War in Heaven
November 11th, 1962 @ 10:50 AM
WAR IN HEAVEN
Dr. W. A. Criswell
11-11-62 10:50 a.m.
On the radio you are sharing the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas. This is the pastor bringing the morning message at eleven o’clock, entitled And There Was War in Heaven, which is a text in Revelation 12:7. In our preaching through the Bible we have come to the last and the climactic book and in our preaching through the Revelation, to chapter 12; and last Sunday we left off at verse 6 [Revelation 12:6]. And today we begin at verse 7 through verse 9 [Revelation 12:7-9]. And I read the context, which would be the first nine verses of chapter 12 in the Revelation [Revelation 12:1-9].
And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars:
And she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered.
And there appeared another wonder in heaven; behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads.
And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her Child as soon as it was born.
And she brought forth a Man Child, who was to rule the nations with a rod of iron: and her Child was caught up unto God, and to His throne.
And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days.
And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, and—
thank God, bless His name—
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—and Lucifer—
who deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
Next Sunday morning, we shall speak of the expulsion of Satan [Revelation 12:9]. And this morning we speak of the violent war between Michael and Lucifer and their cohorts, the angels of glory [Revelation 12:7]. This war precipitates the last and final great tribulation period, the last three and half years, the forty-two months, the one thousand, two hundred sixty days, “the time, times and the dividing of times” [Daniel 7:25], the last half of the seventieth week of Daniel [Daniel 9:27]. The great conflict between good and evil, between God and Satan, rises to its final issue, and these forces that have warred in this divided universe from the beginning of God’s creation, comes to its ultimate and final head. There is war in heaven [Revelation 12:7].
And “Satan knoweth,” as it says in the twelfth verse, “Satan knoweth that he hath but a short time” [Revelation 12:12]. When this war is fought, it is the beginning of the end. And it is a strange thing that the beginning of this great tribulation period is this violent conflict between Michael and Lucifer [Revelation 12:7]. And the end of that great tribulation period is at Armageddon, which is fought here in the earth [Revelation 16:13-16]; and in which God intervenes in human history and Christ comes in glory and in power [Revelation 19:11-21]. ”And there was war in heaven; Michael and his angels fought against Lucifer, the dragon—the Devil—Satan and his angels” [Revelation 12:7].
This violent conflict between these two celestial, august, indescribable personalities has been a thing renewed and renewed and repeated through the millenniums and through the ages. Those two have known one another, and have faced one another since the beginning of the untold ages when God created the heavenly hosts. For example, in the ninth verse of the little epistle of Jude, you have these same two antagonists:
Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil…
durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee.
These are the same, identical participants, antagonists, that are named here in this final war in heaven. Michael and his angels warred against the dragon, against Lucifer and his angels [Revelation 12:7].
You see Satan, in the fourteenth chapter of Isaiah called “Lucifer” [Isaiah 14:12] and in the twenty-eighth chapter of the Book of Ezekiel, described as “the anointed cherub that covereth” [Ezekiel 28:14]. That is, he was assigned—as the highest created angel of God, he was assigned the guardianship of the throne of glory itself. And in that holy mountain of God, in the city of glory, he walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire, perfect in all of his ways until his heart was lifted up because of his beauty [Ezekiel 28:14-15, 17]. Satan, Lucifer is God’s highest creation, and in those days, back before time was created, there was a presumptuous arrogance born in the heart of this highest of all God’s created beings, to assume possession of the reins of this universe and of the throne of God itself [Isaiah 14:13-14; Ezekiel 28:2]. And even Michael, the archangel of God, could not stand in his own strength and in his own power before the tremendous might and glory of Lucifer. And even Michael the archangel would say, “The Lord rebuke thee” [Jude 1:9].
You have here in that passage, a marvelous insight into the mystery of God in this universe. First: the unbounding, indescribable and glorious power of Lucifer, when even Michael dare not bring against him a railing accusation; you have also an insight because of the unbounded arrogance of Satan that is afforded by an unbelievable success. Why would Satan war against Michael? And what hope would he have for victory against God? Because in his past arrogance and unbounded ambition, he has been preeminently and immeasurably successful.
In Genesis 1:1, the Book states, “God created the heaven and the earth.” And in the Genesis 1:2, the next verse, “And the earth became waste and void; and darkness covered the deep.” Between those two verses, verse 1 and verse 2 in Genesis [Genesis 1:1-2], between those two verses, the creation of this universe by God; between those two verses lies this unbelievable, rebellious, blasphemous attack of Satan in heaven, when he fought to assume the reins and sovereignty of God’s whole universe [Isaiah 14:13-14; Ezekiel 28:2]. And success? He plunged all God’s creation into waste and into void [Genesis 1:2]. For anything God created would be perfect, without spot, without blemish [Genesis 1:31], but Satan in his sin and in his rebellion, Satan blasted God’s whole creation. Success? Unbelievable success!
Then when God recreated this world in the days of the garden of Eden [Genesis 1:3-25], Satan again intruded and through subtlety and blasphemy and lying, he destroyed God’s Eden, and he destroyed our first parents [Genesis 3:1-24]. And through these illimitable, indescribable heartaches of the millennium since, Satan has ruled this world in tears, and in sorrow, and in distress, and in war, and in murder, and in blight; and finally hath made of God’s world itself, one vast, extensive burying ground. That’s why Satan, in his arrogance and in his pride, because of his past successes, lifts himself up, even now against the very throne of our God and His Christ [Isaiah 14:13-14].
You have another thing here that is very unusual: these antagonists—Michael, the archangel [Jude 1:9] and Lucifer, “the son of the morning” [Isaiah 14:12], the daystar of heaven—their antagonism lies in a thing that God hath purposed for His people from the beginning. And Michael stands for the people of God and their destiny and the elective purpose of the Lord for them, and Satan, Lucifer seeks to interdict and to destroy the elective purpose of God for His people [1 Peter 5:8].
Now that same conflict is the same conflict described here through the Word of God:
Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation,
but said, The Lord rebuke thee.
What did the devil want with the body of Moses? “Yet Michael the archangel, while contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses…” I have one observation of my own to make, and the second one I think is the presentation of the Word of God. My observation first is this: I think Satan wanted the body of Moses to use it as an instrument of idolatry. Even the brazen serpent that Moses raised in the wilderness [Numbers 21:8-9] was there and used as an instrument of idolatry until it was destroyed by good King Hezekiah [2 Kings 18:4]. Now that same kind of a piece of idolatry you see through all of the ages, and today. In the Red Square in Moscow is a vast mausoleum; and on the inside of it, behind a glass casket, is the body of Lenin. And by the thousands and the thousands and the hundreds of thousands every year, the Muscovites and the Soviets and the Russians and the strangers from afar pay worshipful obeisance to the memory and the system of Lenin. That’s what he wanted with the body of Moses: for one thing, to destroy the great monotheistic devotion of the people of the Lord, to make them idolaters.
But this is the thing I think the Bible presents: why Satan wanted the body of Moses. Moses is one representative here, of all of the elect children of God. And it is the purpose of God to exalt and to glorify His saints even though it necessitates a resurrection from the dead [John 12:23-25]. It is the purpose of God that His people shall inherit the earth [Psalm 37:9; Matthew 5:5; Revelation 21:1-3], and that His people shall reign in heaven [Revelation 5:9-10, 22:3-5; Timothy 2:12]. And if Satan can contend against God, having in his possession these that sleep in the dust of the ground, then all of the purposes of God for us are brought to naught. For not only in our spirits have we been regenerated and redeemed, but God hath promised us a redemption of the whole purchased possession and that includes our bodies [Ephesians 1:14]. And it was the purpose of God that the body of Moses be raised and exalted and glorified [Deuteronomy 34:5-6; Matthew 17:1-4]. And against that purpose, Lucifer contended [Jude 9]. And that is the same and identical thing that precipitates this war in heaven [Revelation 12:7]. For we have come to the time of the end, and it is the purpose of God to raise out of the dust of the ground—unto these that sleep in the earth [1 Thessalonians 4:13-17], and these whose names are written in the Book of Life [Revelation 20:12,15, 21:27, Luke 10:20]—it is God’s purpose to exalt them to heaven and to glorify them in the great, beatific life that God hath purposed for us [Daniel 12:2]. And against that Lucifer contends [Revelation 12:7-9].
And this is his last battle. “What makes you so sure of that, preacher?” Over here in the passage of Scripture that I had you read, in the twelfth chapter of the Book of Daniel, you read there where God said, “When Michael shall stand up…When Michael shall stand up” [Daniel 12:1], or as Paul would say it, “When that last trump of the archangel sounds….” [1 Thessalonians 4:16]. When Michael shall stand up, that is the time when these who sleep in the dust of the earth shall be resurrected [Daniel 12:1-2]. That is the time when these whose names are found written in the Book of Life shall be rewarded. And that is the time when God’s sainted children shall shine as the brightness of the firmament, and as the stars forever and forever [Daniel 12:3]. And this is the time that Michael stands up! [Daniel 12:1]. This is the time of the sounding of the trumpet [1 Thessalonians 4:16]. This is the time, these last concluding days, when God hath purposed to exalt and to glorify His saints [Hebrews 2:7]. And if Satan fails here, he fails everywhere! For this is the dissolution of his kingdom of darkness; this is the emptying of the graves, this is the destruction of the sovereignty of death [1 Corinthians 15:54-57]. Death is the end of the kingdom of Satan! [Luke 12:32].
And that’s why this great and final war: “There was war in heaven; Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon; fought and his angels” [Revelation 12:7]. For if Satan loses here; if He delivers up the saints that sleep, whose bodies sleep in the dust of the earth [1 Thessalonians 4:16-17], his kingdom is forever destroyed. Paul said again, you remember, “The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death” [1 Corinthians 15:26]. And Michael and his angels warred against Lucifer; and Lucifer warred and his angels—this is the time of the end [Revelation 12:7-9].
Now for a moment, to look at these two participants and that’s all we’ll have opportunity for this morning. Michael: his name means “one like God.” Michael, isn’t that a beautiful name? Michael, “one like God”; we’re introduced to him here in the Book of Daniel. And here he is described as one who stands for the people of the prophet. The reason I had you read that passage: it is so vital in understanding this. Michael, one of the great princes who “stands for the children of thy people” [Daniel 12:1], Daniel’s people, he stands for the nation Israel. He stands for the destiny of God’s elect people. And at this end time, God will bring to pass according to His elective sovereignty, all of those prophecies that are written in the Old Bible concerning His elect people and that elect nation—now outcasts, fugitives, wanderers, sojourners in the earth. But some day, some day, that day when Michael shall stand up [Daniel 12:1]; God hath purposed for His people a great and marvelous thing, ”For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance” [Romans 11:29]. A man may make a promise and the next day forget; not God! God may have made that promise thousands and thousands of years ago, but it is today, just as vibrant and alive and regnant in the presence of the Almighty as it was the day God made it. He doesn’t change! He doesn’t change! [Malachi 3:6]. And Michael is the prince that stands for the people of God [Daniel 12:1]. And of course, also included into that glorious household of faith are God’s sainted people.
Now Lucifer: “There appeared another semeion,” translated here, wonder. “There appeared another semeion,” sign, “in heaven” [Revelation 12:3], then the Lord describes him. Now a sign is not the thing itself. Like a sign on a storefront, that’s not the store; it’s altogether different. Or a sign on a road that may point the way, but the thing is altogether different to which it points.
Now the description here of Satan is not the description as he actually is: this is God’s symbolic drawing of the devil. If you’d like to know what God thinks about him and how God considers him—now this is God’s symbolic outline of Lucifer. Actually, Lucifer is bright, like the sun and glorious like God Himself. Paul one time referred to, “even the devil transfers himself into an angel of light” [2 Corinthians 11:14]. But this is a symbolic representation of the devil, “There appeared another semeion,” sign, “in heaven” [Revelation 12:3].
Now what is he like? He’s like a dragon, a serpent; vicious, vile, ferocious, terrible. His color is red—the Greek word is purrhos. The Greek word for fire is pur, p-u-r, “red,” purrhos—fiery red, like fire. He’s red; fiery red [Revelation 12:3]. He is a murderer from the beginning [John 8:44]. His whole trail is steeped in blood and in death— fiery red dragon. And he has seven heads [Revelation 12:3]. There are seven spirits of God [Revelation 3:1, 4:5]; just one Spirit of God [Ephesians 4:4]—but seven? The number seven refers to “plenitude.” Ten, like ten plagues: “the whole completeness” [Exodus 7:14-12:3]. And each one of his heads with a diadem, crowned with a diadem [Revelation 12:3]. And that description there of Lucifer is constant throughout all of the Word of God. He is always presented as a crowned monarch.
In the twelfth chapter of the Book of Matthew, our Lord referred to Satan as a king with a kingdom [Matthew 12:25-26]. Three times in the Book of John our Lord referred to Satan as “the prince of this world” [John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11]. In 2 Corinthians, chapter 4, verse 4, Paul refers to Satan as “the god of this world” [2 Corinthians 4:4]. In Ephesians 2, he refers to him as the king of the principality, the ruler of the principality of the air—of the kingdom of the air [Ephesians 2:2]. In the temptation of our Lord, Satan took Jesus upon a high mountain, and showed Him all of the kingdoms of this earth, and their glory, and said, “This will I give You, if You fall down and worship me” [Matthew 4:8-10]. In the last chapter, the fifth chapter of 1 John, John says this “whole world lieth in the hand of the wicked one” [1 John 5:19]. The kingdom of this world, the sovereignty of this world, does not become the sovereignty of our Lord and of His Christ until the sounding of the seventh trumpet; until this day, until the eleventh chapter of the Book of the Revelation [Revelation 11:15]. Without exception, all the way through the Word of God, Lucifer is presented as the god of this world [Job 1:7, 2 Corinthians 4:4, 1 Peter 5:8]. He’s made of it a world of tears, and of death, and of graves, and of sorrow. He has seven heads, each one crowned with a diadem [Revelation12:2-3]; he is a king of remarkable fullness and power.
“And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven and did cast them to the earth” [Revelation 12:4]. Lucifer is a star himself: Lucifer, “star of the morning” [Isaiah 14:12]. And God’s angelic host are called “stars,” as when they sing together in the thirty-eighth chapter of Job [Job 38:7]. And when Lucifer fell and iniquity was found in him, and proud pride lifted up his heart, and in arrogance he assayed to assume the sovereignty of God’s creation itself [Isaiah 14:13-14; Ezekiel 28:2]; when Lucifer did that, he drew with him one third of God’s angelic host [Revelation 12:4]. You have a difference in tenses here that is very remarkable. “And his tail súrei,” drags, draws—present indicative active—now, right now: then, now, “and his tail draws, drags one third of the stars of heaven” [Revelation 12:4].
Now your next verb is a second aorist indicative, one action, past: ebalen, “and did cast them down” [Revelation 12:4]; and threw them down, “cast them down.” That thing happened in the past. It’s remarkable how these Greek verbs will just say a thing. This thing, when Satan fell, was in the long-ago past. And when that one third of those angels fell, it was at one great, swell decision—swoop; one terrible incident in the days past. But for these ages since, one third of those angels have fallen in the wake, in the trail of Satan ever since: Lucifer and one third of those angels.
In Jude and in the second chapter of 2 Peter, the angels, some of them are spoken of as being in prison, chained until the great day of judgment [Jude 6; 2 Peter 2:4]. I do not understand this. Some of those angels are in prison, awaiting the great judgment day of Almighty God; but Lucifer was not and these third angels are not [Revelation 12:3-4]. Lucifer had permission to enter, and liberty to enter into the garden of Eden [Genesis 3]. And in the Book of Job, he has access before the very presence of God Himself [Job 1:6-12, 2:1-6]. And here they are in heaven, warring against Michael and his angels [Revelation 12:7]. I do not understand: that is a mystery God has not revealed. Some of them in prison in chains, and these at liberty to war against the purposes of God; but this is a description of Satan—God’s delineation of him.
“And the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her Child as soon as it was born” [Revelation 12:4]. Satan from the beginning, Satan was there listening when God said, “And the Seed of the woman shall crush thy head” [Genesis 3:15]. Some day! Some day, “And the Seed of the woman shall crush thy head.”
And from that far-away hour, in the unknown ages of the past in the garden of Eden, Satan has been seeking to destroy that promised Seed ever since. He moved Cain to slay Abel [Genesis 4:8]. He so sowed wickedness in the earth, that the antediluvians were destroyed in the terrible Flood [Genesis 6:5-7, 7:17-24]. But as Seth was raised up to Adam and Eve [Genesis 4:25], so Noah found grace in the sight of the Lord [Genesis 6:8]. And Satan did that same thing again in the household of Isaac, when he stirred up Esau to say, “I will slay my brother Jacob” [Genesis 27:41]. But God delivered Israel [Genesis 48:16]. And that same attempt of Satan to destroy that promised Seed, he moved Pharaoh in the land of Egypt, when Moses was born, to destroy all of the male children of the Hebrew families [Exodus 1:9-10, 16, 22]. And he has that same blood-red purpose ever since: to destroy that chosen Seed.
He sowed treachery and murder and slaughter among the sons of David. And when Jehoshaphat died [2 Chronicles 21:1], Jehoram his son slew all of the seed royal [2 Chronicles 21:4]. But Jehoram had children. And when the Arabians came, and in their attack, destroyed all of the children, all the children of Jehoram, one of them survived: Ahaziah [2 Chronicles 22:1]. And when Jehu slew Ahaziah [2 Chronicles 22:8-10], Athaliah the queen-mother, usurping the crown—she the daughter of Ahab and Jezebel—she slew all of the seed royal [2 Chronicles 22:10; 2 Kings 11:1]. But Jehoiada’s wife, aunt of this little child—Jehoiada’s wife, the wife of the high priest—took Joash, an infant baby and hid him away. And for those six years, the whole purpose in God in the promised seed rested in the life of that small, tiny infant [2 Kings 11:2-3; 2 Chronicles 22:10-12].
And in the days of Esther, Satan moved king Ahasuerus to stamp out and to exterminate all of the seed of the elect people of God [Esther 3:8-13]. But a king’s [sleepless] night spared them in the providence of God [Esther 6:1-2].
And at last, when the Child was born and the dragon stood before the woman, who was ready to be delivered, for to devour her Child as soon as It was born [Revelation 12:4], and when the Child was born, Satan moved Herod to slay all of the babes in Bethlehem, hoping to destroy the life of that Infant and promised Child [Matthew 2:16]. When he failed in that, he sought the destruction of the Lord when he tempted Him to be cast down from the pinnacle of the temple [Matthew 4:5-7]. And he sought the destruction of the Lord when he moved the people at Nazareth to cast Him off of the brow of the hill in which their city was built [Luke 4:29-30]. And he sought the destruction of the Lord in the enmity of the scribes and Pharisees who took up stones to slay Him. But He walked unharmed through their midst [John 8:59]. And he sought the destruction of that promised Seed when he, in the garden of [Gethsemane], almost slew the Lord in that terrible agony of prayer [Luke 22:44-53].
And finally, on a Friday afternoon at 3:00 o’clock, on the day before the high day—the Lord’s day, the Sabbath day of the Passover—he slew the Son of God, the promised Seed [Genesis 3:15], and saw Him raised in death, and in blood beneath the sky [Matthew 27:45-50]. What a triumph, what a triumph, when Satan saw the mangled body of the Son of God wrapped in linen, embalmed in spices and sealed in a sepulcher, where no man, no mortal could touch Him [Matthew 27:57-66].
But, but! God never changes in His purposes [Malachi 3:6]. He purposed for this Man Child to rule the nations with a rod of iron [Revelation 12:5]. And the Lord caught Him up to His throne in glory, waiting until His enemies be made His footstool [Psalm 110:1; Matthew 22:44; Hebrews 1:13]. And when Satan saw the resurrection, and the enthronement of Christ and the purpose of God, thus to exalt and to enthrone all of His people, Satan was wrathful and angry! And these who preach the gospel of the Son of God—Christ’s emissaries and apostles and missionaries and evangelists—Satan had them crucified, and he had them sawn asunder, and he had them slain by the sword [Hebrews 11:37], and he fed them to gladiators and to wild beasts, while emperors watched and made sport. And edict after edict by the imperial government of Rome was sent out to exterminate the people from the face of the earth.
And when paganism was supplanted by papal authority, and the robe of the Greek priest was exchanged for the robe of the prelate, and the insignia of the Christian church took place and precedence over the insignia of Bacchus and his Bacchanalia—it was the same story, the same story! It was the story of the rack, and of the fagot, and of the inquisition, and of the dance of damnation. And it has been estimated that more than fifty million of God’s confessors laid down their lives in fire and in blood before the awful inquisitions of papal Rome—the wrath of the dragon against the people of the Lord [Revelation 12:17].
And today, and today, that same wrath is manifested. Sometimes you see it in the suave, intellectual decimation, destruction, fragmentation of the Word of God from the pulpits of the land, when men empty the Word of God of its meaning and message; deny the very presence, and the very personality, and the very reality of Lucifer himself, and make sport of the miraculous, supernatural providences of Almighty God. Sometimes he attacks in that most subtle and fearful of all ways: when men are taught to believe a lie and to deny the very inspiration of the Word and revelation of God itself [2 Timothy 3:16].
And then finally, in our day and in our time, has come the most darksome and fearful, and indescribably terrible of all of the attacks that have ever been made against the people of the Lord. For even the ancient Greek inquired at the Delphian oracle, at the oracle of Delphi before he made a great decision. And no Roman general would go to war until first he had propitiated the gods. But today, for the first time in the history of the world, there are nations of this earth who avowedly are blasphemous and atheistic and denounce God to His face.
The wrath of the dragon; and we face a holocaust some hour; some hour, at their choosing, it will come, the wrath of the dragon. “And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels” [Revelation 12:7].
But thank God, thank God. Whether the story was at Eden or in the household of Noah, whether the story was in Israel or in the dark servitude of Egypt, whether the story was in the slaughter of the household of David, or in the dark days of the kings of Persia, or whether it was the story of bloody Bethlehem, or the story of the laying down of the lives of the apostles, or whether it was the story of God’s saints, who died in the Inquisition, or whether it is the story of our missionaries who perish today, facing an implacable foe: it is the same word and promise of God! “They prevailed not” [Revelation 12:8].
Fire cannot burn up God’s elective purpose; and blood and death and persecution cannot destroy God’s choices, stated from the beginning of the creation: that these who trust in Him shall reign with Him [2 Timothy 2:12; Revelation 5:10, 22:3-5]. God shall share His throne with them; they shall be His people. God shall be their God. They shall be fellow heirs with the Son of glory when He shall come to reign in the earth [Ephesians 3:6; Romans 8:16-17]. These things don’t change, they don’t change, “And prevailed not” [Revelation 12:8]. Next Sunday’s sermon, we shall follow the expulsion of Satan from heaven.
Ah, the Lord bless our people as we find our refuge, and our strength, and our trust in Him. Now while we sing our song of appeal, somebody you give his heart to Jesus [Romans 10:8-13], somebody you, put your life with us in the fellowship of the church [Hebrews 10:24-25]. As the Spirit of God shall say the word and open the door, come and stand by me. “Preacher, I give you my hand, I give my heart to God” [Ephesians 2:8] or “Pastor, this is my wife and these are our children, all of us are coming.”
Some of you by statement: “I’ve been saved, I’ve been baptized. I don’t even know where my letter is.” It is a piece of paper; we are interested in you! Or, coming by promise of a letter from a church that has your name on their roll, come. Some of you to be baptized, “Preacher, I’ve never been baptized like it says in the Book [Matthew 28:19], buried with our Lord, raised with our Lord [Romans 6:3-5]. I’m coming to be baptized, to follow the Lord through the waters of the Jordan” [Matthew 3:13-17].
And then some of you, “Preacher, today I decide for Christ [Ephesians 2:8]. When the heavens are on fire, and in the dissolution of the very elements of this world [2 Peter 3:10]; I trust in God. My hope is in Christ the Lord!” Come, come. Come, while we stand and while we sing.
WAR IN HEAVEN
Dr. W. A. Criswell
A. War between Michael and Lucifer and their cohorts
B. Precipitates last and final Great Tribulation, the last three and a half years
C. The beginning of the end – the conflict between good and evil, God and Satan, rises to its final issue
1. Closes with Armageddon, the final war in the earthII. The commanders of the opposing forces have long ben familiar to each other
A. Satan, Lucifer, is God’s highest creation(Ezekiel 28:12-19)
1. Michael, the archangel, was beneath him (Jude 9)
B. Same identical antagonists named in this final war are named in the text in Jude 9
1. An illustration of the power of Satan – even the archangel dare not accuse him
2. In his past arrogance and ambition he has been so successful
a. The desolation of God’s creation between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2
b. The destruction of Eden
c. The graveyard of this world – sin and death seemingly supreme
C. Final war over the same issue in Jude 9 – disputed about body of Moses
1. I think Satan wanted the body of Moses for idolatry in Israel
2. He wanted to prevent the resurrection, glorification of Moses
a. He was representative of us all
b. This is his last battle (Daniel 12:1-3, 1 Corinthians 15:26)III. The antagonists
A. Michael – “one like God”
1. One of the chief princes assigned to care for the destiny of the Jewish nation(Daniel 10:13, 21, 12:1, Jude 9, Revelation 12:7)
2. Chosen to be a protector of Daniel’s people
3. At this end time God brings to pass all the prophecies written concerning His elect people and nation
a. When Michael stands up, God has purposed for His people some marvelous thing (Romans 11:29)
1. Semeion – “sign” – God’s symbolic outline of Lucifer(Revelation 12:3)
2. He’s like a dragon, a serpent
a. His color is purrhos, “fiery red” – murderer from the beginning(John 8:44)
b. Seven heads, all encircled with diadems – always presented as a crowned monarch(Matthew 12:24-30, John 12:31, 14:30, 16:11, 2 Corinthians 4:4, Ephesians 2:2, 1 John 5:19, Revelation 11:15)
i. Seven a symbol of fullness, plentitude
c. His tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven
i. Satan a star; God’s angelic hosts are called stars (Job 38:4-7)
ii. Verb tense indicates this happened in the past
iii. Some of those evil angels in prison, awaiting judgment (Jude 6, 2 Peter 2:4)
iv. Satan and those not confined are at liberty to war against the purposes of God
3. His determination to destroy the Seed of the woman from the beginning(Revelation 12:4, Genesis 3:15)
a. When the promised Seed was born, his continued attempts to destroy Him
i. Moved Herod to slay all the babies in Bethlehem
ii. The wilderness temptation of Christ
iii. Home town of Nazareth tried to throw Him off a cliff
iv. The enmity of scribes and Pharisees who took up stones
v. The agony of prayer in Gethsemane
vi. He thought he triumphed at the cross, and sealed the body in the sepulcher
A. Satan had Christ’s emissaries, apostles, missionaries and evangelists crucified, sawn asunder, persecuted
B. Even when paganism supplanted by papal authority – the inquisition
C. Today the same wrath manifested in a perverted gospel, false theology
D. Attacks will be more fierce as the time draws near
1. First time in history there are openly atheistic nations
E. But they prevail not(Revelation 12:8)