Bible, Christmas, Main, News, Spiritual Warfare
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The red dragon and the Christmas story


Joseph and Mary traveling to Egypt by Gentile da Fabriano (1370-1427) Credit: jean louis mazieres/Flickr/Creative Commons

Joseph and Mary traveling to Egypt by Gentile da Fabriano (1370-1427) Credit: jean louis mazieres/Flickr/Creative Commons

Diana Rowland from Louisiana recently caught the ire of a neighbor when she set up a Christmas display featuring large, inflatable dragons. Rowland, an author who writes on zombies and demons, has set up a similar display for several years at both Christmas and Halloween.

But this year, a neighbor sent Rowland a message complaining about the dragons. When Rowland tweeted the letter, it went viral.

The neighbor wrote:

“It is totally inappropriate at Christmas. It makes your neighbors wonder if you are involved in a demonic cult.”

The anonymous writer asked Rowland to take down the dragons and went on to say that Rowland did not understand the true meaning of Christmas which involved the birth of Christ.

So what was Rowland’s response?

Well, she briefly considered taking them down but then decided against it. She shared the letter with her sister who promptly donated two more dragons to the display. Rowland then added halos to a couple of the dragons and called them angels.

While the neighbor complained the dragons were totally inappropriate, I am not sure they really are, if we truly understand the Christmas story.

Both Luke and Matthew tell the popularized version of Christ’s birth: Mary and Joseph going to Bethlehem because of the Roman census and Jesus’s birth in a stable because there was no room at the inn. We read of shepherds receiving angelic visitations and wise men, guided by a star, coming to visit Jesus.

However, the Bible has another version of the Christmas story that paints a slightly different picture of what happened. Found in the book of Revelation (a vision given to the Apostle John), it shows what was happening behind the scenes in the spiritual realm as Christ was birthed in Bethlehem:

The Woman, Israel

12 A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars; and she was with child; and she *cried out, being in labor and in pain to give birth.

The Red Dragon, Satan

Then another sign appeared in heaven: and behold, a great red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads were seven diadems. And his tail *swept away a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she gave birth he might devour her child.

The Male Child, Christ

And she gave birth to a son, a male child, who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron; and her child was caught up to God and to His throne. (Revelation 12:1-5 NASV)

The woman mentioned in this account is not Mary, but rather Israel and the child being birthed is Jesus (v 5).

But two verses later, the Apostle John gives a fuller description of what happened telling us that the dragon was none other than Satan and after a great battle, the Archangel Michael drove the red dragon and those angels allied with him out of heaven:

And there was war in heaven, Michael and his angels waging war with the dragon. The dragon and his angels waged war, and they were not strong enough, and there was no longer a place found for them in heaven. And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. (Revelation 12:7-9 NASV)

Having been driven to earth, the Apostle John says that Satan plotted to kill Jesus, but was unsuccessful because of God’s intervention.

Essentially, there was a massive spiritual war raging behind the scenes and we see evidence of it spilling over into Luke and Matthew’s version of the Christmas story.

Luke writes about the appearance of the heavenly host:

13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” (Luke 2:13-14 NIV)

Traditionally most have looked upon this as an angelic choir. In fact, it is nothing of the sort. The Greek word [stratia] translated host is better translated army and that is how the word is similarly translated in 2 Corinthians 10:4, when Paul writes that the “weapons of our warfare [stratia] are not of the flesh.”

And throughout the Gospel versions of Christ’s birth, we see several hints of the dragon’s attempt to kill Christ. When the wise men showed up at Herod’s palace asking for information about the new king, Herod asked the wise men to return after they found the Lord, but God warned the magi through a dream to avoid Herod and they returned home a different way (Matthew 2:1-12).

When Herod realized they were not returning he ordered the massacre of all boys two and under in the town of Bethlehem (Matthew 2:16). However, God had earlier warned Joseph through a dream to flee to Egypt with his wife and Son (Matthew 2:13-15).

It was a spiritual war and part of it included Satan influencing government in his effort to kill Christ.

So dragons were very much part of the Christmas story and yes they are angels, but I would cut the halos.

Sources:

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