Revelations Series #18
Battle in the Heavens
IN our earthly day to day, we are often far to oblivious to the Heavenly struggles that are going on in the spiritual.
When conflict goes on here, conflict goes on in the spiritual realms more often than not.
Spiritual conflict is real even if we don't realize it.
Name for me if you will some Biblical accounts that show us a picture of Spiritual Battles going on in the physical realm as well as spiritual
1. Eve and the Serpent / Adam responding to Eve
2. Cain and Able
3. The Tower of Babel - we will reach heaven
4. Noah and the Flood - we will not listen to the warnings of God
5. Israel in Egypt, "killing of babies" … "let my people go" Satan seeks to imprison us and keep us from the promises of God … remember God had told them that they would return
6. David and Goliath … Your God is not strong enough
7. Shadrach Meshach, and Abednego - seek to destroy us but protected by the Son of god
8. Herod and killing Babies in Palestine
9. Temptation of Jesus Christ
10. Attempt to throw Jesus from a Cliff
11. Garden of Gethsemane
12. The Cross - Save Yourself
14. James' death, all of the Apostles deaths
Let's Read again from Revelation 12
Elliott identifies this war in heaven (v. 7) with the time of Christianity's conflict with heathenism in the days of Julian the Apostate, the emperor who sought to reestablish paganism in the empire from 361 until 363. The casting out of the dragon was the end of that conflict, marked by the downfall of paganism at Julian's death in 363. Julian's dying words were, "O Galilean, thou hast conquered!"
The song of rejoicing is that of the Christians at the time of that victory, celebrating the establishment of the kingdom of our God (v. 10), which is to be understood as Rome under Christian rulers. The dragon is not finished bringing troubles upon the church, however. It is announced that further woe is to be expected for the inhabitants of the earth and the sea (v. 12).
In Elliott's opinion, this woe refers to heretical persecutors arising from within the church and to the Gothic scourge soon to come.
Barnes, however, gives the future peril a different face:
I regard this, therefore, as referring to the time of the rise of the Papacy, when, but for the formidable, corrupting, and destructive power, it might have been hoped that the church would have spread all over the world.
Preterist - The suggestion is simply that, as Christ has been symbolized previously as a "mighty angel" (cf. 10:1), so also here, the symbol of Christ is that of "the archangel" (as Michael is called in Jude 9). Explaining that archangel does not mean "a member of a superior class of angels," but rather "Chief of the angels," Chilton suggests that the title is equivalent to "Commander of the Lord's army" in Joshua 5:13-15. The fact that He is here seen leading the angels of heaven as a victorious army against the satanic kingdom further suggests the identification with the Lord, since Christ is seen in this same role elsewhere (see 19:11-16).
Chilton, Terry, and Carrington further suggest that the "angels" who accompany Michael (Jesus) are the apostles, together with the angelic forces that cooperate with them. Russell writes:
We are not to conceive of this conflict as one of physical force, like Milton's battles in "Paradise Lost," but rather as a moral and spiritual victory gained by truth over error, by light over darkness, by the Gospel over sin and unbelief.
Because the great dragon was cast out (v. 9) as a consequence of the battle, we can pinpoint the heavenly battle as being at the same time as the accomplishment of the atonement at the death and resurrection of Christ.
The death of Christ did not put Satan entirely out of business, but it ended his career as the accuser of our brethren (v. 10), his principal role in pre-Christian times
Futurist - The scene shifts unexpectedly from earth to heaven. At some point in connection with the events of the previous verses, war broke out in heaven (v. 7) between God's angels and the forces of Satan. The angels are seen as under the command of Michael, the only angel in Scripture that is called "the archangel" (Jude 9), and who is first ntroduced in Daniel.
The event here prophesied was predicted by Daniel the prophet in Daniel 12:1, where it is recorded that Michael shall "stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people." This event marks the beginning of the Great Tribulation defined in Daniel 12:1. It is undoubtedly the same event as in Revelation 12.
The War results in Satan being cast out of heaven and confined to earth …
There is disagreement as to when this event takes place, whether at the mid-point of the 7 years, the beginning of the Great Tribulation, or at the 6th Seal or the 5th Trumpet when Satan is kicked out like a star falling, some say that he is kicked out at the Rapture of the church as the church fills space he may have filled in the outer court
Salvation declared here is NOT salvation from sin but salvation in the sense of deliverance and completion
In his office as the accuser of our brethren (v. 10), Satan can no longer stand in heaven, but he continues his attack against the Tribulation saints on earth. They are ready for him, however; they stand their spiritual ground and even overcome their attacker by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony (v. 11)
Spiritual / Idealist - This retells the spiritual conflict depicted in verses 1-6, but from the heavenly perspective. Wilcock writes: "The opposition of verse 7 is the opposition of verse 4b seen at a different depth of focus."
Michael and his angels (v. 7) prevailed over the kingdom of darkness, as Christ ministered, died, and arose on earth, the last event being the "casting out" of the accuser (John 12:31). But if the victory is Christ's, why is it depicted as if accomplished by Michael in the heavenlies? G. B. Caird likens Michael to the staff officer who removes Satan's flag from the heavenly map of battle in response to the Field General's real victory at the cross.
The announcement that salvation … strength … the kingdom … have come (v. 10) celebrates Christ's resurrection victory over Satan and the beginning of the New Covenant age (Col. 2:15; Heb. 2:14).
Satan, here alone called the accuser of our brethren (v. 10), until the death of Christ was able to accuse God's people before the throne of God (Job 1-2; Zech. 3:1); now, because of the atonement, he has lost all grounds for accusation (Rom. 8:31-34)
Satan's activity is now limited to the earthly level, accusing believers' consciences against themselves and seeking to bring them under self-condemnation. In response to such attacks, the believer pleads the merits and accomplishments of the blood of the Lamb (v. 11). This constitutes the defensive aspect of the present warfare of the believer. The word of their testimony (evangelism), is the offensive warfare of the church. They did not love their lives to the death demonstrates that the Christian's victory is measured, not necessarily in personal survival, but in faithful martyrdom.
Well … Let's talk about this Battle in Heaven and this Battle on Earth
In those last days, two old adversaries will fight a final time. This is NOT a simple restating of a former battle, because Satan knows in this battle that his time is SHORT. So this cannot refer only to previous battles that happened centuries and millennia ago.
How does Satan know that his time is short? Because he knows the prophesies found in this book better than you or I and he will know what is happening.
Let's talk about these lead characters in this battle
1. Lead Characters
They have done battle before … Daniel 10: 13, 21; Daniel 12:1
Jude 9 talks of them battling over the body of Moses.
They have fought before, or perhaps they have, in the heavenly view of things, never stopped fighting.
The Dragon and his Angels vs Michael and his Angels. "LETS GET READY TO RUMBLE"
A. Satan --
1. Is 14:12 - calls him O Morning Star or Lucifer, Daystar; (heylel /hay-lale/) shining One … Son of the Dawn … he was and remains a beautiful one … Peter says he masquerades as an angel of light? Why? How? because he WAS one and can look like one now
2. Ez 28 God compared the King of Tyre to Satan and says he was a "model of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. … he was in Eden … he was an anointed Guardian Cherub or a Cherub who covers. He was the highest angel whose charge it was to guard the throne of glory … but he longed to take the throne for himself … his heart was filled with Arrogance … and as the picture in Rev 12:4 depicts he was removed from Heaven and took 1/3 of the angels with him. The word means to pull, to tow, lead by force, drag off … he used his persuasion and force to gain the alliance of these angels … but this word used here is a PAST tense used "and flung" or "and did cast" … this is past tense action … The tenses are very important in reading this broad telling … just as the Woman … Gave birth … to one who WILL rule the nations. That's a picture of Christ being born but yet even at this writing still didn't have actualized Sovereignty or Jurisdiction over all nations …
So this picture of the stars is a picture of the FIRST fall of Satan. Remember I told you Satan has been kicked out of Heaven many times. We saw it in the 5th Trumpet. And I told you that I picture EVERY time Satan leaves Heaven, he leaves that way. J He is kicked out … to do his evil … to be who he is …
3. So the woman fled to the desert … to a place prepared for her … and then the story on earth shifts to Heaven to tell us WHY. She fled to a place in the desert … perhaps Petra, in the Region of Edom and Moab significant? Daniel 11:41 - the Antichrist will sweep through countries like a flood but according to this verse Edom, Moab and the leaders of Ammon will not be affected by him. HMMMM … and Matt 24:15-22 Jesus speaking of the final Day of Judgment says after the Antichrist desecrates the Temple, to fulfill Daniel, "let those in Judea flee to the mountains …" Don't stop to get anything extra, just GO, FLEE, how dreadful it will be … pray that it doesn't happen in the winter … it will be unequaled from the beginning of the world until now and never equaled again. Those days will be shortened for the sake of the elect.
4. Satan is unlike any other, and he has experienced his "successes" so he continues to fight. He is pictured throughout scripture as crowned … as he is here with 7 crowns, a number of fullness or completion, possibly referring to 7 kingdoms of History and then the 10 of that day who align with him, but more on that in another chapter. But he DOES have a given sovereignty in this world today. As we know the Sovereignty of this world does NOT become the sovereignty of Christ until the sounding of the 7th Trumpet. (Mt 12 king with a kingdom; 3x in John prince of this world; 2 cor 4:4 god of this world; eph 2 prince and power of the air; 1 john 5 world lies in the hands of the evil one)
5. Satan though removed form his position of honor in heaven was NOT imprisoned like some of his angels but given freedom even into the garden and freedom to come back before God
6. Satan has been bent on the destruction of the promise of God throughout history in attempting to destroy God's people.
B. Michael -
1. the only angel referred to as an ARCHangel … meaning that he has special place in Heaven.
2. We know from Daniel that he is the Prince of God's People Israel.
3. He special responsibility over Israel. Which is why he appears on the scene prominently in this time as God begins to restore and reuse Israel. This IS the Angel Michael, NOT a picture of Christ, though his name means "one like God."
4. in Daniel he stands for Daniel's people. He defends and protects their destiny.
5. Daniel in his primary duties is "seated" now, but the day will come when he will stand again. Perhaps he is seated because Israel has rejected their Messiah, but in those last days, Israel will return to Christ, to obey his commands and believe in the Lord … and Michael will get up! Why? Because God keeps his promises … Rom 11:29 says that God's call and gifts are irrevocable.
Daniel 12:1-3 --- remember this is a prophesy that sweeps across 7 years of tribulation and the millennium but it says At that time, Michael, the great prince who protects your people, will arise. There will be a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then. But at that time your people - everyone whose name is found written in the book - will be delivered. 2 Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake; some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt. 3 Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever. That doesn't mean that all of that happens in one fell swoop but it will all happen as part of the Great Day of the Lord and the Final Judgment of all things
6. Michael is God's representative his servant with authority over angels and fights for his people
C. Result of the Battle in Heaven
1. he was NOT strong enough …
2. lost their place in heaven… hurled down … -- he has had access to accuse before the throne of God, to tell lies about us, but NO more will he have access to God in the courts of Heaven, nor any of his servants
3. Proclamation -
a. NOW comes the Salvation of God and Christ - not salvation as in forgiveness of sins but salvation as in our blessed hope … the certainty of the delivering hand of God
b. now comes Power of our God and of Christ - you think you've seen power … "you ain't seen nothing yet"
c. now comes the Kingdom of our God and of Christ - we live as residents of the Kingdom now, by faith but then it will become reality and we will dwell in the fullness of it
4. FOR … There is a REASON … that the time is at hand, the time becomes NOW … because Satan has been hurled out and the accuser no longer has access to God … He will be finally put down in the course of those events.
5. REJOICE - those in Heaven, because you are experiencing the blessedness of Satan's Absense
6. LOOK OUT world … WOE because you are going to experience not only God's wrath but Satan's rage … Look out earthly believers because your doctrine, your belief your faith, will be proved by fire and sword
The end is NEAR
But not complete … the scene shifts from Earth to Heaven and back to Earth again … Picking up where we left off with the woman fleeing … now we know why.
2. Battle on Earth
I like verse 13 "when the dragon saw (realized was aware) that he had been hurled to the earth …" That tells me that it will come swiftly and though he's been warned it will catch him off guard and his response will be quick and full of hatred and rage.
A. Turns his Anger Toward an "Easier Adversary" the One God loves - Israel in particular all Believers in General
1. remember that we know that Israel will be trampled on for the final 42 months. And Satan KNOWS it according to v12 … and 3 and ½ years is SHORT like a hiccup in the course of thousands of years of human history … so filled with fury, he turns on Israel
2. he Pursued the woman - the KJV says he "persecuted" the woman … that word (dioko /dee-o-ko/) meaning "to make run or flee, to put to flight, drive away".
3. Woman "given two wings of a great eagle" so that she might fly to a place prepared for her in the desert"
a. given two wings … simplest understanding is that she's given the ability to be whisked away quickly … COULD be talking of airlifts … flown out … the how is not near as important as the WHAT. Before Satan can attack they are transported / translated to a special place of God's preparation
b. a place prepared for her in the desert - Place Prepared - topos /top-os/ means "place, a portion or space marked OFF as it were from surrounding space … an inhabited place, as a city, village or district. Now if you combine Jesus words to FLEE to the mountains, and Daniel's 11:41 prophesy about a region that will be spared providentially from the hand / control / devastation of the antichrist, then many believe this Place will be Petra … South East of Jerusalem. It is a naturally fortified area. But you know it doesn't really matter. It could be a wide open flat desert plain … it doesn't matter where … it matters WHO is doing the preparing. God has prepared for them. That's why it doesn't have to be in a lush place for them to be nourished, it can be in the desert because GOD will be their nourishment for the final period of 3 and ½ years. Just like Elijah was cared for by Ravens and a brook that suddenly was no longer dry as the rest of the area was. Or as God took care of Israel with manna and quail through their 40 years of wandering. God will care for them
4. From the Dragon's mouth will come "water like a flood" … doesn't say it WILL be a flood but LIKE a flood … so we could be talking about a REAL flood here or more likely we are talking about a TORRENT of attack, perhaps a huge military attack chasing the people of God as they flee to their prepared place. … Coming from his mouth could be as a military ORDER … bent on overtaking and sweeping away … death … but … the GROUND OPENS AND SWALLOWS them. "Ok Pastor, this is symbolic too right?" "That can't really happen". Really? Why not? Is this book true? YES but this is symbols. Is it? Turn to Numbers 16
a. Korah became "insolent" - he tried to take authority that was NOT his and rise up against God's anointed man Moses. V 24 "say to the assembly, move away from the Tents of Korah (and his followers)" v31,32 "The ground under them split and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them with their households and all Korah's men and all their possessions." WOW … WHY? That way v28 "this is how you will know that the Lord …" God did it to reveal himself
b. he can and will do it again
5. This is be a period of MANY signs, MANY wonders, more amazing supernatural things than ever before.
6. Dragon makes war against the REST of the offspring. That is either against those who have yet to flee, or to the 144,000 who need not flee because they are protected, or against the Jew AND Gentile Believers who are still alive. The Gentile Believers as converts of the Evangelists of Israel could also been seen as offspring of the Woman.
B. Responding to his Attacks on Earth
Well we may NOT be in the tribulation but we ARE experiencing Satan's attacks and fighting battles with Spiritual forces in this dark world … how do we respond
Quickly 3 things
1. Take Refuge in God alone
a. Ps 7:1 - "O Lord, I take refuge in you; save and deliver me from all who pursue me"
b. Ps 18:2 "the Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn (strength, power, and authority) of my salvation, my stronghold"
2. Rejoice in the Victory
a. Ps 5:11 - "But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let htem ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you"
b. Rejoice when Satan is defeated EVERY time it happens. Throw a "mini-party" when Satan is defeated …
c. If you turn FROM sin and TO God, Satan loses, REJOICE
d. if someone comes to Christ, Satan loses, REJOICE
e. if someone returns from following their own way, Satan Loses, REJOICE
f. There is power in praise, it builds your faith, it provides the platform for God to Shine through his Son Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit
3. Respond with Great Offense - we are NOT saved miraculously with no scars to show for our battles with Satan. Criswell says "God's sainted children enter the gates of glory, they are covered with scars, victims of the claw and the fang of the Dragon … crying and moaning from God's children in every generation" --- But THEY/We Overcome him by the Blood of the Lamb, the Word of Our Testimony and loved not their lives
a. the Greatest offense is a good defense and we overcome him with our only hope for defense, the BLOOD OF THE LAMB
1) he is attacking you at every turn accusing you before God … He steals, kills and destroys, he prowls like a roaring lion
2) the power to overcome the accuser is in the Blood of the Lamb
3) his accusations have no power over us because we are NOT guilty any longer of our sin … we are FREE and FORGIVEN
4) the blood gives us ACCESS - Christ has gone before us and given us ACCESS into the throne room of God, the grace of God. God doesn't say "who are you" he says you are marked with the blood of Christ, approach me with complete assurance and strong faith as the writer of Hebrews tells us (4:16).
5) the blood gives us citizenship and standing in the Kingdom … we are seated WITH him because of the Blood of Christ. The Jewish Talmud teaches that Satan accuses every day and every night, ACCEPT, on the Day of Atonement! Well … EVERY day and EVERY night IS the Day of Atonement for the Blood bought, Blood covered Christian.
b. we also overcome with the Word of our Testimony -
1) a TRUE confession defeats the FALSE lies of Satan and we overcome him
2) the confession that JESUS IS LORD - defeats Satan --- that's what James revealed to us of spiritual warfare. In James 4:7 - Satan comes to you with his lies and tries to get you to go HIS way … as long as you listen you are defeated but when you SUBMIT TO CHRIST, that is confessing him as Lord, as Boss, says "yes Lord, your way is right" then the Devil WILL FLEE and we overcome him
3) - overcome by dia ton logon tes marturias "because of or by the word of our testimony, our witness to the truth, our martyrdom"
In order to defeat Satan he has to have NO PLACE to stand. The threat of loss of Job or loss of position, or loss of life has no power over us
c. We overcome by Releasing Hold on My Life
1) they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death
2) what are you afraid to lose? That is where Satan will defeat you! Victory comes when you release all fear of losing anything, you open your grip on life, love, career, pleasures, plans … release your grip
3) My life is not mine …
take my house
take my job
take my care
take my family
take my health
take my life … it is NOT Mine, because I am ALREADY sold to the HIGHEST bidder, I am sold to the ONE who paid with his LIFE
Oh this Revelation IS a revelation of a REAL future EVENT
But Satan is the most predictable of opponents and we need not WONDER HOW to fight him … we need not Change our Plan of Attack …
This is the Way to Victory in Christ
The Blood of the Lamb
The Word of Our Testimony
Loving NOTHING but Christ … NO fear of Losing anything even my Life
That is how Stephen was able to say "Father forgive them they know not what they do as Faithful proclaim the truth even to his own death"
That's how Paul and Silas could SING in the middle of the jail, bound by stocks in the middle of the night
That's how every apostle laid down his life
That's how Christians went into the arena and faced gladiators and lions
That's how John Huss sang praises to God while Flames rose around him in the square in Old Prague that today bears his name.
That's how more than 50 million died for the TRUTH in the face of an apostate church
That's how Jerome, who was about to be burned … they were to set the flame behind him and he said "bring it around to the front, set the fire before my eyes; If I had been afraid I wouldn't be in this place
That's how Felix Mantz a great Baptist preacher faced drowning in the river Limmont saying "he loves water, let's give him lots of it"
That's how John Bunyan continued to preach Christ from his Cell window while in prison for 12 years calling for all who heard to repent and turn to Christ
Where are the ones who prove their faith and Doctrine is true with lives poured out?
Are they only in China?
Are they only in the middle east
Are they only in Korea?
Are there any here, in Florissant? Are there any in St. Louis
Our Foundation is FIRM
The Soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose
I will not, I will not, desert to its foes.
That soul tho'all hell should endeavor to shake,
I'll never, no never, no never forsake
By the blood of the Lamb, by the Word of their Testimony, LOVING NOT their lives … they GAVE their testimony, because they loved NOT this WORLD, why because This world was not their home, THIS world is NOT inhabited by the one who owns them, loves them, holds victorious reward for them
Oh Victory in Jesus, My Savior Forever
He sought me and bought me with his redeeming blood
He loved me e'er I knew him and all my love is due him
He plunged me to Victory Beneath the cleansing flood
Wednesday Night Bible study Fall 2005-Spring 2006
The following resources were used among others in preparation
Revelation Four Views: A Parallel Commentary – Steve Gregg
W.A. Criswell Expository Sermons on Revelation
Dr. J.A. Seiss Expositions on Revelations
MacArthur Bible Studies: Revelation – John MacArthur
Dr. David Jeremiah Expositions on Revelation
The Pulpit Commentary: Revelation
Wiersbe: The Bible Exposition Commentary