The Seven Personages: Michael
Satan was defeated in his attempt to gain a quick victory over the Christ, so he tries to carry the battle to heaven. Satan was unable to latch onto Jesus (John 14:30). However, he learns the hard way that his defeat on earth has sealed him from heaven.
We are introduced to Michael, a chief or archangel. His name means “Who is like God?” There are other references to Michael in the Bible:
- He is one of the chief princes (or angels) (Daniel 10:13).
- He is the prince of Israel (Daniel 10:20-21).
- He is the great prince who stands guard over Israel (Daniel 12:1).
- Michael and Satan had a dispute over the body of Moses (Jude 9)
I Thessalonians 4:16 also mentions an archangel, though the angel is not named.
The Dragon in Detail
We are told that the dragon is the serpent of old, which a reference to the serpent in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3). He is also called the Devil, which means accuser, slanderer, or one who maligns. The name Satan means an adversary, an opponent, or an enemy (Zechariah 3:1-2).
Satan’s main power is in deception. He deceived Eve in the garden (I Timothy 2:14). In fact, he deceives the whole world (Revelation 12:9).
We know that at one time Satan had access to heaven because Satan was among the angels when he accused Job in God’s presence (Job 1:6-12).
The War in Heaven
The actual war described in Revelation 12:7-9 has generated a variety of interpretations. Revelation does give us a time frame for this battle. It occurred after the ascension of Christ and before the great persecution of the church. The battle is just a continuation of the long-standing battle between God and Satan. It illustrates that Satan continues to lose ground before God.
When the seventy went out to prepare the way for Jesus, they were given power over the demons. When they excited told Jesus about this on their return to him, Jesus said he saw the rapid fall of Satan (Luke 10:17-18).
If you recall the question of the demons who possessed the man in Gadarenes, they wanted to know “Have You come here to torment us before the time?” (Matthew 8:29). The question is often taken as a reference to the final judgment, but it is likely to refer to a nearer event. Peter tells us the fallen angels are now bound in torments, awaiting judgment (II Peter 2:4).
Satan is a strong man, but Jesus is stronger. His coming into the world was to plunder Satan’s stronghold (Luke 11:18-22), just as it was prophesied in Isaiah 53:12. Satan would be cast from his position (John 12:31; 16:11). In particular, Jesus, through his resurrection, took away one of Satan’s major powers: death (Hebrews 2:13). In rising, Jesus despoiled Satan (Colossians 2:14-15). It is Jesus, not Satan, who now holds the keys to death and Hades (Revelation 1:17-18).
The Next Battle Front
Defeated in his attempt to destroy Christ on earth and now defeated in entering heaven, Satan now turns his attention to Christ’s kingdom: the church. But God has shielded His people from harm. Thus, the victory is not Christ’s alone but also for his followers. They overcame by the blood of Christ and through their testimony (Revelation 12:11). The latter is a reference to the Christian’s confession (Romans 10:9-10; Hebrews 10:23). While all may not be called upon to die for their faith, all are willing to lay down their lives if necessary.
Thus, Satan’s wrath is turned against the followers of Christ. Still, we need to remember that Satan’s defeat is assured, being seen in his inability to gain a foothold in heaven. It is a cause of great rejoicing, but the end of this war has not yet been reached. The enraged beast will cause much misery for all the people of the world. The earth and the sea in Revelation 12:12 represents the great mass of humanity who will suffer under Satan’s wrath. But Jesus warned repeatedly that his followers would be persecuted (John 15:20).
However, God shields His people from total harm (I Peter 1:4-6). Wings like an eagle are given to the woman (Revelation 12:14). Eagles are strong and swift and so is often used in figurative speech about God’s protection of His people (Exodus 19:4; Deuteronomy 32:9-11; Psalms 36:7; Isaiah 40:31). This protection would be for a short, indefinite period of time (times, times, and half a time are equal to 3 ½ years (Colossians 3:3; Ephesians 2:6).
Unable to get to God’s people directly, Satan’s attack is seen as a flooding river. He will wipe out large portions to get at the few. In the past, the Assyrian host was seen as a rising flood, threatening Judah (Isaiah 8:5-8). Times of trouble, in general, is described as passing through a flood (Isaiah 43:2).
But God protects us from the flood (Psalms 32:6-7). In this case, the earth helps to swallow up the flood (Revelation 12:16). Satan’s power is in deceptions, lies, temptations, and false religions. With these he tried to overflow the newly formed church and sweep it away. However, the lies and deceptions are swallowed by the mass of humanity. Recall the damage Satan’s horde did to Satan’s followers during the fifth trumpet (Revelation 9:1-11). To the world, they are but an incidental because they are already given themselves over to Satan. This is why Christians are warned not to get caught up in worldliness (I Peter 4:1-5). This difference between God’s people and the world causes a separation that protects the children of God (John 15:19; II Corinthians 2:17). It is much like what happened to Israel while in Egypt. The Egyptian’s disdain for foreigners kept the people from being swallowed up into an alien nation. In the same way, the world’s disdain for righteousness is helping to keep God’s people pure (Philippians 2:15).
Satan was unable to stop the Savior from his work in the world. He cannot attack heaven. He could not overwhelm the early church. Thus, he is now focused on the descendants of the early church. Recall that Jesus is the firstborn among many brethren (Romans 8:29). Satan is prowling for victims (I Peter 5:8-11).