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

SUMMARY

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

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

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

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

WHY DOES SIN EXIST? 

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

WHY GOD ALLOWS EVIL TO CONTINUE? 

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

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

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

WHO NEED THIS PROOF? 

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

WHEN WILL GOD MAKE AN END OF SIN? 

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

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

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

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

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

These concepts will now be explained in more detail.

INTRODUCTION

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

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

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

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

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

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

WHY DOES SIN EXIST?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WHY DID GOD ALLOW SIN TO DEVELOP?

SATAN CLAIMS THAT HIS PRINCIPLES ARE GOOD.

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

SATAN ACCUSES GOD OF BEING A MURDERER

In the garden of Eden, God said:

From the tree of the knowledge of good and evil
you shall not eat,
for in the day that you eat from it
you will surely die
” (Gen 2:17).

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

SEPARATION FROM GOD KILLS.

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

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

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

CONCLUSION

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

HEAVEN NEEDS ANSWERS

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

ORIGIN OF EVIL

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

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

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

EVEN LOYAL ANGELS NEED ANSWERS.

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

WHEN WILL GOD MAKE AN END OF SIN?

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

GOD ACCUSED OF BAD JUDGMENT

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

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

GOD IS NOT THE JUDGE

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

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

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

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

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

THE DANGER OF UNANSWERED QUESTIONS

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

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

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

CHRIST’S DEATH

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

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

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

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

PLAGUES

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

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

ARTICLES ON THE PLAGUES

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

They overcame him because of the Lamb’s blood and because of their testimony.

Revelation 12 11If Satan was defeated through Christ’s death, why would “their testimony” also be required, and who are they?

This is the fourth article on the War in heaven.  The first article identified the role-players in this war; the Male Child, who was caught up to God, His mother, who existed both before and after Christ, and the Dragon, that stood ready to devour the Child as soon as He is born.  The Child was caught up to God in heaven, Michael wages war against the Dragon, who deceived many angels to his side.

The second article discussed the chronological sequence of the war in heaven, the ascension of the Male Child, the victory in the war, Satan cast down to earth and the woman hiding in wilderness.

The third article explains how Michael overcame Satan.  Satan deceives and accuses, but was overcome by “the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony.”  To reconcile these facts, the articles explains how evil originated, God’s judgment of evil, and how evil defends itself against God.

Purpose

Verses 7 to 9 indicate that Christ’s death enabled Satan’s  defeat, but verse 11 implies that “the word of their testimony” was also required

10 “… The accuser of our brethren has been thrown down,
he who accuses them before our God day and night.
11 “And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death.” (Revelation 12)

This article discusses these two verse, particularly to identify whose testimony this is, and why their testimony was required to banish Satan from heaven.

Our brethren

Verse 10 mentions “our brethren” as the beings accused by Satan.  This is the first time that “our brethren” are mentioned in this chapter.  Are they people or angels?

It is in Satan’s nature to deceive and accuse (vv9-10).  He certainly must have at least attempted to deceive and accuse Michael and his angels “before our God.”  For that reason, “our brethren” arguably include angels.

However, the term “our brethren” implies two distinct groups; us and them.  Since the loud voice came from heaven, it spoke on behalf of the heavenly beings.  This implies that “our brethren” refer to non-heavenly beings, and therefore presumably God’s people on earth.

They overcame him

Revelation 12 11After verse 10 refers to “our brethren,” verse 11 continues, “they overcame him.”  It is possible to read this as saying that “our brethren” (people) overcame the accuser.  But according to verses 7 to 9 Michael and his angels defeated Satan.  It is therefore proposed that the antecedent for “they” in verse 11 is Michael and his angels.

Their testimony

If “they” earlier in verse 11 refer to angels, then “their testimony,” in the same verse, may also refer to angels, which would mean that the testimony of angels helped to overcome Satan.  But for two reasons it is proposed that it is the testimony of God’s people that is in view:

1. It is a testimony given “when faced with death,” and angels do not die, as far as we know.

2. In Revelation it is always people that are killed for their testimony; never angels, for example:

Those who had been slain because of the word of God, and because of the testimony which they had maintained” (6:9; cf. 12:17).

Those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God” (20:4).

Pronouns in verse 11

The “they” and the “their” in verse 11 therefore have different antecedents.  It is proposed that verse 11 be read as follows:

Michael and his angels overcame Satan because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the testimony of God’s people, for God’s people did not love their life, even when faced with death.

God’s weapons

John writing RevelationThey overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death” (Rev. 12:11).

This verse uses the phrase “because of” twice.  It is therefore proposed that this verse refers to two weapons that were used to defeat Satan:

1The blood of the Lamb” (Jesus is the Lamb, e.g. 5:6), and
2The word of their testimony

Their willingness to die for what they believe is not a third weapon in God’s arsenal, but indicates the strength of their commitment.  The testimony that overcomes Satan is a testimony that is proven real when one’s life is in danger.  Satan said to the LORD, “all that a man has he will give for his life” (Job 2:4), but these people prove him wrong, for they are willing to die for their faith.

The text therefore implies three victories:

1.  The Lamb overcame by His blood (death).
2.  God’s people overcame by their testimony.
3.  Michael and his angels overcame Satan because of the other two victories.

Why was the testimony of God’s people required?

They overcame Satan “because of the word of their testimony.”  This means that, without the obedience of God’s people, Michael and his angels would not have been able to defeat Satan.  The blood of the Lamb alone would not have saved anybody if God’s people did not remain faithful, “even when faced with death.”  The reason is that people will be judged by their deeds.

Reformed Christians will object that this sounds like salvation by “the works of the law,” and it is clear that “by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight” (Rom. 3:20).  However, one must distinguish between “the works of the Law” and “deeds.”  The one that seeks to be justified by “the works of the Law” attempts to obtain God’s approval through the rituals of the Law.  But “God … will render to each person according to his deeds” (Rom. 2:6).  In this phrase the word “deeds” does not refer to compliance to the rituals.  “Deeds” are determined by our love for God and for our neighbor, or the lack there-of.  On the basis of our deeds we will be judged:

The dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds” (Rev. 20:12).

I will give to each one of you according to your deeds” (Rev. 2:23; cf. 20:13; 14:13).

Each of the letters to the seven churches ends with the words, “To him who overcomes …”(e.g. 2:7).   To “overcome” refers to their “deeds:”  “He who overcomes, and he who keeps My deeds until the end …” (2:26).

That people will be judged by their deeds does not mean that they earn salvation.  They certainly do not, for they are sinners.  They are “justified as a gift by His grace” (Rom. 3:24).

Summary

Previous articles concluded that Satan defeated through Christ’s death, but verse 11 mentions both “the blood of the Lamb” and “their testimony” as the means by which Satan was defeated.  The question then is, who are they, and why was their testimony required to expel Satan from heaven?

Our brethren” in verse 10, who were accused by Satan, refer to God’s people, but the phrase “they overcame him” in verse 11 does not refer to people, but to Michael and his angels, for they won the victory over Satan in heaven.

However, “their testimony,” a bit later in verse 11, is not the testimony of Michael and his angels, but the testimony of God’s people, for angels do not die and in Revelation it is always people that are killed for their testimony.  Without their testimony, Michael would have been unable to obtain the victory.

The testimony of God’s people was required because people will be judged by their deeds.  “Deeds,” which reflect one’s love or the lack there-of, must not be confused with “the works of the law.”

Articles on Revelation 12’s War in Heaven:

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