God's rule, reign and kingdom on earth comes about by God defeating and taming the great powers of Creation.
In the Old Testament some of these great powers are the powers of the deep. The ocean itself is a great power, representing the forces of chaos and disorder. Consequently, God rules over the deep by defeating and taming the great sea dragons Leviathan and Rahab.
Eventually, these dragons begin to be associated with geo-political powers, what the New Testament calls "the principalities and powers." Egypt is called Rahab, Pharaoh is called a dragon. So, just like God's taming of the great sea monsters, in the Exodus God "slays the dragon" by emancipating his people from slavery. They even pass through the sea.
In short, as I mentioned in the last post, in the Exodus the image of "slaying the dragon" at the dawn of creation becomes an image of salvation. In addition, "slaying the dragon" goes on to become an eschatological image of a Second Exodus and New Creation. What God did at the dawn of creation God will do again at the dawn of New Creation. What God did in delivering his people in the Exodus God will do again in the Second Exodus. All this is pulled together in the image of "slaying the dragon." For example:
Isaiah 51.9-11This is the matrix of imagery--Creation and Exodus, New Creation and Second Exodus--that sits behind the War in Heaven in Revelation and the slaying of the dragon:
Awake, awake, put on strength,
O arm of the Lord!
Awake, 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;
who made the depths of the sea a way
for the redeemed to cross over?
So the ransomed of the Lord shall return,
and come to Zion with singing;
everlasting joy shall be upon their heads;
they shall obtain joy and gladness,
and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.
Revelation 12.8-10When we read about the defeat of the dragon in Revelation we should be thinking of New Creation and Exodus. Because of the warfare worldview of the Bible salvation and New Creation are described in the Bible as "victories." The establishment of God's rule on earth as it is in heaven assumes the slaying of the dragon.
And war broke out in heaven; Michael and his angels fought against the dragon. The dragon and his angels fought back, 8 but they were defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. The great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.
Then I heard a loud voice in heaven, proclaiming,
“Now have come the salvation and the power
and the kingdom of our God
and the authority of his Messiah,
for the accuser of our comrades has been thrown down,
who accuses them day and night before our God."
All that to say, to draw this series to a close, one of the reasons I wrote Reviving Old Scratch is that many doubting, liberal and progressive Christians who are drawn to Christus Victor atonement theology generally lack the warfare worldview that allows Christus Victor theology to make any sense.
Specifically, given their great skepticism about the devil many doubting Christians have no theology of the "dragon," no clear sense about what is defeated and tamed in the establishment of God's kingdom on earth, no clear sense about why Jesus is described as "victorious."
Because you can't have a victory if you don't have a dragon.