Friday, January 31, 2014

28 Stories - Study 21: A Dragon's View

Fundamental: Great Controversy

Bible Story   

An ear-piercing scream erupted from the surface of the moon and tearing through time and space, demanded the attention of the universe.
Flapping huge sinewy wings, the unearthly demon propelled itself toward the moon—and the source of the scream. It was huge—a red dragon with seven angry heads-—a hideous beast.
On the surface of the moon, a woman clothed in the light of the sun and wearing a crown of twelve stars, screamed again in childbirth.
The dragon flapped its wings and opened its seven mouths, the sun glistening off razor-sharp teeth. A mighty bellow burst from the dragon in a dissonant chord of seven demonic voices. Landing on the moon, the dragon ran toward the woman. Its seven mouths gaped, each intent on being the first to devour the new baby.
The woman, standing in a crouched position, released a final scream of desperation and the baby fell onto the hard surface of the moon.
The dragon, running at top speed, lowered its heads to catch the baby. It began to rumble in a cross between a laugh and a growl. Fourteen rows of razor-sharp teeth snarled. Talons clawed at the ground—propelling the red demon faster and faster.
The woman, still in pain, reached toward her baby. The dragon’s heads each swiveled in to catch the child before the woman. Then a huge hand came out of nowhere and snatched the baby.
The seven dragonheads flung skyward as the hand—and the baby—shot into the stars. The woman’s gaze went to the same point in the sky. The surface of the moon began to shake as the dragon worked up enough speed to launch itself into the sky. With two great flaps of its leathery crimson wings the dragon left the surface of the moon in hot pursuit of the hand—and the baby.
Heaven, in all its glory, grew in size as the hand and the dragon approached. As the hand arrived in Heaven, Michael stood in the palm—a grown man—holding a sword. Raising the sword above his head, he shouted, “Come to arms, children of the light!”
The Dragon flapped its wings with new resolve. It too could see the kingdom of gold. There was a reflection in the dragon’s eye—himself, sitting on a golden throne.
Michael was now standing in front of the glorious city—his huge sword radiating hot-white light. Lined up on both sides of Him, thousands of angels—covered in light—held swords of their own.
The dragon was about to land when a wooshing noise shot past—then another and another. Woosh. Woosh. Woosh. They were hard to see—woosh—only visible against the shining light of the city—woosh, woosh—dark beings, angels in black. The dragon and its evil minions landed together as a mighty army of darkness—at once beginning to fight against Michael and His angels. And there was war in Heaven.
The dark army was largely out numbered—three to one. The battle raged for a very long time. Finally, all but one of the dark beings had been pushed out of Heaven.
Michael faced the dragon with new resolve. The dragon lunged and attacked with seven heads at once. Michael stepped under the heads and drove his sword into the heavily plated chest of the dragon. The force of the blow propelled the beast backward a few steps.
The dragon teetered at the edge of Heaven. Its taloned feet clawed the ground trying to regain a foothold. Seven sets of draconic eyes fixed on Michael who stood, breathing heavily, leaning on His sword as if it were a walking stick. He watched as the dragon struggled to get a grip on Heaven. But, it was not to be. The dragon fell.
Like a lead weight dropped from the top of a building, the dragon plummeted toward the Earth. Stars rushed past like well-lit windows on a midnight expressway. The moon approached and rushed past.
The dragon wasn’t flying. It was more like it had been thrown at great speed. It’s wings flailed as it tried to right itself—too late. With a bone shattering, wing-snapping, teeth-grinding thud the dragon smashed into the dessert.
The Earthbound dragon climbed out of the crater created by the impact, only to see the woman walking away from him. He erupted with a thunderous roar that shook the desert.
The woman ran. She didn’t stand a chance. The dragon clawed the ground as he ran after her. As he gained on the woman, she leapt into the air, two huge wings sprouting from her back. The dragon leapt up, flying behind her.
Taking seven huge breaths at once, the dragon released a torrent of water from each mouth. The streams joined together to make a tsunami in the desert. The huge wave rushed toward the woman, dwarfing her in its impressive shadow.
A tremendous earthquake shook the desert floor creating a massive network of cracks and chasms. The water plummeted into the thirsty ground and gurgled into silence.
The woman had vanished—hidden by the same hand that protected the baby. The dragon landed and searched the chasm that had inhaled the tidal wave. In frustrated anger one of the dragon’s heads bit another. That head took a bite back. Soon the dragon was engaged in all out war on itself, necks intertwining, razor sharp teeth snapping.
Finally the dragon stilled and quizzically stared into the distance, beyond the desert, through time itself. Taking a couple of unsure steps in our direction, all seven heads scanned the ground, confident there was something in the desert dust not far away. The heads rose as one, with new resolve. This old Earth wasn’t barren after all.
The great red dragon-—focusing on your scent and mine—charged, it’s huge claws indiscriminately throwing clouds of sand to the left and the right.

My Reflection

What happened to your attention level when you read that the dragon smelled you and is running toward you? Did the story take on new importance? Why?

What do you think it would be like if we could physically see all the spiritual warfare that is going on around us between good and evil?

My Story

Have you had an experience where something that you thought was only affecting other people started to affect you? How did it change your interest and involvement in the situation?

On TV we see things like starving children, earthquakes, murders and more. What does it take to make those things “out there” become things “in here” in your heart?

My Assurance

For thousands of years the battle between good and evil, God and Satan, has raged on our little planet and the core concept from day one has been choice. God always gives the freedom of choice to His creatures. What do these verses tell us about the choices made by humanity and God?

Genesis 3:6-7 ~ The woman was convinced. She saw that the tree was beautiful and its fruit looked delicious, and she wanted the wisdom it would give her. So she took some of the fruit and ate it. Then she gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it, too. At that moment their eyes were opened, and they suddenly felt shame at their nakedness.

Romans 1:20 ~ ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.

Romans 5:15 ~ There is a great difference between Adam’s sin and God’s gracious gift. For the sin of this one man, Adam, brought death to many. But even greater is God’s wonderful grace and his gift of forgiveness to many through this other man, Jesus Christ.

My Commitment

When humanity chooses to go it’s own way, things come undone. What do these verses tell us about the results of ignoring God and His leadership? What commitment does it cause you to want to make in your life?

Ezekiel 28:17 ~ Your heart was filled with pride because of all your beauty. Your wisdom was corrupted by your love of splendor.

Romans 1:28-32 ~ Since they thought it foolish to acknowledge God, he abandoned them to their foolish thinking and let them do things that should never be done. Their lives became full of every kind of wickedness, sin, greed, hate, envy, murder, quarreling, deception, malicious behavior, and gossip. They are backstabbers, haters of God, insolent, proud, and boastful. They invent new ways of sinning, and they disobey their parents. They refuse to understand, break their promises, are heartless, and have no mercy. They know God’s justice requires that those who do these things deserve to die, yet they do them anyway. Worse yet, they encourage others to do them, too.

Romans 5:17-18 ~ For the sin of this one man, Adam, caused death to rule over many. But even greater is God’s wonderful grace and his gift of righteousness, for all who receive it will live in triumph over sin and death through this one man, Jesus Christ. Yes, Adam’s one sin brings condemnation for everyone, but Christ’s one act of righteousness brings a right relationship with God and new life for everyone.

My Outlook

We can see a lot of good and a lot of evil happening around us every day, but there is much more happening at a spiritual level. How do these verses help you to see the cosmic conflict going on behind the scenes of our world?

Revelation 12: 7-9 ~ Then there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon and his angels. And the dragon lost the battle, and he and his angels were forced out of heaven. This great dragon—the ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, the one deceiving the whole world—was thrown down to the earth with all his angels.

Romans 1:25 ~ They traded the truth about God for a lie. So they worshiped and served the things God created instead of the Creator himself, who is worthy of eternal praise!

Romans 5:20-21 ~ God’s law was given so that all people could see how sinful they were. But as people sinned more and more, God’s wonderful grace became more abundant. So just as sin ruled over all people and brought them to death, now God’s wonderful grace rules instead, giving us right standing with God and resulting in eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

My Response

The following statement is the 8th of the 28 fundamental beliefs of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Review the doctrine and then write a personal response. What difference does this make to your life?

The Great Controversy

All humanity is now involved in a great controversy between Christ and Satan regarding the character of God, His law, and His sovereignty over the universe. This conflict originated in heaven when a created being, endowed with freedom of choice, in self-exaltation became Satan, God’s adversary, and led into rebellion a portion of the angels. He introduced the spirit of rebellion into this world when he led Adam and Eve into sin. This human sin resulted in the distortion of the image of God in humanity, the disordering of the created world, and its eventual devastation at the time of the worldwide flood. Observed by the whole creation, this world became the arena of the universal conflict, out of which the God of love will ultimately be vindicated. To assist His people in this controversy, Christ sends the Holy Spirit and the loyal angels to guide, protect, and sustain them in the way of salvation.

Bible Story

The story of the Great Controversy between Michael and the Dragon can be found in Revelation 12.

Further Reading

Revelation 12, Isaiah 14:12-14, Ezekiel 28:12-18, Genesis 3, Romans 8:19-22, Genesis 6-8, 2 Peter 3:6, Hebrews 1:14, 1 Corinthians 4:9.

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