Defeated by the messianic “son,” the Dragon was expelled from heaven, while victory was declared for the saints – Revelation 12:7-12.
With the exaltation of the “Son,” the “Dragon” was expelled from heaven, having lost the battle with Michael and “his angels.” The narrative now makes the identity of the “son” explicit – He is none other than Jesus – and when his victory and enthronement took place – “NOW is come salvation and the kingdom…by the blood of the Lamb.”
The Devil’s attempt to destroy the “son” only succeeded in sealing his doom. Though he did kill the “son,” God raised him from the dead and seated him on His “throne,” where he received all power and authority and began his reign (Revelation 3:21).
- (Revelation 12:7-9) – “And there came to be war in heaven: Michael and his angels going forth to war with the dragon; and the dragon fought, and his angels; and he prevailed not, neither was place found for them any longer in heaven. And the great dragon was cast out, the ancient serpent, he that is called Adversary and the Satan, that deceives the whole habitable world, he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast with him.”
The battle between the “Dragon” and “Michael” employs language from Daniel when “Michael” took his stand and fought for the people of Israel. Here, the “heavenly” battle is the inevitable result of the son’s exaltation to the throne. Having “overcome” through his sacrificial death, the Devil has lost his access to the heavenly court, and therefore, has been expelled – (Daniel 12:1).
Daniel’s vision predicted the coming “season” when all whose names were “written in the book” would undergo severe “tribulation.” The fact that the “Dragon” has been excluded from the heavenly court does not mean that troubles have ceased for the followers of the “Lamb.”
The “Dragon” is identified as the “Ancient Serpent,” a reference to the “serpent” who “deceived” Eve in the Garden of Eden, and who now “deceives the whole habitable earth.” The battle in chapter 12 is an ancient one, with the “son” poised to “crush the serpent’s head” – (Genesis 3:1-14).
The names ascribed to the “Dragon” provide verbal links to chapter 20, where Satan was cast down to the “Abyss” (“Ancient serpent…Devil…Satan…he was cast to the earth).
- “The angel laid hold on the dragon, the ancient serpent, who is Devil and Satan, and did bind him a thousand years, and he cast him to the abyss, and did shut him up, and put a seal upon him, that he may not deceive the nations until the thousand years may be finished” – (Revelation 20:2).
His defeat and expulsion did not occur in some remote past, but instead, resulted from the son’s exaltation. Conceptually and verbally, his downfall parallels his being “cast” into the “Abyss” just prior to the “thousand years.” In both passages, the Greek verb rendered “cast” is ballō” – (Revelation 20:3).
The “angels” cast down with him are identified as “HIS angels,” they represent his vassals. The Greek term angelos means “messenger,” and in the Bible, it may refer to supernatural beings or to human beings. Similarly, in Revelation, “heaven” and “earth” are not always used spatially, but identity to whom an entity belongs (e.g., “angels of heaven,” “inhabitants of the earth”).
Presumably, these “messengers” were involved with Satan’s accusations against the “brethren,” members of his prosecutorial team. Rather than angelic beings, “his angels” refers to human agents that persecuted the saints, such as the “Jews from the synagogue of Satan” or the local magistrates who cast Christians “into prison” in the city of Smyrna – (Revelation 2:9-10).
With the arrival of the “son” before the “throne,” the Adversary lost his right to practice law in the courts of heaven, so to speak. That does not mean he became incapable of inflicting harm against saints, but his charges against them became null and void before the court where it truly mattered.
That is why the great victory over the “Dragon” is declared next by the voice from heaven, for the “accuser” had been expelled from the lawcourt of heaven.
- (Revelation 12:10-12) – “And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, Now, has come the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ; because the accuser of our brethren has been cast out, he who was accusing them before our God day and night; And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by their testimony, and they loved not their life unto death. For this cause, be joyful, O heavens, and you who are tabernacling in it. Woe to the earth and the sea, because the Adversary has come down to you, having great wrath, knowing that he has but a little season.”
The enthronement of the messianic “son” not only meant power and sovereignty for him but victory for all men who belonged to him. Here, he is explicitly identified as “Christ,” leaving no doubt about his identity, when his victory was achieved, and how (“NOW is come salvation… They overcame…by the blood of the Lamb.”
This general line of interpretation is borne out when the “Dragon” summoned his “seed” in the next chapter, the “beasts” from the “sea” and the “earth.” Having lost the pivotal “war in heaven,” he intensified his persecuting efforts against the church.
“The Kingdom of our God.” The kingdom was inaugurated by the death and exaltation of the “son,” and therefore, it is a present reality on the earth. While it has yet to be consummated, already, it is progressing on the earth. It is not waiting for any future event or date before it will arrive on the earth. Already Jesus is the “ruler of the kings of the earth,” already the “slain Lamb” has received all power and authority, for “he is worthy” – (Revelation 1:4-6, 5:6-14).
“Those who tabernacle in heaven.” The victory went to the “son” and to all men redeemed by his “blood.” There is tension in the phrase since “tabernacling” or “tenting” means to dwell in “tents” – Temporary structures. The reference is not spatial. Instead, it describes the orientation of the group. In contrast to the “inhabitants of the earth,” this group “tabernacles in heaven.” The term refers to overcoming and faithful saints. As the next chapter will make clear, this group is still subject to the “slander” and accusations of the same “Dragon” that was just expelled from the heavenly court, where no longer is he allowed to “accuse the brethren” – (Revelation 13:6).
“Woe to the earth and the sea.” The warning is not to the “inhabitants of the earth,” and certainly not to the literal earth or sea. It anticipates the rise of the “beast from the earth” and the “beast from the sea” in the next vision. In the book’s symbolical world, the “sea” and “earth” are unwitting agents and battlefields of the “Dragon.”
Having been expelled from heaven, Satan now begins in earnest to make war on the people of God. First, by pursuing the “woman clothed with the sun,” and second, by persecuting her “seed.”
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