How Christ’s death won the victory in the war in heaven

This is an article in the series on Revelation 12. Unless otherwise indicated, all quotes are from the NASB.

SUMMARY

As discussed in the previous article, the victory in heaven was won AFTER Jesus was “caught up to God and to His throne” (Rev 12:5). This implies that Michael won the victory in the war in heaven through the Cross. Talking about His approaching death, Jesus similarly said, “Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out” (John 12:27, 31). The question in this article is: How did the Cross defeat Satan?

WHAT WAS THE PROBLEM?

To answer this question, we must first determine what problem had to be solved. What is the nature of the war in heaven?

Evil originated in heaven. In the beginning, Lucifer was blameless in his ways.  He probably was or is the most brilliant mind ever created, but he became proud (Ezek 28:17) and desired to receive an honor equal to like the Son of God. Later, when God created humans, Satan led Adam and Eve into sin, and through sin, obtained control over the human race.

Satan became “the accuser of our brethren” (Rev 12:10). He does not accuse all people; he specifically accused God’s people.  In this way, Satan effectively accused God of arbitrary judgment when He forgives some people their sins but condemns others. Satan is not trying to make sure that God justifies the right people.  His real purpose is to defend himself against God’s judgment, for he has been condemned to the “eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matt 25:41).

Due to Satan’s extremely clever and informed arguments, he convinced many of God’s beautiful and mighty angels to side with him (Rev 12:4, 7). And, for the same reasons, the heavenly beings that remained faithful to God were unable to refute Satan’s charges and to show conclusively that God’s judgments are perfect.  That is the problem that Christ’s death had to solve.

HOW DOES GOD SOLVE THIS PROBLEM?

Revelation reveals Satan’s weapons as deception and accusations (Rev 12:9-10). This explains the nature of the war in heaven. God does not solve this problem using force.  He addresses Satan’s charges with two techniques; the death of His Son and the testimony of the brethren (Rev 12:11). According to Romans 3:25-26, God displayed Christ Jesus publicly “to demonstrate His righteousness.” In other words, to refute Satan’s charges, God provides evidence of “His righteousness” by means of demonstrations. Jesus, by remaining faithful to God to the end (His death) provided evidence to show that Satan’s accusations were false.

HOW CHRIST’S DEATH REFUTED SATAN’S ACCUSATIONS

BY CHRIST’S LIFE

The Bible says that people are saved by Christ’s blood. Many people believe that there was some magic in His blood, or that His death saves people by satisfying the wrath of an angry God, or that justice demands that somebody must suffer infinite punishment, and only an infinite person is able to suffer infinite punishment.  There is much that we have to unlearn:

Firstly, His “blood” is merely a symbol of His death. There is no magic in His literal blood.

Secondly, the evidence of God’s righteousness was not provided by Jesus’ death, but by His life. If Jesus sinned, His death would have been without value.

The Bible emphasizes His death because the days and hours before He died were the highest test that He had to pass and because His death was the end of His test.

BY VALIDATING THE BASIS OF GOD’S JUDGMENTS

But the question remains, what evidence did Christ’s death provide that refuted Satan’s accusations? HOW did the “blood of the Lamb” overcome Satan?

      • Over the centuries, many people have overcome Satan’s temptations, but the accuser of our brethren was always able to point out sins in their lives.  Not one ever remained without sin.
      • Jesus became a human being.  He was a sinless man in a corrupted world and had to resist the maximum possible provocation and temptation, but never sinned.  In this way, He demonstrated that human beings are able to remain faithful to God under the most severe circumstances.
      • This implies that Satan claimed that it is not possible to remain faithful to God under all circumstances and that the fault, therefore, lies with God’s law, and therefore with God.
      • But Christ showed that there is nothing wrong with God’s requirements and laws and that God, therefore, is just when He condemns hardened sinners and justifies sinners selectively.

(For a further discussion, see, The book which not even God can open).

ANGELS DROVE SATAN OUT OF HEAVEN.

Revelation 12:7-10 describes the war in heaven as a war between two groups of angels and indicates that archangel Michael and his angels defeated Satan and drove him out of heaven.  Previously, they were unable to refute Satan’s clever 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 courtrooms of heaven:

There was no longer a place found for them (Satan and his angels) in heaven” (Rev 12:8).

CONCLUSIONS

      • The fact that evidence was required implies that the war in heaven is similar to a courtroom, where evidence is brought, and the jury decides. This is a war of deception and accusations, and evidence is required to refute the accusations.
      • God condemned Satan and his angels, 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 allowed Satan to continue until the nature and consequences of Satan’s ways are understood by all.
      • All of this implies that God’s creatures have freedom.

CHRIST’S DEATH WON THE VICTORY. 

As indicated by the following, Michael won the victory in the war in heaven through the Cross:

      • Main Concepts – Two of the main concepts in Revelation 12 are Christ’s ascension (verse 5) and the victory in the war in heaven (verses 8-12). The emphasis that Revelation 12 places on these two events imply 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 LambIn the context, the loud voice from heaven announces that “our brethren … overcame him (Satan) because of the blood of the Lamb” (Rev 12:10-11).

The Bible also elsewhere teaches that God overcame Satan through Christ’s death and resurrection:

      • 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).
      • 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.

Michael, therefore, won the victory in the war in heaven through Christ’s death. The vertical movements in Revelation 12 are an indication there-of: After Christ was caught up from earth to God’s throne (Rev 12:5), Satan went down from heaven to earth.

HOW DID THE CROSS DEFEAT SATAN?

Then the question is: How did the Cross defeat Satan?  To answer this question, we must first determine what problem had to be solved. What was or is the nature of the war in heaven?

EVIL ORIGINATED IN HEAVEN.

In the beginning, 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 (Ezek 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” (Ezek 28:17).  Lucifer became the selfish and proud Satan, who desired to receive an honor equal to like the Son of God (Isa 14:14, compared to John 17:5).

Later, 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).  Although Satan already was God’s adversary, God allowed him access to Adam and Eve.  Satan appeared to Eve in the form of a talking serpent.  Through deception, he led Adam into 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 ACCUSED GOD OF ARBITRARY JUDGMENT.

Satan became “the accuser of our brethren” (Rev 12:10). He does not accuse all people; he specifically accused God’s people (cf. Zech 3:1; Job 1:11).  In this way, Satan effectively accused God of arbitrary judgment when He forgives some people their sins but condemns others, such as Satan himself and his angels (See Book of Life). This is confirmed by Romans 3:25-26:

Christ Jesus; whom God displayed publicly … in His blood … to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed … so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus” (Rom 3:25-26).

Many theologians explain this passage as that God’s righteousness demanded that sins cannot be forgiven; that someone had to pay.  However, the text explicitly tells us why God had to demonstrate His righteousness, namely “because … He passed over the sins.” In other words, He had to demonstrate His righteousness because He selectively forgave some sinners their sins. This supports the conclusion that Satan questioned God’s righteousness He forgave some people their sins.

Satan is not trying to make sure that God justifies the right people.  His real purpose is to defend himself against God’s judgment, for he has been condemned to the “eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matt 25:41).

He probably argues that all people have sinned (Rom 3:23) and that sin cannot be forgiven; if he is to be condemned, then the entire human race must also be condemned. 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. In other words, Satan uses the sins of human beings to convince the universe that God judged him and his angels unfairly.

THE ANGELS DO NOT UNDERSTAND.

As stated, Satan was possibly the most brilliant being ever created.  As discussed in the article series on the seven seals, due to Satan’s extremely clever and informed arguments, he convinced many of God’s beautiful and mighty angels to side with him (Rev 12:4, 7). And, for the same reasons, the heavenly beings that remained faithful to God were unable to refute Satan’s charges and to show conclusively that God’s judgments are perfect.  Revelation symbolizes this lack of understanding of God’s judgments as a book that is sealed with seven seals (Rev 5:1; see Book of Life).

That is the problem that Christ’s death had to solve.

GOD PROVIDES EVIDENCE.

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 that can move mountains and change planetary orbits. If this war is to determine who has the most physical power, Satan would never have started this war. See, Why Satan thought he could win.

Rather, Revelation reveals Satan’s weapons as deception and accusations (Rev 12:9-10). This explains the nature of the war in heaven. God, also, does not solve this problem by means of force.  He does not use His infinite power to stamp out resistance.

God addresses Satan’s charges with two techniques; the death of His Son and the testimony of the brethren (Rev 12:11). According to Romans 3:25-26, God displayed Christ Jesus publicly “to demonstrate His righteousness.” In other words, to refute Satan’s charges, God provides evidence of His righteousness by means of demonstrations. Jesus, by remaining faithful 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.

SEALED SCROLL

This conclusion is 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” (Rev 5:3).  It was a time of extreme sorrow in heaven (Rev 5:4). But then Jesus appears as “a Lamb … as if slain” (Rev 5:6), 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” (Rev 5:9).

A closed book symbolizes concealed information. 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.

SAVED BY CHRIST’S BLOOD

The Bible says that people are saved by Christ’s blood, for example:

      • Justified … through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 3:24). The next verse explains this redemption by saying that Jesus was “displayed publicly … in His blood.”
      • Similarly, in Revelation 12:11, the accuser of our brethren was overcome “because of the blood of the Lamb.”

Many people believe that there was some magic in His blood, or that His death saves people by satisfying the wrath of an angry God, or that justice demands that somebody must suffer infinite punishment, and only an infinite person is able to suffer infinite punishment.  There is much that we have to unlearn:

Firstly, His “blood” is merely a symbol of His death. There is no magic in His literal blood.

Secondly, the evidence of God’s righteousness was not provided by Jesus’ death, but by His life. If Jesus sinned, His death would have been without value.  His entire life was a test.  At the beginning of His ministry, “Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil” (Matt 4:1).

The Bible emphasizes His death because the days and hours before He died were the highest test that He had to pass and because His death was the end of His test. “He said, ‘It is finished!’ And He bowed His head and gave up His spirit” (John 19:30).

But the question remains, what evidence did Christ’s death provide that refuted Satan’s accusations? HOW did the “blood of the Lamb” overcome Satan? Three categories of evidence are proposed:

      • God’s laws are just.
      • God is trustworthy, and
      • God is love.

GOD’S LAWS ARE JUST.

Over the centuries, many people have overcome Satan’s temptations, but the accuser of our brethren was always able to point out sins in their lives.  Not one of them remained without sin.

Jesus became a human being.  He was a sinless man in a corrupted world and had to resist the maximum possible provocation and temptation, but never sinned.  “He humbled Himself by becoming obedient (without sin – Heb 4:25) to the point of death” (Phil 2:8); “even when faced with death” (Rev 12:11).

In this way, He demonstrated that human beings are able to remain faithful to God under the most severe circumstances.  This implies that Satan claimed that it is not possible to remain faithful to God under all circumstances and that the fault, therefore, lies with God’s law, and therefore with God. But Christ showed that there is nothing wrong with God’s requirements and laws and that God, therefore, is just when He condemns hardened sinners and justifies sinners selectively (For a further discussion, see, The book which not even God can open).

GOD IS TRUSTWORTHY.

The serpent said to the woman:

You surely will not die!  For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Gen 3:4-5).

In other words, Satan said that God did not tell the truth.  If Satan did this with Eve, then we can assume that one of Satan’s basic strategies is to tell lies; including lies about God.  Jesus, in contrast, revealed the truth about God (John 1:18). Jesus is the exact representation of God’s nature (Heb 1:3). He is “the image of the invisible God” (Col 1:15) and His life on earth confirmed Him, and therefore God, as the “true Witness” (Rev 3:14). In other words, Jesus showed that God is trustworthy.

GOD IS LOVE.

The cruelty of the accuser, as displayed in his malicious persecution of the only begotten Son of God who became a vulnerable human being, demonstrated Satan’s nature and the consequences of his principles. This is in contrast to Jesus Christ, who did not use His power to protect Himself.  As “the image of the invisible God,” by becoming a slain lamb (Rev 5:5, 6), He revealed God’s nature.  Jesus showed that God is love.

ANGELS DROVE SATAN OUT OF HEAVEN.

The importance of evidence explains why Satan was overcome by Jesus, but driven out of heaven by Michael and his angels.

Revelation 12:7-10 describes the war in heaven as a war between two groups of angels and indicates that archangel Michael and his angels defeated Satan and expelled him from heaven.  Why would God’s loyal angels drive Satan out of heaven if he was defeated by Jesus’ death?

The answer is that they, previously, were unable to refute Satan’s clever 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 courtrooms of heaven.

Perhaps Satan was not physically thrown out of heaven, but he was driven out in a figurative sense in that nobody believes him any longer.  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.

There was no longer a place found for them (Satan and his angels) in heaven” (Rev 12:8).

IMPLICATIONS

DECISIONS ARE MADE IN HEAVENLY COUNCILS.

The fact that evidence was required implies that the war in heaven is similar to a courtroom, where evidence is brought, and the jury decides. This is a war of deception and accusations, and evidence is required to refute the accusations. For example:

      • 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” (Rev 5:8-9).
      • 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 ALLOWS TIME FOR HIS INTELLIGENT BEINGS TO UNDERSTAND.

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” (Ezek 28:16).  God condemned Satan and his angels to “the eternal fire” (Matt 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 allowed Satan to continue until the nature and consequences of Satan’s ways are understood by all.

GOD’S INTELLIGENT BEINGS HAVE FREE WILL.

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 with a testimony that is 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 the most physical power.

Since physical power will not settle this dispute, but evidence, it implies that God’s creatures have freedom.  Based on this principle, God grants Satan time and allows His judgments to be tested.  God even became the accused and the universe became the judge.

FINAL CONCLUSIONS

      • Michael won the victory in the war in heaven through the Cross.
      • Satan accused God of arbitrary judgment when He forgives some people but condemns others.
      • Due to Satan’s extremely clever arguments, God’s loyal angels were unable to refute Satan’s charges.
      • God does not solve this problem by means of force. He provides evidence of “His righteousness” by means of demonstrations.
      • Satan claimed that it is not possible to remain faithful to God under all circumstances and that the fault, therefore, lies with God’s law, and therefore with God. Jesus, by remaining faithful to God to the end, showed that Satan’s accusations were false.

ARTICLES IN THE SERIES ON REVELATION 12

OTHER RELEVANT ARTICLES

The Origin of Evil – right in God’s Throne Room

ABSTRACT: God creates his intelligent beings able to disobey Him so that their service and love will be their free choice. Evil arose from this freedom; right in the middle of heaven.


SUMMARY

Origin – Sin did not originate on earth, but in heaven.  Satan and evil existed before humans were created. When Satan deceived our first parents, evil spilled over to earth.

Lucifer – The name “Lucifer” means “Light-Bringer.” It is the glorious title Satan had before his fall. He was “the anointed cherub who covers.” This means that he was one of the highest angels in heaven; one of a special class of angels that serve in God’s immediate presence. He was perfect in beauty, full of wisdom, blameless in his ways, loved by all and he loved all God’s beings. He understood everything that created beings are able to understand. He was perhaps the most glorious being ever created.

Freedom created – God creates his intelligent beings with the ability to disobey Him so that their service and love will be their free choice.  Without that ability, we would have been nothing other than a computer, programmed to say, “I love you, I love you”.  He wants us to love Him because it is our free choice.

Center of the Universe – Evil arose in heaven’s command center, not in some far away galaxy. Sin originated in Lucifer, who served in God’s immediate presence.

Pride – Evil first arose as Pride. Lucifer became proud because of his beauty and desired to be worshiped like God. Pride was therefore the first sin, and it is still the most dangerous of all sins because it hides behind a mask of self-righteousness.

Freedom allowed – Although Satan was created able to disobey God, God still was able to force Lucifer to obey Him, but He did not; God allowed Satan the freedom to oppose Him. God also allowed Adam to disobey Him and He allowed Satan to tempt the newly created humans. God’s government is based on freedom, for there can be no true obedience from the heart unless there is freedom to disobey.

Evil arose from freedom – Lucifer became proud because of his beauty, but beauty was not the cause of evil. The risk of freedom is that evil would one day develop. But to live with that risk is much, much better than being a robot. There is nothing wrong with how God created His intelligent beings.

Satan’s tactics – To deceive Eve into sin, Satan lured her into conversation by pretending to seek information, twisted God’s words, inspired distrust in God by calling God a selfish liar, and caused her to be dissatisfied with what she is and had received. Satan did the same with the angels; he inspires distrust in God. He teaches that God does not have our best interest at heart. Satan also caused the angels to be dissatisfied with what they are and have received.

Satan knew God would forgive Adam and Eve – Satan sinned with full understanding of God and His governing principles. Satan knew God so well that he knew God would let Adam and Eve live, even though God told Adam “in the day that you eat from it you will surely die”.

Satan also knew he did not have to fear punishment – To be created able to disobey God, but under the threat that God will destroy sinners, is no real freedom.  His intelligent beings have this freedom even without fear that God will punish them. Sinners will “depart … into the eternal fire” (Matt 25:41), but not as a punishment.

Final destruction – Satan will one day “cease to be forever.” God’s heart is broken by Lucifer’s rebellion, and it will break His heart to destroy the most beautiful and wise creature ever created.

– END OF SUMMARY –


THE FALL OF MAN

The LORD God said to Adam,

“From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but 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 2:16-17).

There-after God formed Eve (Gen 2:18-23). Satan, in the form of a serpent, approached Eve when she was alone (Gen 3:1; Rev 12:9), and asked her,

Has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’” (Gen 3:1)

God commanded Adam not to eat from one specific tree, but Satan, trying to lure Eve into a conversation by pretending to seek information, twisted God’s words by referring to “any tree”.

Eve answered that they are allowed to eat from the fruit of the trees in the garden,

but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die” (Gen 3:2-3).

Satan then called God a selfish liar:

You surely will not die! For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Gen 3:4-5).

So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food…
she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate.
” (Gen 3:1-6 NKJV)

We learn several lessons from this:

To get Eve to sin, Satan got Eve to distrust God. 
Satan accused God of telling lies and of being selfish. Eve was led to believe that God was holding back what should have been hers.

Satan also tempted Eve to be unhappy with what she is and had. 
Lucifer, the “star of the morning” (Isa 14:12) said in his heart “I will make myself like the Most High” (Isa 14:14). Now, we see that he tempts Eve with the very same thirst for power. He told her that she lacks discernment (“your eyes will be opened”) and she desired wisdom (“to make one wise”).

God does not use force but allows Satan to tempt His creatures.

He allowed two trees in the garden, He gave Adam the option of disobeying Him and He allowed Satan access to the newly created humans. These things show that His government is based on the freedom to choose for or against Him. There can be no true obedience from the heart unless there is freedom to disobey.

Satan and evil (sin) existed before humans were created. Satan, in the form of a serpent, deceived our first parents. Sin did not originate on earth; the rebellion against God began elsewhere: in what we may call heaven. As Jesus said, “Satan is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44). When Satan deceived our first parents this war in heaven spilled over to earth and continues today.

While much is unknown about how sin originally developed, two portions of Scripture briefly comment on it, namely Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28:

ISAIAH 14

LuciferThe Hebrew word translated as “morning star” (NASB) in Isaiah 14:12 was translated into Latin as Lucifer. People then started to use this as one of Satan’s names. The KJV still translates that word as “Lucifer” in this verse, but it literally means “Light-Bringer.” It is the glorious title Satan had before his fall.

According to Isaiah 14:12-13, Lucifer said in his heart:

I will ascend to heaven;
I will raise my throne above the stars of God,
I will sit on the mount of assembly in the recesses of the north.
I will ascend above the heights of the clouds;
I will make myself like the Most High.

Because these were the intentions of his heart, Lucifer has “fallen from heaven“ and is ”cut down to the earth” (Isa 14:12).  He “will be thrust down to Sheol, to the recesses of the pit” (Isa 14:15). Sheol is the “underworld – the place to which people descend at death (Strong’s Concordance). It is a synonym for “grave.” The KJV translates sheol as “hell” in this verse, but as “grave” in many other verses (for instance Gen 37:35; 42:38; 44:29). The implication is that Lucifer will die.  Ezekiel 28:19 says “you will cease to be forever.”  Please consider the enormity of the tragedy; perhaps the most beautiful and most wise creature ever created, as well as many beautiful angels “will cease to be forever.” Think how difficult this will be for God, and for all the millions of angels that admired and loved Satan.

EZEKIEL 28

CherubEzekiel 28 starts as a warning to the king of Tyre (Ezek 28:2) but then switches to describe “the anointed cherub who covers” (Ezek 28:14, 16), who was “in Eden, the garden of God”, perfect in beauty, blameless in his ways (Ezek 28:12, 15) until unrighteousness was found in him (Ezek 28:15). This goes beyond the description of a human king.

To understand what an “anointed cherub who covers” is, consider the Ark of the Covenant in the original Jewish temple. The “mercy seat” (lid) of the Ark had “two cherubim of gold”, “covering the mercy seat with their wings” (Exo 37:1-9; 25:17-21).  The LORD said to Moses:

There I will meet with you; and from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim which are upon the ark of the testimony, I will speak to you about all that I will give you in commandment for the sons of Israel.” (Exo 25:22)

The “mercy seat” is, therefore, a symbol of God’s throne and the cherubim are a special class of angels that serve in God’s immediate presence; around His throne.

Ezekiel saw these cherubim.

Each one had four faces and each one four wings” (Ezek 10:21).  There was “one wheel beside each cherub … as if one wheel were within another wheel” (Ezek 10:9-10). “Their whole body, their backs, their hands, their wings and the wheels were full of eyes all around” (Ezek 10:12). That they are covered with eyes all around means that they see and understand everything; they are “full of wisdom(Ezek 28:12). This description of the cherubim may sound a bit scary, but they are beautiful. They are loved and admired by all.

Satan was one of these cherubim.

CherubimAs “the anointed cherub who covers,” Satan was one of the highest angels in heaven, the guardian or protector of God’s throne, serving in God’s immediate presence. He understood everything that a created being is able to understand. He had the seal of perfection (Ezek 28:12). Every precious stone was his covering; rubies, topaz, diamonds, beryl, onyx and jasper, lapis lazuli, turquoise, emeralds, and gold (Ezek 28:13). It may even be that Lucifer was the highest and most beautiful of these cherubim, for his name was “Light-Bringer” and his heart was lifted up because of his beauty (Ezek 28:17).

Originally, he had no sin, but “unrighteousness” was found in Satan (Ezek 28:15).

His heart was lifted up and his wisdom was corrupted because of his beauty and splendor (Ezek 28:17). The words, “till iniquity was found in you” (Ezek 28:15) suggest that evil began with Satan. God did not create evil, it originated with Satan.

God created Satan able to sin; to disobey His laws. 

Why did God create LuciferGod gave Satan the ability to decide for or against God’s laws. Without that ability, Lucifer would have been nothing other than a computer, programmed to say, “I love you, I love you.” No, God created His intelligent beings with the option to sin, so that their service and love will be their free choice. Perhaps God knew all along that many of His intelligent creatures would one day decide against Him, and that He will one day have to restore happiness in the universe at a massive cost to Himself, but God wanted it no other way; He wants us to love Him because it is our free choice.

God did not prevent Satan’s sin.  

Although God created Satan able to sin, He was able to override that ability, but He did not; God allowed Satan the freedom to oppose Him.

Satan knew God so well that he knew God would let Adam and Eve live.

What makes it so very scary is that evil developed in God’s immediate presence; in the command center of the universe, not in some far away galaxy. Lucifer’s position in heaven as a covering cherub allowed him to be “on the holy mountain of God,” amidst “the stones of fire” (Ezek 28:14), where God’s visible presence is. This means that Satan sinned with full understanding of God and His governing principles.

This helps us to understand what happened in Eden. God said to Adam “in the day that you eat from it you will surely die” (Gen 2:17). But Satan said to Eve, “You surely will not die” (Gen 3:4-5). It seems as if Satan told the truth; Adam and Eve did not die on the day they ate from it. People offer different theories to argue that Adam and Eve did die on that day, for instance, that they became mortal on that day, or that they died spiritually. These are possible explanations, but the explanation preferred here is that God, in His mercy, allowed Adam and Eve to live. Satan knew God so well that he knew that God would forgive Adam and Eve.

Satan knew he could sin without fear of punishment.

If angels work like human beings, Lucifer did not suddenly wake up one morning a sinner; it developed slowly over a long period. God knows everything. He knew what was developing in the heart of His much-loved servant next to His throne, and based on the way that God deals with humans, we must assume that God warned Lucifer many times. Lucifer knew God extremely well, and he knew that God knew, but he went ahead on his chosen path. Satan also knew God’s principles inside-out, and he knew that he could sin without fear of penalty. To be created able to disobey God, and to be allowed to disobey God, but under the threat that God will destroy sinners, is no real freedom. Lucifer understood that the freedom which God’s intelligent creatures enjoy is full freedom, free from fear of punishment.

Is Lucifer protecting us from an evil God?

Did Lucifer desire to raise his “throne above the stars of God … make myself like the Most High” because God is a tyrant from whom Satan is trying to protect us by showing us a better way? Here, the Bible does provide an answer. We read that Lucifer’s heart was lifted up and his wisdom was corrupted because of his beauty and splendor (Ezek 28:17). In 1 Timothy 3:6, Paul similarly warns against becoming “conceited and fall into the condemnation incurred by the devil”.  Conceited means to be self-important or proud. Pride was therefore the first sin, and is still the most dangerous of all sins because it hides behind a mask of self-righteousness.

Did his beauty cause Lucifer to sin?  

Satan started as Lucifer; which means light-bearer. He was perfect, loved by all and he loved all God’s beings. He was perhaps the most glorious being ever created. But he became proud because of his beauty, and there developed in his heart the desire to be worshiped like God (Isa 14:14). Beauty is good, and I don’t think that something good caused evil. The risk of freedom (the ability to choose against God) is that evil would one day develop. But to live with that risk is much, much better than being a robot. There is nothing wrong with the way that God created His intelligent beings. It is Satan that is the real tyrant. He is the selfish one. He only wants the power and glory of the universe for himself.

What did Satan do to the angels to have them rebel against God?  

To deceive Eve, Satan said to her two things; firstly, that God told a lie and, secondly, that God selfishly withholds things from the humans. It stands to reason, that Satan used the same strategy to lead the angels astray:

He firstly inspired them to distrust God. Satan targets God directly for his attacks. We also see this in the strategies of his earthly agents. The little horn of Daniel has “a mouth speaking pompous words” (Daniel 7:8). “He will speak out against the Most High” (Dan 7:25). The Sea Beast ”was given a mouth speaking … blasphemies” (Rev 13:5). “He opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme His name, His tabernacle, and those who dwell in heaven” (Rev 13:6).

He, secondly, instilled in them a desire for more power. Satan also said to Eve “that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Gen 3:6). Satan must have used the same strategy in heaven against the angels, telling them that God was holding back on them and that they should have more power. Satan made the angels unsatisfied with what they were and had received.


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