There Was War in Heaven,

and Satan Was Hurled Down to the Earth

12: 7-12

   DIG: Where is Satan now? Where does the battle begin? Who are the central characters? What is the outcome of this conflict? What is the significance of this outcome for the earth? For believers? What events in the TaNaKh and the B'rit Chadashah parallel this passage?

   REFLECT: When has the devil seemed most real to you? Why? How do you overcome the Adversary? How could you apply this strategy to your own life?

    As part of Satan’s war against God, the devil and his demons also battle against the Lord’s holy angles. Satan is described as the ruler of the kingdom of the air (Ephesians 2:2), as well as the prince of this world (John 12:31, 14:30 and 16:11). It is not surprising then, that his travels include both the heavens and the earth. As a result, there has been war in heaven since the original sin of Lucifer and his rebellion against God’s authority (see my commentary on Isaiah Dp – How You Have Fallen From Heaven, O Morning Star).

    In the middle of the Great Tribulation, while war breaks out on the earth between the antichrist and the ten kings, but there was also war in heaven. Michael, the defender of God’s people, and his holy angels fought against the archenemy Satan, and the dragon and his fallen angels fought back. Michael, however, will be victorious because Satan was not strong enough, thus he and his demons will lose their place in heaven forever (12:7-8). Of course, the LORD could have destroyed Satan, the Adversary, and his demons with merely a word, but He chose to allow His faithful holy angels to battle the wicked fallen angels.

    Michael, who has been defending the people of ADONAI for millennials, will defeat the armies of Satan and hurl them down to the earth. In Dani'el 10:13, after Dani'el had fasted for three weeks, the angel Gabriel explains his delay in coming: The prince of the Persian kingdom resisted me twenty-one days. Then Michael, one of the chief princes, come to my aide, because I was detained there with the king of Persia. In Dani'el 10:21, Gabriel tells Dani'el about Michael, your prince; and your is plural – Michael is the great prince or guardian of the Jewish people, who fights alongside Gabriel against the fallen angels. Dani'el 12:1, speaking of the Great Tribulation, adds: At that time, Michael, the great prince who protects your people, will rise. There will be a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then. But at that time your people – everyone whose name is found written in the book of Life – will be delivered.

    Long restrained from his vengeance, Michael will finally be permitted to enter into direct conflict with his ancient rival. They had met before, only not in heaven but on the earth. But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not dare to bring a slanderous accusation against him but said: May ADONAI rebuke you (Jude 9 CJB)! In our own day, Satan has limited access to both heaven and earth, waging spiritual battle against God and His holy angles. What weapons and by what tactics this heavenly war will be fought we cannot imagine. It will truly be Star Wars.

    The concept of Satan in heaven is difficult to comprehend. It is clear that the devil is now the accuser of the faithful (12:10). Although that ancient serpent was defeated at the Cross, his sentence has not yet been fully carried out. When Lucifer first rebelled against ADONAI eons ago and lost his permanent home in heaven, Yeshua said: I saw Satan fall like lightening from heaven (Luke 10:18). But he relentlessly continues to fight his losing battle against God and he still has access to the throne of the LORD (Job 1:6-12, 2:1-7). Here, at this stage, he is thrown out of heaven for good. But contrary to popular belief Satan is not in hell. In fact, he has never been there. He will not be sentenced to the lake of burning sulfur until after his final rebellion is crushed at the end of the millennial Kingdom (20:7-10). And even then the devil will not be in charge. He will be the foremost prisoner, undergoing the most punishment of anyone there.

    The great dragon was hurled down – that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his fallen angels with Him (12:9). The phrase leads astray is translated from the present participle of the Greek verb plano, which means to deceive, or to mislead. The use of the present tense points to the fact that this is Satan’s normal activity. As he constantly accuses believers, he also continuously leads the whole world astray.292 The educated and ignorant, the king and the pauper, male and female, Jew and Gentile, the strong and the weak, the young and the old, every race – all are deceived by him. All the world’s philosophies, conceived ever so brilliantly by profound thinkers – whether pragmatism, idealism, Gnosticism, determinism, hedonism, materialism, transcendentalism, existentialism, deism or any other ism, all are man-originated, man-centered, and man-honoring, rather than God-originated, God-centered and God-honoring. They are all merely varieties of humanism rather than theism, exalting man rather than God and, therefore, helping Satan carry out his plan to usurp ADONAI and His throne.

    Moreover, all these humanistic endeavors are based upon the denial of the LORD’s Word as supreme, true and final. As someone once said, “God said it, I believe it, and that does it.” Like the tradition of the elders (Matthew 15:1-3), these humanists elevate man’s reasoning above the Scriptures. They get this from their father of lies (John 8:44b). Did God really say: You must not eat from any tree in the garden (3:1b)? This was Satan’s first deception as he tempted Eve, and he has followed the same plan of attack ever since. If you haven’t noticed, however, it works. If he can persuade men and women to question, to doubt, to modify, to allegorize, to compromise God’s Word, and then to finally disobey, reject, and destroy it, then he will defeat ADONAI’s purposes in the lives of His children.293

    The ancient serpent’s words always appear to be truthful. But he whitewashes it, he sugarcoats it. He deceives people because his lies always have an element of truth mixed in. However, at its very core, still a lie. Truth and error, an ancient parable said, went swimming together and error wanted to drown truth. Yet even though there was a great struggle, truth was overcome and when error came up out of the water, truth was being carried by error. That’s what the devil does; he puts a thin layer of truth over his big fat lie so it goes down easier. Don’t be fooled by him, he was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him (John 8:44a).

    The repetition of the names and titles of the wicked one in 12:9 are striking – the great dragon, that ancient serpent, the devil and Satan [the Adversary CJB]. The ancient serpent in Genesis is the great dragon of Revelation, as well as the Satan who tested Job, and the devil who tested Messiah. He is the great enemy of ADONAI and God’s people through the ages. He often masquerades himself as an angel of light (Second Corinthians 11:14), but he is really a snake, a fiery dragon and a devouring lion (First Peter 5:8).294

    The Adversary’s banishment to the earth will bring two results. First, the great dragon’s access to heaven will be revoked, and he will no longer be able to stand before the throne of the LORD and continually accuse believers. Then John heard a loud voice in heaven proclaim: Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of God the Father, and the authority of His Son, Yeshua Messiah. This announcement, like that of 11:15, is in the proleptic aorist tense and describes the Second Coming as if it had already happened. For the Accuser of our brothers and sisters, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down (12:10).

    Radovan Karadzic, once the leader of the Bosnian Serbs and accused of genocide, had been one of the most wanted men in the world. By growing a long, white beard, carrying false papers, and practicing alternative medicine, he fooled many by disguising himself. Right from the beginning of human history, Satan pretended to be an enlightened advisor, telling Eve that ADONAI was not honest with her (Genesis 3:4). He masquerades as an angel of light, but praise the LordJesus doesn’t disown us because of our sins. He is faithful to His Word. Our salvation is not based upon our performance, but upon His sacrificial death on the cross. Our security is based on God holding on to me, not me holding on to God.

    People often err at two extremes in their view of Satan. Some dismiss him while others attribute more power to him than he deserves. Let us not be deceived. Satan is powerful as the god of this age (2 Corinthians 4:4). But the Church need not cower in fear, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world (1 John 4:4). The day is coming when the devil will be thrown into the lake of burning sulfur (20:10). Until that day, let’s not be deceived but rather live godly lives that reflect the image of God, for He is a man of truth; there is nothing false about Him (John 7:18).295

    Believers will have the power to overcome Satan during the Great Tribulation by trusting in the blood of the Lamb (Romans 3:25), and also by fearlessly living the word of their testimony. They will not love their lives so much as to shrink from the death of martyrdom (12:11). They will love their Lord more than life itself and willingly suffer death rather than deny their Messiah. Jesus said: He who stands firm to the end will be saved (Matthew 24:13). Their martyrdom was their victory over Satan; it proved that his accusations against them were empty lies.296

    But the second result of Satan’s confinement is that he is filled with fury, because he knows that his time is short, namely, three-and-a-half-years. During that period of time Satan’s fury will be directed at anyone belonging to the Lord, especially Isra'el. Satan is already a defeated foe – and he knows it. Because of the devil’s wrath, it will be a woe to the earth and the sea (12:12b)! Heaven’s cleansing will be the earth’s pollution. The Adversary will be desperate.

    When Michael prevails, heaven will celebrate its great triumph after Satan and his demons have been thrown out. Therefore, rejoice you heavens and you who dwell in them (12:11-12a)! For us here on earth, no matter how hopeless your situation looks, no matter how furiously Satan rages against you, you can take comfort in knowing that his ultimate defeat is as certain as if it had already happened. Just read the back of the Book. Oh! That’s right, you already are!

 

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