I am going to tell you straight up that my understanding has changed as I attempted to write this. Two things stand out in my mind:
- I went to my men's bible study Sunday morning and talked for a short time about the act of writing. I told the leader that you have to work at not putting out garbage. And I do not wish to put out garbage here now.
- The second thing that change my thinking was that I caught Dr. Ed Hinson on the Calvary Chapel radio station doing an hour-long overview of Revelation. Statements that he made about these passages must have been the work of the Holy Spirit.
If I leave this post almost the same as I started then maybe you can see my thought process and the point of change in thinking. I have tried to think this through and figure out how to explain what scripture is doing to us. All I was doing was to come up with conjecture that gets you no where and in trouble. Perhaps the best explanation for a passage is to compare what happens in there to what other prophetic authors of the old testament said by giving us accounts of the same things we read in Revelation.
An example might be:
Many have toiled over this in an effort to understand future events, and many have attributed the prince to Antiochus. While he did perform abominations in the temple, it is also an allusion to the beast of the near future.
So is it bogus information? No, it has a reason and purpose, and while it may be confusing at times, it is comparative and forth telling of future events.
One of the things I have said several times over is, nothing is in this book we call a bible by accident, everything has a purpose and reason. It is up to us to dig and find it out.
Much like a nurseryman who takes pride in the growth of his plants he is selling; we too should take some pride in the growth that we find in ourselves. Just don't get your head swelled too much because Isaiah 6 is where you find the statement about how your righteousness is as filthy rags. In other words, even on your best day you should be undone by the Holiness of God.
God understands you better than you do and I suspect that he can handle you. Having a little warm fuzzy over gained understanding only encourages you to dig more; so keep on digging. It is a pearl of great price.
Now war arose in heaven.
What have the previous verses of Revelation been talking about?
The dragon, which has various names, one of them being Satan, was anxiously awaiting the man-child (Jesus Christ) to be born so he could kill him. Those previous verses speak of the dragon being cast to earth and dragging the angels that followed down with him. Revelation 12:4 calls the fallen angels stars. We are not talking literal stars here. Stars are symbolic.
An attempt at logic without adequate understanding.
So what takes place first? - Obviously his being cast to earth. We first see the serpent in the third chapter of Genesis deceiving Eve.
Even here, in a state of death, God speaks prophetically to the woman about her offspring.
Jesus, the one John stated was the creative word that spoke all things into existence (John 1:1-5), said, I was there, I saw him thrown out of heaven (Luke 10:18).
Now war arose in heaven,
Heaven, in most everybody's mind, is perfect and peaceful, but even those that reject Jesus Christ would tell you that the perfect place is a future event. That future can mean something that will happen immediately after death with no real idea of what happens, or an eventual home with Jesus and God.
I suppose I should admit that I built-in some ideas about what heavenly warfare looks like by reading several of Frank Peretti's books. Angelic warfare in the heavenly realm, all around us, is a constant theme in many of his writings.
War means exactly that, a pitched battle. I do not know how many angels Michael had fighting on his side but we understand that the dragon had a third with him. Here in Revelation 12 they are referred to as stars.
When you look up the word for heaven it conveys pretty much what you might think of when someone mentions heaven.
War, it must have been a frightful sight.
I used to listen occasionally to the Bible Answer Man radio program. (I had a job that required a lot of driving.)
The show had noble beginnings and informed people about how to deal with the known cults, but it deteriorated into a show that spent most of its time berating the heresies in every aspect of Christianity that varied from the hosts. One of his repeated tirades centered on the idea that Jesus became sin, died, and during the time between his death and resurrection he went into the heavens and poured out his blood on the heavenly utensils. Going callers and church leaders with an angry vigor each day over this. The hosts would say, God would not bring himself down to that level of degradation.
Why would Jesus have to pour out his blood on the heavenly altar and utensils?
Because there had been an attempted takeover in heaven, and the heavenly pattern for the temple had been abominated as a result of the insurrection.
What had Jesus been describing to John just before this description of heavenly battle?
The dragon, on earth, ready to consume the woman's child.
So what took place first; the battle in heaven, or the dragons appearance on earth, waiting to consume the man-child?
His being thrown out of heaven.
Revelation 12:9 describes him as a dragon and several other things, but where is the first place we see the dragon?
In the garden deceiving Eve.
But now we have a problem.
Were there two battles or one?
If God has to battle Satan again, then doesn't that imply that God is not enough? The idea that God's actions are enough take a huge role in Christ rising from the dead. His death on the cross and his resurrection are central to our belief in everything else. An example would be to look at the hope we have in Christ.
What are we hoping in?
Salvation, but from what? The wrath that is to come. That would be the seven years of wrath to be poured out on the earth. We have Jesus word on the subject as he referenced Noah and Lot as examples of this salvation.
So then what is the passage referring to when it says,
If God had him thrown out, after an intense battle, then why do we see Satan interacting with God in the book of Job. Look at it.
We see Satan in heaven accusing Job once again in chapter 2 of Job.
I believe it was Ed Hinson, on the Calvary Chapel Channel, that said this verse demonstrates a future event in which Satan finally got locked out of heaven, and I believe he indicated that the end of his access occurs at the mid-point of the seven-year period.Can we define when this happened or when it will happen.? Yes, but we have to jump ahead in the chapter to gain more clarity.
Following a chronological approach, we make the assumption that we are at the end of time, or at least near it. When Christ returns to end the warfare, we know that Satan gets bound for one thousand years. The fact that he is bound plays strongly in God's statement, “now is the accuser of the brethren cast out.” But again, it does not fit because we make assumptions about what God is saying.
Dr. Ed Hinson, stated that Satan's expulsion happens at the midpoint of the seven-year tribulation.
Pay attention to the chronology of these passages:
The woman is surviving Israel. She escapes into the wilderness for three and one half years. At some point during this time in hiding the serpent tries to sweep Israel away with a flood. This may be very literal, but then I really cannot be sure.
What is the impact of this timing? In other words, what is happening at this point. If you are a student of end times events then you should already have a clue, but I will recap anyway.
- The beast who made the seven-year treaty with Israel breaks the treaty.That ruler will have a firm agreement with many people for seven years, and when half this time is past, he will put an end to sacrifices and offerings. The Awful Horror will be placed on the highest point of the Temple and will remain there until the one who put it there meets the end which God has prepared for him." (Daniel 9:27 GNB)
abomination is set up in the temple.
- Those remaining in Israel need to flee.When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:) Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains: (Matthew 24:15-16 KJV)
two witnesses will have been taken up into heaven.
- The false prophet comes on the scene. There is a good chance he is already on the scene but not declared. Islamic prophecies proclaim that he will be a Jew, a convert to Islam, of the lineage of Aaron therefore potentially a priest, and this man will be the enforcer of sharia therefore an escalation in the beheading of saints should rapidly increase. Doesn't that aspect show that there are still brethren for Satan to accuse?
- (I have re-thought this since writing it.) When Christ returns to earth to end the warfare here on earth it seems to be quick and definitive, but nothing is said of warfare in heaven.
Jumping ahead to Revelation 12:13, it states, “And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman who brought forth the man-child.” This time Satan is not awaiting the child but going directly after the one that brought man-child into the world. If you think about it, hasn't attempting to destroy the lineage of Christ been Satan's theme since Israels inception?
You have just watched me struggle through the process of understanding. Yeah I know, some would say you do not understand anything, but what I do understand that God is passionately in love with people and desires that all be saved. I happen to be one of them.
I, like many, have preconceived ideas, ideas that don't hold water when held up to the truth of God's word. There is only one way to cure that and that is to dive into God's word for yourself. The Apostle Paul praised the Bereans because they took it upon themselves to study and find out if what Paul said was true, and it was.
I had never even thought about the possibility that Satan had been cast out of heaven twice, because I have always tended to accept things I heard as more black and white. In other words I trusted that what I was being told was correct and therefore required no further thought from me; wrong! While being able to think of God and his Word as rigid and unchangeable seems ideal, there are many things in scripture that are not so clear-cut.
A few examples:
Our tendency to read the bible as a chronological time-line, when it is clearly not. Oh sure, there is a time-line but details are spread throughout scripture by different authors.
Thinking that God is merely angry, waiting for the right moment to kill all who show him disrespect. If that were true he would not have saved anyone. Now if you have read your bible then perhaps you would know that it says, “while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Unlovable, unlikeable, broken, and angry, and yet God sent Jesus, because he loved us. Why? So he could have a restored relationship with people that would choose to love him back. Not out of coercion but intelligent choice.
And places where scripture says, “all Israel came before ….” The book of Daniel is one of those places where even though King Nebuchadnezzar demanded that everyone bow before his statue, Daniel was not there and therefore did not bow, nor suffered being thrown into the fire with his companions.
Does this lack of rigidity diminish God's integrity, or his word at all?
No!, it merely demonstrates the expressive way humans have conveyed many of God's dealings with man.
To tell that Jesus submitted to the cross, died and rose again is not conjecture; it is verifiable, historic fact. God and his word is trustworthy. Perhaps things like Satan's being cast out needs to be clarified so that people can have a confidence and greater understanding of the depth of God's word.
Jesus said, “I am the way the truth and the life, and no one comes to the Father except through me.” It is not a lie nor is it some random babble. It is the only path to the life promised to those who follow after him.
Father, receive me, a sinner covered by the blood of your son Jesus. Jesus come into my life and be my life. Change me, use me, and have your way with me. Fill me with your love, the love that I have seen in your eyes. I believe in the hope of life you have for me and a life with you in eternity. In Jesus name.