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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rejoice, O heavens

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

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

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

Woe to the earth

But the voice continued:

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

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

Why does evil continue?

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

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

For what purpose is evidence required?

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

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

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

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

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

What evidence is still outstanding?

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

The Mark of the Beast

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

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

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

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

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

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

The plagues

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

The Millennium

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

The outstanding evidence

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The delay

Why does God delay the end-time crisis?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Summary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Articles on Revelation 12’s War in Heaven:

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

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?

When did the war in heaven start and when was Satan thrown down from heaven?

Satan expelled from heaven

The wilderness period is mentioned both in verses 6 and 14.  In-between these verses Satan is thrown down from heaven.  What is the real chronological sequence?

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

Chronological Sequence

After the male child was “caught up to God and to His throne” (Rev. 12:5), “the woman fled into the wilderness” where she would be “nourished” for 1260 days (v6).  Verse 7 describes the angels in heaven “waging war.”  Verses 8 and 9 describes Satan’s defeat: “He was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.”  Verses 10 to 12 explain the nature of the war.  Verse 13 shifts the focus from heaven to earth when it continues:

When the dragon saw that he was thrown down to the earth, he persecuted the woman who gave birth to the male child.”

In verse 14 the woman flees to the wilderness “where she was nourished for a time and times and half a time.”

The sequence of events therefore seems to be as follows:

● Male Child caught up to God (v5);
● Woman hides in wilderness (v6);
● War in heaven (v7);
● Satan thrown down to earth (v8-9);
● Woman hides in wilderness (v14);

War before Christ

This sequence may seem to imply that the war commenced after Jesus was caught up to His Father’s throne, but the following shows that the war existed before Christ:

Daniel – God sent an angel  (10:5-6) to Daniel, but for “three weeks” the supernatural “Prince of the Kingdom of Persia” prevented this mighty angel from reaching Daniel (v13).  He was only able to do so after Michael came to his assistance (v13).  The angel told Daniel that he (the angel) must return “to fight against the prince of Persia,” and that “there is no one who stands firmly with me against these forces except Michael your prince” (verses 20-21).

Jude – Satan has “power of death” (Hebrews 2:14).  In Jude 9 we read that “Michael the archangel … disputed with the devil and argued about the body of Moses”.  This must have been before the time of Jesus, because Moses and Elijah appeared to Jesus (Mat. 17:3).  (Elijah never died, but was taken up alive into heaven (2 Kings 2:11).)

Other examples of the war in heaven, before the time of Christ, are Zechariah 3 and Job, already mentioned above.  “Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Eph. 6:12).

In other words, the war existed before Christ became a man.  We must distinguish between the war and the victory.  The war existed before Christ, but Michael won the victory only after Jesus was caught up.

Was Satan defeated after the 1260 days?

Between Jesus’ ascension in verse 5 and Satan’s defeat in verse 8, the woman hides in the wilderness for 1260 days (verse 6).  Was Satan defeated after the 1260 days?

To understand the correct chronological sequence, one has to understand that verses 6 and 14 describe the same wilderness period, for in both verses the woman flees into the wilderness where she has a place prepared for her, where she would be nourished for the same period of time:

The “time and times and half a time” (12:14) = 3½ times = 3½ years = 3½ x 12 x 30 days = the 1260 days (12:6).  In Old Testament times people used the moon cycle to count months, giving approximately 30 days per month.

These two verses therefore describe the same wilderness period, but verse 6 is mentioned before the war, while verse 14 follows after Satan was thrown down to earth.  Did Michael win the victory before or after the wilderness period?  Verses 13 and 14 give the actual chronological sequence because they explicitly link Satan’s defeat to the wilderness period:

When the dragon saw that he was thrown down to the earth, he persecuted the woman who gave birth to the male child. But the two wings of the great eagle were given to the woman, so that she could fly into the wilderness to her place.”

The woman therefore hides in the wilderness after Satan was thrown down to earth.  In other words, the real chronological sequence is as follows:

● War in heaven – the dragon waits to devour the Child (v1-4);
● The Child is born and caught up to God (v5)
● Satan is defeated and thrown down (v8-12);
● Woman flees to the wilderness (v6, 14).

What is the Wilderness Period?

WildernessAs indicated by verses 13 and 14, this is a time when God people have to hide from persecution.  They become invisible.  It is a very important prophetic period, for it is mentioned seven times in Daniel and Revelation.  It is first mentioned in Daniel 7:25, where it is the period when the “saints of the Highest One … will be given into his hand (the evil horn-king’s hand) for a time, times, and half a time.”  This means that they are persecuted.  “It would be for a time, times, and half a time; and as soon as they finish shattering the power of the holy people, all these events will be completed” (Dan. 12:7).

This period is not specifically identified in this article because that is not necessary for the purpose of this article.  But as one can see from Revelation 12, it is a period of time between Christ’s ascension (v5) and the end-time war (v17).  That is one reason for the view that this is a very long period of time, and that the 1260 days are symbolic.

When was the victory won?

Satans defeatSome people want to put Satan’s defeat a long time before Christ, when Lucifer was “cast … as profane from the mountain of God” (Ezekiel 28:16).  Others want to put it at the end of time, when “the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone” (Rev. 20:10).  But since the victory was won before the woman has to hide in the wilderness, it is proposed that Satan was thrown out of heaven immediately after Christ’s ascension.

 

Summary

Revelation 12 first mentions the war in heaven after Jesus was caught up to His Father’s throne.  However, war existed before Christ.  Michael and his angels won the victory after Christ.

Verses 8 and 9 mentions Satan’s defeat after the wilderness period in verse 6, but the wilderness period is repeated in verse 14.  Furthermore, verses 13 and 14 make it clear that the woman flees to the wilderness after Satan was thrown down to earth.  The real chronological sequence is therefore as follows:

● Before Christ: War in heaven, while the dragon waits to devour the Child;
● Christ born and caught up to God;
● After Christ: Satan defeated and thrown down to earth (v8-12);
● Woman flees to the wilderness (v6, 14).

Given this chronological sequence, it is proposed that Satan was thrown out of heaven immediately or soon after Christ’s ascension.

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? (Current)
3. How did Michael overcome Satan(Next)
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?

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?