Though NT Wright doesn’t translate it this way, nearly every other
biblical scholar renders verses 10-12 as a song. The words are
italicized and meant to be heard “from heaven” in encouragement to those
on earth. Normally I wouldn’t make too big of an issue about whether or
not something was spoken or sung. But while I was preparing to preach
through the Revelation, I stumbled upon South African scholar Allan
Boesak’s commentary on the book. It’s a fascinating read, given that he
wrote it from prison having been incarcerated for protesting the
apartheid government of South Africa in the late 1980′s.
Boesak’s most memorable line in the entire book comes in this
chapter: “It drives the dragon crazy when you sing about his defeat
Boesak rightly paints the picture of the dragon appearing outwardly
victorious. He is killing Christians. He is persecuting the church. But
martyrdom is not victory for the dragon, but for the lamb. God’s people
conquer “through the blood of the lamb and the word of their testimony.”
Singing rubs the dragon’s failures in his nose.
Much of life involves us bleeding. In Boesak’s case, he’s “bleeding”
in prison while a bestial regime systematically brutalized thousands of
people. But Boesak never stopped speaking the truth, never stopped
protesting, and never stopped singing. In the first century, Christians
bled because of their unwillingness to worship Caesar or participate in
the Imperial Cult. But they never stopped singing either. They
understood that the last weapon of the enemy was death, and that the
sting and threat of death had been removed forever for they had been
guaranteed life eternal.
In your case, maybe you’re “bleeding” from a divorce, or
unemployment, or loneliness, or a sense of failure. But don’t let the
dragon win. He may hurt you. He may even kill you. But if you’re going
to go down, at least go down swinging.
Go down singing!