The Expulsion of Satan from Heaven
November 18th, 1962 @ 8:15 AM
THE EXPULSION OF SATAN FROM HEAVEN
Dr. W. A. Criswell
11-18-62 8:15 a.m.
Now on the radio you are listening to the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas, and this is the pastor bringing the early morning message entitled The Expulsion of Satan from Heaven. And this is an exposition in the twelfth chapter of the Revelation. In our preaching through the Bible we have come to the Apocalypse and in preaching through the Apocalypse to chapter 12. And the message this morning begins at verse 7. And if you would like to turn in your Bible to the place, you can easily follow the message of this morning hour. Revelation 12:7:
And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels,
And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven.
And the great dragon was cast out, that ancient serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.
And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.
Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. But woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.
And when the dragon saw that he was cast into the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man Child.
And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for three and a half years, forty-two months, one thousand two hundred sixty days, a time, times, and a dividing of time; time, times and half a time, from the face of the serpent.
You can see that this thing happens in the last part, at the middle part of that great final tribulation, “For the devil knoweth that he hath but a short time” [Revelation 12:12]. This is that great consummation of the age, the last week of Daniel’s seventieth prophecy [Daniel 9:27]. And this war in heaven is fought in the middle of that week, and Satan is cast out [Revelation 12:9], and this is his final onslaught:
And the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood.
And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed up the flood which the dragon cast out of his mouth.
And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.
As we come to this last half of the Revelation, the action accelerates; the events come to pass swiftly. “And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels” [Revelation 12:7].
As far back as poetry was ever written or songs were ever sung, the sublimest of all of the writers of literature have described scenes like a battle in heaven and the war of the gods. You know, that’s kind of like the traditions, and the myths, and the legends that you will read in other languages and among other races of a garden in Eden [Genesis 2:8], or the Fall [Genesis 3:1-6], or the Flood [Genesis 6:1-8:19], or the Tower of Babel [Genesis 11:1-9].
These tremendous events in the life of the human family lingered in the memory of the race. And you will find traces of them in other languages, in their mythology and in their legends. It never died from the memory of the human race. So the intuition of our finest and sublimest poets in any age and among any people feels, knows, senses that this conflict of evil, of Satan, is above us and beyond us. It is not only here, but it enters into the vaulted, lofty chalice of heaven itself.
I suppose the most magnificent of all of those attempts to describe that heavenly conflict was written by John Milton in language beyond any language ever penned by human hand. John Milton starts off speaking of Satan aspiring to set himself in glory above his peers: “He trusted to have equaled the Most High; and with ambitious aim against the throne and monarchy of God, raised impious war in heaven and battle proud.” Then as he describes the war in his great Paradise Lost, he says:
. . . Michael bid sound
The archangel trumpet. Through the vast of Heaven
It sounded, and the faithful armies rung.
Hosanna to the Highest; nor stood at gaze
The adverse legions, nor less hideous joined
The horrid shock. Now storming fury rose,
And clamor such as heard in Heaven till now
Was never; arms on armor clashing brayed
Horrible discord, and the madding wheels
Of brazen chariots raged; dire was the noise
Of conflict; overhead the dismal hiss
Of fiery darts in flaming volleys flew,
And, flying, vaulted either host with fire.
So under fiery cope together rushed
Both battles main with ruinous assault
And inextinguishable rage . . .
Then finally he describes the expulsion of Satan:
. . . Him the Almighty . . .
Hurl’d headlong flaming from th’ ethereal sky,
With hideous ruin and combustion down . . .
[from Paradise Lost, John Milton, Book 6, Book 1]
Did you ever hear such language in your life? “Him the Almighty . . . hurl’d headlong flaming from th’ ethereal sky”; that’s poetry. That’s not that cheap stuff like everybody reads. When somebody comes up to you and says, “Have you read ‘The Bulldog on the Bank and the Froggie in the Pool’?” and then look at you because you were so dumb, you haven’t read the latest trash, why, you answer like this. Say, “You know, by the way the other night I was reading Milton’s Paradise Lost, have you read that recently?” Why, man he never even heard of it, much less have read it.
Then Milton closes the sublimest poem in the English language, the epic of the conquest of the Son of God:
Hail Son of the most High, heir of both worlds,
Queller of Satan, on thy glorious [reign]
Now enter . . .
—hasting complete redemption—
Thou didst defeat and down from heav’n cast
The false attempter of Thy Father’s throne
And frustrated the conquest fraudulent:
[adapted from Paradise Regain’d, John Milton, Book 4]
Man, if we had time I’d just read the whole Paradise Lost here. Oh, the sublimity of that language!
Same thing as you find here in the Bible, “How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cast down to the earth?” [Isaiah 14:12]. Or in Ezekiel:
Thou hast sinned: therefore I will cast thee as profane out of the mountain of God: and I will destroy thee, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire.
“There was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, And prevailed not” [Revelation 12:7-8]. And that old serpent, that seven-headed python, red with rage, encrimsoned with malice and wrath, was cast out of glory [Revelation 12:3, 9]. Heretofore until this he had access to God, to God’s very throne. In Job when the sons of God appeared before the Lord, Satan appeared with them [Job 1:6, 2:1]. He was in the garden of Eden [Genesis 3:1-15].
He’s here. He’s there, but someday he’s going to be cast out of heaven [Revelation 12:9-13], and a little while later he’s going to be bound down in the bottomless pit [Revelation 20:1-3], and someday, after the great and final judgment, cast into the lake of fire [Revelation 20:10-15]. But this message this morning concerns that terrible woe that comes to this earth: “Rejoice, ye heavens, but woe to the inhabiters of the earth! For the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath” [Revelation 12:12]; which is not only a thing that is true in that final consummation of the age but a thing that has been spiritually true through all of the centuries. “For the devil is come down to you, having great wrath.”
One satanic head would have been enough. This python, this dragon has seven satanic heads [Revelation 12:3], a fullness of plenitude, of duplicity, of iniquity and wickedness. And as though seven heads of satanic ingenuity for sin were not enough, each head has a diadem, power, authority, display [Revelation 12:3]. He loves it. Whenever you see the world out here in ostentatious, that’s a reflection of the spirit of Satan; he loves the display of his seven diadems and ten horns; ableness, and might, and authority [Revelation 12:3]. That’s a part of the mystery of God; the permissive will that allows Satan to rule over God’s destroyed universe [2 Corinthians 4:4].
And that has been his purpose from the beginning; to make war and to destroy. “He was a liar and a murderer from the beginning” [John 8:44], our Lord Himself said. In the garden of Eden he encompassed the fall of the human race [Genesis 3:1-6]. He presided over the murder of that righteous man Abel [Genesis 4:8]. In the Book of Job, in the permissive will of God he moved the Lord that allowed Job to be bereft of his children and to fall into misery and despair [Job 1:6-20]. That’s Satan.
In the fourth chapter of the Book of Matthew he sought to destroy the Son of God Himself; those three terrible, and insidious, and ingenious, and wicked temptations [Matthew 4:3-10]. In the thirteenth chapter of the Book of Matthew when the Lord speaks of the sowing of the word, the seed that fell by the way side is a picture, Jesus said, of Satan’s taking the word out of a man’s heart [Matthew 13:19]. He’ll come to church here. He’ll hear the preacher. He’ll be moved to believe in Christ. He goes out that door, and Satan takes the word out of his heart, and he’s back into the mesh of all of the mechanics of this life again, lost, lost. In that same thirteenth chapter of Matthew, the Lord said that over sowing of the tares, that over sowing of the tares, He said, “The enemy that has done it is the devil” [Matthew 13:38-39].
In the thirteenth chapter of the Book of Luke, the Lord referred to a woman who had been bowed down, lo, these eighteen years by Satan. Satan did that [Luke 13:11-16]. In the description of our Lord’s ministry in the Book of Acts, it said, “He was anointed by power, and went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil” [Acts 10:38]. Every time tears fall, and hearts are broken, and lives are smashed, and visions are destroyed, that’s Satan. That’s Satan. That’s the work of Satan.
John says “Satan put it into the heart of Judas to betray Jesus” [John 13:21-27]. The Book of Acts says that Satan put it into the heart of Ananias and Sapphira to lie to the Holy Ghost [Acts 5:1-3]. And Peter said that the devil, like a roaring lion, walks through this earth, seeking whom he may devour [1 Peter 5:8]. That’s this Satan. That’s this seven-headed python. That’s this red wrathful dragon [Revelation 12:3, 7]. “Woe to the inhabiters of the earth! For the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath” [Revelation 12:12].
Well, now the most magnificent text in the Bible: “But they overcame him, but they overcame him” [Revelation 12:11]; God’s saints were victorious, the most astonishing thing that mind could imagine, that we made out of dust and ashes, that we so unequal, that we should be victorious. How were the saints, how are the saints victorious? Because they’re superior in numbers? Relatively we are few. Because we have vast wealth and social standing? Actually God’s people for the most part are very poor.
And I never saw a saint of God who was a social climber in my life; not one, not one, not one. And the church that pants after social superiority is a church that in its very spirit denies the spirit of the humble and lowly Jesus. But they overcame him because of their vast influence? They never had enough influence to keep out of the dungeons and out of the jails.
Well, then they must have overcome him, this adversary, the old serpent, they must have overcome him because God sheltered them, and God protected them. Do you know my impression of the Lord is this; that the last people in the world that He shelters from the onslaughts of the devil are His sainted children.
You read the eleventh chapter of the Book of Hebrews and tell me your impression of what God does for His people. He feeds them to the lions. They are maimed, and they are mauled, and they are sawn asunder, and they are burned by the fagot, and their heads are cut off by the sword. They are crucified and exposed to starvation and death [Hebrews 11:36-38]. If you stand by the gates of glory and watch God’s saints go in, you will find they’re covered with scars. There’s a groaning and a crying that is common unto all God’s children. “O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” [Romans 7:24]. But they are victorious, God’s saints are, against this terrible dragon, this seven-headed serpent, this Satan called Lucifer.
Well, how do God’s people get the victory? In three ways: Revelation 12:11; “And they overcame him,” they were victorious over him, first, “by the blood of the Lamb.” Now we’re going to pause there. This is one of the most significantly meaningful statements in the entire Word of God. They overcame that seven-headed dragon, that ten-horned python, that seven-crowned devil [Revelation 12:3, 7], “They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb” [Revelation 12:11]. Now you stay awake here. This is going to be one of the most significant of all of the expositions of this Word that you’ve ever listened to. Now are you awake? Are you listening? How is it that we get the victory over the devil by the blood of the Lamb?
All right, listen. First: in the blood of our Lord we have access to God, to the throne of grace. As Paul one time said, “Ye who sometimes were far off,” out there alone, “ye who were sometimes afar off,” interdicted and shut out, dying in your own misery, perishing in your own weakness, “ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ” [Ephesians 2:13]. With boldness and with assurance in the blood of our Lord, the humblest saint can walk into the very presence of God. And we can tell the Lord the inequality of this battle. “Lord, they that are against me are more than they that are for me. Lord, I’m about to perish!” And God hears the cries of His littlest, least saints. We have access to the throne of God [Hebrews 4:16]. And it may appear that Satan is so strong, and we are so weak, and we’re no match for his machinations and all of the fiery darts that he volleys against us—the saint has the assurance that he has access to the very throne of the great Lord God Almighty Himself!
And the soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose
I will never no never desert to its foes
That soul though all hell should endeavor to shake
I’ll never no never no never forsake
[How Firm a Foundation, John Rippon]
That’s one of the meanings: “They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb” [Revelation 12:11]; in the blood of the Lamb, in the sacrifice of Christ we have access to the throne of God [Hebrews 4:16].
A second thing: in the blood of the Lamb we have standing and acceptance in heaven. Now you look at that previous verse: “I heard a loud voice saying, The accuser of our brethren is cast down, who accused them before our God day and night” [Revelation 12:10].
All the devil has to do is just to point out to you, and point out to God, what you are. You’re a vile, loathsome, undone sinner, and God cannot deny it. That we are. There’s not a man here that would stand up and say, “That accusation is wrong about me. I’ve never sinned.” There’s not a soul that ever lived that could stand up and deny that accusation. And when the devil stands in the presence of God and says, “Look at him, a vile sinner. Look at his thoughts. Look at the imaginations of his heart. Look at the desires. Look at him, a vile sinner.” Well, then what do you do? “They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb [Revelation 12:11]…for the blood of Jesus Christ God’s Son cleanseth us from all sin” [1 John 1:7]. “These are they,” God’s saints, “who have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb” [Revelation 7:14].
The accuser of our brethren, Satan; God for Jesus’ sake, gives us acceptance in heaven, in the blood of the atoning Christ [Ephesians 1:5-7]. Now that’s what you mean by the word “justification.” To justify is to declare righteous. Not that we are righteous. We are not righteous. I’m still a vile sinner. But justification is to receive us as though we were righteous. And in the blood of Christ, the Lord receives His saints as though we had never sinned [2 Corinthians 5:21]; our acceptance in heaven. The accuser of our brethren, “Look at our sins,” says Satan. But Jesus says, “Look at the purity of their souls, washed in the atoning blood of the Lamb” [1 John 1:7; Revelation 1:5]. “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb” [Revelation 1:5; 1 Corinthians 6:11].
All right a third thing, what that means and refers to according to the Word of God: our salvation and our deliverance comes through the blood of the Lamb, and it is a forever and eternal gift [John 10:28-30]. Even Israel was not delivered out of the throes, and the slavery, and the bondage, and the chains of Egypt until they were delivered by the blood of the lamb, sprinkled on the lintels and on either side on the doorposts, in the sign of a cross, above and on either side [Exodus 12:3-7, 12-13, 23]. And that is our deliverance: “I give unto them,” said our Lord, “eternal life; and they shall never perish” [John 10:28]. How that deliverance? By the blood of the Lamb [1 Peter 1:19].
And then a last, and hasting, and a last; we receive the eternal inheritance and the kingdom of our Savior through the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ [1 Peter 1:3-4]. “This is My blood of the new contract, of the new promise, of the new covenant, of the new testament. This is My blood of the new covenant” [Matthew 26:28]. And all of the covenant gifts from God are bestowed upon us and bequeathed to us in the mercy, and in the grace, and in the love, and in the tears, and in the atonement, and in the sacrifice, and in the blood of Jesus Christ. That’s the way the Revelation began. “Unto Him who loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood [Revelation 1:5], and hath made us kings and priests unto God our Father forever and ever world without end.” All of it comes to us through the blood of the Crucified One [Revelation 1:5-6]. “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb” [Revelation 12:11].
Now brother, that is real preaching. And Ms. Cunningham, even in Africa they can’t preach it more truthfully than that. That’s the universal worldwide gospel and the good news of Jesus Christ. We’ve got the victory through the blood of the Lamb [Revelation 12:11].
All right, a second one here—now we need about five hours more here—“They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony” [Revelation 12:11]. My, that’s a beautiful phrase in this Greek language: dia ton logon, by reason of the word tēs marturias, by the word of their martyrdom, by the word of their martyrdom. They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their witness, of their testimony.” “Here I stand so help me God.” “And in the face of fagot and sword, in the face of peril and death, here I stand so help me God.” And that was the martyr witness of Stephen when his face shown like an angel [Acts 6:15-7:60]. It was the martyr witness of Paul and Silas when at midnight in the dungeon they prayed and sang praises unto God [Acts 16:25].
What would you do with a couple of preachers like that? What would you do? Beat them up. Beat them up. Put them in stocks and chains on the inside of a dungeon. And they sing and praise God [Acts 16:23-25]. What would you do with people like that? “They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony” [Revelation 12:11].
Or John Huss, singing and praying as the flames leaped up to burn his body, and his friend and fellow preacher and companion Jerome; the fellow that lit the fire to burn him up, started at his back, as though to spare him the agony of seeing it, Jerome said, “Sir, come around to the front and build the fire in front of me. If I were afraid I wouldn’t be here.” “They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony” [Revelation 12:11]; John Bunyan for twelve years preaching the gospel of the Son of God through the bars of his prison window; “by the word of their testimony.”
About a month ago I attended a prayer service, and one of the missionaries got up in Central America and said, “One of our churches has been burned down; pray for us.” And a second one stood up and said, “Fourteen homes of our Christians have been burned up; remember us.” And a third one stood up and said, “And where I minister, seven of our Christians have been martyred. And that’s within the last few weeks. Seven of them have been martyred. Remember us. Remember us.” “They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and,” kai dia ton logon tes marturias, “by the word of their martyrdom.” And they devoted their lives unto the death [Revelation 12:11]. When their very lives were placed in the balance of the scales, they did not quail, they did not hesitate.
I saw the martyr at the stake,
The flames could not his courage shake,
Nor death his soul appall;
I asked him whence his strength was giv’n;
He looked triumphantly to Heav’n,
And answered, “Christ is all.
[“Christ Is All,” W. A. Williams]
“They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their martyrdom, of their testimony” [Revelation 12:11].
Yet I have people in this church that’ll give a dime out of a thousand dollars to Him. Yet I have people in this church that wouldn’t even brave a sprinkle in order to attend the service; makes me ashamed of us when I think of the saints that are marching in. “They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death” [Revelation 12:11]. They felt they were not their own, they were bought with a price, and they were to glorify God in their bodies as well as in their spirits [1 Corinthians 6:19-20].
Now I have to close, but may I say a little word about us? Our call of consecration and devotion to the same Lord God today; we have enemies vile beyond our seas so dark and so terrible. We have enemies iniquitous, and villainous, and wicked inside the boundaries of our own beloved country; ah, the Lord, the Lord help us. We have enemies in our very pulpits, these who lust after the latest sophistry; who pant after the new theology; these who give themselves to word spinning and to inventing theories and pawn them off as being the truth of God. Oh, for us, for us, for us a devotion to the truth of the doctrine of the Lord Jesus until death!
Am I a soldier of the cross a follower of the Lamb?
And shall I fear to own His cause or blush to speak His name?
Must I be carried to the skies on flowery beds of ease
While others fought to win the prize and sailed through bloody seas?
Are there no foes for me to face must I not stem the flood?
Is this vile world a friend to grace to help me on to God?
Sure I must fight if I would reign increase my courage Lord
I’ll bear the toil endure the pain supported by Thy Word.
[“Am I a Soldier of the Cross,” Isaac Watts]
“And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony, and by the devotion of their lives unto death” [Revelation 12:11]. Oh, the Lord bless to our souls this message from the Word of God!
Now Brother singer, while we sing our song—say, let’s change it. Let’s sing “Must Jesus Bear the Cross Alone” and don’t sing it out of the book. Sing it out of your soul. Sing it out of your heart, “Must Jesus Bear the Cross Alone.” Just sing it out of your soul—and while we sing it, somebody to give his heart to Jesus even this hour, or to come into the fellowship of the church, while we make this appeal, would you come and stand by me? While we stand and while we sing.
THE EXPULSION OF SATAN FROM HEAVEN
Dr. W. A. Criswell
A. From the beginning of the human race these unseen battles in the spiritual world have enthralled the imagination of greatest poets
1. Legends, traditions in other races, languages of Eden, the fall, the flood, tower of Babel
2. Linger in tradition and mythology among other people and languages
3. A divine intuition that the conflict of good and evil goes beyond our human fragility into the spiritual world
a. John Milton’s Paradise Lost
B. Woe to the inhabitants of earth(Revelation 12:12)
1. The devil knows he has a short time
2. Seven-headed python, red in anger
a. Seven heads – full of iniquity, wickedness
b. Ten horns – emblems of power; ruler of all God’s destroyed creation
c. Crowned with seven diadems – loves the pomp and display of his evil power
3. Satan’s motive is always to destroy (Job 1, Zechariah 3:1, Matthew 4, 13:19, 39, Acts 5:3, 10:38, Luke 13:16, John 13:27, 1 Peter 5:8)
C. The victory of the saints (Revelation 12:10-11)
1. Not because they were superior in number – they were few
2. Not because of influence – not enough to keep out of dungeons, jails
3. Not because God protected them from onslaughts of enemy, rather they were maimed, mangled, sawn asunder (Romans 7:24, Hebrews 11)
4. Then how did they win?II. By the blood of the Lamb (Revelation 12:11)
A. Gave them access to God(Ephesians 2:13)
1. Hymn, “How Firm a Foundation”
B. Gave them standing, acceptance in heaven(Revelation 7:14, 12:10-11, 1 John 1:7)
1. Talmudic tradition – Satan accuses saints day and night except on the Day of Atonement
C. Gave them deliverance, salvation, favor
1. Israel was not saved out of bondage of Egypt except by blood of atonement(Exodus 12:12, 23)
2. Delivered forever from the bondage of Satan (John 10:28)
D. Gave them the inheritance of an eternal kingdom(1 Corinthians 11:25, Matthew 26:29)III. By the word of their testimony(Revelation 12:11)
A. One of the strongest and most beautiful phrases in Greek – dia ton logon tesmarturias, “and they overcame him by reason of their martyrdom, witness, testimony
1. Stephen (Acts 6:15, 7:55-56)
2. Paul and Silas (Acts 16:25)
3. John Hus
5. Felix Mantz
6. John Bunyan
7. Same kind of a witness that prevails todayIV. They loved not their lives unto the death (Revelation 12:11)
A. When the life of the saint was placed in the scales of balance, he never hesitated
1. Poem, “Christ is All”
B. Our call to unswerving fidelity, dauntless courage
1. Our foes beyond the seas
2. Our foes within our own borders
3. Our foes in our own pulpits
C. We must be true to the doctrine