The Dragon's War

The Book of Revelation provides a graphic picture of the cosmic battle that is raging between Jesus and Satan, between the “Lamb” and the “Dragon.” The stakes are high, and the pivotal battlefield is the “Assembly,” the Body of Christ. The Devil has no hope of victory if he fails to destroy the Church of Jesus Christ, and so all his resources are focused on accomplishing this goal.

The “saints” overcome the “Dragon,” not by resorting to revolution and violence, but through the “blood of the Lamb and the Word of their Testimony.” Humanity’s hope is the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and the Church’s sole mission is to proclaim it to all men. Thus, Satan and his agents work tirelessly to dilute, twist, divert, pervert, discredit, and otherwise stop the message from reaching the nations of the Earth.

Dragon Photo by Mateus Campos Felipe on Unsplash
[Photo by Mateus Campos Felipe on Unsplash]

The “war” of the “Great Red Dragon” against the Church is a prime example of missing the point of a passage. In popular preaching, Satan’s earthly agent, the “Beast from the Sea,” becomes a global political leader who wages conventional and even nuclear war against nation-states that resist his will.

However, this interpretation ignores the plain words of the Book. In Chapter 12, Satan is the “Dragon” who wages “war” against the “Seed of the Woman,” and her “seed” is identified as the men “who have the Testimony of Jesus.” This group is identical to the saints who “follow the Lamb wherever he goes.”

Chapter 12 concludes with the “Dragon” standing on the seashore summoning his “seed” to prosecute his war against the woman’s “seed.” His first child is the monstrous “Beast from the Sea.” It waged “war against the saints,” and the passage does not sugarcoat his intention to destroy them:

  • It was granted to it to make war with the saints, and to overcome them. And there was granted to him authority over every tribe and people and tongue and nation… If any man is for captivity, into captivity he goes. If any man is to be killed with the sword, with the sword must he be killed. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints” – (Revelation 13:10).

Whether “overcome” means that he kills them or causes their apostasy makes little difference. The goal is to destroy the people of God, one way or another, and Revelation leaves us in doubt as to the identity of these “saints.” They are those “who have the faith of Jesus,” the men redeemed by the Lamb from every “tribe, and tongue, and people, and nation” – (Revelation 5:9-10, 13:1-10, 14:10-12).

The “Beast” has “Seven Heads and Ten Horns” like the “Dragon.” He operates with Satan’s authority. When the “Inhabitants of the Earth” give their allegiance to him, effectively, they “pay homage to the Great Red Dragon” – (Revelation 13:1-6).


The targets of Satan’s “war” are the men who follow Jesus, those who remain faithful and thereby “overcome” the “Dragon.” This company includes the “overcomers” of the “Seven Assemblies of Asia” and the “martyrs” under the Altar who had been “slain for their Testimony” in the Fifth Seal opening – (Revelation 3:21, 6:9-11, 12:11).

This cosmic conflict will continue until the complete company of the martyrs for Jesus has been gathered. The picture painted in Revelation is far larger than just the saints and congregations that will be persecuted during History’s final years. It began long ago, and it continues to this very day.

Whether the “Beast” also wages war against other nations is not stated in the Book, though all the “Inhabitants of the Earth” give their allegiance to this creature. But if “all” the nations submit to him, what would be the point of conducting military campaigns against them? They are NOT the enemies of the “Beast,” but accomplices in Satan’s efforts to destroy the People of God, intentionally or not.

In Chapter 11, the same language is used to describe the “war” by the “Beast from the Abyss” against the “Two Witnesses.” They are identified as “Two Lampstands,” and in Revelation, lampstands symbolize churches. They represent churches locked in mortal combat with the “Beast,” and they must continue to do so until they have “finished their Testimony.” Only then will the “Beast” be permitted to kill them – (Revelation 1:20, 11:4-7).

In the preceding passages, the language of “war” is borrowed from Daniel’s vision of the “Little Horn” that “made war against the saints and overcame them.” This clause is the verbal link between these passages in Revelation, making clear that the same “war,” singular, is in view in each one - (Daniel 7:21, Revelation 11:7, 12:17, 13:7-10).

Thus, Revelation makes a clear and repeated point. Are we listening? Satan is waging a never-ending campaign to destroy the Church of Jesus Christ, and before the end, he will launch his last attempt to annihilate the people of God, namely, those who have the “Testimony of Jesus” and follow the “Lamb wherever he goes.”

This makes perfect sense from the Book’s perspective. The “Dragon” failed to destroy the messianic “Son” who was taken to his “Father’s throne,” after which he was “expelled from heaven” and lost his prosecutorial power. The One “destined to shepherd the nations” was beyond his reach, so he did the next best thing – He declared “war” on the followers of the “Lamb.”

Storm Panorama - Photo by Matt Palmer on Unsplash
[Photo by Matt Palmer on Unsplash]

The letters to the “
Seven Churches of Asia” in Chapters 2 and 3 provide examples of how the Devil conducts his war - through deception (“false apostles, Nicolaitans, teachings of Balaam, Jezebel”), economic deprivation, persecution, and occasionally, by slaying especially troublesome believers such as “Antipas, my Faith Witness.” It seems he remained faithful and effective in his “Testimony of Jesus” - (Revelation 1:9, 2:12-17).

Whatever the “Dragon” and the “Beast from the Sea” may do to the nations of the Earth, Satan’s purpose remains fixed – To destroy the “saints” and derail their mission to preach the Gospel to all men.

He employs the political system, commerce, religious institutions, and the media and propaganda to achieve this end, and the targets of his war are the faithful followers of the “Lamb,” especially those who remain steadfast in their “Testimony” for Jesus.

  • Appointed for Tribulation - (The disciple who faithfully bears witness to the Gospel and Jesus will endure tribulation and persecution for his sake)
  • Expecting Tribulation - (The New Testament teaches followers of Jesus to expect persecution and suffering, and this is especially so in the Book of Revelation)
  • The Persecuting Beast - (The Dragon and his earthly vassals wage war against the saints, the followers of the Lamb, and not against other nation-states)



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