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Revelation 12: When Did Satan Fall From Heaven?
In reading Revelation 12, many people believe Satan and his angels’ fall from heaven hasn’t happened yet, and will manifest during the 42 months of the Great Tribulation. In Rev 1:19 Jesus instructed John, “Write, therefore, what you have seen, what is now and what will take place later.” Some teachers believe everything from Revelation 4 on is future tense; however, we’re going to read this chapter, make some observations, and hopefully come to a rational conclusion.
The Sign of the Woman
One of the key phrases in Revelation 12 is ‘sign appeared in heaven’. Thus, we’ll set our foundation on Genesis 1:14: “Then God said, ‘Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night, and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years;’”
The word ‘heaven’ in Revelation 12 is the Greek word 3772. ouranos, which is used of “Our Father, which art in heaven” (Mat 6:9) and the “birds of the air” (Mat 6:26). In 2 Cor 12:2 Paul speaks of a man caught up to the third (tritou) heaven (ouranos), thus it appears there are levels of heaven. To determine which heavenly realm is applicable to Revelation 12, we must look at the context of the passage:
- Verses1-2 read, “A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars; and she was with child; and she cried out, being in labor and in pain to give birth.”
Since the sun, moon and stars are mentioned, we can reasonably deduct that this sign is a constellation within the ‘heaven’ of our solar system.
The second observation I have is the crown of 12 stars, aligning with the twelve tribes of Jacob. Thus, we can conclude the woman must represent Israel.
What’s interesting about this sign is, it appeared at the time Jesus was born. While Jewish scholars do not consider Jesus to be “the last Adam” (1 Cor 14:45) or accept Him as their Messiah, they do celebrate a festival known as “Rosh HaShanah” (Head of the Year) ~ also known as the “Feast of Trumpets”, recognizing it as the anniversary of the creation of Adam. We don’t know if this sign appeared in the heavens when Adam was formed, but we do know it appeared on the Feast of Trumpets in 3 BC and will appear again on the Feast of Trumpets in 2017.
A third observation is that the woman was “in labor and in pain to give birth”. This takes me back to the Garden of Eden, after Eve gave into Satan’s temptation to eat of the tree. Her punishment from God was “I will greatly multiply your pain in childbirth, In pain you will bring forth children.” (Gen 3:16) This curse upon Eve was literal, yet other scriptural references to child birth are metaphorical, as when Jesus was asked in Mat 24:3-8, “What will be the sign of Your coming?” He concluded, “All these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs.”
The Sign of the Dragon
Let’s move on to verses 3-5, which speak of another constellation
- “Then another sign appeared in heaven: and behold, a great red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads were seven diadems. And his tail swept away a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she gave birth he might devour her child.
And she gave birth to a son, a male child, who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron; and her child was caught up to God and to His throne.”
The obvious question here is, “Who is this male child who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron that was caught up to God and to His throne”? We would naturally interpret this to be Jesus Christ. Is this yet a future event? Not if we were to take this literally; however, I suppose it could be an allegory of the rapture of the Church.
Speaking of the dragon, in the next chapter (13:1-2) he is said to be standing on the seashore (earth), while observing the “beast having seven heads and ten horns” rising up out of the sea of peoples, multitudes, nations and tongues (Rev 17:5):
- “And the dragon stood on the sand of the seashore. Then I saw a beast coming up out of the sea, having ten horns and seven heads, and on his horns were ten diadems, and on his heads were blasphemous names.”
Perhaps you’ve wondered, as I have, why there’s a difference in the number of crowns or diadems in these two chapters. The answer is that the seven diadems are on the seven heads in Rev 12:5, while the ten diadems are on the ten horns in Rev 13:2. I simply see this as two descriptions of the same dragon.
Moving on to vs. 6 we see a futuristic event – the woman being spared from what we know to be the 3.5 years of the Great Tribulation.
- “Then the woman fled into the wilderness where she had a place prepared by God, so that there she would be nourished for one thousand two hundred and sixty days.”
A popular teaching about the Great Tribulation is that the Church will not be here, for it is called “the Time of Jacob’s Trouble” (Jer 30:7). Yet, the same teachers will agree this woman of Rev 12 is Israel. My question to them is, if the Great Tribulation is to try to test Jacob (renamed Israel in Gen 48:20), why is it Israel is obviously spared in the wilderness the whole time (vs. 14-16)? Something to think about.
The Events Repeated
Rev 12:7-16 repeats the events above in more detail. Verses 7-9 speak of the same war of verses 3-5.
- “And there was war in heaven [ouranos], Michael and his angels waging war with the dragon. The dragon and his angels waged war, and they were not strong enough, and there was no longer a place found for them in heaven. And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.”
Here we observe the great dragon thrown down, who is called the “serpent of old” – obviously, referencing the serpent in the Garden of Eden. I wonder what the war was about? Jewish pseudepigraphical writings speculate that Satan and his angels did not want to be ruled by mankind (Adam). 1 Cor 6:3 does say that we shall rule/judge the angels! In Gen 1:26 God said, “let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth."
Surely, God had created Adam awhile before Eve, for Adam had already named all the animals and realized he was alone, in need of a suitable mate (Gen 2:20). During this time, Adam had no knowledge of Satan or his angels. It was only AFTER Eve was created, God gave them the command not to eat of the tree. Shortly thereafter, Satan possessed the “beast of the field” (whom Adam and Eve had authority to rule over) and beguiled Eve.
Because of this, not only was the serpent cursed to its belly, God pronounced the following prophecy upon the serpent and the woman’s seed (Gen 3:5):
- “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, And between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, And you shall bruise him on the heel."
Satan and his angels on the Earth
Let’s now go back to Rev 12:4 “And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she gave birth he might devour her child.”
Thus far, we’ve compared the pain in childbirth of Eve to that of Israel (Mary) and its metaphorical use of the ‘sign of His coming’ at the end of the age.
Eve’s first child was Cain, followed by her second child, Abel. Satan obviously influenced Cain to murder his brother (Gen 4:8); Likewise, Herod sent soldiers to Bethlehem to murder all the Hebrew boys age two and younger, hoping to kill Jesus (Mat 2:16); and, the Jewish Pharisees finally succeeded in murdering Jesus at Golgotha! It’s no wonder John 8:44 declares Satan to be “a murderer from the beginning.” This dragon was crouched at the womb of the woman since before Cain was born ~ and do we need mention how many babies are aborted each and every hour of every day?
What about the fallen angels (aka “sons of God”)? Does Genesis 6 tell us they found the ‘daughters of men’ fair and chose wives for themselves, begetting ‘giants’ (the Hebrew word ‘Nephilim’)? These angels who sinned are not still in heaven – they were cursed to the deepest abyss of Hades, Tartaroo (2 Peter 2:4).
What about Job? Job is said to be the oldest book of the Bible. In Job 1:7 and 2:2 we read:
- The LORD said to Satan, "From where do you come?" Then Satan answered the LORD and said, "From roaming about on the earth and walking around on it."
I wondered how Satan could be on the earth, yet come before God’s throne. Isa 66:1 and Acts 7:49 state, “Heaven is My throne and the earth is My footstool.” We are not to assume Satan was in the heaven of God, for not only was he in the Garden of Eden, he had since been roaming the earth. He and his fallen angels (aka “sons of God”) were indeed accusing Job before God in the spirit realm.
Do we believe Lucifer, the angel in Isa 14:12 and the angel of Ezek 28:13 (who was in the Garden of God) have not yet fallen?
How about Satan’s temptation of Jesus in the desert? In Luke 4:5-7 we read:
- “And he [Satan] led Him up and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said to Him, “I will give You all this domain and its glory; for it has been handed over to me, and I give it to whomever I wish. Therefore if You worship before me, it shall all be Yours.”
Who handed the kingdoms over to Satan? None other than Adam and Eve! Do we understand now why Jesus, as the last Adam, had to take back the kingdom from Satan? He took it to give it back to us! Jesus proclaimed in Mat 28:18, “All authority has been given to Me [as the last Adam] in heaven and on earth.” We certainly know God already had all authority over Satan in the spiritual realm – go back to Job!
Consider what Jesus told Peter in Mat 18:18:
- “Truly I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.”
Consider the 70 disciples in Luke 10:17-19. This account happened even before Jesus was crucified. They marveled that even demons were subject to His name! Jesus responded to them in vs. 18, “I was beholding Satan himself who fell like lightning from heaven.”
I used the Aramaic Bible in Basic English to present this verse in a more accurate light. Other translations simply use the verb “beheld” (past tense). Certainly Jesus had beheld Satan fall like lightning from heaven, yet this verb is Imperfect Indicative Active = “was beholding”, indicating Satan’s worldly kingdom is perpetually being cast down by FAITH in the name of Jesus. This makes vs. 19 even more exciting! “Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing will injure you.” While we do have this authority given us, God is the only Sovereign who either permits or restrains Satan and his minions, as clearly seen in Job.
The kingdom of Satan still exists on this earth. His angels are yet operating as adversaries in the earthly, celestial realm, even as they did in the days of Moses (Jude 1:9) and Daniel 10:10-20. We are told in Eph 6:12 that “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.” Indeed, Satan is yet called “the prince of the power of the air” (Eph 2:2) and “the god of this world” (2 Cor 4:4).
Did Jesus crush Satan’s head at the cross? Yes, and we know He did it for us. However, there’s only one enemy left that we have yet to overcome, namely physical death. Thus, Paul writes in Romans 16:20 “The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you.”
Let’s now read Rev 12:10-12
- “Then 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 brethren has been thrown down, he who accuses them before our God day and night. And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death. For this reason, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them. Woe to the earth and the sea [remember the dragon on the earth and rising up out of the sea?] because the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, knowing that he has only a short time.”
Should we assume that this “short time” is only 42 months or 3.5 years? In light of all that we’ve covered, this does not seem rational. If a day in heaven is as a thousand years (Ps 90:4; 2 Pet 3:8), Satan’s wrath is only six days old, and yes – he knows his time is short. Thus, we go back from day one to the present in vs.13
- “And when the dragon saw that he was thrown down to the earth, he persecuted the woman who [later] gave birth to the male child.” I inserted the word [later] because it is a reflection of verse 4.
Verses 14-16 tell us what is yet to come during the Great Tribulation:
- “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, from the presence of the serpent. And the serpent poured water like a river out of his mouth after the woman, so that he might cause her to be swept away with the flood. But the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and drank up the river which the dragon poured out of his mouth. So the dragon was enraged with the woman, and went off to make war with the rest of her children, who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus.”
Thy Kingdom Come
Ever since Satan was cast out of heaven, he has roamed about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour (1 Pet 5:8). Satan DID bruise Jesus’ heel, but that serpent of old has not the wisdom of God, according to 1 Cor 2:8 “the wisdom which none of the rulers of this age has understood; for if they had understood it they would not have crucified the LORD of glory.”
Praise be to God because Jesus, in whom the fullness of The Deity dwells in bodily form (Col 2:9), conquered death and crushed Satan’s head, so we who are in Christ will experience the same (Rom 8:11). 1 Cor 15 speaks of the glorious kingdom to come. So we fully understand what was written to the Corinthians, let us go back to Daniel 7 and read about the “one like a son of man” who receives the kingdom from the Ancient of Days, after the beasts of the Great Tribulation are conquered.
Daniel’s vision is found in vs. 13-14:
- “I kept looking in the night visions, And behold, with the clouds of heaven one like a son of man was coming, And he came up to the Ancient of Days and was presented before Him. And to him was given dominion, glory and a kingdom, that all the peoples, nations and men of every language might serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion which will not pass away; and His kingdom is one which will not be destroyed.”
The interpretation of the vision, as given by the angel is found in vs. 22 and 27:
- “until the Ancient of Days came and judgment was passed in favor of the saints of the Highest One, and the time arrived when the saints took possession of the kingdom.”
- “Then the sovereignty, the dominion and the greatness of all the kingdoms under the whole heaven will be given to the people of the saints of the Highest One; His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all the dominions will serve and obey Him.”
You may also reference Gen 1:26; Ps 8:6-8; Eph 1:22; Heb 2:8
Yes, brothers and sisters, Satan and his angels were already cast out of heaven and because Jesus Christ redeemed our God-given authority, the kingdoms of this world are yet being cast down in His name perpetually! We still have a time, times and a half a time to endure, after which the Antichrist and False Prophet will be cast ALIVE into the Lake of Fire, while Satan the dragon will be bound in the bottomless pit for a thousand years, joining his rebel angels of the days of Noah in Tartaroo (Rev 19:20-20:2).
We look forward to that seventh day, the millennial reign of Christ, for we have become a kingdom of priests and kings and will reign with Him!! (Rev 5:10; 20:4)
After the thousand-year reign, Satan will be released from his prison to deceive and gather the nations (Gog and Magog) once more against the Holy City. However, there will be no war, according to the prophecy in Rev 20:9-10, for “fire comes from heaven and destroys them all.” Satan will finally be cast into the Lake of Fire, where the Antichrist and False Prophet are – never again to exercise his wrath against the Kingdom of God.