Scripture Focus: Revelation 12:4

Its tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth. The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that it might devour her child the moment he was born.

Reflection: Peace from Uncertainty — Peace of Advent

By Erin Newton

Dragons have been part of ancient stories but are rarely mentioned during Advent. Revelation 12 tells of the expected birth of a Savior and the threat of the dragon. This is an echo of the ancient stories familiar to the Old Testament readers.

Ancient Near Eastern culture had stories of gods battling a dragon where the fate of the god was always uncertain. The dragon was powerful, and the strength of the god wavered. It is against this mythic background that we read about God in Job taming Leviathan as a pet. There is no struggle, no uncertainty.

The dragon in Revelation waits to devour the child. The same menacing threat is made by Herod. “…an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.” (Matthew 2.13).

Despite the suspense created by the threat to the Savior’s life from a draconian ruler like Herod, we have been taught throughout the Old Testament not to fear these moments of uncertainty. This is no Canaanite tale of a weak god against the sea-serpent. This is Emmanuel. The God who puts the dragon on the leash is still in control of the world despite his human flesh.

There are so many questions in the story of Jesus’ birth. How will God enable Mary to carry a child as a virgin? That’s impossible. Where will they stay during the hours of labor and childbirth? There’s no option. How can this child save the world if they cannot escape Herod’s edict? The way seems shut.

Through all these uncertainties, answers came. A science-defying miracle of virgin conception. A sufficient, though humble, manger for birth. A spoken word and guidance to safety in a foreign land. How God chose to answer the questions surrounding Jesus’ birth are unexpected and inconceivable.

I am no stranger to anxiety and live with the constant battle of questioning how God will work through each threatening uncertainty. The peace of Advent is peace from uncertainty. The questions will always come but the story reminds us that nothing has ever been outside of his control. The baby is still our Savior. The dragon is under control even when circumstances tempt us to despair.

Divine Hours Prayer: The Morning Psalm
Hear my cry, O God, and listen to my prayer.
I call upon you from the ends of the earth with heaviness in my heart; set me upon the rock that is higher than I.
For you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the enemy.
I will dwell in your house forever; I will take refuge under the cover of your wings.
For you, O God, have heard my vows; you have granted me the heritage of those who fear your Name. — Psalm 61.1-5

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