The serpent poured water like a river out of his mouth after the woman, to sweep her away with a flood. (Revelation 12:15)
Over coffee (and a river of that sacred morning brew was necessary to read and discuss symbol dense Revelation 12 with church friends), I noticed that this particular flood is an example of how that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world mocks God with parody.
Fresh from Christian celebrations of Trinity Sunday, the Revelation reminds us that as we profess the mystery of one God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, the evil one offers up Dragon, Beast and False Prophet.
As Christians proclaim that Christ is risen from the dead, the Revelation warns of an evil figure struck with a mortal wound who parlays a miraculous recovery into world influence (Rev. 13:3-4).
The flood from the serpent’s mouth is a parody of the global flood, widely portrayed in ancient literature and in the Bible’s account of Noah in Genesis 6-9.
The flood of Noah’s time was a cleansing of evil and preservation of chosen people to rebuild with and for God; the serpent’s flood is to destroy and in particular to eliminate those who build with and for God.
Christians debate the identity of the woman with child in Revelation 12. She can represent Eve, the mother of humanity and original target of the devil’s deception. Some say it is Mary bearing Jesus, who the forces of evil sought to eliminate early as recorded in Matthew 2:16-18. Others view her as Israel, the chosen people of God, bearer of the Law of Moses, the Prophets, and the Messiah, and the frequent target of evil powers throughout history. Still others would expand Israel, as does the New Testament, to include the Christian Church, which of course needs to be cancelled for the devil’s lies to go unchallenged.
Speaking of the devil’s lies, the ESV Study Bible sees a flood of deception rather than water as the meaning of the verse:
The serpent tries to destroy the people of God by lies and false teaching from its mouth, as it had deceived Eve (Gen. 3:13).
The faux flood is a flood of faux. Lies about what is; lies about what matters; lies tempting us to exalt ourselves against God on the one hand or to despair of God’s favor on the other.
Those who are in Christ, who already perished and rose anew with him in the flood waters called baptism, have the Holy Spirit who leads us into all truth (John 16:13). Speaking and living that truth will be painful in a deceived world, but as a friend pointed out yesterday, the Revelation announces that whatever Christians suffer, God preserves the Church’s witness to the truth until all is made new, and
…the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD as the waters cover the sea. (Habakkuk 2:14).
Hang in there. Fight the faux.