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War in Heaven

09 May
Fall of Satan

from Google Images

In order for the idea to be true that demons are fallen angels, there had to have been some kind of conflict between the forces of good – God and his angels – and the forces of evil – God’s enemy and his angels. Yet, when those of us who believe or believed at one time that a ‘war in heaven’ did occur look into the word of God (the Bible), we are surprised to find that no account of such a conflict exists. I know I was surprised when I began to search the pages of God’s word to prove the teaching I had been told about Satan and his demons falling from their positions of glory in heaven. Yet, since there is no such clear record of such a thing occurring in the Bible, how did we come to believe a war between God and Satan occurred?

There is absolutely no trace of such a war within the pages of the Old Testament, but in Revelation 12:7-9 we do read of a ‘war in heaven’ taking place. In that war Satan is cast out of heaven and falls to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. The problem is that Jesus interprets Satan falling from heaven to the earth as an event that occurred during his public ministry, when the 70 returned from their mission, saying even the demons were subject to them (Luke 10:17-18). This seems to say that Michael in Revelation 12 is Jesus in the Gospels, and Michael’s angels in Revelation 12 are Jesus disciples in the Gospel narratives, and the angels (aggelos – G32) of Revelation 12 are not spirit beings at all. Therefore, they are really Jesus’ messengers (also the meaning of the Greek word, G32) or the men who were Jesus’ disciples (cf. Luke 7:24; 9:52; James 2:25).

The New Testament tells us of a difference between Jewish and Greek understanding (1Corinthians 1:22). Greeks look for logic or wisdom to understand the difference between truth and falsehood. The Hebrews, however, understand truth or error through signs. Signs can be miracles, which were the sort of thing the Jews sought for Jesus to use to prove he was the Messiah (cf. Matthew 12:38), but signs can also be something that already occurred like something that happened in the Old Testament (cf. Matthew 12:39). Paul used the sign of his own hand completing each of his letters to show they were authentic—i.e. his own letters. Any letter that did not end with his own handwriting, was not his (2Thessalonians 3:17).

This sort of thing even spilled over into the Greek and Hebrew language. Where the Greeks might say Alexander was a wise and powerful king, the Hebrews might respond with David was a good shepherd. Where Christian gentiles might say: “What I believe is based upon the teachings of Jesus,” believing Jews might conclude with “I am built upon the Rock!” So, the ‘war in heaven’, found in Revelation 12:7-9, really can be understood as a picture or a sign of what occurred in Jesus’ ministry between him and his disciples and Satan and the scribes and Pharisees (Luke 10:17-18).

Understanding this, we have absolutely no record in either testament of Satan (an angelic spirit) rebelling in heaven against God and his angelic spirit armies. If such a story doesn’t come from the Bible, from where does it come. Well, logic demands, if it doesn’t come from God, it must come from men. It is one of those ‘doctrines’ or ‘traditions’ of men (Mark 7:7) that nullify the word of God (Mark 7:13).

In Jewish inter-testamentary literature we find the first mention of conflicts in heaven and angels rebelling. For example, in Jewish pseudepigrapha, The Life of Adam and Eve, we are told that Satan and his followers (angels) were cast out of heaven for refusing to worship Adam, the Image of God (Life of Adam and Eve 12:3). In 1Enoch 6:1-8 and 7:1-6 we find recorded an angelic rebellion, which the author says occurred during the years just before the Flood of Genesis 6. The angels lusted after human women and rebelled against God, taking for themselves women for wives. The chief rebelling angel was Azazel (1Enoch 8:1-4) and he taught men to become violent, which brought God’s judgment upon them (the Flood – 1Enoch 10).

There are similar stories written in other Jewish inter-testamentary literature, but this should suffice to show that the ‘war in heaven’ pointing to a conflict between Satan and his angels and God and his angels is nothing more than the traditions of men. To seek to understand what we find in the Bible (e.g. Genesis 6 and Revelation 12), by interpreting what we see there by assimilating what we read in The Life of Adam and Eve and 1Enoch and similar literature is to miss the mark.

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Posted by on May 9, 2017 in Gospel of Luke

 

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