In our last edition we took a closer look at the famous war that broke out in Heaven. As you’ve probably already guessed, this story is critical to gaining a better understanding of the divine realm that parallels and impacts our very own earthly realm. Knowing the true story of the war elucidates just how important the birth of Christ was, but it also helps us to see another narrative that we’ll cover. One that is often overlooked. But before we dive in there’s something I want you to know.
What we’ve been doing week after week up to this point would traditionally be called bible study. I want to impress upon you, that’s not what we’re doing. We are simply reading through the text, taking it for what it is and working the text through rational, critical thinking. There’s a time and place for things like word study, taking a closer look at the original languages or conducting a deep examination of passages. However, I want you to feel empowered and bold enough to read the scriptures from a non-academic perspective to truly know God. You don’t need to be a theologian to know Him, nor was that God’s expectation when He delivered the Word. I believe reading the scriptures plainly is what quickens the text to life. Simply reading the text as God intended, as a story, so you may know Him. Ok, let’s get to it.
Ants and spiders
The war in Heaven was an incredible event. Countless divine beings clashing within the supernatural realm. I’m sure it was a sight to behold. But I want to call your attention to something interesting.
7 Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels fought back, 8 but he was defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. - Revelation 12:7–8 (ESV)
As you read Revelation 12:7 do you notice who’s missing? There’s a massive war in Heaven and there is one individual who is not involved. That’s right, God. Scripture tells us the war concerned Michael, Satan and their angels. God wasn’t an actor in this war. It begs the question, where was He while this war in Heaven was taking place? While this is an important question, I believe it can be followed with an even more important one. That is, why was God absent?
Traditionally the battle between good and evil is seen as a chess match with God on one side of the board and Satan as the opposing player. But that simply isn’t an accurate depiction. A match between God and Satan would be more like Goliath fighting an ant. For if God stepped into the ring - or in the case of the war - it would have ended the moment He showed up. God spoke everything into existence. He can literally speak Satan out of existence.
What I want you to understand is that the notion of God vs Satan isn’t really a biblical one, nor is it rational. While Satan may be described as God’s enemy this is because Satan is adversarial in nature towards God. He opposes God. But this is like a spider opposing my efforts to knock its web off my patio. This may be a silly example, but the point is to shed light on just how ridiculous it is for us to believe there really is some sort of battle raging between God and Satan. There's no such thing. Revelation 12 helps us to see who Satan really has a problem with. And while God may be on his list, I don’t believe He is anywhere near the top. And I might add it’s a very, very short list. Notice the war was between Michael, Satan and their angels. Satan wasn’t after God or God’s throne. He’s not incompetent. In fact he’s incredibly brilliant. After all, God created Him. But we need to elevate our thinking concerning our perspective of God and right our understanding of Satan’s motives.
As we now know, the coming of the Messiah was what drove Satan to war. He was attempting to thwart God’s plans to deliver the child who would bring salvation. But when this effort failed, who did he turn his anger towards?
13 And when the dragon saw that he had been thrown down to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child. - Revelation 12:13 (ESV)
Immediately after being cast to the earth Satan pursues the woman. And this makes sense because at this point the woman has given birth and the only way to find the child is to track its mother. However, this was a failed attempt.
16 But the earth came to the help of the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed the river that the dragon had poured from his mouth. - Revelation 12:16 (ESV)
With Satan unable to seize the woman and devour her child he settled for what could be considered a plan B. He now decides to instigate war on the woman’s offspring; those who follow Christ.
17 Then the dragon became furious with the woman and went off to make war on the rest of her offspring, on those who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus. And he stood on the sand of the sea.- Revelation 12:17 (ESV)
This begs the question, why make war with her offspring? Sure, we know that Satan initially sparked the war in Heaven to stop the gift of salvation but why was that? Why was Satan going through so much trouble? Why would he even care if salvation was delivered?
The answer is actually quite simple. He hates his siblings. No, not cherubs, angels or other divine beings. Humans. Satan hates the whole human race of beings. This is the most accurate, deepest and darkest definition of racism. And not just Satan either. Realize he didn’t fight in the war alone. He had angels who followed him so clearly they also hate the human race. Satan often gets all of the blame, but he didn’t act alone so that blame is to be shared. Know this; there were other angels who hated the human race.
Remember the Garden? The moment Adam and Eve showed up Satan worked to deceive them. He was attempting murder and he figured the best chance he had to get rid of the humans was to go after Adam and Eve before more showed up. However, God provided a temporary lifeline which would become permanent once Christ arrived.
So what does all of this tell us? It communicates that the real war is between Sata and his angels, and humans. It always has been. But God did something that I’m sure was incomprehensible to Satan and his angels at the time. He pulled the ultimate flex by coming into the world through the very same creation Satan hated and had attempted to murder, to not only defeat the enemies of darkness but to also reconcile humanity back to Himself. God used the very thing Satan loathed to stop his plans.
Personally, I believe this is something Satan never considered. He thought so low of humans that there was no way God would ever lower Himself to the agony and shame necessary to redeem such fallen creatures. Clearly he was wrong.
Know this, your enemy in life is not other humans, no matter our disagreements, difference or our sins. Our true enemy, the enemy of the entire human race is Satan and his angels who’ve been cast to the earth. But don’t get too comfortable with that knowledge because there’s more to this story which we still need to unearth.
Welcome to real sibling rivalry.