The Book of Revelation with commentary by Dr. Henry M. Morris and paintings by Ramona Lowe
The paintings are a work in progress and the finished pieces are highlighted in red on Page 2

Page 89

War in Heaven 

     That angels are indeed intensely concerned with all these events on earth has been evident throughout the Book of Revelation.  It is the devil and his angels who are bent on persecuting the woman; therefore, it is Michael and God’s angels who will protect and feed her.  It may well be that this conflict will precipitate the great battle described in the next passage.

Revelation 12:7.     And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels.

     Even though Satan had long ago fallen from his exalted position at God’s throne in heaven, he and his angels are still allowed to function as “the prince of the power of the air” (Ephesians 2:2) and as “the rulers of the darkness of this world,” “spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:12).  They roam and rule the earth’s atmospheric heavens, with free access to all the kings and kingdoms of the world.  They may still have access in some degree to the sidereal heavens, as suggested by their occasional designation in Scripture as “the host of heaven,” a term also applied to the stars.

     In particular, Satan himself has regular access to the very heaven of God’s presence, appearing there as accuser against God’s people on earth.  The familiar scenes in Job 1:6-12 and 2:1-7 give graphic descriptions of Satan’s direct activity in the function of our “adversary” (the meaning of “Satan”) and “slanderer” (the meaning of “devil”).  He is “the accuser of our brethren . . . which accused them before our God day and night” (verse 10).  He also is shown appearing before God against Joshua the high priest (Zechariah 3:1, 2).  Furthermore Satan is not the only fallen angel who, at least occasionally, appears in God’s presence.  There was a “lying spirit” there in the days of King Ahab, for example (2 Chronicles 18:18-22).

     But this situation is now about to be ended.  No longer will Satan and his host befoul the heavens.  “The heavens are the Lord’s (Psalm 115:16).  Satan and his angels have been allowed to continue there for thousands of years, by God’s grace and for man’s testing, but the time has come to expel them.  This battle probably began when the Lord and His holy angels descended from heaven to set up His judgment seat in the atmospheric heavens where the demonic powers had held sway for ages (I Thessalonians 4:16, 17; Revelation 4:2).  Long before, when the archangel Michael had attempted to come to Daniel, he had encountered serious resistance from a satanic principality whom he called “the prince of Persia,” also mentioning “the prince of Grecia” (Daniel 10:12, 13, 20).  Almost certainly the devil and his angels would offer strong resistance (but unsuccessful) to the great rapture of believers and the translation of God’s throne to Earth’s atmosphere, and this great “war in heaven” would become more intense than ever when Satan makes a last-ditch effort to destroy Israel and any remaining earthly believers.  God had allowed him to send forth his demonic hordes from the great abyss on to the earth for a time, but these also were gone now, and Satan must engage in direct warfare with the heavenly hosts of Michael.

Revelation 12:8.     And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven.

     God could, of course, have destroyed Satan and his angels merely with a word, but He instead will allow His faithful angels to battle the wicked angels.  Long restrained from this vengeance, Michael is finally permitted to enter into direct conflict with his ancient rival.

     They had met before, not only in heaven but on earth.  “Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee” (Jude 9).  Now Satan’s privileges in the three heavens are to be withdrawn, however, and he is to be limited exclusively to the earth.  Michael and his angels are commissioned to carry out this great expulsion and purification of the heavens, and they will gladly and vigorously enter into the battle, anticipating the time when even earth itself will finally be purged.

     With what weapons and by what tactics this heavenly warfare will be waged is beyond our understanding.  Angels cannot be injured or slain with earthly weapons, and such physical forces as we know about are not able to move spiritual beings.  But these beings do operate in a physical universe, so there must exist powerful physico-spiritual energies of which we yet can have only vague intimations, energies which can propel angelic bodies at superluminary velocities through space and which can move mountains and change planetary orbits.  It is with such energies and powers that this heavenly battle will be waged and the spectators in heaven (including John) will watch in awe.  When Michael finally prevails, and Satan is forced forever out of the heavens, a tremendous cry of thanksgiving will resound through the heavens.

Revelation 12:9.     And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.

     Appropriately enough, this is the very middle verse of the Book of Revelation, and the event it describes marks again the middle of the tribulation period.  The rapture of the two witnesses, the breaking of the Jewish temple treaty by the beast, the flight of Israel, the casting out of Satan and the appropriation of world power by the beast must all occur within a few days of each other at this midpoint of the tribulation.

     The repetition of the names and titles of the wicked one in this verse is striking – the great dragon, that old serpent, the Devil, Satan.  There can surely be no doubt as to his identity.  The old serpent in Genesis is the great dragon in Revelation, as well as the Satan who tested Job and the Devil who tempted Christ.  He is the great enemy of God and of God’s people through the ages. He often appears deceptively as an angel of light and a minister of righteousness (2 Corinthians 11:14, 15), but he is really a hissing snake, and a fiery dragon, and a devouring lion (1 Peter 5:8).

     Note especially the amazing assertion that he has been the deceiver of the whole world.  Educated and ignorant, king and pauper, male and female, Jew and Gentile, strong and weak, young and old, black and white – all are deceived by him.  All the world’s high-sounding philosophies, conceived ever so brilliantly by profound thinkers –whether pragmatism, idealism, gnosticism, determinism, hedonism, materialism, transcendentalism, existentialism, deism, or any of countless others, and regardless of the eminence of the geniuses with whose names they are associated – Aristotelianism, Platonism, Hegelianism, Marxism, Maoism. Confucianism, Buddhism, Kantianism, Freudianism – all are man-originated, man-centered, and man-honoring, rather than God-originated, God-centered, and God-honoring.  They are all merely varieties of humanism, rather than theism, exalting man rather than God and thus helping to carry out Satan’s attempt to dethrone God.

     Furthermore, they are all based on a denial of God’s Word as supreme – true and final.  They assert man’s reason in judgment upon God’s Word.  “Yea, hath God said . . . ?” was Satan’s first deception, as he tempted Eve, and he has followed the same procedure ever since.  If he can persuade men to question, to doubt, to modify, to allegorize, to compromise God’s Word, and then finally to disobey, reject, and destroy God’s Word, he will thereby defeat God’s purposes in creation, and God Himself will then no more be God.

     But how can he thus deceive the whole world into rejecting God’s Word and believing the lie of humanism?  The answer, clearly, is by persuading men that God is not the ultimate reality, and that the universe itself is the only eternal entity.  Space, time, matter, energy, motion – these are the only eternal absolutes, and all other systems (organic or inorganic, cosmic or atomic, physical or spiritual) are in a perpetual state of evolutionary flux, ever changing and always relative.

     Thus all the beliefs and philosophies of men are humanistic philosophies, denying the absolutes of God and His Word, and all humanism is based on the grand deception of evolutionism.  Small wonder that all religions and philosophies of men, ancient or modern, naïve or sophisticated, are fundamentally evolutionary systems, the only exceptions being those based on God’s word, the Bible.

     The Devil has effectively deceived the whole world, therefore, utilizing the same monstrous deception with which he has deceived himself.  He apparently believes, that, since matter is the only ultimate reality, rather than the God who claimed to have created him, he can somehow succeed in dethroning God and placing himself on God’s throne.  This is the conflict of the ages.

Revelation 12:10.     And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.

     When the heavens are finally cleansed of all the demonic powers and Satan himself is gone, this will be the signal for a glad cry of victory from all the multitudes assembled at the throne in the heavens.  Probably this very throne will have been the objective of the attack by hell’s angels, since it was this throne that Satan coveted, but now it is fully secure and the attacking hosts are gone.

     The coming of God’s kingdom and the reign of Christ, already celebrated a number of times by the redeemed throng in heaven, is again the object of their thankful praise.  This time probably the celebration is more exciting than ever, since it has been demonstrated in direct conflict that not only the omnipotent God but even the holy angels are able to defeat Satan and his legions.  Truly Satan is a defeated foe.

     A special object of thanksgiving is the fact that Satan no longer will have personal access to God, which privilege he has abused for ages by continual accusations against the redeemed.  Of course, when such accusations are made (no doubt often justified in part, though probably also distorted and magnified), the Lord Jesus Christ is our intercessor and advocate (Hebrews 7:25; 1 John 2:1), and His blood is a perpetual offering and cleansing agent for our sins (1 John 1:7, 2:2).  Nevertheless, Satan’s repeated presence and disturbing charges against fellow believers still on earth constitute an intensive irritant in heaven, and great will be the exultation when he is finally deposed completely.

Revelation 12:11.     And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.

     The saints at the throne in heaven, perhaps recalling all of Christ’s gracious promises to “him that overcometh” (see Chapters 2 and 3), gladly give their witness to the faithfulness of the suffering saints who had just lately been experiencing demonic persecution on earth and satanic accusation in heaven.  “But they overcame the Accuser!” is their testimony.

     As always, victory over sin and Satan had been achieved by the two-edged sword of faith and confession.  The blood of the Lamb had been the necessary and sufficient price of their forgiveness and redemption, and they had believed and received this in their hearts.  But that same Redeemer had also said they must confess this faith openly on earth, thus proving it to be genuine faith, before He would confess them as His own to His Father at the throne in heaven (Matthew 10:32, 33).

     This is the testimony of many Scriptures.  “If thou shalt confess with thy mouth . . . and believe in thine heart . . . thou shalt be saved” (Romans 10:9).  “Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer” (Psalm 19:14).  “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear” (1 Peter 3:15).

     Furthermore these tribulation saints (like many others through the ages) had maintained their inward faith and outward testimony even in the face of martyrdom.  Satan’s slanders against the saints become hollow (as did his accusations against Job) and empty when they prove the genuineness of their faith even in the presence of opposition and ridicule, of suffering and death.

Revelation 12:12.     Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them.  Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.

     While all those who have been translated to heaven can experience great joy at Satan’s final exile from heaven, it will be a great woe for those on earth.  Those who are already believers there, both Jews and Gentiles (as well as those Bible-believing Israelites who have yet to acknowledge Christ) will undergo the most severe persecutions to which Satan and his angels can subject them, seeking either to slay them in his bitter resentment and wrath or at least to eliminate their usefulness to God on earth.  All the other inhabitants of earth he knows must be organized quickly into a massive army against God.  His angelic hosts have proven insufficient, but there may be the one last chance that these can be supplemented with the two billion or more ungodly men and women still left on earth.  It is a foolish and desperate hope, but it is all he has.  Furthermore, he well knows that God’s calendar has only allowed him another forty-two months, so his time is running out.  The inhabitants of the earth and sea must be quickly sealed in their own rejection of God, both to assure his control over them and to cheat God of any further souls for His kingdom.

     But who are the “inhabiters of the sea?”  Actually the words “the inhabiters of” do not appear in the oldest manuscripts, though they are in the received text.  However, the pronouncement of woe on the land and sea merely in their physical structures would seem pointless, so that their inhabitants are at least included by implication.  In any case, it is likely that the term applies to the not inconsiderable number of people who spend most of their time on the sea (fishermen, merchant seamen, navy personnel, houseboat dwellers).  Both boat people and land dwellers are the objects of Satan’s wrathful purposes.  This is the pronouncement of the third “woe” (compare Revelation 8:13; 9:14).  Satan’s wrath and the sounding of the seventh trumpet both persist throughout the entire second half of the tribulation.  This verse is the middle verse, not of the entire Book of Revelation  (verse 9), but of chapters 4 through 19, which are the chapters comprising the tribulation period. 

Website Builder