In Revelation 12, is the war in heaven Satan's original fall or an end-times angelic battle?
Revelation 12:7-12 describes a great angelic battle in which Satan and those with him are removed from heaven. When did or does this battle take place?
One way to answer this question is to look at other places in Scripture where Satan appeared before the Lord. In Job 1—2, Satan is seen before the Lord in heaven. Therefore, the battle in Revelation 12 had to take place after this time.
In Zechariah 3, Satan appeared before God to accuse Joshua of wrongdoing. This again shows Satan still had access to heaven in the Old Testament period.
In the New Testament, Ephesians 6:11-12 also notes Satan operating in the heavenly realm: "Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places." Ephesians was written in approximately AD 60—62, about thirty to thirty-five years before Revelation. At this time, Satan was still taught as being able to access God's presence in heaven.
These passages indicate that Revelation 12 most likely describes a future event during which Satan and his followers will be completely expelled from heaven. Revelation 12:6 seems to indicate this will take place at approximately the midpoint of the tribulation period. Satan and his fallen angels will have only three and a half years to attack God's people. Verse 12 notes, "But woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!"
But what about Satan's original fall? While much is unknown about this event, it is clear that it took place before the serpent (Satan) tempted Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, but sometime after the creation of angelic beings. Ezekiel 28 and Isaiah 14 are the two locations in the Bible that speak of this event. Ezekiel 28:11-19 switches from the rule or Tyre to the supernatural king of Tyre, Lucifer or Satan, who sought to be greater than God in his pride and was the first to sin, then leading humanity into sin.
In summary, Satan was created as a powerful angel. However, he rebelled against the Lord and was removed from his position. Even so, he is still allowed temporary access to God's presence in heaven at certain times by God's choosing. And he is allowed to operate on the earth. Satan is a liar and the father of lies (John 8:44), and will be expelled from God's presence completely at the midpoint of the tribulation, after which he will pursue God's people on earth until his defeat at Armageddon (Revelation 19) and final judgment (Revelation 20).
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