Michael vs. Dragon (Rev 12:7-12)

April 24, 2017 — Leave a comment

I. INTRODUCTION

QUESTION: HOW ARE WE DOING WITH OUR STUDY IN REVELATION? DO YOU HAVE QUESTIONS? ANYTHING FROM LAST WEEK THAT DID NOT SIT WELL WITH YOU?

A. Past Lessons

B. Text of Rev 12:7-12

7Then there was a war in heaven. Michael and his angels waged war against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels waged war back. 8But, the dragon was not strong enough to find a place for himself and his angels in heaven. 9Next, the great dragon, the ancient serpent, the one called the Devil and Satan—he is the one who deceives the whole world—was thrown down to earth with his angels. 10Then I heard a loud noise in heaven saying, ‘Just now the salvation, power, kingdom of our God, and authority of his Christ has come. This is because the accuser of our brothers—the one who brings charges before God day and night—has been thrown down to earth. 11But, they overcame [conquered] him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony. They did not love their lives so much that they were afraid to die. 12For this reason, o heavens and all who live there rejoice. Woe to the earth and to the sea because the Devil has come down for you with tremendous anger because he knows he has a short time left.’” (Rev 12:7-12)

 

Michael vs. Dragon (Rev 12:7-12)C. General Remarks

“The basic message of the Apocalypse is that Satan has already been defeated at the cross, and the victory of the saints is assured.” (Osborne, Revelation, 476)

“John sees here the mother of all wars. It is a vision of Satan’s rebellion against God. The vision gives us no idea of how Satan’s rebellion relates chronologically to the creation.” (Mulholland, “Revelation” in Cornerstone Biblical Commentary, vol. 18, 514)

II. SATAN LOSES (Rev 12:7-9)

A. Michael and His Army Versus Satan and His Army (v. 7)

Καὶ ἐγένετο πόλεμος ἐν τῷ οὐρανῷ, ὁ Μιχαὴλ καὶ οἱ ἄγγελοι αὐτοῦ τοῦ πολεμῆσαι μετὰ τοῦ δράκοντος. καὶ ὁ δράκων ἐπολέμησεν καὶ οἱ ἄγγελοι αὐτοῦ,

“Then there was a war in heaven. Michael and his angels waged war against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels waged war back.” (Rev 12:7)

QUESTION: WHO IS THIS “MICHAEL?” IS HE MENTIONED ELSEWARE IN THE BIBLE? OLD TESTAMENT? NEW TESTAMENT?

1. Michael the Archangel

Michael the archangel held a special role in protecting Israel in the Old Testament. The angel sent to the prophet Daniel was held up by the spirit prince of the kingdom of Persia, so Michael went and did battle against the spirit prince of the kingdom of Persia so that the original angel could go to Daniel (Dan 10:13). That same angel later says that the only person who helps him battle the spirit princes is the archangel Michael (Dan 10:20). When describing the end times Daniel says that Michael stands guard over the nation of Israel (Dan 12:1). In the New Testament, the only reference to Michael is when Jude says that Michael argued with the Devil about Moses’s body (Jude 9).
I do not often point to extra biblical writings when studying the Bible, but there are numerous other references to the archangel Michael in extra biblical writings. See 1 Enoch 20:5; 24:6; Testament of Levi 5:6; Testament of Dan 6:2; b. Hagigah 12b; 3 Barauch 11:4; and The Assumption of Moses.

2. In Heaven

I do not believe that John sees this happening “in the blue sky.” But instead it seems to be happening in the place called heaven.

B. The Dragon’s Edged Out (v. 8)

καὶ οὐκ ἴσχυσεν οὐδὲ τόπος εὑρέθη αὐτῶν ἔτι ἐν τῷ οὐρανῷ.

“But, the dragon was not strong enough to find a place for himself and his angels in heaven.” (Rev 12:8)

The dragon is defeated. If I had my wish, I would love to hear more about this battle and how it was that Satan was defeated. How did Michael and his angels do it? How did it occur?

“The dragon is finally expelled from heaven (cf. Job 1:6), though to us it seems a difficult conception to think of Satan having had access to heaven” (Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament).

C. Satan Thrown Down to Earth (v. 9)

καὶ ἐβλήθη ὁ δράκων ὁ μέγας, ὁ ὄφις ὁ ἀρχαῖος, ὁ καλούμενος Διάβολος καὶ ὁ Σατανᾶς, ὁ πλανῶν τὴν οἰκουμένην ὅλην, ἐβλήθη εἰς τὴν γῆν, καὶ οἱ ἄγγελοι αὐτοῦ μετʼ αὐτοῦ ἐβλήθησαν.

“Next, the great dragon, the ancient serpent, the one called the Devil and Satan—he is the one who deceives the whole world—was thrown down to earth with his angels.” (Rev 12:9)

This might be before the seventh trumpet in Rev 11:15-19, and according to Walvoord, it might even be before the opening of the 1st seal in Rev 6 (Walvoord, Revelation, 197). Whatever the time frame is, within the book of Revelation this is the first of three events that lead to Satan’s death. Here he is thrown down to earth. He later is bound in the Abyss for a thousand years (Rev 20:1-3), then he is cast into the lake of fire where he will stay forever (Rev 20:10).

Michael versus Dragon in Rev 121. Without a Doubt the Devil

In the Greek text there are eight nominative nouns here. The nominative case is used to describe who the “subject” of a sentence (most of the time). Greek grammarians call an abundance of nominative nouns such as this “overspecificiation” because it provides more information than is necessary (Matthewson, Revelation, 162; Runge, Discourse Grammar of NT, 317-335).

Examples of overspecification could be seen in the following examples:

  • “For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law.” (Rom 2:14, ESV, emphasis added)
  • “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.” (Matt 6:1, ESV, emphasis added)

The same phrase, “the great dragon, the ancient serpent, the one called the Devil and Satan—he is the one who deceives the whole world” is repeated in Rev 20:2 which adds to the idea that this is Satan.

2. The Names of God’s Nemesis

Throughout the Bible Satan is always the enemy of God. Here’s a brief list of the different names that God’s enemy has and what each says about who he is.

  • Ancient Serpent. The four-fold description of Satan in this verse starts with the first description of Satan: the serpent. In Gen 3 Eve is approached by the serpent and that serpent deceives her to eat the fruit from the tree of good and evil. In 2 Cor 11:3 Paul clearly has in mind that it was the serpent that seduced Eve. Throughout the New Testament this word is used to describe a limbless reptile, a “snake” (Matt 10:16; 16:18; Luke 10:19; 11:11; John 3:14; 1 Cor 10:9). Another use of this word in the New Testament is to describe a person that is perceived as dangerous, “snake” as in Matt 23:33. While “serpent” is an uncommon word in the New Testament, the usage here clearly refers to Satan. Word study notes are taken from BDAG, 745-746.
  • Devil. The “Devil” comes from the Greek word—διαβολος which was originally the Greek translation of the Hebrew word “Satan” in the Old Testament. The New Testament adopted that term and ascribed it to Satan because much of the New Testament quotations and writings probably relied on the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible. Our chief adversary is referred to with this term in Matt 4:1-11; 13:39; 25:41; Luke 4:2-13; 8:12; John 6:70; 8:44; 13:2; Acts 10:38; 13:10; Eph 4:27; :11; Heb 2:14; James 4:7; 1 Peter 5:7; 1 John 3:8, 10; Jude 9; Rev 2:10. (However, this word is used as an adjective in 1 Tim 3:11; Tit 2:3; 2 Tim 3:3.) Word study notes taken from BDAG, 245-246.
  • Satan. In Hebrew this word שָׂטָן means “adversary” from the root, “to hide in ambush.” The word is used 23 times in the Old Testament. Eighteen of those twenty-three times it is used for the person Satan (fourteen times in Job 1-2; 1 Chron 21:1; Zeck 3:1-2). The term is used as a transliteration one time in the New Testament (2 Chron 12:7). The serpent in Gen 3 is not called “Satan” there but other texts seem to identify him. In the New Testament the term “σατανάς” is used thirty-five times and nearly always refers directly to the Devil (Matt 4:10; 12:26; Mark 1:13; 3:23, 26; 4:15; Luke 4:8; 10:18; 11:18; 13:16; 22:3, 31; John 13:27; Acts 5:3; 26:18; Rom 16:20; 1 Cor 5:5; 7:5; 2 Cor 2:11; 11:14; 1 Thess 2:18; 2 Thess 2:9; 1 Tim 1:20; 5:15; Rev 2:9, 13, 24; 3:9; 12:9; 20:2, 7). (BDAG, 916-917)
  • Other Names Based on His Work. In Rev 12:9 it says that Satan is the one who deceives the whole world. Satan tricked Judas into betraying Jesus (John 13:2) and tried to undercut Peter’s faith (Luke 22:31). The rest of the Bible gives various titles of Satan based on what he does: “tempter: (Matt 4:3), “The Evil One” (Matt 6:13; cf. 13:38; Eph 6:16), “prince of demons” (Matt 10:25; 12:27; Mark 3:22-26; Luke 11:14-15), “prince ruler of this world” (Matt 12:24; John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11), “prince ruler of the kingdom of the air” (Eph 2:2), “enemy” (Matt 13:28, 39), “murderer” (John 8:44), “father of lies” (John 8:44), “the god of this age” (2 Cor 4:4); “beliab” (2 Cor 6:15); “angel of light” (2 Cor 11:14).

3. The Fall of God’s Foe

The Old Testament does not clearly describe the original fall of Satan from heaven. However, Jewish tradition contains a story of his fall (1 Enoch 6-11; 2 Enoch 29:4-5). In the New Testament Jesus says, “I saw Satan fall from heaven like lightening” (Luke 10:18). Some say that Satan’s original fall from heaven occurred before creation, while others say that his fall occurred during the Gen 6:1-4 incident.

Two of the major prophet books in our Bible contain prophecies against secular kings that seems to describe the fall of Satan (Isa 14:4, 12-15; Ezek 28:2, 12-17).

4. The Position of God’s Provoker

  • He Is the God of this World. Luke 4:5-8; 2 Cor 4:3-4; Eph 2:1-3; 1 John 5:18-19.
  • He Reigns over a Hierarchy of Malignant Spirits. Matt 25:41; Eph 6:11-12; Rev 12:9
  • He Still Has Access to God’s Throne. Job 1:6-2:1; Zeck 3:1-6; Luke 22:31; Rev 12:7.

5. The Activities of God’s Adversary

  • To Tempt and Seduce. Gen 3:1-7; Matt 4:1-11; 16:23; Luke 22:31; Acts 5:3; 1 Cor 7:4-5; 1 Tim 3:6
  • To Deceive, Falsify, Counterfeit. 1 Cor 10:20; 2 Cor 4:3-4; 11:13-15; 2 Thess 2:9-10; Rev 16:13-14; 20:3
  • To Destroy. Luke 8:12; 1 Peter 5:8-9; Rev 12:13-17
  • To War against Believers and the Church. Job 2:4-7; Matt 13:36-39; 2 Cor 12:7-10; 1 Thess 2:18; Rev 2:10, 13; 12:10. (These notes on Satan have been adapted from J. Scott Horrell, “Angels Elect and Evil: Satan and Fallen Angels,” class notes from Dallas Theological Seminary, ST103, 2015).

D. Views on This Battle

1. Original Fall of Satan

This might be because there is teaching in the Bible that Satan was defeated at creation as well as the Gen 6:1-4 passage. Additionally, Jesus’s vision of Satan falling like lightening could be a reference to the original fall (Luke 10:18). Osborne, Revelation, 469.

2. Final Battle in Heaven

Robertson writes, “The reference is not to the original rebellion of Satan, as Andreas held. As the coming of Christ brought on fresh manifestations of diabolic power (Mark 1:13; Luke 22:3, 31; John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11), just so Christ’s return to heaven is pictured as being the occasion of renewed attacks there. We are not to visualize it too literally, but certainly modern airplanes help us to grasp the notion of battles in the sky even more than the phalanxes of storm-clouds (Swete). John even describes this last conflict as in heaven itself. Cf. Luke 10:18; 1 Kings 22:1ff.; Job 1 and 2; Zech. 3:1ff.” (Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament).

“This vision of final victory over Satan is given by Jesus in Luke 10:18; John 12:31. It has not come yet, but it is coming, and the hope of it should be a spur to missionary activity and zeal.” (Robertson, Word Pictures in the NT).

According to Thomas, this war “is an end-time event, occurring midway through Daniel’s seventieth week. During this period, Satan’s total energies will oppose anyone allied to God, particularly the people of Israel” (Thomas, Revelation 8-22, 129).

This seems to be about three and a half years into the Great Tribulation, “The casting of Satan to the earth also marks the beginning of the most awful period in human history, the great tribulation” (Walvoord, End Times Prophesy, 176).

Support for this view is seen in the “little time left” at the end of Rev 12:12. It also matches much of the teaching that the last three and a half years will be more severe than the first three and a half years of the Tribulation period. It also could be the fulfillment of Michael being involved in the defense of Israel in Dan 12:1.

III. THE HEAVENLY ROAR (Rev 12:10-12)

“The words of the triumph song remind us that the vision of Michael fighting the dragon is symbolic, representing the real victory won by the atoning death of Christ and the preaching of the Gospel.” (Metzger, Breaking the Code, 74)

A. Salvation, Power, and God’s Kingdom (v. 10)

καὶ ἤκουσα φωνὴν μεγάλην ἐν τῷ οὐρανῷ λέγουσαν·
ἄρτι ἐγένετο ἡ σωτηρία καὶ ἡ δύναμις
καὶ ἡ βασιλεία τοῦ θεοῦ ἡμῶν
καὶ ἡ ἐξουσία τοῦ χριστοῦ αὐτοῦ,
ὅτι ἐβλήθη ὁ κατήγωρ τῶν ἀδελφῶν ἡμῶν,
ὁ κατηγορῶν αὐτοὺς ἐνώπιον τοῦ θεοῦ ἡμῶν ἡμέρας καὶ νυκτός.

“Then I heard a loud noise in heaven saying, ‘Just now the salvation, power, kingdom of our God, and authority of his Christ has come. This is because the accuser of our brothers—the one who brings charges before God day and night—has been thrown down to earth.’” (Rev 12:10)

1. Time of “Now”

Wallace says that the aorist tense of the verb, γινομαι, can be characterized as an Immediate Past Aorist /Dramatic Aorist. This category is used for an event that has happened recently. Normally it is translated with “just now” or “just now I told you” (Wallace, Greek Grammar, 564-565). The idea here in this verse is that this is a future event, and in this future event the singers say “now” because the event happens very close to their time (Thomas, Revelation 8-22, 132-133).

2. The Voices

The voices that announce this hymn in Rev 12:10-12 could be one of the 24 elders, some other heavenly beings, or martyrs in heaven (Rev 6:10).

3. Words in the Song

  • The salvation (ἡ σωτηρια [hē sōtēria]). Here “the victory” as in 7:10; 19:1.
  • The power (ἡ δυναμις [hē dunamis]). God’s power over the dragon (cf. 7:12; 11:17; 19:1).
  • The kingdom (ἡ βασιλεια [hē basileia]). “The empire of God” as in 11:15.
  • The authority of his Christ (ἡ ἐξουσια του Χριστου αὐτου [hē exousia tou Christou autou]). Which Christ received from the Father (Matt. 28:18; John 17:2). See 11:15 (Ps. 2:2) for “his Anointed.” (Robertson, Word Pictures in the NT).

B. The Godly Trifecta (v. 11)

καὶ αὐτοὶ ἐνίκησαν αὐτὸν διὰ τὸ αἷμα τοῦ ἀρνίου
καὶ διὰ τὸν λόγον τῆς μαρτυρίας αὐτῶν
καὶ οὐκ ἠγάπησαν τὴν ψυχὴν αὐτῶν ἄχρι θανάτου.

“But, they overcame [conquered] him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony. They did not love their lives so much that they were afraid to die.” (Rev 12:11)

1. Blood of the Lamb

There are five things that Christ accomplished through his death on the cross. These five items are often included in the theological doctrine of soteriology.

  • Substitution: Christ died in our place and took the sinners’ just punishment (Lev 1:1-5; Mark 20:28; Rom 5:6-8).
  • Redemption: Christ paid the price to free sinners from the power, consequences, and condemnation of their sins (Isa 41:14; Matt 20:28; 1 Cor 6:19-20; Rom 5:9; 2 Peter 2:1).
  • Propitiation: God’s holy wrath against our sin was satisfied through Christ’s death (Isa 1:21-26; Jer 4:27-28; 6:19; John 3:36).
  • Reconciliation: Christ’s death allows for forgiveness of man’s sin and restoration of our relationship with God in love (Gen 3:22-24; Eph 2:16; 2 Cor 5:20).
  • Justification: We are made might right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ (Rom 1:17; 3:19-26; 4:1-5).

2. Word of Believers’ Testimony

Sadly, it is because of the testimony of believers that they receive death in the book of Revelation (Rev 6:9; 12:17; 20:4).

3. Total Commitment

Perhaps no one did this better than Paul. Acts 20:24; 21:13; Phil 1:20. Oh yeah, and Jesus did too (Phil 2:8). As Jesus said, anyone who wants to follow him must take up their cross and follow him (Mark 8:34).

C. Satan’s Final Push (v. 12)

διὰ τοῦτο εὐφραίνεσθε, [οἱ] οὐρανοὶ
καὶ οἱ ἐν αὐτοῖς σκηνοῦντες.
οὐαὶ τὴν γῆν καὶ τὴν θάλασσαν,
ὅτι κατέβη ὁ διάβολος πρὸς ὑμᾶς
ἔχων θυμὸν μέγαν,
εἰδὼς ὅτι ὀλίγον καιρὸν ἔχει.

“For this reason, o heavens and all who live there rejoice. Woe to the earth and to the sea because the Devil has come down for you with tremendous anger because he knows he has a short time left.” (Rev 12:12)

1. What Reason?

The, “for this reason” phrase translated from διὰ τοῦτο refers to Satan being cast down to earth and of the victory of the saints mentioned in this passage (Rev 12:7-12).

2. Don’t Celebrate Yet

While Satan has been cast down to earth, it is not quite time to completely rejoice. Satan still is on earth and while he has limited time left, he is going to make it count!

IV. CONCLUSION AND APPLICATION

A. God is somewhere I belong.

While writing this post I listened to Link Park’s son, “Somewhere I belong” and it reminded me about how when we believe in Jesus Christ and commit to follow him, God is somewhere we belong. We

B. Christ is the basis for our victory.

It is through the blood of Christ that we can have victory. While the Law was given in Exodus-Deuteronomy to describe the holy life that the people were supposed to live, it also showed that human beings can never fulfill the law. As a result, a substitute was needed, someone who could make them right with God. That was Jesus. All victory that we can claim must be claimed through Jesus Christ’s death on the cross. I appreciate Osborne’s words on this, “The basic message of the Apocalypse is that Satan has already been defeated at the cross, and the victory of the saints is assured” (Osborne, Revelation, 476)

Christopher L. Scott

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Christopher Scott is Small Groups Pastor at Rocky Hilly Community Church in Exeter, CA. He has more than ten years of experience leading volunteers, running nonprofit programs, and teaching the Bible in small group settings. He holds a bachelor's degree from Fresno Pacific University and master's degree from Dallas Theological Seminary.

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