When did the war began and when was Satan thrown out of heaven?

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

This is a further article on Revelation 12. Previous articles identified the role-players in this war:
● The Male Child, who was caught up to God, is Jesus Christ.
● His mother represents the people of God both before and after Christ.
● In the context of the war in heaven, the dragon is Satan, but when it stood ready to devour the Child, it also represented the early powers through which Satan works.


Summary

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

Verses 8 and 9 mention Satan’s defeat after the wilderness period in verse 6, but the wilderness period is mentioned again 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, therefore, is as follows:

● Before Christ, there was war in heaven while the dragon waits to devour the Child;
● Christ is born and caught up to God;
● After Christ, Satan is defeated and thrown down to earth (Rev 12:8-12);
● The woman flees to the wilderness (Rev 12:6, 14).

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


Chronological Sequence

The sequence of events in Revelation 12:5-14 is as follows:

The woman’s 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 (Rev 12:6).

The angels in heaven wage “war” (Rev 12:7).

Satan is defeated: “He was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him” (Rev 12:8-9).

Verses 10 to 12 describe the nature of the war in heaven (Rev 12:10-12).

In verse 13, the focus shifts from heaven to earth:

When the dragon saw that he was thrown down to the earth, he persecuted the woman who gave birth to the male child” (Rev 12:13).

The woman flees to the wilderness “where she was nourished for a time and times and half a time” (Rev 12:14).

The War began before Christ.

The idea of a war in heaven may seem strange to some. However:

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; cf. Col 1:20).

This sequence of events above may seem to imply that the war in heaven BEGAN after Jesus was caught up to His Father’s throne, but the following shows that that war was raging BEFORE Christ was born:

Daniel – God sent an angel to Daniel (Dan 10:5-6), but the supernatural “prince of the kingdom of Persia” prevented that mighty angel from reaching Daniel (Dan 10:13) for a full “three weeks.” He was only able to reach Daniel after another supernatural being (Michael) came to his assistance (v13). Furthermore, the angel said that he had to 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” (Dan 10:20-21). In other words, the angels were already at war 600 years before Christ.

Jude – Satan has “power of death” (Heb 2:14). In Jude 9, we read of Michael, namely, that “Michael the archangel … disputed with the devil and argued about the body of Moses.” So, similar to Revelation 12:7-9, here we have conflict between Michael and Satan. And this must have been before the time of Jesus because Moses appeared bodily to Jesus (Matt 17:3-4). (Moses appeared with Elijah, but never died. He was taken up into heaven in bodily form (2 Kings 2:11).)

Other examples of the war in heaven, before the time of Christ, are Zechariah 3:1 and Job 1:8-9.

In other words, the war in heaven raged BEFORE Christ was born. Therefore, we must distinguish between the war and the victory. The war existed before Christ, but Michael and his angels won the victory only after Jesus was caught up.

Was Satan Defeated after the 1260 Days?

Between Jesus’ ascension in Revelation 12:5 and Satan’s defeat in Revelation 12:8, the woman hides in the wilderness for 1260 days (Rev 12:6). So, 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, the woman flees into the wilderness where she has a place prepared for her, where she would be nourished for the same period (Rev 12:6, 14). For a detailed comparison, see – Time, times, and half a time.

Although these two verses describe the same wilderness period, verse 6 is mentioned before the war in heaven, while verse 14 follows after Satan was thrown down to earth (Rev 12:8-9). So, one question is, did Michael win the victory before or after the wilderness period? Revelation 12:13-14 give the actual chronological sequence because it explicitly links 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
where she was nourished
for a time and times and half a time
.”

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

      • The dragon waits to devour the Child (Rev 12:1-4);
      • The Child escapes and caught up to God (Rev 12:5);
      • Satan is defeated and thrown down (Rev 12:8-12);
      • Woman flees to the wilderness (Rev 12:6, 14).

What is the Wilderness Period?

WildernessAs indicated by Revelation 12:13-14, this is a time when God’s 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:

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” (Dan 7:25).

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).

In both, God’s people are persecuted during this period. 

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 between Christ’s ascension (Rev 12:5) and the end-time war (Rev 12:17). That supports the view that this is a very long period, 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.


Articles in the series on Revelation 12

Other Relevant Articles

I am busy rewriting this article.

Rather read Who are the woman and her child in Revelation 12?

Why do Michael and his angels wage war in heaven against the Satan and his angels, and what weapons do they use? – A study of Revelation 12.

The Dragon

The dragon is identified as “the devil and Satan” (Rev 12:9):

It “stood before the woman … so that when she gave birth he might devour her child” (Rev 12:4). Ever since God told the serpent that the seed of the woman “shall bruise you on the head” (Gen 3:15), Satan stood ready to thwart Christ’s mission.

But Jesus was “caught up to God and to His throne” (Rev 12:5), meaning that Satan failed in his purpose.

The dragon has seven heads and ten horns (Rev 12:3). These symbolize the kingdoms of the world (Rev 17:9-10, 12). The dragon, therefore, also represents the earthly kingdoms through which Satan persecutes God’s people.

There are three beasts in Revelation that have seven heads and ten horns each. For a more specific identification of the dragon, see – The seven-headed beasts of Revelation.

War in Heaven

The leader of God’s angels is the archangel Michael.

He and his angels are opposed by Satan and his angels, for Satan has deceived a large number of God’s beautiful angels to side with him against God.

Satan’s weapons are deception (Rev 12:9) and accusations (Rev 12:10). He deceives angels and people into sin and then accuses them before God.

This crisis in heaven, described as a “war in heaven” (Rev 12:7), is symbolized by Revelation 5 as “a book … sealed up with seven seals” which “no one in heaven … was able to open” (Rev 5:1, 3). In both chapters, the crisis is located in heaven but is solved by Christ’s death. For a further discussion, see – The seven seals verse of Revelation.

 

The Dragon (Rev 12:3-4)

Then 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)

The Dragon is Satan.

Great Red DragonRevelation 12:9 identifies the dragon as “the devil and Satan.” It “stood before the woman … so that when she gave birth he might devour her child” (Rev 12:4). Ever since God told the serpent that the seed of the woman “shall bruise you on the head” (Gen 3:15), Satan has been watching, expecting the Messiah, and standing ready to thwart His mission.

The Dragon’s seven heads and ten horns

But the dragon has seven heads and ten horns, just like the beast from the sea (Rev 13:1) and the scarlet beast (Rev 17:3). “The seven heads are … seven kings” (Rev 17:9-10) and “the ten horns which you saw are ten kings” (Rev 17:12). The dragon, therefore, also represents the earthly kingdoms through which Satan persecutes God’s people. (For specific identification, see The Seven-Headed Beasts of Revelation.)

Jesus was caught up to God.

Satan stood ready to devour her child as soon as He was born (Rev 12:4), but Jesus was “caught up to God and to His throne” (Rev 12:5). In other words, Satan was defeated and Christ won the victory when He came to this earth.

War in Heaven

Rev 12:7 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; the archangel

It is a war between two groups of angels. The name of the leader of God’s angels is “Michael” (Rev 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 argued with the devil “about the body of Moses” (Jude 1:9).

When Daniel saw the angel whom God sent to him, he “retained no strength” (Dan 10:8). This, therefore, was a mighty angel, but this angel was delayed for three weeks by “these forces” (Dan 10:13). “These forces,” therefore, are powerful supernatural forces. The angel said that Michael is the only one “who stands firmly with me against these forces” (Dan 10:13; cf. 12:1).

Satan and his angels

Michael and his angels wage war against Satan and his angels (Rev 12:7). This means that Satan has deceived a large number of God’s beautiful angels to his side in rebellion against God.

Michael’s victory

While verse 7 mentions the war in heaven, verses 8 to 12 describe Michael’s victory.

Satans’ Weapons

With what weapons are the war in heaven waged? The dragon is identified as:

the serpent of old
who is called the devil and Satan,
who deceives the whole world
” (Rev 12:9)

the accuser of our brethren …
he who accuses them before our God day and night
” (Rev 12:10).

Serpent – “The serpent … said to the woman” (Gen 3:1). The “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, to achieve his purposes, he tells lies. 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 the 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, therefore, are not physical. He deceives and he accuses. See The seven seals verse of Revelation for a further discussion.