Therefore, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!” Revelation 12:7-12

(The following sermon excerpt comes from T.F. Torrance, 1959. The Apocalypse Today. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, pp.74-75, 78-79, 80-81)

Here we have another panoramic view of world-history, but this time more from the perspective of the Kingdom of God…The Kingdom of [the] Truth and Love [of God] is even now striking at the black heart of this world’s evil with invincible might. In the suffering Lamb of God, eternal Holiness and Love have broken right into the midst of our human struggle and shame and ghastly tragedies…It is precisely because the devil and his minions have been so utterly defeated that the earth is thrown into such turmoil and trouble. That decisive defeat becomes apparent as all the powers of spiritual evil, 6285f5c39b531abd12c6eea46ba36043dislodged by the Cross, fall upon the earth and gather together by subtle deception the pride and passions and lusts of men and direct them against the Kingdom of God as it is being enacted in history…

Surely that is a sign of hope in our world. If there is a devil of a row, it only means that the dragon is angry and has lost his nerve. This is the beginning of the end. If the whole world is in confusion, it means that the Word of God is casting out Satan, and Michael and his angels are at war and the devil and all his legions are being defeated. That is the way to read the signs of the times, the terrible signs of our own day. There is not one whit of doubt but that evil is feeling already the pressure of the Lamb of God. In the New Testament when the Kingdom of God came nigh in Jesus Christ, men possessed with evil spirits cried out in terror and anger. “What have we to do with thee, thou Holy One of God?” over vast regions of the world today one hears the same cry, and it is the sign that the finger of God is casting out Satan.

What about the saints of God in all this hubbub and confusion? Will they not be engulfed in the maelstrom of evil? “No!” says St. John…They overcome the devil by the blood of the Lamb and by the Word of their testimony and they love not their lives unto death. That is real faith. Hold on to the Cross in the very teeth of death even if these be dragon’s teeth. Hold on to the Word of your testimony no matter who accuses you. he that endureth to the end, says the Word of God, shall be saved. This is what John calls the patience of the saints.

All that is the work of the man-child born out of Israel. That is the way, and the only way, the kingdoms of this earth can become the Kingdom of God – by the might of the Lamb, by the Word of the living God and by the blood of the Cross in the heart and conscience of men. That is the most potent force in heaven and earth. Who would have thought that the helpless Babe of Bethlehem was anything but a harmless child? Who would have thought the helpless Man on the Cross was such a mighty power? But the devil knows and trembles.

2 thoughts on “The Kingdom of Heaven Suffers Violence (T.F. Torrance on Revelation 12)

  1. Tim Shipman 22 January 2017 / 18:59

    Wow! Just the encouragement that I needed. Thank you for the reminder.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jonathan Kleis 23 January 2017 / 08:39

      You’re welcome! Glad to hear this was an encouragement to you.


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