7 Now war arose in heaven…
Image above: Michael casts out rebel angels. Illustration by Gustave Doré for John Milton’s Paradise Lost. Public Domain from Wikipedia.
The battle in heaven and the hurling down of the dragon are not to be understood literally. Satan is “hurled down from heaven” in this sense, namely that he has lost his place as an accuser of the brethren. Whereas Christ was born and rendered satisfaction for sin, Satan has lost every semblance of justice for his accusations against believers. (See, Hendriksen, p. 141, below.)
This section of the Chapter is connected with the first section since vs. 3 states that —
3 And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads seven diadems. [ESV; empahsis mine]
Verses 1-6 describe the characters and the background to the warfare in which we as Christians are involved. We do not have the luxury of deciding whether or not we will fight since we are born on the battlefield as Christians!
Image: From Wikimedia Commons; ancient illuminated manuscript of the scene in Job.
Vss. 7-12 explain how Michael and his angels defeated the devil (waging war with the dragon) and his angels in heavenly combat, and record actions which are the heavenly counterpart of earthly events recorded in vss. 1-6. (see Beale, p. 252, below).
Satan’s anger is directed at God’s people since he does not have access to God’s presence to make his accusations in person any longer.
7 Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels fought back, 8 but he was defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven.
I. No matter what we as believers experience by way of persecution, we must always remember the Devil and his minions are behind the scenes pulling the strings.
Verses 7 & 8 — This war is not one that will occur at the end of the age. It is one that has already occurred at the ascension. As a result of Christ’s finished work on the cross, Satan is no longer allowed access to heaven where God dwells as he did in the days of Job.
Michael is an archangel who is entrusted with Israel’s welfare. Just as he was concerned with Israel of old back then, he is also concerned with the new Israel, the Church of the Lord Jesus Jesus Christ, at present. Angels keep watch over the people of God (cf. Heb. 1:14). It is not stated in the Word of God that we each have a guardian angel. It simply states that we are protected by angels. Many of us need more than one, I’m sure!
II. We must ever bear in mind, in the skirmishes of everyday life, we face a defeated foe.
9 And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.
Verse 9 — The Dragon is further identified as:
1. that ancient serpent (cf. Gen. 3:1) ;
2. the devil = adversary;
3. satan = slanderer;
4. deceiver = one who wanders off the course and thus leads others astray as well.
The angels which fell with Satan share his lot. In Milton’s Paradise Lost, Satan says, “Better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven.” World is oikoumenē — the inhabited world.
III. God is sovereign over the battle and will bring the curtain down on the strife in His own good time!
10 And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God.
Verses 10 — “As elsewhere in the book, the narrative material can be interpreted only in the light of the hymns.” (See Johnson, A. F., below.) The war was fought and has already been won. It was fought at Calvary and the victory was enforced at the ascension.
Jesus Christ on the throne in heaven
Giovanni Battista WikiMedia Commons
The singers are not identified. However, the plural is used indicating that a group is speaking and not an individual The hymn uses the aorist tense (past tense) to describe Christ’s victory. It has already been accomplished. You ask, ”Why is there still fighting, then?” This is a good question. It shows that you and I are in the battle, and not on the sidelines as so many seem to be.
Between two days; Top: D-Day+1 and Bottom: VE-Day
The period between D-Day and VE-Day — Christ is currently “mopping
up” the battlefield. His victory has already been won. It will only fully be manifest at his Second Coming.
The singers are proclaiming the triumph of Messiah. Each word describing the triumph has its own article. Jesus’ victory has ended Satan’s “accusation parties.” The genitive of time is used to indicate the kind of time referred to. Satan’s accusations came at any hour of the clock. The saints were not even exempt while they slept. Note the emphasis upon the authority (exousia) of Jesus. This is the key issue in the spiritual realm — authority. Satan can no longer flaunt the sins of God’s people. They have been dealt with in Christ.
Since God will no longer listen to Satan’s accusations against us, why should we!
IV. We have resources to defeat all evil forces in the trenches of everyday warfare we face.
11 And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.
The Resurrection of Christ by Carl Heinrich Bloch (1875)
Wikimedia Commons image
Verse 11 — “They,” the stated subject of the sentence, is emphatic. Greek is an inflected language. The subject is contained in the verb itself. When it is stated in Greek, it is for the purpose of emphasis. It comes first in the word order. The aorist tense (past tense) indicates that victory is always won by the use of these weapons. This specialized use of the aorist tense (past tense) is called the Gnomic use of the Aorist. It is a universal truth. In English we state universals in the present tense. These three things are necessary for one to overcome Satan:
1. to be redeemed
2. to hear witness of redemption
3. not to love our lives as our ultimate end
F. W. H. Myers, in a line of poetry about St. Paul writes —
Christ! I am Christ’s, and let the name suffice you,
Ay, for me too He greatly hath sufficed:
Christ is the end, for Christ was the beginning,
Christ the beginning, for the end is Christ.
12 Therefore, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!”
Verse 12 — The great anger of Satan is due to his knowledge of the restriction of time placed upon him by God. He only has the brief period. He knows that God will triumph. Yet, he will not submit to him.
Next time, the third section of Chapter Twelve.
(Commentaries on which I rely without direct quotation)
Beale, G. K. (2015). Revelation: a Shorter Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. Kindle Edition.
ESV. (2001). Accessed 24 June 2020 from https://www.biblegateway.com
Hendriksen, William. More Than Conquerors: An Interpretation of the Book of Revelation. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. (p. 125).
Johnson, A. F. (1982). Revelation in Expositor’s Bible Commentary, ed. Gaebelein. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
Johnson, D. E. (2001). Triumph of the Lamb: A Commentary on Revelation. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Kenner, C. (2000). The NIV Application Commentary: Revelation. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Academic.
Morris, Leon. (1987). Revelation in Tyndale New Testament Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.
WikiMedia Commons for Images
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