We’re all familiar with the two nativity stories in Matthew and Luke. Shepherds and animals gathering around the humble manger scene. We are much less familiar with the third nativity story—but it’s not in the gospels. It’s in Revelation! Christmas was not only earth-shattering; it shook up the heavenly realm as well. According to 1 John 3:8, the reason for the season is because God wanted to destroy something: “the works of the devil.”
Did God try to blow up the devil’s workshop? No. Did he send some fire and brimstone to do him in? (I think that comes later). No, the Lord demolishes the devil’s agenda by dealing with the evil in us. Forgive the sin and the dragon has no material to work with.
While shepherds kept their flock by night, the dragon’s “tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven and cast them to the earth” (Rev 12:4a). What are these stars of heaven? In Revelation, stars often signify angels (cf. 1:20; 6:13; 8:12; especially 12:9). Angels and demons exhibit many parallels—after all, demons are simply fallen angels. Angels come in legions (Matt 26:53) and so do demons (Mark 5:9). Angels have rulers or princes (Dan 12:1) as do demons (Eph 2:2). Demonic “stars” deceive by exploiting these parallels.
“With one flick of its tail it knocked a third of the stars from the sky and dumped them on earth. The dragon crouched before the woman in childbirth, poised to eat up the Child when it came” (Rev 12:4, The Message). The context confirms the timing of this diabolical attack. It occurred in conjunction with the birth of Jesus. The dragon-monster gathered all the fallen angels at his disposal and hurled them toward Bethlehem. “The Child must be silenced,” he thought. “He must be destroyed.” The armies of hell were in full assault mode against the one wrapped in swaddling cloths.
The war was on. But it was not over oil or land—it was over us.
Then suddenly, while an angel of the Lord was talking with the shepherds, he “was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased’” (Luke 2:13-14, NLT). This was not some heavenly choir arranged in neat rows with sopranos, altos, and tenors. They were not sweetly singing o’er the plain with harps of gold. The “armies of heaven” were stationing themselves around their Commander-in-Chief lying in a manger.
“From God’s viewpoint—and Satan’s,” says Philip Yancey, “Christmas signals far more than the birth of a baby; it was an invasion, the decisive advance in the great struggle for the cosmos.” O Holy Night! The stars (the armies of heaven) are brightly shining! It is the night of the dear Savior’s birth … Fall on your knees! Oh, hear the angel voices! Oh, night divine! There is peace on earth for those on whom his favor rests.