Revelation 12: Why did God not make an end of evil immediately after the Cross?

War in heavenThis is the sixth article on the War in Heaven, as described in Revelation 12.   The first article identifies the role-players in this war:
● The Male Child, who was caught up to God,
● His mother, who existed both before and after Christ,
● The Dragon, that stood ready to devour the Child. and
● Michael, who wages war in heaven with the Dragon.

The second article concludes that the actual chronological sequence of events in Revelation 12 is as follows:
● The war rages in heaven,
● The Male Child ascends to God,
● The victory in the war in heaven,
● Satan thrown down to earth and
● The woman flees to in wilderness.

The third article explains how Michael overcame Satan.  Satan deceives and accuses.  To explain how “the blood of the Lamb and … the word of their testimony” (Revelation 12:11) were able to overcome Satan’s accusations, this article discusses the origin of evil and Satan’s tactics.

The third article concluded that Christ’s death defeated Satan, but verse 11 of Revelation 12 claims that “they” overcame him because of “their testimony.”  The fourth article therefore asks who they are, and why their testimony was required to expel Satan from heaven.

The fifth article asks what the accuser of our brethren (Revelation 12:10) accused God of, and what evidence Christ provided that was able to refute Satan’s accusations.

God made peace with the “things in heaven” because of the blood of the Lamb, but Revelation 12 indicates that the war continued on earth. The current and final article asks why did God not make an end of evil immediately after the Cross.

Rejoice, O heavens

Lamb of GodBecause of the blood of the Lamb and because of the testimony of our brethren, Satan was driven out of heaven and thrown down on earth (Revelation 12:8-13).  A loud voice then announced:

Now the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come, … For this reason, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them” (Revelation 12:10-12).

Events on earth made an end to the war in heaven.  Through Christ, God made peace with the “things in heaven” (Col. 1:20).  This world became the test ground for God’s righteousness, with huge implications for the entire cosmos.

Woe to the earth

But the voice continued:

Woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has come down to you, having great wrath” (Revelation 12:12).

The war continues on earth.  This planet is the only place in the universe where Satan still has power.

Why does evil continue?

Why did God not make an end to sin immediately after the Cross?  One seldom hears this topic discussed, probably because the standard theory of the atonement has no answer for the question.  In this theory, Jesus died to satisfy the wrath of an angry God.  Is God’s wrath then not yet fully satisfied?

Satan’s weapons in this war are deception and accusations.  God responds, not with violence or with force, but with the blood of the Lamb and the testimony of “our brethren.”  These means provided the evidence required to repudiate Satan’s charges.  This probably includes evidence about God’s love and grace, and evidence about Satan’s intentions and the consequences of his principles.  Since Satan attacks with accusations, and since God responds with evidence, the only possible conclusion is that sin continues because some evidence is still outstanding.

For what purpose is evidence required?

If we understand Revelation 12 correctly, the earth is the only place where the rebellion against God still rages, for Satan has been banished from the courts of heaven after Jesus’ ascension.  Therefore, to remove evil from this planet is to remove it entirely from God’s creation:

The creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption” (Rom. 8:21).

Lake of FireEvil will be exterminated when “the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone” (Rev. 20:10), and with him, anyone whose “name was not found written in the book of life” (20:15).   After this event we will hear God say, “Behold, I am making all things new” (21:5).

The eradication of evil in 20:13-15 is preceded immediately by the judgment before the great white throne (20:11-12).  The extermination of evil is therefore the consequence of this judgment.  The evidence is therefore required for the final judgment, in which “books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books” (Rev. 20:12). 

In conclusion, the war still continues because there still is some evidence outstanding that is required for the final great judgment.  The eradication of evil, and with it all the people and angels that were corrupted by it, will be a most traumatic event for all the universe, including for the people that are saved.  God want to make sure that all of His intelligent creatures understand and agree with the decisions made in that judgment.

What evidence is still outstanding?

What and why evidence is required, we can see from the end-time events as described in the book of Revelation:

The Mark of the Beast

Jesus’ arrival on earth caused a major crisis.  In a few years much was revealed both about God and about Satan.

Revelation predicts a similar crisis in the end time, when “the image of the beast would … cause as many as do not worship the image of the beast to be killed” (Rev. 13:15).  It will attempt to give all people “a mark on their right hand or on their forehead” (Rev. 13:16).  People who refuse to receive this mark will not be allowed “to buy or to sell” (v17).

What the mark of the beast is, requires more in-depth study of the prophecies, but we can safely say that it will be some sin which people will be forced to commit, the modern equivalent to Nebuchadnezzar forcing all people to worship the statue he made, at the threat of death (Dan. 3:5-6).  The beast itself is an earthly power (cf. 13:1-2; 17:9-10; 12).  To worship it is to accept its authority.

At the same time the truth will be preached with more power than ever before (Rev. 14:6).  The evil one attempts to blur the distinctions between what is holy and what is common, but these distinctions will be made clear by God’s end-time messengers.  All people will have to choose between the mark of the beast and “the seal of the living God” (7:2; cf. 14:1).  This will be the valley of decision for all people:

Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision! For the day of the LORD is near” (Joel 3:14).

God’s people will be “victorious over the beast and his image and the number of his name” (15:2).  They “had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand” (20:4).

The plagues

There will come a turning point, during this final crisis, when “the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God and from His power; and no one was able to enter the temple” (15:8).  After this, the plagues are poured out (16:1), but only “on the people who had the mark of the beast and who worshiped his image” (16:2).  This will give them clear evidence that they are persecuting God’s people, but “they did not repent” (16:9, 11).  They will continue to oppress God’s people.

The Millennium

Christ’s return will make an end of the persecution of God’s people, but only temporarily.  At the end of the 1000 years all people that opposed God, from all ages since the creation of the world, will “come to life” (20:5) and “Satan will be released from his prison, and will come out to deceive the nations” (20:7-8).  “They … surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, and fire came down from heaven and devoured them” (20:9).  This describes, in a few words, the final and major battle between good and evil.  It is described only briefly because we have no way to understand the circumstances or nature of that battle.

The outstanding evidence

Why would God allow an end-time crisis in which His people are killed?  Why does God pour down horrible plagues on the earth when there is no possibility that sinners will repent?  And why would God bring the lost back to life, 1000 years after Christ’s return, only to consume them again by fire?

These are to provide the evidence required for the final great judgment.

God’s people will be “victorious over the beast.”  The evil one will take away from them all they have, but they will refuse to “worship the image of the beast” (13:15), “even when faced with death” (Revelation 12:11).  This will reveal their faith: “They overcame him (the accuser) … because of the word of their testimony” (Revelation 12:11).  The Cross demonstrated God’s righteousness (Rom. 3:25-26).  God’s end-time people will similarly demonstrate, to the universe for all ages to come, the justness of God’s grace for His people.

God’s persecutorsdid not repent,” even when they have clear evidence that they are persecuting God’s people.  This will reveal their true nature.  They pretend to work for God, but their actions will show that they are fundamentally opposed to God and to His principles, like the pharisees of old, who opposed Jesus.  This will confirm God’s condemnation of them.

All the seeds—both good and evil—that have been sown over the centuries, will come to maturity in this last battle.  Through this crisis good and evil will both be fully revealed (cf. 3:10).

God allows the human race—created in His own image—to show the nature and consequences of Satan’s principles.  The entire universe is watching events on this little planet with intense interest (e.g. Job):

The manifold wisdom of God (is) … made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places“ (Ephesians 3:10).

Various articles on the website are available with further information, for example Purpose of the Plagues and Return of Christ in the book of Revelation.

The delay

Why does God delay the end-time crisis?

First century Christians expected Jesus to return in their time.  See The Lord is coming soon.  When He did not, they asked questions, and Peter explained:

The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).

Over the centuries God’s persecuted people complained about the delay:

How long, O Lord, holy and true, will You refrain from judging and avenging our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” (6:10)

In Revelation 7:1-3 an angel ascends from the rising of the sun (the east), “having the seal of the living God; and he cried out with a loud voice to the four angels to whom it was granted to harm the earth and the sea, saying, ‘Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees until we have sealed the bond-servants of our God on their foreheads’.

God delays the final crisis because His people are not ready, and He is “not wishing for any to perish.”  He will only allow the end-time crisis when the 144000 are sealed.  The number 144000 is interpreted here not as a literal number, but a symbol of the quality of their faith:

These are the ones who have not been defiled with women … who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. … And no lie was found in their mouth; they are blameless.” (14:4-5).

Summary

Satan was driven out of heaven because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the testimony of our brethren.  God made peace with the “things in heaven,” but the war continued on earth.

Why did God not make an end to sin immediately after the Cross?  Since Satan attacks with accusations, and since God responds with evidence, we assume that God allows sin to continue because some evidence is still outstanding.

For what purpose is evidence required?  Earth is the only place where the rebellion against God still rages.  To remove evil from this planet is to remove it entirely from the universe.  After the judgment before the great white throne, evil will be exterminated through the lake of fire.  The war continues on earth to generate evidence required in the final judgment.

The end-time events show what and why evidence is required. By threats of violence and death people will be forced to receive the Mark of the Beast, which is some sin which people will be forced to commit.  But God’s people will be “victorious over the beast.”

At some point, during this final crisis, the plagues will start to fall, but only on the people who are persecuting God’s people.  This will give them clear evidence that they are opposing God, but they will not turn to God.

Christ’s return will not be the final end of sin.  At the end of the 1000 years all people that opposed God, from all ages since the creation of the world, will “come to life” and continue their persecution of God’s people.

All of this is to provide the evidence required for the final great judgment.  These events will demonstrate the faith of God’s people, but will also show that the lost are fundamentally opposed to God and to His principles, thus confirming God’s judgments, for God wants us to trust Him fully.

Articles on Revelation 12’s War in Heaven:

1. Who are the Male Child, His mother, the Dragon and Michael?
2. When was Satan Defeated?
3. How did Michael overcome Satan?
4. Who are they who overcame Satan because of “their testimony?”
5. What evidence did Christ provide that refuted Satan’s accusations?
6. Why did God not make an end of evil immediately after the Cross? (Current)

What did the accuser of our brethren say, and what evidence did Christ provide?

The arguments of the accuser of our brethren is beyond human understanding, but perhaps include allegations that God is demanding, that His law is selfish and that His judgments are unjust.

This is the fifth article on the War in Heaven.

The first article identified the role-players in this war:
● The Male Child, who was caught up to God,
● His mother, who existed both before and after Christ, and
● The Dragon, that stood ready to devour the Child as soon as He is born.
● Michael, who wages war in heaven with the Dragon.

The second article analyzed the chronological sequence of the major events:
● The war in heaven,
● The ascension of the Male Child,
● The victory in the war,
● Satan cast down to earth and
● The woman hiding in wilderness.

The third article explains how Michael overcame the accuser of our brethren.  Satan deceives and accuses.  To explain how “the blood of the Lamb and … the word of their testimony” were able to overcome Satan’s accusations, this article explains the origin of evil, God’s judgment of evil, and how evil defends itself against God.

The previous article concluded that Christ’s death defeated the accuser of our brethren, but verse 11 adds that they overcame him because of “their testimony.”  The fourth article asks who they are, and why was their testimony required to expel Satan from heaven?

The accuser of our brethren and Jesus’ evidence

Satan specifically accused God’s people (Rev. 12:10).  A previous article argued that Satan effectively accused God of bad judgment.  The accuser of our brethren claimed that God is unfair when He forgives people their sins, but condemns Satan and his angels.  To refute Satan’s charges, God required evidence, and Christ’s death showed that God is just when He justifies sinners.

But exactly what did the accuser of our brethren say, and what evidence did Christ provide?  The answer to this question is beyond human understanding, and is not clearly revealed in Scriptures.  The following are some of the evidence which Jesus possibly provided:

The serpent said to the woman, “You surely will not die!  For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Gen. 3:4-5).  In other words, Satan said that God did not tell the full truth.  If Satan did this with Eve, then we conclude that one of Satan’s basic strategies is to tell lies to about God.
However, Jesus is the exact representation of God’s nature (Heb. 1:3); “the image of the invisible God” (Col 1:15), and He revealed the truth about God.

The cruelty of the accuser of our brethren, as displayed in his malicious persecution of the only begotten Son of God, demonstrated Satan’s nature and the consequences of his principles.

Jesus became a human being, and as a man He overcame by faith.  In this way He demonstrated that human beings are able to obey God’s law perfectly.  In other words, He showed that there is nothing wrong with God’s law.

God justifies sinners “by grace … through faith” (Eph. 2:8), but the accuser of our brethren argued that God is unjust when He justifies sinners by grace.  Jesus showed that faith is a valid basis for justification, thereby validating God’s grace.

The conflict between Jesus and Satan, after Jesus became a human being, therefore reveals much about God, about the accuser of our brethren, about God’s law, about God’s redemption and about many other things.  This will probably be our main subject of study in the ages ahead, and not something which we can comprehend in this life, even after a lifetime of study.

Some of the concepts above require clarification:

Jesus overcame by faith.

Romans 3:25 indicates that Jesus’ death was a public display of God’s righteousness “through faith.”  This is understood as saying that His death demonstrated faith.  People do not like to say that Jesus displayed faith in God because they think of Jesus as God Himself.  But a series of articles on this website shows that the New Testament maintains a clear distinction between God and Jesus.  For example:

There is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Tim. 1:5).

God made the worldthrough” His Son (Heb. 1:2), which means that God is the Source and Power of all things.

Only two beings have “life in Himself,” namely the Father and the Son, but the Father “gave to the Son also to have life in Himself” (John 5:26).

Like the “LORD of hosts” Jesus could say “I am the first and the last” (Rev. 1:17; cf. Is 44:6).  This is understood to mean that there was no time that the Son did not exist.  Nevertheless, He is not the Ultimate Source of all things.

Before He became a human being, Jesus existed in the form of God and had equity with God (Phil. 2:5).  This also shows how the NT makes a distinction between God and Jesus.  This verse shows this distinction before Jesus became a human being.  But Jesus “emptied Himself” (v7) of the form of God.  He became fully and only a human being, and had to exercise faith.  When He hanged on the Cross, and cried out, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me,” He did not act in knowledge, but in faith.

Jesus validated God’s grace.

The accuser of our brethren argued that grace is not just.

Christ Jesus; whom God displayed publicly … in His blood … to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed … so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.” (Rom. 3:25-26)

Over the centuries theologians explained this passage as that God’s righteousness demanded that sins cannot be forgiven; that someone had to pay.  But it is proposed here that God had to demonstrate His righteousness because His righteousness was questioned.  This is actually explicitly stated in the text, for it tells us why He had to demonstrate His righteousness, namely “because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins.” In other words, He forgave sinners their sins: He justified them “as a gift by His grace” (Rom. 3:24); “by grace … through faith” (Eph. 2:8; cf. Rom. 4:16).  Romans 3:25-26 could be understood as saying that the accuser of our brethren accused God of being unjust when God, through grace, forgives sinners merely on the basis of their faith.  Due to Satan’s extremely sophisticated arguments, the heavenly beings were not all convinced that God is just, and God had to demonstrate His righteousness

The standard theory of atonement today also questions God’s grace.  It says that God cannot forgive sins, that somebody has to pay, and Jesus paid that price.  If Jesus paid for our sins, then our sins were not forgiven, for to forgive a debt is to cancel it without payment.  We do not support the standard theory of atonement, for God is love (1 John 4:8), and love ”does not take into account a wrong suffered” (1 Cor. 13:5).  In other words, God does not keep our sins against us.

Jesus showed that grace is just.

Accused

Our brethren … overcame him … because of the word of their testimony” (Rev. 12:10-11).  These verses do not use the word “faith,” but testimony is another word for faith.  Faith is not just a nice feeling; it is what you are; it permeates the entire being; the thoughts, the desires, the words and the deeds.  However, they remained sinners. “Through one man sin entered into the world” (Rom. 5:12). Therefore “all have sinned” (Rom. 3:23).  Over the centuries many people have overcome Satan’s temptations, but the accuser of our brethren was always able to point out sins in them.  The testimony of His people was powerless against Satan’s accusations.

All have sinned,” but Jesus never sinned.  It is therefore assumed that He was born without the human tendency to sin.  He did not inherit our inclination to evil.  Somehow our predisposition to sin is carried forward from generation to generation, but the Son of God was not Mary’s natural child.  Mary was only His surrogate mother.

He was a sinless man in a corrupted world, and had to resist the maximum possible provocation and temptation, but never sinned.  “He humbled Himself by becoming obedient (without sin – Heb. 4:25) to the point of death” (Phil. 2:8).

God’s people overcame, but always remained sinners.  Jesus, through faith, overcame and never sinned.  It is possible that Jesus thereby validated the faith of “our brethren” as a sufficient basis for justification; that God is therefore just when He justifies sinners “as a gift by His grace” (Rom. 3:24, 26).  Perhaps Christ demonstrated that God’s people will remain free from sin, once God restored them, and they no longer have this lust for sin.

See the article on Romans 3:23-26 for more information. on those verses

Through Jesus’ life

People are “justified … through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 3:24).  The next verse explains this redemption by saying that Jesus was “displayed publicly … in His blood.”  Similarly, in Revelation 12:11 the accuser of our brethren was overcome “because of the blood of the Lamb.”  These are reference to His death.

However, the evidence was not provided by Jesus’ death, but by His life.  If Jesus sinned anywhere in His life, His death would have been without value.  His entire life was a test.  At the beginning of His ministry, “Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil” (Mt. 4:1).  The Bible emphasizes on His death because the days and hours before He died was the highest test which He had to pass, and because His death was the end of His test.  “He said, ‘It is finished!’ And He bowed His head and gave up His spirit” (John 19:30).

Summary

Satan specifically accused God’s people. A previous article explained that Satan effectively accused God of bad judgment, but that Christ’s death showed that God is just when He justifies sinners.  These matters are beyond human understanding, for it has been the subject of dispute for many millennia, by intelligences much larger than ours.  This article proposes that what Christ revealed includes God’s love, Satan’s cruelty, the benevolence of God’s law and the justness of God’s grace.  These and related matters will be the subject of our study in the ages to come.

Articles on Revelation 12’s War in Heaven:

1. Who are the Male Child, His mother, the Dragon and Michael?
2. When was Satan Defeated?
3. How did Michael overcome Satan?
4. Who are they who overcame Satan because of “their testimony?”
5. What evidence did Christ provide that refuted Satan’s accusations? (Current)
6. Why did God not make an end of evil immediately after the Cross? (Next)

They overcame him because of the Lamb’s blood and because of their testimony.

Revelation 12 11If Satan was defeated through Christ’s death, why would “their testimony” also be required, and who are they?

This is the fourth article on the War in heaven.  The first article identified the role-players in this war; the Male Child, who was caught up to God, His mother, who existed both before and after Christ, and the Dragon, that stood ready to devour the Child as soon as He is born.  The Child was caught up to God in heaven, Michael wages war against the Dragon, who deceived many angels to his side.

The second article discussed the chronological sequence of the war in heaven, the ascension of the Male Child, the victory in the war, Satan cast down to earth and the woman hiding in wilderness.

The third article explains how Michael overcame Satan.  Satan deceives and accuses, but was overcome by “the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony.”  To reconcile these facts, the articles explains how evil originated, God’s judgment of evil, and how evil defends itself against God.

Purpose

Verses 7 to 9 indicate that Christ’s death enabled Satan’s  defeat, but verse 11 implies that “the word of their testimony” was also required

10 “… The accuser of our brethren has been thrown down,
he who accuses them before our God day and night.
11 “And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death.” (Revelation 12)

This article discusses these two verse, particularly to identify whose testimony this is, and why their testimony was required to banish Satan from heaven.

Our brethren

Verse 10 mentions “our brethren” as the beings accused by Satan.  This is the first time that “our brethren” are mentioned in this chapter.  Are they people or angels?

It is in Satan’s nature to deceive and accuse (vv9-10).  He certainly must have at least attempted to deceive and accuse Michael and his angels “before our God.”  For that reason, “our brethren” arguably include angels.

However, the term “our brethren” implies two distinct groups; us and them.  Since the loud voice came from heaven, it spoke on behalf of the heavenly beings.  This implies that “our brethren” refer to non-heavenly beings, and therefore presumably God’s people on earth.

They overcame him

Revelation 12 11After verse 10 refers to “our brethren,” verse 11 continues, “they overcame him.”  It is possible to read this as saying that “our brethren” (people) overcame the accuser.  But according to verses 7 to 9 Michael and his angels defeated Satan.  It is therefore proposed that the antecedent for “they” in verse 11 is Michael and his angels.

Their testimony

If “they” earlier in verse 11 refer to angels, then “their testimony,” in the same verse, may also refer to angels, which would mean that the testimony of angels helped to overcome Satan.  But for two reasons it is proposed that it is the testimony of God’s people that is in view:

1. It is a testimony given “when faced with death,” and angels do not die, as far as we know.

2. In Revelation it is always people that are killed for their testimony; never angels, for example:

Those who had been slain because of the word of God, and because of the testimony which they had maintained” (6:9; cf. 12:17).

Those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God” (20:4).

Pronouns in verse 11

The “they” and the “their” in verse 11 therefore have different antecedents.  It is proposed that verse 11 be read as follows:

Michael and his angels overcame Satan because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the testimony of God’s people, for God’s people did not love their life, even when faced with death.

God’s weapons

John writing RevelationThey overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death” (Rev. 12:11).

This verse uses the phrase “because of” twice.  It is therefore proposed that this verse refers to two weapons that were used to defeat Satan:

1The blood of the Lamb” (Jesus is the Lamb, e.g. 5:6), and
2The word of their testimony

Their willingness to die for what they believe is not a third weapon in God’s arsenal, but indicates the strength of their commitment.  The testimony that overcomes Satan is a testimony that is proven real when one’s life is in danger.  Satan said to the LORD, “all that a man has he will give for his life” (Job 2:4), but these people prove him wrong, for they are willing to die for their faith.

The text therefore implies three victories:

1.  The Lamb overcame by His blood (death).
2.  God’s people overcame by their testimony.
3.  Michael and his angels overcame Satan because of the other two victories.

Why was the testimony of God’s people required?

They overcame Satan “because of the word of their testimony.”  This means that, without the obedience of God’s people, Michael and his angels would not have been able to defeat Satan.  The blood of the Lamb alone would not have saved anybody if God’s people did not remain faithful, “even when faced with death.”  The reason is that people will be judged by their deeds.

Reformed Christians will object that this sounds like salvation by “the works of the law,” and it is clear that “by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight” (Rom. 3:20).  However, one must distinguish between “the works of the Law” and “deeds.”  The one that seeks to be justified by “the works of the Law” attempts to obtain God’s approval through the rituals of the Law.  But “God … will render to each person according to his deeds” (Rom. 2:6).  In this phrase the word “deeds” does not refer to compliance to the rituals.  “Deeds” are determined by our love for God and for our neighbor, or the lack there-of.  On the basis of our deeds we will be judged:

The dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds” (Rev. 20:12).

I will give to each one of you according to your deeds” (Rev. 2:23; cf. 20:13; 14:13).

Each of the letters to the seven churches ends with the words, “To him who overcomes …”(e.g. 2:7).   To “overcome” refers to their “deeds:”  “He who overcomes, and he who keeps My deeds until the end …” (2:26).

That people will be judged by their deeds does not mean that they earn salvation.  They certainly do not, for they are sinners.  They are “justified as a gift by His grace” (Rom. 3:24).

Summary

Previous articles concluded that Satan defeated through Christ’s death, but verse 11 mentions both “the blood of the Lamb” and “their testimony” as the means by which Satan was defeated.  The question then is, who are they, and why was their testimony required to expel Satan from heaven?

Our brethren” in verse 10, who were accused by Satan, refer to God’s people, but the phrase “they overcame him” in verse 11 does not refer to people, but to Michael and his angels, for they won the victory over Satan in heaven.

However, “their testimony,” a bit later in verse 11, is not the testimony of Michael and his angels, but the testimony of God’s people, for angels do not die and in Revelation it is always people that are killed for their testimony.  Without their testimony, Michael would have been unable to obtain the victory.

The testimony of God’s people was required because people will be judged by their deeds.  “Deeds,” which reflect one’s love or the lack there-of, must not be confused with “the works of the law.”

Articles on Revelation 12’s War in Heaven:

1. Who are the Male Child, His mother, the Dragon and Michael?
2. When was Satan Defeated?
3. How did Michael overcome Satan?
4. Who are they who overcame Satan because of “their testimony?” (Current)
5. What evidence did Christ provide that refuted Satan’s accusations(Next)
6. Why did God not make an end of evil immediately after the Cross?

Did Michael defeat Satan in the War in Heaven by physical force?

Michael defeated Satan in the War in Heaven through Christ’s death.  Satan deceives & accuses.  How did the cross overcome Satan’s accusations?

This is the third article on the War in heaven.  The first article concluded that the Male Child in verse 5, who was caught up to God, is Jesus.  The pure woman, who existed both before and after Christ, represents God’s people in all ages.  The Dragon, that stood ready to devour the Child as soon as He is born, is a symbol of Satan, but also of the earthly kingdoms used by Satan to persecute the woman and her child.  The Child was caught up to God, indicating that the Dragon failed to devour the Child.  In heaven Michael, the archangel, wages war against Satan, who deceived many angels to his side.

The second article discussed the chronological sequence.  The text seems to indicate that the war broke out after Jesus was caught up to God, but this article showed that the war existed before Christ, while the victory was won after Christ was caught up.  The text also seems to indicate that Satan was defeated after the woman had to flee to the wilderness, but it actually happened the other way round: the woman flee to the wilderness after Satan was defeated in heaven, and thrown down to earth.  Michael therefore won the victory over Satan soon after Christ’s ascension.

The Cross won the victory in heaven.

Michael won the victory through the Cross.  This is indicated by the following:

Main Concepts -Two of the main concepts in Revelation 12 are Christ’s ascension (verse 5) and the victory in war in heaven (verse 8-12). The emphasis placed on these two events implies a causal relationship.

The Chronological sequence of events, as discussed in the previous article, shows that the victory in heaven was won after Jesus was “caught up to God and to His throne” (Rev. 12:5).

Lamb of GodBlood of the Lamb In the explanation of the victory it is said that “they overcame him (Satan) because of the blood of the Lamb” (v11).

The Bible also elsewhere teaches that God overcame Satan through Christ death and resurrection:

Ruler cast out – When talking about His approaching death, Jesus said “Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out” (John 12:27, 31).

Rendered the devil powerless – “Since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil” (Heb. 2:14).

God “disarmed the rulers and authorities” when He “canceled out the certificate of debt” by nailing it to the Cross (Col. 2:14-15).  Rulers and Authorities are supernatural beings that oppose God.

The victory in the war in heaven was therefore won through Christ’s death.  After Christ was caught up from earth to God’s throne (v5), Satan went down from heaven to earth.  From an earthly perspective, the Son of God was defeated  at the Cross, but Revelation 12 reveals that it was His victory.

Nature of the War

The question in this article is how Satan was defeated.  Since he has been defeated by the Cross, the question is how the Cross defeated him.  To answer this, we first have to ask what problem had to be solved.  What was or is the nature of the war in heaven?

Sin did not originate on earth. 

Sin originated in heaven.  From heaven it was transferred to earth.

Lucifer was blameless in his ways.  As discussed in the article on the Origin of Evil, Lucifer probably was or is the most brilliant mind ever created. He was a covering cherub (Ezekiel 28:14), which means he served in God’s immediate presence.  The angels trusted, loved and admired him.

But Lucifer became God’s enemy.  God said to him, “Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty; You corrupted your wisdom by reason of your splendor” (Ezekiel 28:17).  Lucifer became the selfish and proud Satan, who desired to receive honor like the Son of God (Isaiah 14:14, compared to John 17:5).

God made the humans in His likeness (Gen. 1:26), and “the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy” (Job 38:7).  At that time Satan already was God’s adversary, but God still allowed Satan access to the humans.  Satan appeared to Eve in the form of a talking serpent.  Through deception he led Adam to sin, and through sin, he obtained power over the human race: “The whole world lies in the power of the evil one” (1 John 5:19; cf. Genesis 3).

Satan’s deceives and accuses.

Satan’s techniques are deception & accusations (Rev. 12:9-10).  He is “the accuser of our brethren” (Rev. 12:10), prowling around like a lion (1st Peter 5:8), seeking to deceive believers into sin so that he may accuse them before God.

Accused God

Satan does not accuse all people:  He specifically accuses “our brethren,” namely the people whom God claims as His own, like Job and Joshua.  Satan thereby effectively accused God of unfair judgment.

To defend himself

Satan is not trying to make sure that God justifies the right people.  His real purpose is to defend himself against God’s judgment.  Satan has been condemned to the “eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels” (Mat 25:41).

Romans 3:23-26, read with Revelation 12, tells us that Satan accused God of being unjust when He justifies sinners only on the basis of their faith.  His argument is that sinners may not be justified at all.  However, his real argument is that, if he and his angels are to be condemned to the “eternal fire,” then the same must apply to the entire human race, for they all sinned.  And if God’s people are “justified as a gift by His grace” (Rom. 3:24), then he and his angels must also be justified.

Our sins give Satan power.

In other words, Satan uses the sins of human beings to convince the universe that God judged him and his angels unfairly.

How did the cross overcome Satan?

Not by force

Many people understand the war in heaven as physical in nature; not fought with earthly weapons, but by supernatural physical means; using powerful physic-spiritual energies of which we have only vague intimations; energies which can move mountains and change planetary orbits.

If Satan uses physical force, that is not stated as such.  His weapons of deceptions and accusations explain the nature of the war in heaven.

God responds with two techniques; the death of His Son and the testimony of the brethren (Rev. 12:11).  Physical power does not win the victory.

In Daniel 10 Satan delayed one of God’s mighty angels for three weeks.  It is proposed that he did not do this by physical force, but by verbal arguments.  The war in heaven is therefore similar to a courtroom, where evidence is brought, and the jury decides.

By Proving Evidence

But the question remains, HOW did the “blood of the Lamb” overcome Satan?

This is a war of deception and accusations, and evidence is required to counter the accusations.  This means that Jesus, by remaining true to God to the end (His death) provided evidence to show that Satan’s accusations were false.  The same applies to the testimony of our brethren.  God was accused of unfair judgment, and through Jesus, and through the testimony of our brethren, God provided evidence to show that His judgments were fair.

This is confirmed by Romans 3:25-26:

God “displayed (Christ) publicly … for the demonstration … of His (God’s) righteousness … so that He (God) would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.”

This supports the conclusions that:

(1) God was accused of being unjust, specifically, for justifying sinners on the basis of faith.
(2) Christ’s death provided evidence to show that God is just.

In Colossians 2 we find that the Cross destroyed the evidence against sinners:  “The certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us” was nailed to the Cross (Col. 2:14).  In this way, God “disarmed the rulers and authorities” (v15).  See Certificate of debt consisting of decrees.

The sealed scroll

This conclusion is further supported by the sealed scroll of Revelation 5.  Before Jesus’ death “no one in heaven or on the earth or under the earth was able to open the book or to look into it” (v3).  It was a time of extreme sorrow in heaven (v4).  But then Jesus appears as “a Lamb … as if slain” (v6), and the heavenly beings sang a new song, saying to Jesus: “Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation” (v9).

A closed book symbolizes concealed information. The article Introduction to the Seven Seals concludes that the sealed scroll of Revelation 5 is the Book of Life.  In other words, before Jesus died, nobody was sure who will be saved.  But through His death Jesus provided the evidence required to open the book.

Why would the heavenly beings not understand?  Remember that Satan was a covering cherub and possibly the most brilliant being ever created.  His genius, combined with his use of deception and accusations, explain the lack of understanding on the side of the angels.  Through his genius and deception, he convinced many of God’s beautiful and mighty angels to side with him (Rev. 12:4), but most angels refused to accept Satan’s insinuations and allegations against God.  But even then the loyal angels were unable to fully understand and answer Satan charges.

Michael and his angels overcame Satan.

But Revelation 12:7 describes the war in heaven as between two groups of angels, and indicates that archangel Michael and his angels defeated Satan.  Why would God’s loyal angels defeat Satan if he was defeated by Jesus’ death?  Why did God Himself not drive Satan out of heaven?

The importance of evidence explains why Satan was overcome by Jesus, but thrown out of heaven by Michael and his angels.  Satan deceives and accuses.  As stated, even Michael and his angels were at least partly deceived by Satan.  But because of the evidence provided by Jesus’ death, Satan was no longer able to confuse them.  Satan was now unable to accuse God’s people before God.

There was no longer a place found for them (Satan and his angels) in heaven” (Rev. 12:8).

Perhaps Satan was not physically thrown out of heaven, but was driven out in a figurative sense in that nobody believes him.  Michael and his angels now understood and were fully convinced of God’s justness.  Satan was no longer able to accuse God’s people before God.  Satan no longer had any support in heaven.

Conclusions

Heavenly councils

The fact that evidence was required implies that decisions are made in heavenly councils.  Examples there-of are:

● In Revelation 5 it was not God, but the council’s decision that Jesus is “worthy … to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain” (vv8-9).
In Daniel 7, “the court sat, and the books were opened” (Dan. 7:10).
Satan brought his charges against the humans in the meetings of the “sons of God“ (Job 1:6).

God gave Satan time. 

In consequence of his rebellion, God cast Satan “as profane from the mountain of God. And I have destroyed you, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire” (Ezekiel 28:16).  God condemned Satan and his angels to “the eternal fire” (Mat. 25:41).  But because the angels did not completely understand what Satan did wrong, the angels would not have understood if God executed His judgment on Satan and his angels before the allegations against God were clarified.  Doubt would have remained, providing the seed for a future rebellion.  Because God wants His intelligent beings to understand, He had to allow Satan to continue until the nature and consequences of Satan’s ways are clear to all.

Freedom

The requirement for evidence means that physical power is not decisive.  God did not set Satan’s criticism and questions aside by physical force.  Satan deceives, accuses and slanders.  “Our brethren” respond, not by physical force, but by a faith (testimony) so strong that they are willing to die for what they believe (Rev. 12:11).  God has all power, but the outcome of the war in heaven is not determined by who has most physical power.

The explanation of Christ’s death, as provided by this website, implies that God’s creatures have freedom.  On the basis of this principle God grants Satan time and allows His own judgments to be tested.  God even became the accused and the universe became the judge.

Summary

The victory was won immediately after Jesus was caught up to God.  Furthermore, the loud voice explicitly states that they overcame Satan because of the blood of the Lamb.  Christ’s death therefore won the victory in the war in heaven.  Further support for this conclusion is that Jesus said that His death would cast out the ruler of this world.  Paul similarly wrote that Christ’s death rendered the devil powerless and disarmed the supernatural evil forces.

But, HOW did the Cross defeat Satan?

Evil originated in heaven.  Lucifer was without sin, but became proud because of his splendor, and desired to be worshiped like God.  Earth was later infected when Satan deceived Adam and Eve and gained control over the human race.

Satan’s techniques are to deceive and to accuse.  He accuses God’s people, effectively accusing God of unfair judgment.  To defend himself against God’s judgments, he argues that all people have sinned and that sin cannot be forgiven; if he is to be condemned, then the entire human race must also be condemned.

That is the problem which Christ’s death solved.  God did not solve this problem by force.  He did not use His infinite power to stamp out resistance.  God solved the problem by the blood of the Cross and the testimony of His people.  He solved the problem by providing evidence that Satan’s accusations are false.

Father of liesIt is Michael and his angels who expelled Satan from heaven; not God.  Previously they were unable to counter Satan’s brilliant arguments, but Christ’s death provided the evidence they needed.  Now they were convinced that God is just in His judgments and that Satan is the father of lies.  With this evidence they drove Satan and his angels out of the court rooms of heaven.

Articles on Revelation 12’s War in Heaven:

1. Who are the Male Child, His mother, the Dragon and Michael?
2. When was Satan Defeated?
3. How did Michael overcome Satan? (Current)
4. Who are they who overcame Satan because of “their testimony?” (Next)
5. What evidence did Christ provide that refuted Satan’s accusations?
6. Why did God not make an end of evil immediately after the Cross?