Our Lord the Nazarene saw a vision near the beginning of his ministry. He related this to his disciples when he said, "At that he said to them: ‘I began to behold Satan already fallen like lightning from heaven.’" (Luke 10:18) And, near the end of his ministry, he says to his apostles, "Now there is a judging of this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out." ( John 12:31) When was this "casting out" of Satan -- this ‘falling from heaven’ -- to occur? Or, had it already occurred? Not every student of the Bible agrees when this momentous event leading to ultimate victory occurs. Some actually place it before Genesis 1:1. Others upon the ascension of Christ to heaven. There are a few who feel Satan was cast out of heaven in 1918 following World War One. How can we know? What will happen when the Devil is cast out of heaven?
Many are familiar with the grand vision of celestial victory recorded in Revelation 12:9-12. There the apocalyptic vision describes the ouster of Satan and his demonic angels from heaven itself. The beloved apostle John records what he saw:
"The great Dragon was thrown down,
the Old Serpent,
the one called The Devil and The Satan
How can we know when this event occurs? Few would argue that the context would
help to determine this. Additionally, we are interested if there are related verses elsewhere in the Bible which might confirm the exact moment when Satan is hurled from heaven to the earth.
The three chapters of Revelation -- 11, 12, 13 -- have several things in common, not the least of which are: a) an identical time period with its source in Daniel chapters 7 and 12 -- 42 months, 1,260 days, or three and a half years; and, b) an oppression against the Saints during this same period. Suppose we were to combine the three over-lapping chapters in a single compound paraphrase called a conflate? These verses would read:
... And a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies was given (the wild sea beast), and authority to act forty-two months was given it. And it opened its mouth in blasphemies against God, to blaspheme his name and his residence, even those residing in heaven. And there was granted it to wage war with the holy ones and conquer them, and authority was given it over every tribe and people and tongue and nation." (Revelation 11:2-3; Revelation 12:17; Revelation 13:5-7)
"(The nations) will trample the holy city (New Jerusalem) underfoot for forty-two months. And I will cause my two witnesses to prophesy a thousand two hundred and sixty days dressed in sackcloth. ... And the dragon grew wrathful at the woman, and went off to wage war with the remaining ones of her seed, who observe the commandments of God and have the work of bearing witness to Jesus.
The entire vision finds its source in Daniel 7:21-25 and 12:1, 7 where it is an 11th Small Power which oppresses the Saints for three and a half years. It is at the end of this period that the Ancient of Days (represented by the Son of Man) becomes present with the Saints of the Most High. Compare these verses with those we have read above:
... It will be for three and a half years. And as soon as there will have been a finishing of the dashing of the power of the holy people to pieces, all these things will come to their finish."
"I kept on beholding when that the (11th Small Power) made war upon the Saints, (He will speak even words against the Most High, and he will oppress continually the Saints themselves of the Supreme One. And the Saints will be given into his hand for three and a half years.) [And during that time Mi'cha·el will stand up, the great prince who is standing in behalf of the sons of your people. And there will certainly occur a time of oppression such as has not been made to occur since there came to be a nation until that time. And during that time your people will escape, every one who is found written down in the book.] And (the Small Power) was prevailing against the Saints, until the Ancient of Days arrived and became present and judgment itself was given in favor of the Saints of the Supreme One, and the definite time arrived that the Saints took possession of the kingdom itself.
These verses harmony perfectly with the Nazarene’s own prophecy about a "great oppression" on the Elect just prior to his foretold Parousia. In Matthew 24:29-31 our Lord prophesied:
"Immediately after the (great oppression) of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then the sign of the Son of man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will beat themselves in lamentation, and they will see the Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he will send forth his angels with a great trumpet sound, and they will gather his chosen ones together from the four winds, from one extremity of the heavens to their other extremity."
This heaven sent rescue or deliverance would harmonize with Daniel 7:22 and 12:1. Is it fair to conclude that this three and a half year period of "great oppression" occurs just before the Return or Parousia of our Lord?
Who causes this "great oppression" against the Saints or Elect (the remnant of the woman’s seed)? Daniel lays the blame on an 11th "little horn" while the Revelation describes this same one as the wild sea beast. The Nazarene taught that his visible parousia or arrival would occur after the "great oppression" of three and a half years.
Now, in harmony with this, when would the Devil be cast out of heaven? And, once cast out, what would he do, using what agency?
Let us read a portion of the account in Revelation 12:7-17:
"And war broke out in heaven: Mi'cha·el and his angels battled with the dragon, and the dragon and its angels battled but it did not prevail, neither was a place found for them any longer in heaven. So down the great dragon was hurled, the original serpent, the one called Devil and Satan, who is misleading the entire inhabited earth; he was hurled down to the earth, and his angels were hurled down with him. ... Woe for the earth and for the sea, because the Devil has come down to you, having great anger, knowing he has a short period of time. Now when the dragon saw that it was hurled down to the earth, it persecuted the woman (the holy city New Jerusalem of 11:2) that gave birth to the male child. But the two wings of the great eagle were given the woman, that she might fly into the wilderness to her place; there is where she is fed for a time and times and half a time away from the face of the serpent. ... And the dragon grew wrathful at the woman, and went off to wage war with the remaining ones of her seed, who observe the commandments of God and have the work of bearing witness to Jesus."
Is it fair to state that Satan is cast out before the period of three and a half years? Is it fair to state that Satan begins his war against the Remnant upon his ouster from heaven? If we move backward from the Return of Christ (the beginning of the Parousia) we first encounter three and a half years of Great Oppression against the Saints as Daniel foretold. It is the Devil who starts the "war" of oppression against those Saints living just three and a half years before the Parousia. Satan clearly uses the instrument of the wild sea beast (the same as the 11th Small Power in Daniel) as the persecutor of God’s people. Revelation 13:2 says, "And the dragon gave to [the beast] its power and its throne and great authority." This must happen upon Satan’s ouster from heaven.
When, then, is Satan to be cast out of heaven? That time is yet future as best we can judge. When the Devil is thrown down to the earth it is then that the great oppression begins through the instrumentality of the wild sea beast. Three and a half years follow at the end of which it appears Satan and his political instrument are victorious. But, suddenly at the height of the danger, Michael "appears" (See Daniel 12:1 Jewish Publication Society, Tanakh; Matthew 24:29, 30)) and "we the living" at that moment are snatched out of harm’s way in what has been called the Rapture. (1 Thessalonians 4:15-17; Daniel 12:1, 2; Matthew 24:31; 2 Thessalonians 2:1)
This Rapture occurs right in the prophetic context of Revelation chapters 11, 12, 13 at Revelation 11:2, 7, 12, "(The nations) will trample the holy city [New Jerusalem; compare Zechariah 14:12, 16] underfoot for forty-two months. ... The wild beast that ascends out of the abyss will make war with them and conquer them and kill them. ... And they heard a loud voice out of heaven say to them: ‘Come on up here.’ And they went up into heaven in the cloud, and their enemies beheld them." This must be the same as the phrase in Daniel 7:22, "Judgment itself was given in favor of the Saints of the Supreme One, and the definite time arrived that the Saints took possession of the kingdom itself." (Compare 1 Corinthians 15:50-52)
Now the phrase that the Devil knows his time is short makes great sense, for surely he is aware only three and a half years or more remain before his own judgment. For this reason he is extremely angry and that "woe for the earth" mainly falls upon those Saints living at this precise prophetic moment. His anger is vented against the Remnant of New Jerusalem. For some Saints this will mean the "sword" of martyrdom, for others imprisonment or concentration camps. (Revelation 6:9-11; 13:10) No matter how great this final holocaust upon God’s people, we are assured of ultimate victory by reason of our faith in the blood of the Lamb and our testimony regarding Jesus. (Revelation 12:11)
Surely we draw comfort from 1 John 5:18, "For the Son of God will guard (one God-born) that the Wicked One does not get a grip him." What a joy to know that when we undergo our "change" -- either by resurrection or rapture -- we will enter a heaven cleansed of the Devil and satanic powers!
Nazarene Commentary 2000© by Mark Heber Miller
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