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?

Why Satan thought he could win against God

Lake of Fire

What power does Satan have to oppose God?
What are his strategy and his goal?
Why did God allow Satan to torment Job without cause?
– A study of the book of Job

Summary:

JobThis article analyses the text of the book of Job, and comes to the following eleven conclusions:

1. Satan is only able to do what the Lord allows him to do. Satan had to ask permission from God to test Job by destroying all his possessions.

2. God claims certain people as His (His elect).  The dispute in Job is over the Lord’s elected people only; not about the followers of Satan.

3. Satan is the accuser of the brethren. He accuses God’s elect.

4. By rejecting God’s assessment or judgment of His elect, Satan is actually saying that God judges wrongly. When Satan tests Job, he is actually testing God’s ability to judge.

5. Satan has no real interest in the humans; his goal is to save himself. He and his angels are condemned by God, and Satan wants to show to the universe that God makes mistakes when He judges.

6. Job had no idea of the events in heaven, but his sufferings on earth was the direct consequence of a discussion and an agreement made in heaven. This was not an isolated incident, but still happens every day.

7. If it can be shown that God’s judgments are faulty, even only in a single instance, the implications for heaven will be massive; Satan would be able to claim that he also has been judged unfairly.

8. Satan not only wants to be cleared from guilt; he is also fighting to retain the right to rule the earth.

9. The Lord and Satan are in a battle for the minds of the people. God does not take the rule by force. Nor does He allow Satan to force angels and people to submit to his authority.  This war for the right to rule will NOT be won on the basis of power, but on the basis of loyalty.

10. God’s intelligent beings are free to choose. God wants them to trust His judgments, so that they would serve Him because they want to serve Him. Satan is the one who does not grant freedom.  He controls people and angels against their will.

11. Satan thought he could succeed against God because he knew that God allows His intelligent beings to choose for themselves, and he thought that he would be able, through brilliant deceptions, to convince them to side with him.

Series

War in HeavenThis is the second of the following series of articles:

  1. Origin of Evil
  2. Why Satan thought he could win against God
  3. Why did God not destroy evil immediately?
  4. War in Heaven
  5. Why was evil not destroyed after the Cross?
  6. Why does God not create a separate galaxy for Satan and his followers?

The Question:

God is all powerful.  He created everything.  Satan and His evil angels, in contrast, are mere created beings.  The devils believe that God is one, but they “tremble” (James 2:19).  Satan is perhaps the most brilliant mind ever created.  Why did he think he could succeed against God?

The Facts:

Job tormentedThe facts from the book of Job, in brief, are as follows:

One day “the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD” (1:6).

Satan also was among them (Job 1:6).  The LORD asked Satan: “From where do you come?” (1:7).

Satan answered, “From roaming about on the earth and walking around on it” (1:7).

But the Lord said, “have you considered My servant Job?  For there is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, fearing God and turning away from evil” (1:8).

But Satan rejected God’s assessment of Job.  He declared that Job fears God only because God protects him on every side, and blesses the works of his hands, making him very wealthy.  Satan continued, “but put forth Your hand now and touch all that he has; he will surely curse You to Your face” (1:9-11).

The LORD then gave Satan permission to test Job by destroying everything that Job owned (1:12), including his children.

Through all this Job did not sin nor did he blame God” (1:22).

A second meeting of the sons of God with the Lord is described in Job 2:1-6.  The same issues are brought up, but with slightly different specifics. Satan failed the first time around to destroy Job’s faith in God.  The Lord now adds, referring to Job, “he still holds fast his integrity, although you incited Me against him to ruin him without cause” (2:3).

Now Satan requests even more power to show that Job does not really have faith in God:

Stretch out Your hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will surely curse You to Your face!” (2:4-5)

And the LORD said to Satan, Behold, he is in your hand, but spare his life” (2:6).

So Satan went out from the presence of the LORD, and struck Job with painful boils from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head” (Job 2:1-7).

Job with Painful BoilsJob was the wealthiest man of the east, and Satan said that Job fears God only because the Lord blessed the works of his hands.  God then allowed Satan to take away everything that Job owned, and to cover Job’s body with painful boils so that “Job took a potsherd to scrape himself while he was sitting among the ashes” (2:8).  The wealthiest man was reduced to one of the poorest and most miserable people.  But still Job did not curse God.  He said:

As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last He will take His stand on the earth.  “Even after my skin is destroyed, yet from my flesh I shall see God; whom I myself shall behold, and whom my eyes will see and not another.” (Job 19:25-27)

Discussion

JOB

The book Job helps us with the question above.

It is possibly the oldest book in the Bible.  Job himself made “morning and offering burnt offerings” (Job 1:5), and there is no mention in the book of the Jewish priesthood.  Job probably lived before the time of Abraham.

Job was “blameless, upright, fearing God and turning away from evil” (1:1).  He was also very wealthy (1:2-3); “the greatest of all the men of the east” (1:3).

He was a real person.  Other Bible writers refer to him (James 5:11).  Ezekiel mentions him with Noah and Daniel as exceptionally righteousness (Ezekiel 14:14, 20).

THE LORD

The book of Job makes a distinction between God and the Lord (1:8-9; 2:3).  In the article Son of God it is proposed that “the Lord” in Job refers to Jesus Christ before He became a human being.

SONS OF GOD

Who are these “sons of God” that came to present themselves before the Lord? Jesus is “the only begotten Son of God” (John 3:18).  Believers are also called “sons of God” (Romans 8:14).  However, in Luke’s gospel, in the genealogy of Jesus Christ, where the sequence of generations is listed using the phrase “son of”, for instance “the son of Joseph, the son of Eli, the son of Matthat”, Adam is called “the son of God” (Luke 3:23).  So perhaps God also created other worlds and perhaps these “sons of God” in Job are the leaders of these worlds, as opposed to angels.  As ruler of this world (John 12:31), Satan was among them.

SATAN

Satan means adversary.  In the previous article (Origin of Evil) it was shown that Satan is one of a special class of angels (covering cherubs) that serve in God’s immediate presence.  Ezekiel saw four of them (Ezekiel 10:9).  “The sound of the wings of the cherubim was … like the voice of God Almighty when He speaks” (Ezekiel 10:5).  “Each one had four faces and each one four wings” (10:14, 21).  “Their whole body, their backs, their hands, their wings and the wheels were full of eyes all around” (v12).

Ezekiel describes them as “living beings” (v15, 20).  John also saw “four living creatures full of eyes in front and behind” (Revelation 4:5).

These are extremely mighty creatures.  When Satan looks at angels of lower classes, they just run (Daniel 10:21).

1. SATAN IS ONLY ABLE TO DO
WHAT THE LORD ALLOWS HIM TO DO.

Satan had to ask permission from God to test Job.  Satan was not allowed to kill Job, but God allowed Satan to kill Jesus.  We do not have to fear Satan.

2. THE DISPUTE IS ABOUT GOD’S ELECT.  –

We see in Job that God claims certain people as His.  He elects them on the basis of qualities that are invisible to Satan and other created beings.  The dispute in Job is over the Lord’s elected people only.  The dispute is not about the followers of Satan.

3. SATAN IS THE ACCUSER OF THE BRETHREN. –

Satan accuses Job.  In general, Satan accuses God’s people.  In the book of Revelation he is called the “accuser of our brethren” (12:10).  In Zachariah 3 Satan stands next to the high priest Joshua “to accuse him”.

4. SATAN ACCUSES GOD OF MISTAKEN JUDGMENT.

Satan rejects God’s assessment or judgment of the Lord’s elect.  Satan argued that Job will curse God if Job’s possessions are taken away.  But the issue is not Job as a person.  The issue is much bigger.  By saying that Job fears God only because God protects him and blesses the works of his hands, and by saying that Job will curse God if Job’s possessions are taken away, Satan was actually saying something about God, namely that God judges wrongly.  And when Satan tests Job, he is actually testing God’s ability to judge.  Satan wants to show that God makes mistakes when He judges.

This confirms the conclusion in the article on the Origin of Evil that Satan inspired distrust in God.  In Eden he called God a selfish liar.

Satan did not respond to the Lord by saying that Job is but one in millions.  It was important for Satan to show that God was wrong with respect to Job.  Apparently, the question is not the view of the majority. God does not need all people on His side to win this war.  It is proposed that the issue is not who will be saved, but whether God makes mistakes when He judges.

5. SATAN IS TRYING TO DEFEND HIMSELF.

Why does Satan want to show that God makes mistakes when he judges?  Is he concerned that God might save the wrong people?  It is proposed here that Satan has no real interest in humans; his goal is to save himself.  God has cast Satan “as profane from the mountain of God” (Ezekiel 28:16).  He and his angels are condemned by God (Jude 1:6; 2 Peter 2:4).  It is to defend himself against God’s judgment of himself that Satan wants to show to the universe that God makes mistakes when He judges.  If God’s judgments can be shown to be wrong in even a single instance, then Satan has won; then God’s judgment of Satan and his angels are brought into question.

6. THE DISCUSSIONS AND AGREEMENTS IN HEAVEN BETWEEN THE LORD AND SATAN HAVE CONSEQUENCES ON EARTH.

Job had no idea of the events in heaven, but the test he went through on earth was the direct consequence of a discussion and agreement made in heaven.   It is proposed that what happened to Job was not an isolated incident, but a general principle.  The book of Job is a revelation of what always have been happening in the invisible realm.  Satan accuses God’s people, and requests God’s permission to allow him to test them, to prove that God judges wrongly.  There is, therefore, a very direct relationship between the dispute in heaven and the trials on earth.

Jesus similarly said to Peter, “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail” (Luke 22:31-32).

Prince of PersiaWe see something similar in Daniel 10.  Daniel’s prayer caused a skirmish in heaven.  For three weeks the heavenly messenger struggled against the supernatural “Prince of Persia”.  Only when Archangel Michael came to his assistance was he able to deliver the message to Daniel.  Daniel had no idea of what was happening in the spiritual realm as he prayed, but only learned of it afterwards.  The principle is that this is a single war, fought on two fronts; heaven and earth.

On the basis of Job we can safely assume that there was a debate between the Lord and Satan before Adam and Eve were tested in the Garden of Eden, and that the Lord gave Satan permission to test Adam and Eve, just like he was later allowed to test Job.  Just as in the case of Job, Satan was limited as to what he was allowed to do.  God allowed Satan to test Adam and Eve only with respect to the prominent tree in the middle of the garden (Gen. 3:2-3).  It is called the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil not because the tree contained some magical properties, but because that was the only place where they would encounter evil.

In fact, we can assume that events on earth today still are governed by debates and agreements between God and Satan.

7. THE TESTS ON EARTH HAVE CONSEQUENCES
FOR THE ENTIRE UNIVERSE.

The consequences also go in the other direction.  The debate in heaven results in tests for God’s people on earth, but the tests of God’s people on earth prove or disprove the reliability of God’s judgments, and therefore have consequences for all beings in the universe.  The earth serves as testing ground for God’s judgments, that “the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places” (Eph. 3:10).  In other words, the opinions of the “rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places” are influenced by the church.  The church refers not only to the New Testament Church, but to the people that trust in God (have faith in God) throughout in all ages.

If it can be shown that God’s judgments are faulty, even only in a single instance, the implications for the heavenly beings will be massive.  Satan would be able to claim that he also has been judged unfairly.

8. SATAN IS FIGHTING FOR THE RIGHT TO RULE.

It is was proposed above that Satan wants to show that God makes mistakes when He judges to defend himself against God’s judgment of himself and his followers.  It is now further proposed that Satan not only wants to be cleared from guilt; his ultimate goal is to rule.

There are indications in the debate between the Lord and Satan that the issue is the right to rule:

When Satan said that he has been “roaming about on the earth and walking around on it”, he was implying he rules the earth and all of its people.

When the Lord referred to Job as a “blameless and upright man, fearing God and turning away from evil”, He was disputing Satan’s claim for full control over the peoples of the earth.

Initially, Adam and Eve had ownership of the world.  God gave them “dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth” (Genesis 1:26, 28).  When Adam and Eve ate of the forbidden fruit, Satan became “the ruler of this world” (John 14:30; 12:31).  He wants to retain the right to rule the earth.

9. THE RIGHT TO RULE IS WON BY LOYALTY.

God does not take the rule by force.  Nor does He allow Satan to force angels and people to submit to his authority.  This war for the right to rule will not be won on the basis of power, but on the basis of loyalty.  It is a battle for the minds of the people.  From the earliest times God has always been sending message after message to the people of this world, ensuring them of His love and asking them to trust Him:

God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son” (Hebrews 1:1-2).

Satan’s purpose is firstly to show that God’s elect do not really have faith in God.  But Satan does more than objectively testing the loyalty of God’s people; because the right to rule is won by winning loyalty, he actually incites people and angels against God.  As the Lord said to Satan,

you incited Me against him to ruin him without cause” (2:3)

10. GOD’S INTELLIGENT BEINGS HAVE FREEDOM TO CHOOSE.

Satan is the Lord’s enemy, but note that the LORD does not use force against Satan.  The Lord allows Satan into the heavenly meetings, listens to him, debates with him, allows Satan to question His judgment and allows Satan to test His judgment.  When Satan comes back after having failed the first time, God even allows Satan to put Job through an even more stringent test.

EdenSimilarly God allowed Satan to visit the Garden of Eden and to tempt Adam and Eve, and allowed him to tempt Christ in the Wilderness.

The Lord’s very claim, namely that Job serves God, as well as Satan’s test of that claim, would make no sense at all if God sovereignly decides who will serve Him, and then programs them to serve Him with irrefutable force, as claimed by the theory of election.

Everything in Job happened with God’s intelligent beings looking on.  They hear the challenges and see the tests.  God works out this rebellion/sin problem in full sight of the whole universe.  This also implies that God wants His intelligent beings to understand the issues, and to decide for themselves who is right; the Lord or Satan.  God wants them to trust His judgments, so that they would be able to serve Him in complete freedom because they want to serve Him.

This entire story of Job is a major difficulty to Christians who believe in the sovereignty of God, by which they mean that God determines everything, and that nothing happens outside of His will.  If that was true, why do good people suffer?  What is the point?  People that believe that God decides who will be saved often describe that as God’s mercy, but they seem to ignore the fact that that also means that other people will be eternally destroyed in hell, simply because God arbitrarily decided that they will.  Personally I believe this is blasphemy.  God is love (1 John 4:8).  God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all (1 John 1:5).  To then say that God will decide who will be eternally destroyed in hell, irrespective of what these people want or do or think, sounds to me like blasphemy.  And I do not accept the view that God works with a different system of ethics.  I believe that what we understand as good is what God also understands as good.

Job confirms a principle from the previous article (Origin of Evil), namely that God created His intelligent beings with the ability to disobey Him so that their service and love will be their free choice.

Freedom is the foundation of God’s government.  God is all powerful, but by granting unlimited free will to His intelligent beings, God limited Himself.  God could have created robots, that only do what they are told to do, but it was God’s choice to create intelligent beings that are completely free.  He is able to do away with evil by forcing His intelligent beings to serve Him against their will, but He created this universe for His intelligent beings.  To force them to obey Him would undo His entire goal for this universe. He wants all His intelligent beings to love and worship Him by choice and not because He forces them to worship Him.

Free choice is a fundamental difference between God’s systems of government and Satan’s.   Satan is the one who does not grant freedom to others.  Satan attempts to force people and angels to do what he want them to do.  When people are possessed, they no longer have the ability to leave Satan behind.  The mark of the beast is specifically used to force people to worship in a certain way.

11. WHY SATAN THOUGHT HE COULD SUCCEED AGAINST GOD 

We are now able to answer the question above.  For the following reasons Satan thought that he could succeed against God:

He knew God very well, and knew that God would not use force.  He knew that God allows his intelligent beings the freedom to choose for themselves.  He knew that the contest will not be on the basis of power, but on the basis loyalty.

He thought that he would be able to convince them to side with him, because, as a mighty covering cherub, who previously explained God’s decisions to the universe, he was loved by all angels and they had much respect for him.

Satan had an advantage over God because he could tell lies.  Because he knew God so well he knew that he would have to tell lies and misrepresent God before man and before the angels.  But he also knew God cannot use deception or lies, and that God’s only weapons are love and truth.

He has perhaps the most brilliant mind ever created and was able to use extremely cunning deception and lies.

Jesus said of Satan: 

He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in 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).

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