Satan presents his principles as good and God as a cruel murderer.

SUMMARY

antichrist last seven yearsThe previous article has shown that the Purpose of the Plagues is to teach that God judges people correctly:

On the one hand, the plagues will show that the people with the mark of the beast are hardened beyond repentance and that the only solution for them is eternal death

On the other hand, the plagues will show that the repentant sinners, who put their faith in Jesus, will rather die than to disobey God, and therefore are worthy of eternal life.

The purpose of the current article is to explain WHY it is necessary to show that God judges people correctly.

WHY DOES SIN EXIST? 

God wants us to love Him, but love can only be real if it is freely given.  Therefore, God creates intelligent beings with the freedom to love or to hate Him.  Perhaps the universe existed for millions of years in complete happiness, but eventually evil grew out of this freedom.

WHY GOD ALLOWS EVIL TO CONTINUE? 

Satan’s strategies did not appear to be evil at first.  He marketed his rebellion as something that will benefit God’s creatures; that will elevate them to a higher state of existence and happiness. 

God said to Adam and Eve, “in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.”  Satan accused God of being a cruel murderer. 

For these reasons, God had to allow sin to develop to demonstrate the real nature of evil.  The plagues will be extremely important in this regard.  The purpose is to show that it is not God who kills sinners, but that separation from Him NATURALLY results in degeneration and eventually destruction.  

WHO NEED THIS PROOF? 

Satan did not openly admit his intentions but covered his motives under a cloak of lies.  The angels did not understand what the end result of Satan’s strategies would be.  Even the angels that remained loyal to God did not understand.  Therefore, even the loyal angels need answers.

WHEN WILL GOD MAKE AN END OF SIN? 

God wants to make an end of sin as soon as possible, but He will only do that when it will benefit the universe.

God condemned Satan and his angels. To defend himself, Satan accuses God of unfair judgment.  Satan is able to confuse anything that is clear so that the angels do not understand whether Satan is correct.  If God destroys evil before all the accusations with respect to the fairness of His judgments are answered, doubt over His goodness will linger, even in the minds of His loyal angels.  That doubt will become the seed for another rebellion in the future eternities.  God will, therefore, only destroy evil when His loyal angels and people agree that the destruction of evildoers is the best thing to do. That is the reason for the delay.  Time is required to provide answers to Satan’s accusations.

Jesus’ death demonstrated God’s righteousness.  It proved that God is just when He justifies sinners who have faith in Jesus Christ, but God needs more than the cross to make a complete end to evil. 

The plagues also provide answers to some of the accusations.  The plagues will reveal the true nature of both the end-time Pharisees (the people with the mark of the beast) and God’s people.

But unanswered questions will remain even after the plagues, for sinners will be resurrected at the end of the Millennium.  The purpose of the war of the Gog and Magog is still to provide the final answers to Satan’s accusation. Only then will evil finally and safely be terminated.

These concepts will now be explained in more detail.

INTRODUCTION

The previous article concluded that the Purpose of the Plagues is not to save or to punish, but to teach:

The people with the mark of the beast are the modern Pharisees.  They appear to be Christians, but the plagues will show that they are hardened beyond repentance, even under the most severe circumstances. Therefore the only solution is eternal death.

The plagues will also show that the repentant sinners would rather die than to disobey God, and therefore are worthy of eternal life. 

These teachings together will show that God’s judgment of people, as to who will live and who will die, is perfect.

Normally, the articles on this website are fairly exegetical in nature; deriving its views strictly by analyzing the Bible.  In contrast, the current article is more philosophical in nature.  It deals with matters such as free choice, and, as the reader will be aware, that is hotly contested by both theologians and philosophers.  A number of articles on this website—(The Origin of Evil and the War in Heaven series)—discuss related topics more exegetical.  

The current article is the best explanation that I can offer with respect to who needs to learn that God’s judgments are perfect, and why.

WHY DOES SIN EXIST?

Why did God allow sin to develop in the first place? 

God is love (1 John 4:8, 16). He is light, and in Him, there is no darkness (1 John 1:5).  His government is based on unconditional love.  He loves all His creatures.  He loved them so much that He was willing to give His only begotten Son to die for them (John 3:16). 

Love requires freedom – God also wants us to love Him in return (Mat 22:37-38).  The only obedience that He desires is obedience that results from love.  Obedience that is FORCED or based on FEAR, even in the slightest degree, is no obedience at all.  Real love is freely given. 

Humans have free choice – Because God desires us to really love Him, He creates intelligent beings with the freedom to love or to hate.  He could have created robots, programmed to always say ‘I love you’, but He chose to create free intelligent creatures, with the ability to curse Him. 

Sin comes from this freedom.  Freedom creates the potential for evil; to hurt and even kill.

This explains why the first evil came to exist, but why did God not exterminate the first sinner (Satan) as soon as he had the first evil thoughts?  God could have erased any memory of Satan from our minds, for He is Almighty. 

However, such action would negate the freedom of His intelligent beings.  If He would do that, our freedom would not be real.  We can take extreme comfort in the fact that God did allow Satan to continue, for it shows that, although God is Almighty, and although every thought and every action depend on His supporting power, He protects our freedom, even if it costs Him the life of His only begotten Son.

WHY DID GOD ALLOW SIN TO DEVELOP?

SATAN CLAIMS THAT HIS PRINCIPLES ARE GOOD.

Satan has myriads on angels on his side (Rev. 12:7).  To get those angels on his side, he marketed his rebellion against God as something that will benefit God’s creatures; that will elevate their existence and happiness.  Satan’s proposals did not appear to be evil at first.  

SATAN ACCUSES GOD OF BEING A MURDERER

In the garden of Eden, God said:

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
” (Gen 2:17).

Did God say that He will kill Adam and Eve, or did He tell them that the fruit is poisonous? 

SEPARATION FROM GOD KILLS.

The current article proposes that the purpose of the plagues is to prove that it is not God that kills sinners, but that separation from Him NATURALLY results in degeneration and eventually destruction.  This concept can be explained as follows:

God is life.  All the energy and all the wisdom that created all things came out of God.  He also continually upholds everything by His power (Heb. 1:3; Col. 1:17).  He is not somewhere out there, while we carry on down here.  He is, rather, continually upholding every aspect of His creation; even Satan himself. For that reason, it would conceptually not be wrong to say that only God exists and that we are part of Him.  We must not underestimate the meaning of the fact that God is Almighty.  He really can do anything, and our existence, from second to second, depends fully on Him.  Therefore, to reject God is to reject life itself, for God is the life of the universe and of every living being.

Circle of life – The law of the universe is the law of love.  Because He loves us, He gives us everything we need.  Because we love Him, we return to Him a flood thanksgiving.  Satan disconnected himself from this circuit of life.  That caused the degeneration which eventually also engulfed the planet.

CONCLUSION

Because Satan, on the one hand, presented his principles as beneficial, and because he, on the other hand, accused God of being a cruel murderer, God had to allow sin to develop to where it is today, and also to develop to the frightening level to which it will grow during the plagues, to explain the real nature and consequences of evil.  The plagues are intended to show that evil destroys; not God.  We have no need to be afraid of God; we must be scared of sin. 

HEAVEN NEEDS ANSWERS

Many people think that sinless heavenly beings (including angels) do not need more information to understand that rebellion against God is bad, but that is not true.  To understand this, we need to understand a little about how sin developed.

ORIGIN OF EVIL

Sin existed before man was created, and was brought from heaven to earth by the Serpent of old (Gen. 3; Rev. 12:9).

Sin originated in Satan.  God said of him: “You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created until unrighteousness was found in you” (Ezek. 28:15). 

Satan was (is?) the most beautiful being ever created (Ezekiel 18:13).  He was adored by all, but he wanted to be adored equal to God (Is. 14:13, 14).  Logically, evil did not suddenly spring up in Satan one day; it developed slowly over a long time of time.  Given how God deals with sinners on earth, we can safely assume that God warned Satan clearly and repeatedly of the consequences of the direction he was taking.  But eventually, Satan became fully committed to the path he chose.

EVEN LOYAL ANGELS NEED ANSWERS.

Sin did not remain only with Satan.  He succeeded to lead a very large portion of the perfect angels away from God (Rev 12:7).  He was, therefore, able to convince many of the angels, but the others not.  What was Satan’s modus operandi?  Satan is the master advocate.  He is able to confuse anything that is clear.  He did not openly admit his intentions, but covered his motives under a cloak of lies, masterfully flattering the angels when they agree with him but, when they disagree, accusing them of not willing to suffer for the goodwill of the universe.  The angels did not understand what the end result of Satan’s strategies would be.  Even the angels that remained loyal to God did not understand.  Therefore, even the loyal angels need answers.

WHEN WILL GOD MAKE AN END OF SIN?

Obviously, God wants to make an end of sin as soon as possible.  Why does He allow sin to continue?  What prevents God from making an end of sin?  Why did God not make an end to sin after Jesus won the victory on the cross?

GOD ACCUSED OF BAD JUDGMENT

God had condemned Satan and his angels to the lake of fire (Matt. 25:41). To defend himself, Satan attempts to convince the universe that God judges unfairly.  Not only does Satan attempt to exonerate himself and his followers; he also accuses God of bad judgment with respect to God’s own people, for example in the cases of Job (Job 1:9, 10) and Joshua (Zech. 3:1).  Revelation, therefore, refers to Satan as the accuser of the brethren (12:10). 

If God destroys evil before all questions are answered, doubt over God’s goodness will linger, even with His loyal angels.

GOD IS NOT THE JUDGE

Freedom is without fear of punishment.  If we fear that God will punish us if we sin, then we are not completely free, and our obedience is forced.  Therefore, God’s intelligent creatures are free to do whatever they wish, without fear of punishment!  GOD WILL NOT PUNISH EVILDOERS. 

God will eventually destroy evil and all beings that have become permanently attached to evil, but it will not be a punishment in the sense of recompense for deeds in the past.  He will destroy evil with the eye on the FUTURE; not on the PAST.  He will only destroy evil to protect the future safety and happiness of the universe.

But it will only be to the benefit of the universe when the remaining members of the universe agree that the destruction of evildoers is the best thing to do. God, therefore, is not the judge.  The universe judges: 

In the judgment scene in Daniel, many thrones are set up, and the books were opened (Dan 7:9).  It is therefore not only God that judges and God does not need books. 

The judgment will be given to the saved (rev. 20:4). 

THE DANGER OF UNANSWERED QUESTIONS

God wants His created beings to judge for themselves.  God knows and understands all things, and He knows what is the best, but before He can execute His will, His sinless intelligent creatures must agree with Him.  In particular, they must understand why He will destroy some of the people whom they love. If unanswered questions remain, if a lingering doubt with respect to God’s goodness remains, that doubt can become the seed in the future eternities for another rebellion.  Only when all questions with respect to the nature and consequences of evil have been answered, to the satisfaction of the sinless intelligent creatures, can God safely eliminate the destructive forces from the universe.  Only in that way can evil be prevented from ever again developing anywhere in God’s infinite universe.  In the new heavens and new earth, which God will create, God’s intelligent beings will have the freedom to sin, but there will not be any sin because all intelligent beings will understand what the end result of selfishness is.  Then we will live in complete safety and trust in the wonderful, perfect new world which He will create:

Behold, I am making all things new” (21:5).

That is the reason for the delay.  Time is required to provide answers to Satan’s accusations against God.

CHRIST’S DEATH

There are many theories of the atonement (why Christ had to die).  This website supports the view that by the church in the first few centuries, namely that Christ’s life and death was a battle between good and evil, and He overcame evil with good.  Jesus’ death demonstrated God’s righteousness:

Christ Jesus, whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood … This was to demonstrate His righteousnessso that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus” (Romans 3:24-26)

In other words, Christ’s death was a demonstration of God’s righteousness.  His death proves that God is just when He justifies sinners who have faith in Jesus Christ.

Christ’s death therefore also provided evidence with respect to the nature and consequences of evil, but if Christ’s death on the cross was all that was required to eradicate sin from the universe, God would not have allowed sin to continue.  Since evil and its consequences are still thriving 2000 years later, we must conclude that God needs more than the cross to make a complete end to evil.

PLAGUES

The plagues also provide answers to some of the questions.  As discussed in the previous article, the plagues will reveal the true nature of both the end-time Pharisees (the people with the mark of the beast) and God’s people (the people with the seal of God). 

But unanswered questions will remain even after the plagues, for sinners will be resurrected at the end of the Millennium (20:5).  Then Satan will also be released from his prison (20:7).  The purpose of the war of the Gog and Magog (20:8) is still the same, namely to provide answers to the questions raised by Satan.  Only when all these questions have been answered, will the devil be exterminated in the lake of fire and brimstone (20:10).

ARTICLES ON THE PLAGUES

Introduction to the Plagues of Revelation
First four plagues:
     The First Four are non-specific.
     Overview
Fifth Plague:
     The Throne of the Beast
     The Mighty Angel of Revelation 18
     Conclusions
Sixth Plague:
     The Great River, the Euphrates, dries up.
     Kings from the East 
     Armageddon 
     Revelation 16:15 and the Rapture
     Euphrates dries up to prepare the way 
     Conclusions 
Seventh Plague
Purpose of the Plagues:
     I   To show that God judges perfectly
     II Satan presents his principles as good.(Current article)

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?

There was war in heaven, Michael and his angels against the dragon and his angels.

Revelation 12 describes a war in heaven between two groups of angels. What did they fight about?  What weapons did they use?  

Unless otherwise indicated, all quotes are from the book of Revelation and from the NASB translation.

This article identifies the male child as Jesus.  His mother symbolizes God’s people.  The dragon that stands ready to devour the male child, as soon as He is born, is Satan, but also represents the world powers through which Satan persecutes God’s people.  This article then discusses the war in heaven, and identifies Satan’s weapons as deception and accusations.

The Male Child (12:5)

Verse 5 is a useful place to start this discussion because it points to a specific point in history:

She gave birth to a son, a male child,
who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron;
and her child was caught up to God and to His throne
” (12:5).

Rod of Iron – Revelation 19:11-21, describing Christ’s return, presents Jesus as the One using the rod of iron.  He sits on “a white horse” (v11).  “The armies which are in heaven … were following Him on white horses” (v14). “He will rule them (the nations) with a rod of iron” (v15).  “His name is called The Word of God” (v13).  John—the author of Revelation—also wrote the gospel of John, and in it He refers to Jesus as “the Word” (John 1:1).  Since the male child will “rule all the nations with a rod of iron,” He is Jesus Christ.

He will use the rod of iron when He returns.  Then “the rest were killed with the sword which came from the mouth of Him (Jesus) … and all the birds were filled with their flesh” (Rev. 19:20).  It will be a time of extreme sorrow for believers.  They have been praying so much for their loved ones.  Now their loved ones are killed.  But the pain of the believers will be nothing compared to the sorrow in God’s heart.

Caught up to GodThe male child “was caught up to God and to His throne” (12:5).  This is His ascension to heaven.  Mark 16:19 reads, “the Lord Jesus … was received up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God.”  Verse 5 therefore covers the entire period from Christ’s birth to His ascension.

The Woman (12:1-2)

Woman, clothed with the sunWe are now able to identify the woman of verses 1 and 2:

A great sign appeared in heaven:
a woman clothed with the sun,
and the moon under her feet,
and on her head a crown of twelve stars;
and she was with child; and she cried out,
being in labor and in pain to give birth.
” (12:1-2)

Before Christ – Since the child she carries is Jesus Christ, she is a symbol of all people in the time before Christ expected the Messiah.  She is beautiful in God’s sight, for she is “clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.”  Because she is beautiful, and because literal Israel was not always that beautiful, we should not identify her as literal Israel, but as all believers in the time before Christ, both inside and outside Israel, and also prior to the time of Israel.

After Christ – After Jesus was “caught up to God and to His throne,” His mother remains on earth and flees to the wilderness (12:6, 13-14).  “The rest of her children” (children other than Christ) “keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus” (12:17).  Now she represents God’s New Testament people.  The mother therefore represents God’s people of all ages.

On earth and in heaven – In verse 1 John saw her in heaven.  Later the woman flees to the wilderness (v14).  Here she is presented as on earth.  In other words, she is literally on earth, but in a sense she (God’s people) is also in heaven.  Compare with 15:2, where “those who had been victorious over the beast” are represented as “standing on the sea of glass,” which is before God’s throne (4:6).

The Dragon (12:3-4)

Great Red DragonThen another sign appeared in heaven:
and behold, a great red dragon
having seven heads and ten horns
His tail swept away a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth.
The dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth,
so that when she gave birth he might devour her child.
” (Rev. 12:3-4)

Satan – Verse 9 identifies the dragon as “the devil and Satan”.  It “stood before the woman … so that when she gave birth he might devour her child” (v4).  Ever since God told the serpent that the seed of the woman “shall bruise you on the head” (Genesis 3:15), Satan has been watching, expecting the Messiah, and standing ready to thwart His mission.

Seven heads and ten horns – But the dragon has seven heads and ten horns, just like the beast from the sea in Revelation 13 and the scarlet beast in 17:3.  “The seven heads are … seven kings” (17:9-10) and “the ten horns which you saw are ten kings” (17:12).  The dragon therefore also represents the earthly kingdoms through which Satan persecutes God’s people.

Caught up to God – Satan stood ready to devour her child as soon as He was born (v4), but Jesus was “caught up to God and to His throne” (v5).  This means that Satan was defeated and that Christ won the victory when He came to this earth.

War in Heaven

Verse 7 mentions the war in heaven briefly:

And there was war in heaven,
Michael and his angels waging war with the dragon.
The dragon and his angels waged war

Michael – It is a war between two groups of angels.  The name of the leader of God’s angels is “Michael” (12:7).  This name means “who is like God.”  He is mentioned four times in the Bible; mostly resisting evil angels, for example:

Michael is “the archangel” and he argues with the devil “about the body of Moses” (Jude 1:9).

Daniel wrote that, when he saw the angel whom God sent to him with a message, “no strength was left in me, for my natural color turned to a deathly pallor, and I retained no strength” (Dan 10:8).  This therefore was a mighty angel, but he was delayed for three weeks by “these forces” (v13).  “These forces” are therefore powerful supernatural forces.  The angel said that Michael is the only one “who stands firmly with me against these forces” (v 13).  (Cf. Dan 12:1)

Satan – Michael and his angels wage war against Satan and his angels.  This means that Satan has deceived a large number of God’s beautiful angels to his side.

Victory – While verse 7 mentions the war, verses 8 to 12 describe Michael’s victory.

Satan’s Weapons

With what weapons are this war waged?  The Dragon is identified as:

the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan,
who deceives the whole world
” (v9)
the accuser of our brethren …
he who accuses them before our God day and night
” (v10).

Serpent –  “The serpent … said to the woman” (Gen. 3:1).  “Serpent” therefore refers to Satan’s deception of Eve.

Satan – The name Satan means adversary (opponent).  He is God’s adversary, but also of all angels and people who side with God.

Deceives – He “deceives the whole world” (Rev. 12:9).  Deception is one of his key strategies.  In other words, he tells lies to get people and angels to do and say the things he wants them to do and say.  Jesus said of him, “Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44).

AccuserHe is “the accuser of our brethren:” He “accuses them before our God day and night.”  Zechariah 3 shows Satan accusing Joshua the high priest of iniquity.  Another example is when Satan said that Job fears God only because God protects him (Job) on all sides, but if all of Job’s possessions are taken away, then Job would curse God (Job 1:10-11).

Devil – His role as accuser is also reflected in the name “devil” (diabolos).  This Greek word means “slanderer; false accuser; unjustly criticizing to hurt (malign) and condemn.”  The NASB, in a few places, also translates this word as “malicious gossips.”

Satan’s weapons are therefore not physical in nature.  He deceives and accuses.

SUMMARY

Male Child – The “male child” is Jesus.  He was “caught up to God and to His throne.”  This is His ascension.  Verse 5 covers the entire time from Christ’s birth to His ascension to heaven.

The woman, who is “clothed with the sun,” symbolizes God’s people on earth.  At first she is presented as pregnant; expecting the Messiah.  In this phase she represents all believers in the time before Christ that were looking forward to God’s Messiah.  After Jesus was “caught up to God,” she remains on earth.  Now she represents God’s New Testament people.

The dragon is “the devil and Satan.”  It “stood before the woman … so that when she gave birth he might devour her child.”  Ever since God told the serpent that the seed of the woman “shall bruise you on the head,” Satan stood ready to thwart Christ’s mission.  But Jesus was “caught up to God and to His throne.”  This means that Satan failed in his mission.

War in Heaven – The leader of God’s angels is the archangel Michael.  His enemy is Satan and his angels, for Satan has deceived a large number of God’s beautiful angels to side with him.  Satan’s weapons are deception and accusations.  He deceives angels and people into sin, and then accuses them before God.

Articles on Revelation 12’s War in Heaven:

1. Who are the Male Child, His mother, the Dragon and Michael? (Current)
2. When was Satan Defeated? (Next)
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?