The seventy return with a good report
Mar 27, 2014
The seventy disciples, who were sent out as apostles, returned with a good report. Luke 10:17-20 says,
17 And the seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name.” 18 And He said to them, “I was watching Satan fall from heaven like lightning. 19 Behold, I have given you authority to tread upon serpents and scorpions and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall injure you. 20 Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are recorded in heaven.”
It appears that the seventy were most impressed with their authority over “demons,” or “spirits,” which are pictured also figuratively as “serpents and scorpions.” Lightfoot paraphrases Jesus’ statement in verse 18, “When I sent you forth, I saw Satan’s fall at hand, that he should be immediately despoiled of his power and tyranny” (Commentary, Vol. 3, p. 97).
Satan falling from heaven refers to Isaiah 14:12,
12 How you have fallen from heaven, O star of the morning, son of the dawn! You have been cut down to the earth, you who have weakened the nations. 13 But you said in your heart, “I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God, and I will sit on the mount of assembly in the recesses of the north. 14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High. 15 Nevertheless, you will be thrust down to Sheol, to the recesses of the pit.”
This passage is, on its surface, a statement of intent by the king of Babylon, referred to in verse 16 as “the man who made the earth tremble, who shook kingdoms.” Many kings and caesars have been proclaimed to be gods throughout history. Their ambition has been to “sit on the mount of assembly,” that is, to be among the gods living on a holy mountain such as Mount Olympus, the Greek mountain where the gods were said to assemble.
The Hebrew word translated “assembly” in Isaiah 14:13 is mo’ed, which was also an appointed time to assemble, as at a feast day, where men assembled before God.
Some teachers believe that the “Lucifer” passage above speaks only of the king of Babylon, while others believe that it has a second layer of meaning and refers to the spiritual god of Babylon. When we compare Isaiah’s prophecy to the report of the seventy in Luke 10, we see that Jesus gave it a spiritual dimension. The seventy did not overthrow any nations—certainly not Babylon—but yet they found that demons and spirits were subject to them. Jesus saw “Satan fall from heaven.”
By stepping back and seeing this report from a prophetic standpoint, new light can be shed on this topic. Lightfoot suggests that this occurred in the six-month period between Tabernacles and the feast of Passover when Jesus was crucified. He apparently recognized that Jesus’ transfiguration was a Tabernacles experience and probably occurred at the time of that feast. Though Jesus did not attend the feast in Jerusalem, He did fulfill the feast by appearing before the Lord on Mount Sion (Exodus 34:23).
We have already shown how that experience prophesied of a future time when the Sons of God would be presented to the Father on the eighth day of Tabernacles, and how, when they returned to Caesarea Philippi, they “bound Satan” (Azazel, or Pan) that was in the man’s son. The calling of the seventy prophesied of a greater apostleship in the time of the end, when the Sons of God would be sent out to restore all the nations and put all things under the feet of Christ.
The good report of the seventy, who “returned with joy,” had succeeded prophetically in subjecting the nations to the authority of Jesus Christ. Hence, Jesus watched as Satan fell from heaven. The principle is “first the spiritual, then the earthly.” The seventy saw that the demons were subject to their authority, but the greater manifestation at the end will see the overthrow of the king of Mystery Babylon, both spiritual and physical. Thus, Satan is bound in Revelation 20:2, and the secret rulers of Mystery Babylon are overthrown as well.
Luke 10:21 bears witness to this:
21 At that very time He rejoiced greatly in the Holy Spirit, and said, “I praise Thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that Thou didst hide these things from the wise and intelligent and didst reveal them to babes. Yes, Father, for thus it was well-pleasing in Thy sight.”
Then turning to His disciples, He said to them,
22 “All things have been handed over to Me by My Father, and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, and who the Father is except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.”
Jesus understood the prophetic significance of the seventy’s successful mission. This is the only explanation for His magnification of their success. To the untrained eye, their success in casting out some demons from individual people would have little national consequence. But Jesus was not exaggerating, for He understood the prophetic significance of this pattern that was to be fulfilled more fully in the end days.
At the same time, He noted that those to whom this would be revealed, both then and now, were not “the wise and intelligent,” or men of great reputation, but “to babes.” The seventy apostles were the first “babes” to see these things. Obviously, they were not really babes, either physically or spiritually, but they were considered babes by the religious leaders who despised them as ordinary ignorant and foolish men (John 7:49).
So also it is today. It seems that God prefers to accomplish His purposes through unlikely people, whom He has transformed into His image by the power of His Spirit.
After Jesus’ expression of joy upon seeing the restoration of all nations in this microcosm of the seventy, we read in Luke 10:23, 24,
23 And turning to the disciples, He said privately, “Blessed are the eyes which see the things you see, 24 for I say to you, that many prophets and kings wished to see the things which you see, and did not see them, and to hear the things which you hear, and did not hear them.”
Surely Jesus explained to them thoroughly the prophetic significance of their successful mission. Otherwise, they might have wondered why He was making such a big deal of this. The twelve disciples had already cast out demons in their earlier mission (Luke 9:1). Even at Caesarea Philippi, when they were unable to cast out one demon, their lack of success was treated as being unusual. But when we understand that this mission prophesied of something greater yet to come, it is easy to see why Jesus was so excited over their success.
Their eyes were “blessed” (from the Greek word makarios). It is the same word used in the beatitudes. Jesus did not invoke a blessing upon their eyes, but told them that their eyes were already in a state of blessedness. Blessed are the eyes that see. Blessed eyes “know” the Father, for the Son has revealed Him to them.
Jesus Himself was “the Son,” but a greater truth was dawning in their hearts that they too could become the Sons of God. They too would fulfill the feast of Tabernacles, even as Jesus had done on the Mount. They too could see the spirits subject to their authority, for they were part of the body of Christ.
Yet the most important thing, Jesus said, was that their names were written in heaven. Hebrews 12:22, 23 explains this further,
22 But you have come to Mount Sion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels, 23 to the general assembly and church of the first-born who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the Judge of all, and to the spirits of righteous men made perfect.
It appears that being enrolled in the public register of heaven is more than being a citizen. It is about Sonship. The Sons of God are the “first-born,” because they (like Jesus Himself) are called to bring many younger sons into glory. Hence, the seventy were playing the prophetic role of the first-born Sons of God, “enrolled in heaven,” who were sent to bind Satan and to restore the nations to their rightful Heir and King.
Many know God on various levels. In fact, people of many religions know Him as the Creator. The path to knowing God from a biblical perspective is the path to Sonship. Other religions focus upon being God’s servants, but do not know the real secret of the universe, which is that we may become Sons of God (John 1:12). Jesus said that only the Son truly knows the Father, due to that Father-Son relationship.
Most people do not think Sonship is possible, because it is inconceivable to them (no pun intended) that God could have physical children. They do not know that God has set forth a plan of adoption. The law of God reveals how this is possible. Deuteronomy 25:5-10 gives the revelation of the divine plan. Jesus died childless, but we are His brethren (Hebrews 2:11), called to raise up seed for our older brother, so that He does not lose His inheritance in the earth.
Hence, the Holy Spirit begets Christ in us by the seed of the Word, and when that holy Seed matures in us, we give birth to the Son of God, who is also the Son of Man. The Christ in you (Colossians 1:27) has a heavenly Father and an earthly mother. That Christ is the real you, but he is legally adopted by Jesus Christ as His own Son.
This is one of the most sacred secrets of the universe, and it is the path to truly knowing the heart of the Creator Himself. Blessed are your eyes, for they see these things.
This is part 53 of a series titled "Studies in the Book of Luke." To view all parts, click the link below.
Dr. Stephen Jones