Sun, Jul 30, 2000

A War Breaks Out in Heaven: Rev. 12:7-12

Ministry of Pastor Joe Guglielmo teachings through the Bible, verse by verse for a better understanding of Gods Word.

A WAR BREAKS OUT IN HEAVEN

REVELATION 12:7-12

On May 12, 1962, General MacArthur spoke to the graduating class at West Point. In his speech the General quoted Plato to the effect that "Only the dead have seen the end of war." How sad this statement is, but also how very true it is. War’s take a tremendous toll on the human race. In World War I alone, ten million men were killed. A number that is hard to comprehend, but let me illustrate it for you to help you grasp the magnitude of this destruction.

If you were to take a parade of these dead men, marching them ten abreast from sunrise to sunset, with a new rank passing every two seconds, it would take forty-six days to pass by a given spot! But this is just kids play when you look at the total number killed in World War II. That number is estimated to be around 54,800,000. And we still have not learned our lessons on how destructive war is, for during the tribulation period billion’s of lives will be destroyed. The heart of man is evil and full of pride, and as long as man’s heart continues to be puffed up and self-seeking, there will be wars!

But this morning we are not going to be talking about a physical war that takes place on this earth, but of a spiritual war that is going to break out in heaven! And we must also understand that there is a spiritual war raging on in our lives today. Paul, in his letter to the Ephesian church, gives us an outline of how a soldier in the Lord’s army is to be prepared and who we are fighting against. And understand, once you are saved, you are in the battle!

Paul said in Ephesians chapter 6, beginning in verse 10, "Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand." Ephesians 6:10-13.

Paul is telling us that our strength against the enemy, Satan, is in the Lord, and not in our own physical strength. And God has given us spiritual armor to stand against the attacks of the enemy. Satan and his demonic forces are fighting a war against God and His people. And Paul is telling us to do all that we can, to put on the whole armor of God that He has given to us, so that we will be able to stand against the rulers of darkness. Be prepared for the battle, for it is raging on every day!

But the spiritual war that is spoken of here in Revelation chapter 12 is not between the church of Jesus Christ and the spiritual hosts of wickedness. It is a spiritual warfare, but not fought here on the earth, but in the heavens as we shall see in this mornings study. And for many of you, this is a very difficult concept to understand, a war breaking out in heaven, but that is exactly what takes place and I pray that as we finish up this morning, you will understand what this is all about!

REVELATION 12

VERSE 7

I think this is an important lesson for us to learn and understand. This is not a war with God against Satan that is being fought in the heavens. God and Satan are not equals, although that is what we see portrayed in the world today. God is God, the Eternal One, while Satan is a created being. There is no comparison between the two!

Ezekiel chapter 28 gives to us a glimpse of Satan and what happened to him. We read beginning in verse 12, "Son of man, take up a lamentation for the king of Tyre, and say to him, Thus says the Lord GOD: ‘You were the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone was your covering: the sardius, topaz, and diamond, Beryl, onyx, and jasper, sapphire, turquoise, and emerald with gold. The workmanship of your timbrels and pipes was prepared for you on the day you were created. You were the anointed cherub who covers; I established you; you were on the holy mountain of God; you walked back and forth in the midst of fiery stones. You were perfect in your ways from the day you were created, till iniquity was found in you." Ezekiel 28:12-15.

God not only created Satan but placed him in charge, the top man, and the worship leader in heaven, he was a worship instrument! He was also perfect before God from the day that God created him, but he also was created with a free will and Satan chose to exercise that free will. And pride filled his heart and he rebelled against God, the one who created him.

Now when Satan is finally cast into the Lake of Fire, after the 1,000 year reign of Christ, there is no battle between God and Satan, it just says that he was cast into the Lake of Fire. Satan is no match for God. You have Almighty God, the Eternal One, the All Powerful One, against Satan, a created being. Do not see them as equals, for they are not!

Thus, what we see here is a war between God’s holy angel’s, with Michael leading them, and those fallen angel’s, the demons of today, with Satan leading them. You see, it is a war between good and evil, but not God and Satan, but these two angelic beings who were created by God, Michael and Satan. You see, God and Satan are not equals, as I have said, but Michael and Satan are, even though Satan at one time was in charge of all the heavenly hosts. So this war in heaven is going to be fought and we are going to see Satan defeated, and thus, no longer having access to heaven and the presence of God.

VERSES 8-9

Many think that Satan was cast out of heaven and the presence of God when he fell, because of his pride, in eon’s past. Didn’t Jesus say in Luke 10:18, "...‘I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven." Thus, Jesus seems to be implying that Satan was cast from heaven already. Yes, Satan was kicked out of heaven as a place of permanent residence when he sinned, but he still has access to heaven and to go before God. You see, in his fall we see his moral failure, but his geographic relocation is still in the future.

Turn to Job chapter 1 and we will see this played out for us, that Satan still comes before God, not in a worshipful or servant sense, but with accusations against God’s people, on how they give God a false love and loyalty by their actions. And once again this is difficult for people to understand, that Satan has access to God in heaven, but that is exactly what the Scriptures tell us! Starting in verse 6 of Job chapter 1 we read, "Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them. And the LORD said to Satan, ‘From where do you come?’ So Satan answered the LORD and said,‘From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking back and forth on it." Job 1:6-7.

Thus, Satan still has access to the throne of God and will continue to do so until the culmination of this war takes place. It is then that Satan is permanently cast from the presence of God in heaven. The demonic hosts will not be strong enough to overtake God’s holy angel’s and thus they will be thrown down, cast out of heaven, with Satan.

And we see here in Job that Satan is restless, very restless, like a lion stalking his prey to see whom he may devour. Understand that Satan is out there spreading his lies, he "deceives thewhole world." And you may think how sad for all those that are unsaved. Satan has blinded their eyes from seeing the truth. They are pawns in his hands. And that is true, and we need to pray for the lost that God would remove those spiritual blindfolds that Satan has put on them, that they may see and receive the truth of God.

But the implication here goes far beyond the lost. He "deceives the whole world." The word "deceive", PLANAO in the Greek, means "the misleading of another, causing someone to wander or err from the truth." Satan’s deceptive tactics also affect the saved when they are being lead by the flesh and not the Spirit of God. They too can become pawns of Satan as they allow their flesh to control their actions.

All kinds of wars and fighting within the body of Christ arise from an evil heart and not from God. Listen to this true story of what can happen in the body of Christ, and you will see that in no way did God cause this. It is a story of a new pastor, pastor Waites is his name, coming on staff after the senior pastor retired after 25 years of service:

"The Waites settled into the parsonage just before Christmas, and the new pastor started his pulpit ministry with a series of sermons on ‘Submitting to Pastoral Care and Leadership.’ He also began a visitation program, calling on the church members in their homes. Appreciating his eagerness to get acquainted, the members hospitably scheduled their pastor for a luncheon, a dinner, or an afternoon tea.

Every host or hostess asked the same question: ‘Pastor, is there anything you need?’ And each time Pastor Waite made the same request.

‘Since I’m new to the flock,’ he would say, leaning back in his chair, ‘anything that you could tell me about the people in the church would be of enormous help. I just don’t know enough about everyone.’

The people of Emmanuel Baptist did not disappoint him. Within a few months, Donald Waite was privy to most of Newton’s well-kept secrets. Mrs. Campbell’s drinking problem, Frank Fowler’s secret divorce, the Clemens family battle with mental illness, and Brain Maguire’s time in prison were among the offerings.

...Waite carried an appointment book and made notes, capturing each rich detail. By early March he had bought a larger appointment book and was starting to exert unusual control over the congregation.

When Frank Fowler demanded an agenda change during a church business meeting, Pastor Waite suggested a ten-minute break.

‘You’re being pretty tough on the rest of us, Frank,’ Waite said as the two men stepped outside and strolled around the parking lot. ‘I think that a man who has made mistakes -especially marital ones - would be more compassionate.’

...‘I think I can keep the secrets I know about you, Frank,’ Waite went on, ‘especially if you could find a way to be more cooperative when it comes to church business.’...

Waite’s talent for getting his own way was as large as his appointment book. One of his pastoral conferences could reduce the most disagreeable church member to sulking silence. And by April most of the folks at Emmanuel had decided they couldn’t trust any of their friends from the church.

Late that month when the deacons and their wives gathered for their annual pot luck supper, Ray Bryson voiced what many of them were thinking. ‘If things continue this way, I don’t think Donald Waite should be our pastor.’

...and the deacons decided to call a meeting of the whole church to discuss the issue. The bylaws required such a meeting before a pastor could be dismissed.

Before the dinner was over, however, Pastor Waite had received a call from one of the wives, detailing the entire conversation. His sermons on pastoral leadership paid off.

Very quickly the church divided into two hostile camps. Those who felt the pastor should be removed began sitting on the left side of the church. On the right sat members who wanted to give him more time. The choir was split and given to vacillation, the organist sided with the pastor, and the church secretary didn’t want to get involved.

...On the third Sunday in May...Frank Fowler got up from the front pew and strode up the stairs of the platform to the pulpit. Bending toward the microphone, he smoothed out a piece of paper and started to read: ‘This is to announce a special congregational assembly for this afternoon to discuss Pastor Donald Wa–‘

Suddenly he could not be heard. Flora Waite, at the piano, had begun pounding out "Have Thy Own Way’ and was immediately joined by Sharon Carlson at the organ, drowning out the rest of Frank’s message. Pastor Waite began singing loudly into his lapel microphone, and some on the right joined him.

Before they could begin the second verse, Frank pulled the organ power cord from the wall, and Brain Maguire shut the piano lid. Flora Waite beat on his arms for a minute and even lost her hat in the scuffle, but Brian held on.

Then Ray Bryson got up and walked over to the pastor in the slow deliberate way that one approaches an injured animal. The veins in Ray’s neck were showing as the two men hissed under their breath at each other.

After a minute, Ray appeared satisfied. He turned to go to his seat, but his feet were tangled in the microphone cord and he fell down...Pastor Waite delayed for one brief moment before reaching to help him up. It was long enough to convince those close to the front that their pastor had indeed pushed Ray Bryson.

Ray must have thought so too, because he bounced to his feet and hit the pastor square in the nose with his fist. The lapel mike registered the impact.

...Within an instant a majority of the congregation converged on the Communion table, punching or shoving....

When Ray Bryson’s right hook finally took the pastor down, someone grabbed the spring flower arrangement from the altar and threw it high in the air in Ray’s direction. Water sprinkled everyone in the first two rows on the right side, and a visiting Presbyterian experienced complete immersion when the vase shattered against the wall next to his seat.

The fight ended when the police arrived on the scene...

The following Wednesday each of the deacons received a notice to appear at the Newton Courthouse for a hearing.

When the court officer entered, breaking the uncomfortable silence, Brain Maguire recognized him immediately as David Goldstein, one of the stars on Temple Beth Shalom’s softball team. For several minutes Goldstein looked over the police description in front of him. The one time he looked up, he seemed to focus on the tape on Waite’s nose and the cast on Ray’s hand...

‘I have been a pastor in the service for many years,’ said Donald Waite, standing up. ‘And I have never met a more stubborn-necked people than those in this church.’ ...

...Goldstein...then [said] ‘I’m dismissing this case...No charges will be pressed at this point, but I urge you to work out within your own church. Your Jesus Christ may allow this sort of thing in His followers, but the commonwealth of Massachusetts will not permit fist fights as a regular order of church service.’

The leadership of Emmanuel Baptist Church filed quietly out to their cars and drove off in different directions. On the back of each car was a bumper sticker declaring, ‘God is with us at Emmanuel Baptist Church.’"

Charles Colson, The Body, pp. 92-97

This would be a very funny story if it wasn’t true. I have even edited out some of the fighting that was going on that day. And thus, it makes this a tragic story. And don’t think this doesn’t go on in churches today. It may not go to blows, but in the hearts of the people, they are siding with this person or that person, instead of with the Lord and seeing what He can do in the church. And obviously this kind of activity does not glorify God. We must not fall prey to the schemes of the Devil but draw close to the Lord and He will keep us moving in the right direction. We won’t be sidetracked over silly issues that are not important, but move ahead in sharing our faith and truly glorifying the Lord! The enemy tries to divide and conquer, not only churches, but families, friends, and-so-on. Wise up to his schemes!

VERSE 10

Here we see the cleansing, in a sense, of heaven. Now the accuser of the brethren and his hosts will be removed from the presence of God. This idiom of a accuser was a well known and well hated figure during the first century. This figure was called the DELATOR, or the paid informer. This person made his living by accusing people before the authorities. They would go around and spy on what others were doing and then report their findings to the proper authorities. These informers were obviously hated by the people, and the reason is as Tacitus said, "He who has no foe was betrayed by his friend." They would turn anyone in for a price!

Satan, in a sense, does the same thing as the DELATOR did, he accuses us before God. Think of Satan as the prosecuting attorney, who comes before the Father with all kinds of accusing facts about us. He is unrelenting in his case. He continues to spew out all of our failures, and we do have many. For instance, he might say something like this, "How can this man love you, look at what he did today. His failures, his weakness. And he says that he loves you, what a joke!" This kind of condemnation continues day and night, as he batters us with these things.

Listen to what Satan accused Job of doing in Job 1:9-11. We read "So Satan answered the LORD and said, ‘Does Job fear God for nothing? Have You not made a hedge aroundhim, around his household, and around all that he has on every side? You have blessed thework of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But now, stretch outYour hand and touch all that he has, and he will surely curse You to Your face!" Satan was telling God that Job’s love was conditional, based on what gifts or blessings he received from God. But the lesson Satan found was that his love for God was unconditional, and so should ours be.

And as Christians we are not left defenseless. We are represented by the best defense attorney around, Jesus Christ. In I John 2:1-2, we read, "My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world."

The word that John uses for "sin" is the Greek word HAMARTE, which speaks of a single act. There is another word, HAMARTANEI, which speaks of a habitual sin. This habitual state of sin John spoke of in I John 3:6, 8-9 where he said "Whoever abides in Him does not sin. Whoever sins has neither seen Him nor known Him...He who sins is of the devil, for thedevil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, thatHe might destroy the works of the devil. Whoever has been born of God does not sin, forHis seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God."

John is not encouraging us to sin but he also knows we are not perfect in these bodies of flesh, we will sin. We will have moments where we fail and when we do, we have a defense attorney who will represent us before the Father. The word that John uses for "advocate" is the Geek word PARAKLETOS, which describes anyone summoned to the assistance of another. It is the same word that is used of the Holy Spirit, the comforter. In a legal sense, it is a defense attorney pleading the case of the person on trial. And as I said, our defense attorney is not F. Lee Bailey or any other high priced lawyer, but Jesus Christ. I need no one else, nor would I want anyone else!

John tells us that Jesus is the Righteous One, and being righteous He just can’t ignore sin. One writer put it this way. He said "Our Advocate does not plead that we are innocent, or adduce extenuating circumstances. He acknowledges our guilt and presents his vicarious work as the ground of our acquittal."

Thus, the atoning work that Christ accomplished on the cross of Calvary, His blood being shed, covers all of our sins. Thus, when Satan accuses us before the Father regarding our failures, Christ does not say that we did not do them, for He is righteous, but He does say "Father, they are cleansed by My blood!" Positionally we are seen as perfect, but practically we still sin, and we have an advocate who will represent us, Jesus Christ!

Because of that we have no need to fear regarding our salvation or the judgment that is to come. Jesus said "Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life." John 5:24. (Also see I John 5:13 and Luke 22:31-32).

And as heaven is cleansed we now hear "...‘Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come..." And in a short time God will cleanse the earth as He sets up His kingdom here on the earth to rule and reign the nations from.

VERSE 11

This verse gives to us an outline for victory over the enemy of God. The brethren were victorious because of the BLOOD OF THE LAMB, the WORD OF THEIR TESTIMONY, and THEY DID NOT LOVE THEIR LIVES TO THE DEATH. Let’s look at these three areas a little closer so we can live that victorious Christian life that God desires for us as we battle against the enemy.

1. THE BLOOD OF THE LAMB

This is the basis for our victory - the blood of Christ applied to our lives. It gives us victory over the sting of death. Without the blood of Christ applied to our lives we are dead in our trespasses and sins. Satan wins! But, as John tells us, "...if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin." I John 1:7.

2. THE WORD OF THEIR TESTIMONY

The outward showing of our victory in Christ is seen in the witness of our faith. And that witness flows from knowing God, which comes from reading His Word and applying what He has said into our lives. The word "martyrs" originally meant "witness" but as the millions of Christians went to their death for their faith, it was their lives that witnessed of the love they had for Christ. As Jesus said "...whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess beforeMy Father who is in heaven." Matthew 10:32. If you are in love with Christ, your life will bear witness of that relationship. But if you just talk the talk and not walk the walk, this is what Paul says of that, "They profess to know God, but in works they deny Him, beingabominable, disobedient, and disqualified for every good work." Titus 1:16. Our life must be a living testimony of what God has done in our hearts. And this relationship will deepen as you stand firm on God’s Word and let it be manifested in your life. Live what you believe!

3. DID NOT LOVE THEIR LIVES TO THE DEATH

This reflects the inward attitude of a victorious Christian. Their focus is on the kingdom of God and not the earthly vessels which are passing away. Jesus said "And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it." Matthew 10:38-39.

"In the Roman Empire a convicted criminal, when taken to be crucified, was forced to carry his own cross. This showed publicly that he was then under and submissive to the rule he was opposing. Likewise Jesus’ disciples must demonstrate their submission to the One against whom they had rebelled. The path Jesus and his followers would travel would be a road of sorrow and suffering."

You see, to gain ones life, you must give it all to the Lord. Those that are trying to live like there is not tomorrow, for their own selfish gain, will lose. Those who refuse to surrender their lives to God and instead live for their own pleasure will lose. It is as Jesus said, "For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?" Matthew 16:26. Many today are selling their souls for nothing. They are losing an eternity with God for a few small pleasures in this world. How foolish they are and we were!

VERSE 12

At the 3½ year mark of the tribulation period, I believe we see this war break out in heaven and Satan and his followers will be cast to the earth. Also happening at this time is the Antichrist will enter the rebuilt temple of God and demand to be worshiped as God. It is at this point that the Jews will flee to the mountains and the Antichrist who came on the scene as a man of peace turns into a monster of war!

What changes this man? I believe it is Satan being cast out of heaven and to the earth. Thus, he knows his time is short and is pouring out his wrath on all those who refuse to worship him and he is using the Antichrist as his instrument to inflict this wrath by possessing this man.

You will notice that any animal that is cornered and believes his life is in danger, his time is short, will fight for his life. I saw this with a muskrat that was trapped in our fenced-in yard when we were living in Hoffman Estates several years ago.

We cornered him in our yard and I tried to poke him into the net with a hockey stick. As I did his teeth clamped down as he fought for his life. After several minutes of trying to shake him off the stick, he let go and we got him into the net. But then he bit through the net and we fought with him for a few more minutes until we finally captured him in a metal cage and the battle was over.

The point is this, Satan knows that his time is very short, and in just 3½ years after he is kicked out of heaven, he will be bound in the pit. And he is going to fight and try to destroy anything and everything in his sight. If you think it is bad now just wait till this point in the tribulation period. Now you may wonder why Satan just doesn’t give up? Why he doesn’t just throw in the towel? He knows he is going to lose doesn’t he? Maybe he has convinced himself that he can win! But he won’t!

I think a better question to ask yourselves is "Why don’t you just give up your rebellion against the Lord?" You see, it too doesn’t make sense. You won’t win! And even if you could win, you would still lose! And if you give your life to Jesus, you then will have the victory that is only found in Him. And so, as Christians we need to remember we can overcome the enemy by the blood of the Lamb, the word of our testimony, and surrendering our entire life to Christ.

Next time we will look at the wrath of Satan being poured out upon the nation of Israel and what God will do to protect them.

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