Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost

by Crossings

Day-in, Day-out
Revelation 12: 7-12
Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost
analysis by Joan Hunt and Ed Schroeder


For next Sunday, September 29
Programming the Pericope: Revelation 12: 7-12

Apocalyptic literature uses in-house code language which, it seems, was quite intelligible for believers in time of oppression. So think of the name Michael itself as such a code word. Mi-cha-el is, in fact, an entire sentence in Hebrew. It is literally the question: Who (is) like God? And, of course, to that question first century Christians had one clear answer, Jesus the Christ. So Michael and his angels (=messengers) are none other than Christ and his church.

The Revelation 12 text says that the battle with The Accuser in the divine courtroom is over. Before God, the cosmic judge, there are no longer any grounds for any sinner to be found guilty. The cosmic Prosecuting Attorney has been conquered by the Blood of the Lamb. His victory counts for his angels too. “They have conquered….”

But down here on the ground, in our lived experience, accusation has not ceased. The battle is not over. In fact, not only do Christians still get accused (of their sinfulness), but they also get conned into being the accusers of one another. They thus are tempted to join the ranks of the Prosecuting Attorney and desert the company of Michael, their cosmic Defense Attorney.

How to cope with accusation in human relationships when we believe that the accusation-scenario is passee, that is the question. Here is the program from Revelation 12: 7-12:

D-1 Day-in, Day-out Experience of Being Accused & Responding Wrongly 

Michael’s angels do not escape accusation in their daily life experience, maybe even accused for being Christian–although that is not very overt in our American society, or is it? Even fellow-Christians and intimate family members become our accusers pointing up our failures in personal, social, economic, and political things. And wereadily follow the behavior paterns of the “other” side when we respond to the charges: denial, self-justification, pass the buck, counter-accuse, or even flee, thus participating again in the accusation “game” which Michael overcame.

D-2 Deceived by the Accuser and Deserting Michael, our Divine Defender 

Such behavior shows that in our hearts we are deceived by the accuser, deceived into trusting that the accusation is valid and we are back in the dock in court. And that means distrusting the Divine Defender’s testimony about us. Switching sides by testifying for the Prosecution, whether by self-defense or by engaging in accusation. In any case, not trusting the testimony of the Divine Defense Attorney (hereafer DDA). Instead actually joining the law-firm of God’s arch-enemy.

D-3 Defeated in the Heavenly Courtroom, Thrown Down, Dismissed. 

Woe to those on earth who switch to join, rather than fight, the accuser. Deserting Michael’s testimony about themselves, and other sinners as well, they perish. As with the ancient accuser, such folks also are (finally) thrown out of heaven. They have no space, no place, on God’s turf. The Accuser has them (again) in his adversarial network. They become his angels. God’s final verdict is: Guilty as charged.

P-3 Good News for D-3
Michael, the DDA, in the Dock, our Dock: Conquering the Accuser by the Blood of the Lamb

Michael goes to court for/with us. He is the Lamb before the Judge–bleeding, pleading, and succeeding for us. He wins the sinner’s case, not by arguing our innate innocence. Rather admitting that initially we are rightfully accused, he “swaps” places with sinners. This action as Lamb (a fierce Lamb, to be sure) throws the Accuser out of court. How that transaction, that “mind-blowing duel,” works needs fuller classroom clarification. The continued “forgiven-innocence” of sinners before the cosmic Judge depends on continuing in this testimony. Only this mirabile duellum , this incredible duel, between Michael and the Prosecutor at the cross defeats the Prosecutor and keeps him defeated. This constitutes true testimony “now.”

P-2 Good News for D-2
Trusting Michael’s Testimony (“Now”)

Making heaven’s verdict our own in daily life by trusting it. Snuffing accusation–even such as comes with “great wrath” in the apocalyptic events of our individual histories and in world history — by invoking Michael’s verdict about us, by such testimony. With the accusation-game behind us, the governing word is “rejoice.” Such folks, though patently still “on earth” in the nitty-gritty struggle with accusers of all sorts (even their own consciences), qualify as “heaven-dwellers.” Their personal struggle is to believe Michael’s word about sinners in the face of so much testimony to the contrary. That is the case first of all in their witness to themselves about themselves, (and then in the testimony they give out in the manifold courtrooms of the world. See P-3).

P-1 Good News for D-1
Michael’s Angels at Work: Testifying to the Truth in Earth’s Courtrooms

Michael’s angels live now by the word of this testimony in their human relationships. Conquering accusations in their callings as Michael’s messengers, not operating as the Accuser’s angels. Not loving one’s own life to argue your own case–even unto death. Rolling back the turf on earth still under the management of the Accuser, the Deceiver of the whole world, with testimony that repeats over and over again the message of the loud voice that resounds in heaven, vv. 10-12. The angels’ job is to keep that testimony going here “on earth, as it (already) is in heaven.” And when the Accuser seems to be winning the day, they encourage one another with the word that the Accuser’s time is “short,” and that “he knows that.”

That constitutes a two-punch testimony of the Lamb’s “two-edged sword,” both defensive and offensive on the part of Michael’s angels. Christians testify against the Adversary, becoming the accusers of the Accuser. “Woe,” they say to him and his cohorts. No wonder they are folks who don’t love their lives to the point of sparing themselves. With such behaviour/action they begin to replace the overt accusations which we identified in D-a, and replace themse accusations not only by turning off their own hearing-aids against them, or even better fleeing to the refuge of the Lamb, but banishing the Accuser to “the earth,” objectively, not just subjectively. [Of course, if we (as our culture tends to do) don’t acknowledge that there really is such an Accuser, then we also have no to whom we can have the pleasure (“rejoice”) of saying, Go to Hell, or “Get thee behind me, Satan,” which M.L. interpreted to mean you know what.

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