The Dragon and His Offspring (Part 1)


JY: Welcome to gear Talk, a podcast on biblical theology. Today we are continuing our series on major characters in the Book of Revelation. Jason and Tom start in Revelation 12, focusing on the Dragon and his two beasts. From there, the conversation moves to the Old Testament. After the episode, make sure you check the show notes for a link to our preacher’s guide to Revelation and our preacher’s guide to Genesis. These will help you as you read both of these sections of Scripture. Also, to find out more about Hands to the Plow, please sign up for our newsletter. You’ll find a link at in the show notes.

TK: Good morning, Jason.

JD: Good morning, Tom. Good to be back with you.

TK: It is good to be back. Today we’re going to talk about something we’ve been talking about, which is major characters in the book of Revelation, and we’re going to be talking about the Dragon today, Jason. But it seems like in talking about the Dragon, more characters get pulled into the Dragon’s conversation. Would you agree with that?

JD: Absolutely, we can’t talk about God without recognizing he is three persons. Similarly, in the Book of Revelation, we can’t talk about the Dragon without recognizing his association with the Beast and the false Prophet. This is what some have called an unholy trinity, very intentionally operating anti-God and his Christ and his Spirit. And so we’ve got these three figures and the beasts, namely the first beast who is a royal, crushing, destructive figure. This beast is portrayed with ten horns and seven heads, which is exactly how the dragon is described. A great red dragon with seven heads and ten horns.

TK: And you’re in Revelation 12 and 13 are the spots you’re pulling up.

JD: 12 and 13. That’s right. And so you have this, this first beast. That comes out of the sea as the dragon is standing at the edge of that sea. This beast is going to be the instrument through which the dragon is going to work his evil.

TK: I was going to say before we get any further. For believers, this will make sense, we need to say it, though. Jason, what would you say in terms of the power of this unholy trinity compared to the true Trinity. Are we talking about equal powers? Like we have one on the far one side and one on the other and there is a clash here. Is that how we are supposed to portray this or think of this?

JD: No, we’re not supposed to see any sense of equal power. There is a counterfeit that is present in this world such that the evil one is called the god of this world. And, as in the temptations against Jesus in a text like Matthew chapter 4, Satan acts as though he has real authority, and yet he does not have real authority. He only has the authority that God is temporarily bestowed upon him. And yet when God shows up and enters into the world, by the power of the spirit of Jesus, it will simply be a single word spoken that will overcome the power of the dragon, the beast, and the false prophet, and they will be overcome. The final battle of the ages will be a non-battle.

TK: The light of. The appearance of his coming, that just ends it.

JD: It ends it, and it’s as if there’s a sword coming out of the mouth of this great Lion-Lamb King, and he will simply speak and evil will be overcome completely. And the devil and his minions will be thrown into the lake of fire forever. So you’re absolutely right, this is not a dualism, an eternal battle between one side and another. No, this is a true evil. And by that I mean there’s a standard upon which to weigh value. This isn’t two eternal, counter powers from which you ultimately could not call one dark and one light. No, because we can call one dark, there is an ultimate standard, and, as we’re going to see from the Old Testament, the Devil and his superpowers are all created and they will be ultimately eradicated, overcome, fully defeated. And, with Christ’s first coming, he has already taken the sting, the ultimate weapon of accusation away. So, Satan knows his time is short it says in Revelation 12. And so he’s working chaotically, trying to bring as much disturbance as possible to thwart, even to the point of death, as many of God’s followers as possible, because his end is sure. And it’s coming soon.

TK: So, we talked about that which was necessary: we’re not talking about God’s equal counterpart at all. There’s no comparison. But I stopped you and you were just going to say who this false prophet, the kind of second beast, a quick summary of who he is.

JD: Right. We have this royal figure who is an ultimate persecutor in the first beast and then there is this other beast that rises out of the Earth with two horns like a lamb and yet speaks like a dragon and out of his mouth comes all types of falsehoods and lies. So, what you have in these two beasts that stand alongside the dragon, you have the two ultimate forces that are associated with the Antichrist figure in the book of Daniel, that is persecution and false teaching, and they accompany the dragon. It is the means by which the Dragon does his work in this world as a strong beastly persecutor and as a deceiving, conniver, false teacher. This is the unholy Trinity, the superpower head in the dragon, and then the two forces, a ruling force and a false teaching force that he utilizes in the world in all different kinds of cultures, operating and building what revelation calls this global city of Babylon, that is the context that stands against the ultimate Heavenly City of Jerusalem, where Christ’s followers have their citizenship.

TK: That’s a good way to say it, so, in some ways you describe Revelation as the story of two cities, New Jerusalem and Babylon. And the person reading it needs to decide which city he or she will be a citizen of. Where am I going to take my stand? That happens later in the book, the angel uses the exact same words and he says, “Come, I will show you,” and he shows John the destruction of Babylon. And uses the exact same words and says, “Come I will show you the wife, the bride of the lamb.” And he shows him New Jerusalem. And as a reader, you are supposed to weigh these things and say, “Where do I find my citizenship?”

Jason, I’m thinking a good start right now, as we talk about the Dragon himself is I’m going to read Revelation 12:1–5, maybe 1–6. And then we can just take it from there. How does that sound?

So Revelation 12, it says, “And a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. She was pregnant and was crying out in birth pains and the agony of giving birth. And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads seven diadems. His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven and cast them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she bore her child he might devour it. She gave birth to a male child, one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron, but her child was caught up to God and to his throne, and the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, in which she is to be nourished for 1,260 days.”

I am imagining Jason. You thought about a million Old Testament scriptures as I read that.

JD: It is saturated with all kinds of Old Testament background. We have this, this woman who is pregnant, and crying out in agony. We have this enemy who is hovering.

TK: Wanting to destroy. Yep, Yep.

JD: That’s right. And we have this child that is born through these birth pains and protected. Indeed, caught up, after that birth, caught up all the way, it says, to God, and to his throne. This very male child who is to rule all nations with a rod of iron. Then the woman herself, from whom this male child comes, is protected, we’re told, in the wilderness, not in the promised land, yet. Protected, though in the wilderness, in the place God’s prepared for her. So, a number of key figures and, as you said, filled with a lot of Old Testament background.

TK: It makes me think right now, this reminds me of Genesis 3. Do you think John was thinking of Genesis 3 when he wrote this right here?

JD: Well, it seems to me there’s no question that the woman, the male child, the dragon, all have roots in Genesis 3. Genesis 3:15 is often called the first gospel text, and in that one text we have the woman. We have the serpent, and we have this male, explicitly male child that will be born of the woman, that will go into a direct combat with this Serpentine figure. And so, yes, I think that Genesis 3 is the foundational context from which this redemptive-historical tension, this story that is shot into the middle of history, it derives out of, ultimately, the predictions of Genesis 3.

TK: So, you would say, and correct me if I’m wrong, but I think you would say Genesis 3 is direct prophecy. So, Revelation 12 is not expanding on Genesis 3. I think what you’d say instead is Revelation 12 is basically pulling the covers off it or saying this is what was pictured here. Would that be fair to say?

JD: Yes, yes, I think that’s exactly right. That Genesis 3 is not providing something typological but direct prophetic anticipation. That the ultimate end of which is being portrayed here in Revelation 12. But between Genesis 3 and Revelation 12 (the beginning of the Bible, the end of the Bible) there’s all kinds of unpacking that goes on because Genesis 3 not only speaks of the serpent, the woman, and the male child, it also speaks of the Serpent’s offspring. The male child is the woman’s offspring, but it also speaks of the serpent’s offspring. And these are spiritual offspring, an entire genealogical line, reaching through history, of children that look like their father, the devil who was a murderer from the beginning (as Jesus says in the Gospel of John) a murderer from the beginning. And he bears offspring who have that proneness toward evil, just like their spiritual father, the devil. So, the story is dotted with the ultimate tension that will be seen between this ultimate male offspring of the woman and the serpent himself, it’s dotted by numerous individuals who are hoping in the ultimate seed of the woman, against whom the offspring of the serpent continue to battle.

So, you have the serpent, who is, we’re told, more crafty than any other beast of the field. So, the serpent is a beast and, therefore, we can assume that his offspring are beastly like him. Yet those offspring are spiritual offspring. We’re not actually thinking about real snakes. We’re thinking about humans. And humans who, according to Genesis chapter one and two, had their marching orders. They were placed in the Garden of God, called as images of God, made in his image to display him as rulers and as representative priest-sons. They were called to rule and subdue and take dominion like kings are supposed to do. They were called to, according to Genesis 2:15, to serve and to guard the sacred precincts of God. The ground, from which they were taken, was to be the region and this garden was to be ever expanding until the glory of God, in which was the image of God, would be ever expanding and the glories of God, bound up in the sacred space of God, would fill the earth like the waters cover the sea.

TK: Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth. That’s the that’s the command and the blessing.

JD: So be fruitful. There’s a seed they’re supposed to subdue. That’s the rule. And they’re supposed to do it among all the earth. That’s the context. So, you’ve got the dynasty, you have dominion, and you have a realm. This is what humanity was supposed to do, always representing God, imaging God. And what Adam and Eve do in Genesis 3 is that they follow the serpent, who is a beast of the field more crafty than any other beast. And this serpent, knowing that God had said on the day that you eat of it, you will surely die, seeks to deceive, and he deceives the woman who in turn gives the fruit to her husband, who was with her. And the rule, when Adam was supposed to be guarding the ground from which he was taken, he does not operate as a guardian, and he gives the rule of this world over to Satan so that Satan can now be called the ruler of this world or the god of this world. And into this context then, the serpent is confronted by God himself.

When God shows up in the garden, he goes to Adam and then he speaks to the serpent and so it brings us to Genesis 3:14. It is the clearest place where we read about why it is that God will ultimately judge Satan. It is not first and foremost because of something that happened in the heavenlies rather, it’s because you did this, God says, “Because you have done this, cursed are you above all the livestock and above all the beasts of the field.” So, the serpent was one of those beasts. All those beasts are now going to be cursed. They’re part of the earth that is cursed. And yet the serpent is more cursed than they. And the reason is because he did this. That is because he had entered into the garden and brought death into the world by deceiving the woman and the man. Because he did this. Cursed are you above all the livestock and the beasts of the field. On your belly you shall go dust you shall eat all the days of your life. So, you have this imagery of the dust being the Serpent’s food. The very place where people walk, crushing the dust over and over again. That’s the location, the sphere of the serpent. It’s the context of judgment.

And then God says, “I will put enmity between you, serpent, and the woman. And between your offspring and her offspring. He shall bruise your head. You shall bruise his heel.” So, we know that the serpent has offspring, and it’s unclear whether that offspring, that seed is plural or singular. But the woman’s seed is explicitly declared singular. He shall bruise your head, serpent, and you shall bruise his heel. There are so many significant elements here. But it is striking that you have now a figure, a male figure, an offspring of the woman who will do what Adam should have done. Adam called as one made in God’s image to be a royal priest-son of God to look like his father. So, God is Adam’s father, just as it says in Luke chapter 3.

Adam was the son of God. Just as it’s described in Genesis Chapter 5, where it says God created man and his likeness, and Adam fathered a son in his likeness. So as Seth was the son of Adam, Adam was the son of God, and he’s supposed to look like his father, which means he’s supposed to rule in his stead. He’s supposed to display his glory in the world, and yet Adam failed to do it, and he failed to do it in the context of the Serpent’s deception. But now we’re told there’s going to be a male child who will rise, and he will stand against the serpent. And he will crush the Serpent’s head, doing what Adam should have done in the beginning. He will guard, protect, and provide in ways Adam should have guarded, protected and provided. He is a new Adam.

TK: This is a good spot. We blame Eve (we tend to when we tell the story) when Eve took the fruit. But what you’re saying is Adam, being there, should have done something. He was fully responsible for what was happening as Eve talked to the serpent.

JD: That’s right. We know when Paul reflects in 1 Timothy 2, when he reflects on the story, he has no hesitation recognizing that there has been a role reversal. And it made everything go very badly. That is, before Eve, before the woman was ever created as the glory of the man, to help him in his task. The man was commissioned to provide and protect, to serve and to guard. So, this is first Timothy 2:14, where Paul says Adam was formed first, then Eve (that’s verse 13). And Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. So, he has no problem recognizing, in the context of clarifying, that in corporate worship there’s to be male leadership, male headship in order to display the ultimate headship of Christ over his church. And he says when the roles are reversed, things go bad. Just as it was in the garden when the woman was deceived first rather than the man. But while Paul can talk that way, he also is very clear that there are only two, what we call, federal heads—that is covenantal representatives—in this world. There is the first Adam and there is the last Adam. The last Adam is Jesus. So that in a text like Romans 5:18–19, Paul can talk about these two individuals. It’s not just that Adam sinned and that opened up a floodgate so that all of his offspring became people who sin. No, before we are people who sin, we are sinners in Adam. That is his sin in the Garden of Eden was representative of all humanity who would follow in him. Such that we are counted, recognized as sinners, even before we sin ourselves. We are recognized as sinners because we were in Adam.

TK: We bear the image of our father.

JD: We bear the image of our father. We are born—outside the garden—we are born in animosity with God. Indeed, we are in this separated context because our representative went before us and sinned in our stead so that his sins are counted as ours and we might struggle with that. But on the flip side, that is, also the gospel. Such that the good news is that there was one greater than Adam who came and stood against the serpent and did what Adam should have done in overcoming the serpent. And this perfect one’s righteousness, apart from anything we have done, is recognized as ours—counted as ours—by faith. So the text I have in mind is Romans 5:18–19, “Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification of life for all men. For as by one man’s disobedience, the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.” One man’s disobedience—Adam—made many sinners. One man’s obedience—Christ—made many righteous. As we enter into Genesis 3 there is a new Adam figure who’s doing and being what Adam was supposed to do and standing against the serpent. He is the male offspring that we read about in Revelation 12.

TK: That’s the part where he says he will bruise your head.

JD: That’s right, he will rule with an iron rod and this single male offspring will bruise the head of the serpent, doing and being what the first Adam should have done. That is, he’s securing life for all who would be in him, for all who would follow him. The first Adam secured death by his activity, by his surrender to the god, the one now called the god of this world. But now what we’re envisioning is one who will overcome the god of this world, who will overcome the ruler of this world. And if that ruler brought curse on the world, then the implication is that, in defeating him, the curse is being overcome with blessing. And, where everything was moving toward death, this new Adam figure will—as the ultimate imager of God, the ultimate son of Adam—will be the agent through which life will come throughout the entire world. The dragon is the chief protagonist. He is the chief one against this offspring of the woman, and he has an army. And the rest of the book of Genesis unpacks that army. It’s all the offspring who are standing against this small line of believing few that channels through Adam and Seth all the way up through Noah and Shem, through Abraham and Isaac, Jacob, Judah. All the way through figures like Rahab and Ruth, David and Isaiah, until we end up with the rise of Jesus. There’s this growing people, yet it takes a very long time for the ultimate offspring to come.

TK: And a lot of pain.

JD: A lot of pain, yes.

TK: Jason, what would you say? So Revelation 12 uses the language of Dragon. Genesis 3 uses the language of serpent. So what? What would you say? Why? Why are we starting with a serpent and we’re ending with a dragon? How does that language work in the Old Testament as we tell the story?

JD: The imagery of the serpent is commonly associated with. Whereas the imagery of the dragon is associated with persecution being. One is the cunning, the crafty, the other is the biting and Destroying and so it’s the same. It’s the same creature when we’re in Revelation 12. The description as if we were to move down to verse nine. It says, “The great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent who is called the Devil, and Satan, the deceiver of the world.”

TK: Yeah, they want him. John wants to make sure you’re not saying. Ohh, this is a different character than the one I thought about in in Genesis. He’s saying no, it’s the very same one.

JD: The very same one, the serpent, that is the conniver. The deceiver has become the dragon who is raging and vengeful.

TK: So you’re saying serpent language is used in context of deception, is that correct?

JD: That’s right there, there’s still. The serpent can still be, I mean, the serpent is evil and. I’m thinking about my friend Andy Naselli’s study of the Serpent in Scripture, and he notes that, commonly, the image of the serpent is on the more crafty, deceiving side, and the imagery of the Dragon is of the more biting, destroying side of the spectrum. But we still see overlap between the two, because there it’s the same figure.TK:

So can you walk us through a little bit Serpent figures as we move forward from Genesis 3? So clearly in moving into Genesis 4, the serpents is active and working and we’re assuming he has offspring. So. where would you take someone reading their Bible, teaching, preaching and saying here we can say, “Yep, there’s real links right here that you could point to.”

JD: Well, right in Genesis 3, right after the judgments are declared. We’re told that the man called his wife’s name, Eve because she was the mother of all the living. The name Eve is associated with life rather than death, and I don’t think this means that Eve is the mother of all humans on the planet. No God has said, “On the day that you eat of it, you will surely die.” And most of the humans living on the planet are alive, and Eve is not counted as their mother. Instead, they are counted as the offspring of the serpent. And so there is this trajectory. And it was after this, after Adam calls his wife Eve, that God brings out the garments of skins and clothes. Adam and Eve, I think God is recognizing this is a declaration of their faith. That there is going to be a group of individuals who are living rather than dead. And they’re going to be those associated with the ultimate offspring of the woman. From her will come life that will triumph over death.

Now right away, you were hinting at it in Chapter 4. Now Adam knew his wife, Eve, and she conceived and bore Cain, saying, “I have gotten a man child with the help of the Lord.” I think the very explicit statement, her saying “I have gotten a man child,” A she, she’s thinking Cain is the offspring that was promised me in Genesis 3:15. Who’s gonna overcome all the evil in the world? Who’s gonna put an end to the curse? Cain is the one, and yet Cain proves that he is not the one. Because he murders, he murders his brother and the language of the text is quite striking after Abel dies. This is what we read all the way down at the bottom of Chapter 4, “Adam knew his wife again.” Using the same language from verse one, “and she bore a son and called his name Seth for, she said ‘God has appointed for me another offspring in the place of Abel, because Cain killed him.’” The last time the term offspring showed up was Genesis 3:15. And here we have a recollection of the promise of the coming offspring, and it’s as if Eve recognized that Cain was not her offspring. Oh, Cain was her child, but he had proven through his killing of Abel that he was an offspring of the serpent. And so there needed to be an offspring in the place of Abel to replace Abel, and the language that we’re using here recalls the very language of 1 John Chapter 3 where it says “We should not be like Cain, who was of the evil One and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother’s righteous.” Cain was of the evil one, that is the evil one was his father. This also reminds me of John 8:44, where Jesus says to the Pharisees, “You claim that Abraham is your father. You are of your father, the devil. Your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” And Jesus associates the leaders, the religious leaders of his day with this group. So, Cain is the first offspring of the serpent. The line of descent just unpacks as we go through the book of Genesis. There’s these two different lines, the offspring of the serpent, and this line of living, who are hoping in the offspring of the woman.

TK: And would you, would you say that as a reader, I should be able to find clues of which lines being talked about, which line is being focused on?

JD: Well, you, yes. Throughout the Book of Genesis You have. I mean, it’s carried on by these titles—these, “These are the generations of.” And there’s ten of them, and seven of them are all focused on the line of promise. Whereas three of them, the generations of Noah’s sons, the generations of Ishmael and the generations of Esau, all of them, even grammatically, are shaped differently. They’re called Segmented Genealogies: A gave birth to B-C-D. Here are B’s, kids, C’s kids, and D’s kids. And slower reading, it’s choppy grammatically, and it’s designed to slow us down. And see all of these are the nations, the peoples that surround the people of God. What God is doing through Noah and Seth. And I’m sorry. Shem and Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, who becomes Israel, and then Judah, what God is doing through his people is in a context—a sea—of offspring of the serpent, who are both the enemies of God and the mission field? Through you, Abraham, all the families of the ground will be blessed. Three key families coming out of the Ark, Ham, Shem, and Japheth, and they multiply into 70 nations. And God says in Galatians chapter 3, Scripture proclaimed the gospel to Abraham when it declared through you shall all the nations of the Earth be blessed.

TK: I’ve said it before, I wrote it in the preacher’s guide. I think maybe I didn’t in there, but in the genealogies or what you’re watching for in the literature is where Moses is giving a story. To try to find out what does he care about, what’s the story he’s telling? So what you’re saying here is, for instance, we follow the story of Judah, for instance. It’s not a random story about somebody. And Moses is thinking, “Hey, this is interesting, I’m going to throw this in.” Instead, he’s saying, “This is a story you have to know because this concerns God’s people.”

JD: And it not only concerns God’s people. It’s happening in a context of animosity. I’ll unpack this as my last story of the day. But where does Israel ultimately end up by the end of Genesis.

TK: They’v gone to Egypt.

JD: They’ve gone to Egypt and there’s an episode early in the book in Chapter 3. That we, as the reader, should.

TK: Ohh, in in Exodus.

JD: In the Book of Exodus, yes. When we get to Chapter 3 of Exodus, there’s a story that should awaken us to recall the promises of Genesis 3. Matched by the declarations of Revelation 12. So, you have Israel having multiplied. You have Pharaoh having sought to destroy the male children. That should be striking. You have these offspring and Pharaoh, seeking to kill babies in the watery chaos.

TK: And just as a reader thinking about it, I could just say, “What a cruel man. What an atrocity.” But thinking back to Genesis 3, saying, wait a minute, if he wipes out the offspring of the woman, there is no hope for the rest of the world.

JD: That’s exactly right. If he wipes them out, there is no hope for the rest of the world. He is operating with the same evil intent that the serpent had in the garden. But Moses will not leave us just to see the connections at the surface level. He’s going to be very explicit for us. This is what we get at the end of Chapter 3, God declares, “I know that the king of Egypt will not let you go.” Moses—talking about the rest of Israel—”He will not let you go unless compelled by a strong hand. So I will stretch out my hand and strike Egypt with all the wonders that I will do in it. After that, he will let you go.” So you have God recognizing, noting, the King of Egypt is evil. “And he will not let you go unless compelled by a strong hand. So I will stretch out my hand.” In doing so, he will overcome this evil power.

Now, just a few verses later, 1-2-3-4 verses later (take out the chapter break as if it’s not there, as if we don’t end our devotions at the end of Chapter 3 and we just happen to keep reading) this is what we get. God said Moses, you’ve questioned what I’ve told you to do. What’s in your hand? Moses says a staff, he said, throw it on the ground so he threw it on the ground and it became a serpent, and Moses ran from it. So the serpent is now this picture of evil, and it elicits fear. It awakens fear in the life of Moses. And then the Lord said, (and my ESV translates it differently, but it’s the exact same word phrase as happened up in Exod 3:20) “‘Stretch out your hand and catch it by the tail’—So he put out his hand and he caught it and it became a staff in his hand.” So, see what’s happening here? There is a parallel, and we see it clearly in the Hebrew text. God tells Moses through a little case study, throw the staff on the ground and the staff becomes a serpent.

The very last time in the Pentateuch that we saw this language of serpent show up was Genesis chapter 3. So you have the serpent in Genesis chapter 3. Now the serpent shows up again in Exodus Chapter 4 and right after God said, “I know that the king of Egypt will not let you go unless compelled by a strong hand. So I will stretch out my hand and strike Egypt.” Now just a few verses later, he says, “Moses throw your staff on the ground.” It becomes a serpent, and it scares Moses. It’s representing all that Egypt is to Moses and Israel. They are the enemy. And then God says, “Just as I said, I will stretch out my hand against Pharaoh and against Egypt, stretch out your hand and take the serpent, pick it up.” Pharaoh is being portrayed as a serpent that God has complete control over. And Moses is representative of God in entering into this battle with the Serpent King. Pharaoh is from the beginning of the Book of Exodus, portrayed as an offspring of the serpent, who looks like the serpent. So it is that we come to Exodus 15, and we’re told that “Pharaoh’s chariots and his hosts God cast into the sea and his chosen officers were sunk in the Red Sea. The floods covered them. They went down into the depths like stone. Your right hand, O Lord glorious in power, your right hand, Oh Lord, shatters the enemy.” And then we read this statement. “Who is like you, Oh Yahweh among the gods? Who is like you, majestic in holiness?”

It’s beautiful to then see later in the Old Testament. I’m going to go first to Psalm 74. As it’s reflecting on the exodus, it says, “You oh God divided the sea by your might and broke the heads”—multiple heads—”of the Sea Monsters in the waters. You crushed the heads of Leviathan you gave him as food for the creatures of the wilderness. You split open springs and brooks. You dried up ever flowing streams.” It’s recalling the exodus and portraying the armies of Pharaoh as sea monsters. And then it portrays Pharaoh as a multi headed Leviathan. Isaiah 51:9–10, “Awake, awake, put on strength, Oh, arm of Yahweh”—which is within the Book of Isaiah a metaphor for the servant King himself—”Awake, as in days of old.” So, work a new exodus is what it’s going to say, awake today, “as in days of old, the generations of long ago. Was it not you who cut Rahab in pieces? Who pierced the Dragon? Was it not you who dried up the sea, the waters of the great deep and made the depths of the sea away for the redeemed to pass over?” Ezekiel 29:3, “Speak and say, ‘Thus says the Lord God. Behold, I am against you, Pharaoh, King of Egypt, the great dragon that lies in the midst of the streams.’” Or Ezekiel 32:2, “Son of man, raise the lamentation over Pharaoh king of Egypt and say to him, ‘You consider yourself a lion of the nations he thinks of himself as a beast. But you are like a dragon in the seas. You burst forth in your rivers. Trouble the waters with your feet. And fowl the rivers.’”

When the prophets read their Bible, they were reading the stories of Israel’s great deliverance at the sea in light of the ultimate promise that the offspring of the woman would crush the head of the serpent. They recognized that the evil powers standing against God’s people in history were representative, that is, they were offspring of the ultimate serpent himself. They were beasts like the serpent, and this imagery is part of the backdrop to Revelation 12. Where you have the dragon in the sea, multi-headed evil. And then you’re going to have a beast that looks like the dragon. That has seven heads and ten horns. This is straight out of the Old Testament imagery used to depict Pharaoh, who himself is representative of the Serpent of Genesis chapter 3. This is all part of the Old Testament background to Revelation, and it’s setting us up for understanding how the Dragon has offspring in his image. Here you have an offspring, Pharaoh himself, who’s trying to destroy the offspring of his people, trying to destroy, like you were saying in the heart of the sea. And by killing all these babies it ultimately is going to set the stage, then, for other texts like Herod, the king trying to kill the babies. Matthew, recalling Hosea 11:1, saying, “Out of Egypt I have called my son.” And often we think of Egypt as the Egypt to which Mary and Joseph fled with baby Jesus, and then Jesus went from there to Nazareth. I think there’s more going on because Herod is being portrayed like Pharaoh who’s trying to kill the babies like Pharaoh did. And in doing so, he has Jerusalem and Judah into a new Egypt. And he’s also portraying himself as an offspring of the devil, an offspring of the Serpent, Dragon, ruler of this world.

TK: Strange, strangely talking about this, I think for a lot of us who grew up in a context where we heard Revelation, and heard about all these things that would happen in the future and how terrible they would be in the future. It really filled, filled at least me with a lot of fear and anxiety as I thought about this. But what you realize is, “No, this has been the story of God’s people from the very beginning. This is not something new happening on the earth.” It reminds me of Paul’s words in 1 Thessalonians to the new church in Thessalonica, and it says in 1 Thessalonians 2:14, “For you, brothers, became imitators of the churches of God in Christ Jesus that are in Judea, for you suffered the same things from your own countrymen as they did from the Jews. Who killed both the Lord Jesus and the prophets and drove us out and displeased God and oppose all mankind by hindering us from speaking to the Gentiles that they might be saved. So as always to fill up the measure of their sin. But Wrath has come upon them at last.” This idea of Satan and his offspring are warring against mankind itself, hating people, because ultimately Satan hates the one who created people, and he hates God’s image. But this book, as we’ve said, is meant to give us courage. And we read stories like in the Old Testament times. What you just said of God telling Moses? No, you grab that serpent and just do your job. It’s meant to give us courage and hope. Hebrews 11 would be pointing us that same direction I think. Jason, how would you like next time to pick up in, I’m thinking in books, in the prophets, like Isaiah. Would that round out this conversation from the Old Testament?

JD: Yes, it will be a great joy to consider Isaiah and Daniel.

TK: Perfect. Perfect. All right, friends. Thank you for joining us today. This has been really helpful for me today. Jason, thanks for sharing. It was really sweet.

JD: Praise the Lord. We have a serpent Slayer.

TK: Amen. Amen. See you next time.

JY: Thank you for joining us for Gear Talk. Next week we’ll continue today’s podcast looking at Dragon and Serpent imagery in Isaiah and Daniel. Again, take a look at the show notes to download materials related to today’s podcast.