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).
Blood 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
It 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?