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?

Origin of Evil

God creates his intelligent beings able to disobey Him so that their service and love will be their free choice. Evil arose from this freedom; right in the middle in heaven.

Summary

Origin – Sin did not originate on earth, but in heaven.  Satan and evil existed before humans were created.  When Satan deceived our first parents, evil spilled over to earth.

Lucifer – The name “Lucifer” means “Light-Bringer”.  It is the glorious title Satan had before his fall.  He was “the anointed cherub who covers“.  This means that he was one of the highest angels in heaven; one of a special class of angels that serve in God’s immediate presence.  He was perfect in beauty, full of wisdom, blameless in his ways, loved by all and he loved all God’s beings.  He understood everything that created beings are able to understand.  He was perhaps the most glorious being ever created.

Freedom created – God creates his intelligent beings with the ability to disobey Him so that their service and love will be their free choice.  Without that ability we would have been nothing other than a computer, programmed to say, “I love you, I love you”.  He wants us to love Him because it is our free choice.

Center of the Universe – Evil arose in heaven’s command center, not in some far away galaxy.  Sin originated in Lucifer, who served in God’s immediate presence.

Pride – Evil first arose as Pride.  Lucifer became proud because of his beauty and desired to be worshiped like God.  Pride was therefore the first sin, and it is still the most dangerous of all sins, because it hides behind a mask of self-righteousness.

Freedom allowed Although Satan was created able to disobey God, God still was able to force Lucifer to obey Him, but He did not; God allowed Satan the freedom to oppose Him.  God also allowed Adam to disobey Him and He allowed Satan to tempt the newly created humans. God’s government is based on freedom, for there can be no true obedience from the heart unless there is freedom to disobey.

Evil arose from freedom – Lucifer became proud because of his beauty, but beauty was not the cause of evil.  The risk of freedom is that evil would one day develop.  But to live with that risk is much, much better than being a robot.  There is nothing wrong with how God created His intelligent beings.

Satan’s tactics – To deceive Eve into sin, Satan lured her into conversation by pretending to seek information, twisted God’s words, inspired distrust in God by calling God a selfish liar and got her to be unhappy with what she is and had received. Satan did the same with the angels; he inspires distrust in God.  He teaches that God does not have our best interest at heart.  Satan also made the angels to be unhappy with what they are and have received.

Satan knew God would forgive Adam and Eve – Satan sinned with full understanding of God and of His governing principles.  Satan knew God so well that he knew God would let Adam and Eve live, even though God told Adam “in the day that you eat from it you will surely die”.

Satan also knew he did not have to fear punishment – To be created able to disobey God, but under the threat that God will destroy sinners, is no real freedom.  His intelligent beings have this freedom even without fear that God will punish them.  Sinners will “depart … into the eternal fire” (Mat. 25:41), but not as punishment.

Final destruction – Satan will one day “cease to be forever”.  God’s heart is broken by Lucifer’s rebellion, and it will break Him heart to destroy the most beautiful and most wise creature ever created.

Series

This is the first of the following series of articles:

  1. Origin of evil
  2. How could Satan think he could succeed against the Almighty?
  3. Why did God not destroy evil immediately?
  4. War in Heaven – Revelation 12 describes a war in heaven between two groups of angels.  Why did they fight?  What weapons did they use?  When and how was the victory won?  Why is the war continued on earth?
  5. Why was evil not destroyed after the Cross?
  6. Why does God not create a separate galaxy for Satan and his followers?

The Fall of Man

The LORD God said to Adam,

“From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die” (Genesis 2:16-17).

There-after God formed Eve (2:18-23).  Satan, in the form of a serpent, approached Eve when she was alone (3:1; Revelation 12:9), and asked her,

has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’” (3:1)

God commanded Adam not to eat from one specific tree, but Satan, trying to lure Eve into a conversation by pretending to seek information, twisted God’s words by referring to “any tree”.

Eve answered that they are allowed to eat from the fruit of the trees of the garden,

but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die” (3:2-3).

Satan then called God a selfish liar:

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” (1:4-5).

So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate.” (Genesis 3:1-6 NKJV)

We learn a number of lessons from this:

To get Eve to sin, Satan got Eve to distrust God. 
Satan accused God of telling lies and of being selfish.  She was led to believe that God was holding back what should have been hers.

Satan also got Eve to be unhappy with what she is and had. 
Lucifer, the “star of the morning” (Isaiah 14:12) said in his heart “I will make myself like the Most High” (14:14).  Now we see that he tempts Eve with the very same thirst for power.  He told her that she lacks discernment (“your eyes will be opened”) and she desired wisdom (“to make one wise”).

God does not use force, but allows Satan to tempt His creatures. 
He allowed two tree in the garden, He gave Adam the option of disobeying Him and He allowed Satan access to the newly created humans.  These things show that His government is based on freedom to choose for or against Him.  There can be no true obedience from the heart unless there is freedom to disobey.

Satan and evil (sin) existed before humans were created. 
Satan, in the form of a serpent, deceived our first parents.  Sin did not originate on earth; the rebellion against God started elsewhere: in what we may call heaven.  As Jesus said, “Satan is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44).  When Satan deceived our first parents this war in heaven spilled over to earth, and continues today.

While much is unknown about how sin originally developed, there are two portions of Scripture that briefly comment on it, namely Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28:

Isaiah 14

LuciferThe Hebrew word translated as “morning star” (NASB) in Isaiah 14:12 was translated into Latin as Lucifer. People then started to use this as one of Satan’s names.  The KJV still translates that word as “Lucifer” in this verse, but it literally means “Light-Bringer”.  It is actually the glorious title Satan had before his fall.

According to Isaiah 14:12-13 Lucifer said in his heart:

I will ascend to heaven;
I will raise my throne above the stars of God,
I will sit on the mount of assembly in the recesses of the north.
I will ascend above the heights of the clouds;
I will make myself like the Most High.’

Because this was the intentions of his heart, Lucifer has “fallen from heaven“ and is ”cut down to the earth” (14:12).  He “will be thrust down to Sheol, to the recesses of the pit” (14:15).  Sheol is the “underworld – the place to which people descend at death (Strong’s Concordance).  It is a synonym for “grave”.  The KJV translates sheol as “hell” in this verse, but as “grave” in many other verses (for instance Gen. 37:35; 42:38; 44:29).  The implication is that Lucifer will die.  Ezekiel 28:19 says “you will cease to be forever”.  Please consider the enormity of the tragedy; perhaps the most beautiful and most wise creature ever created, and many beautiful angels “will cease to be forever”.  Think how difficult this will be for God, and for all the millions of angels that admired and loved him.

Ezekiel 28

CherubEzekiel 28 starts out as a warning to the king of Tyre (v2), but then switches to describe “the anointed cherub who covers” (v14, 16), who was “in Eden, the garden of God”, perfect in beauty (14:12), blameless in his ways (v15), until unrighteousness was found in him (v15).  This goes beyond the description of an earthly king.

To understand what an “anointed cherub who covers” is, consider the Ark of the Covenant in the original Jewish temple.  The “mercy seat” (lid) of the Ark had “two cherubim of gold”, “covering the mercy seat with their wings” (Exodus 37:1-9; 25:17-21).  The LORD said to Moses:

There I will meet with you; and from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim which are upon the ark of the testimony, I will speak to you about all that I will give you in commandment for the sons of Israel.” (Exodus 25:22)

The “mercy seat” is therefore a symbol of God’s throne and the cherubim are a special class of angels that serve in God’s immediate presence; around His throne.

Ezekiel actually saw these cherubim. 
Each one had four faces and each one four wings” (Ezekiel 10:21).  There was “one wheel beside each cherub … as if one wheel were within another wheel” (v9-10). “Their whole body, their backs, their hands, their wings and the wheels were full of eyes all around” (v12).  That they are covered with eyes all around means that they see and understand everything; they are “full of wisdom(14:12).  This description of the cherubim may sound a bit scary, but they are beautiful.  They are loved and admired by all.

CherubimSatan was one of these cherubim. 
As “the anointed cherub who covers“, Satan was one of the highest angels in heaven, the guardian or protector of God’s throne, serving in God’s immediate presence.  He understood everything that a created being is able to understand.  He had the seal of perfection.    Every precious stone was his covering; rubies, topaz, diamonds, beryl, onyx and jasper, lapis lazuli, turquoise, emeralds and gold (v13).  It may even be that Lucifer was the highest and most beautiful of these cherubim, for his name was “Light-Bringer” and heart was lifted up because of his beauty (Ezekiel 28:17).

Originally, he had no sin, but “unrighteousness” was found in Satan (v15). 
His heart was lifted up and his wisdom was corrupted because of his beauty and splendor (v17).   The words, “till iniquity was found in you” (v15) suggests that evil began with Satan.  God did not create evil, it originated with Satan.

Why did God create LuciferGod created Satan able to sin; to disobey His laws. 
God gave Satan the ability to decide for or against God’s laws.  Without that ability Lucifer would have been nothing other than a computer, programmed to say, “I love you, I love you”.  No, God created His intelligent beings with the option to sin, so that their service and love will be their free choice.  Perhaps God knew all along that many of His intelligent creatures would one day decide against Him, and that He will one day have to restore happiness in the universe at a massive cost to Himself, but God wanted it no other way; He wants us to love Him because it is our free choice.

God did not prevent Satan’s sin.  
Although God created Satan able to sin, He was able to override that ability, but He did not; God allowed Satan the freedom to oppose Him.

Satan knew God so well that he knew God would let Adam and Eve live. 
What makes it so very scary is that evil developed in God’s immediate presence; in the command center of the universe, not in some far away galaxy.  Lucifer’s position in heaven as covering cherub allowed him to be “on the holy mountain of God”, amidst “the stones of fire” (v14), where God’s visible presence is.  This means that Satan sinned with full understanding of God and of His governing principles.

This helps us to understand what happened in Eden.  God said to Adam “in the day that you eat from it you will surely die” (Genesis 2:17).  But Satan said to Eve, “You surely will not die” (1:4-5).  It seems as if Satan actually told the truth; Adam and Eve did not die in the day they ate from it.  People offer different theories to argue that Adam and Eve actually did die on that day, for instance that they became mortal on that day, or that they died spiritually.  These are possible explanations, but the explanation preferred here is that God, in His mercy, allowed Adam and Eve to live.  Satan knew God so well that he knew that God would forgive Adam and Eve.

Satan knew he could sin without fear of punishment. 
If angels work like human beings, Lucifer did not suddenly wake up one morning a sinner; it developed slowly over a long period of time.  God knows everything.  He knew what was developing in the heart of His much-loved servant next to His throne, and based on the way that God deals with humans, we must assume that God warned Lucifer many times.  Lucifer knew God extremely well, and he knew that God knew, but he went ahead on his chosen path.  Satan also knew God’s principles inside-out, and it is proposed here that he knew that he could sin without fear of penalty.  To be created able to disobey God, and to be allowed to disobey God, but under the threat that God will destroy sinners, is no real freedom.  Lucifer understood that the freedom which God’s intelligent creatures enjoy is full freedom, free from fear of punishment.

Is Lucifer protecting us from an evil God? 
Did Lucifer desire to raise his “throne above the stars of God … make myself like the Most High” because God is a tyrant from whom Satan is trying to protect us by showing us a better way?  Here the Bible does provide an answer.  We read that Lucifer’s heart was lifted up and his wisdom was corrupted because of his beauty and splendor (v17).  In 1 Timothy 3:6 Paul similarly warns against becoming “conceited and fall into the condemnation incurred by the devil”.  Conceited means to be self-important or proud.  Pride was therefore the first sin, and is still the most dangerous of all sins, because it hides behind a mask of self-righteousness.

Did his beauty cause Lucifer to sin?  
Satan started out as Lucifer; which means light-bearer.  He was perfect, loved by all and he loved all God’s beings.  He was perhaps the most glorious being ever created.  But he became proud because of his beauty, and there developed in his heart the desire to be worshiped like God (Isaiah 14:14).  Beauty is good, and I don’t think that something good caused evil.  The risk of freedom (the ability to choose against God) is that evil would one day develop.  But to live with that risk is much, much better than being a robot.  There is nothing wrong with the way that God created His intelligent beings.  It is Satan that is the real tyrant.  He is the selfish one.  He only wants the power and glory of the universe for himself.

What did Satan do to the angels to have them rebel against God?  
To deceive Eve, Satan said to her two things; firstly God told a lie and secondly that God selfishly withhold things from the humans.  It stands to reason, that Satan used the same strategy to lead the angels astray:

He firstly inspired them to distrust God.  Satan targets God directly for his attacks.  We also see this in the strategies of his earthly agents.  The little horn of Daniel has “a mouth speaking pompous words” (Daniel 7:8). “He will speak out against the Most High” (Daniel 7:25).  The Sea Beast ”was given a mouth speaking … blasphemies” (Rev. 13:5).  “He opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme His name, His tabernacle, and those who dwell in heaven” (Rev. 13:6).

He secondly instilled in them a desire for more power.  Satan also said to Eve that “that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Gen. 3:6).  Satan must have used the same strategy in heaven against the angels, telling them that God was holding back on them, and that they should have more power.  Satan made the angels unsatisfied with what they were and had received.

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Rulers and Authorities

The Rulers and Authorities, to whom Paul and also Peter refer, are supernatural beings that oppose Christ.

Below are the references to Rulers and Authorities in the New Testament.

Earthly Rulers and AuthoritiesIn the following it refers to earthly rulers:

Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient…” (Titus 3:1-2)

In the following verses it may refer to earthly or heavenly rulers:

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord“.

by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him” (Col. 1:16).

But in most instances it seems clear that it refers to heavenly rulers; ranks of angelic beings, either faithful or fallen angelic beings::

He (Christ) is the head over all rule and authority” (Col. 2:10) “… the cross.  When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him” (Col 2:15) (Col. 2:10-15 forms a unit, describing how Christians have been made complete “in Him” (2:10) by disarming the supernatural “rulers and authorities” through the Cross.  For further information, please see the article Disarmed the rulers and authorities.

Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power” (1Cor. 15:24).

… he raised him (Christ) from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion“ (Eph. 1:19-21).

His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms” (Eph. 3:10, 11)

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Eph. 6:12).

… Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at God’s right hand –with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him” (1Pet. 3:21, 22).

As the above indicates, the supernatural rulers and authorities are forces that oppose Christ.  Our struggle is against them (Eph. 6:12), but they have been disarmed by the Cross (Col. 2:14-15).  In the end they will be made to submit to Christ (1Pet. 3:21, 22) and be destroyed (1Cor. 15:24).

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