The accuser thrown out of court
May 17, 2016
Revelation 12:7, 8 says,
7 And there was war in heaven, Michael and his angels waging war with the dragon. And the dragon and his angels waged war, 8 and they were not strong enough, and there was no longer a place found for them in heaven.
John was referring first and foremost to the heavenly battle written pictorially in the night sky and supported by the names of the constellations and individual stars within each. Whether the sign of the deliverer is Sagittarius the Archer, or Cepheus the Royal Branch, or Orion the Bright Coming King, or Hercules the Strong Man, or Ophiuchus the man grasping the serpent, they all speak of Christ who was to come as the great Deliverer.
John speaks of “Michael and his angels” fighting the war against the dragon. This is peculiarly a Hebrew revelation, for we do not see in the stars anyone named Michael. The only real connection is when we understand that Michael means one “who is like God.” In a sense, all of the men pictured as Christ in the constellations are “like God.” But Michael is the divine agent of deliverance in biblical history.
Michael is the counterpart and the natural enemy of the red dragon, even as Peniel is the counterpart and the natural enemy of the Prince of Persia. Each of the archangels (if not others) have specific assignments and callings to overthrow and bind their enemy counterparts. Peniel, the Angel of His Presence (or Face), was the original angel that led Israel out of Egypt (Isaiah 63:9), but when Israel rebelled by worshiping the golden calf, he was replaced by another angel (Exodus 33:2, 3). Hence, later we read that Michael is “the great prince who stands guard over the sons of your people” (Daniel 12:1).
John, then, identifies Michael as the deliverer in Revelation 12. He is the angel that led Israel while the nation sojourned in the wilderness. He is the angel that has led the church in the wilderness during the past 2,000 years as well. Furthermore, because the serpent was present at the beginning of creation, Michael’s work was necessary from the start, when God first named the stars and placed the picture of the great serpent in the heavens.
So we find very early the belief that Satan, or Lucifer, rebelled and was cast out of heaven. It was believed that the battle in the heavens was very ancient and not merely consigned to the future. Yet because the battle continues until the final victory and resolution, we can see this battle playing out in the time of Moses, when Amalek attacked Israel. Later, at Christ’s first coming, King Herod, the Red Edomite, played the earthly role of the red dragon as the church fled into the wilderness.
In the big picture, we are now positioned at the end of the age, when we ought to see the dragon overcome. Indeed, we fought the “Dragon Wars” for about 3½ years from 1996-1999 when Virgo, clothed with the sun, seemed to give birth to the moon as it moved from her womb to her feet. Will there be further fulfillments of this? Perhaps, but they say that the signs that were seen in 1996-1999 will not be repeated, at least not in the foreseeable future.
We have seen victories over the dragon in each of the past examples. The serpent was judged in the garden (Genesis 3:14, 15), and yet there was a prophecy of a future judgment when the seed of the woman would bruise his head. So when Christ came and died on the cross, His heel was bruised, so to speak, but in emerging from the tomb, He was victorious over death and bruised the head of the great dragon.
This scene is perhaps pictured most clearly in the constellation Hercules, the Strong Man. He is pictured kneeling on one knee with his foot lifted as if bruised, while his other foot is on the head of the dragon. The brightest star in the head of Hercules is Ras al Gethi, “the head of him who bruises.” Clearly, the divine message tells us that the Strong Man is Jesus Christ who has bruised the head of the serpent.
Unfortunately, even though other nations and religions had been given the gospel in the stars, they did not know how it was fulfilled in Christ until the apostles were sent out to tell them the good news. Many parts of the world did not receive this good news for centuries, and many still remain in the dark.
Revelation 12:9-11 says,
9 And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. 10 And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation, and the power [dunamis], and the kingdom of our God and the authority [exousia] of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, who accuses them before our God day and night. 11 And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even to death.”
Here the great dragon is identified with “the serpent of old,” the same as the tempter in the garden (Genesis 3:1). This serpent is “called the devil and Satan.” The Greek word for “devil” is diabolos, “false accuser, slanderer.” Satan is an Aramaic word (satanas) transliterated directly in Greek, which means “an adversary.” The serpent is both an accuser and an adversary (prosecutor) in the divine court. John says he “accuses them before our God day and night,” that is, continuously.
Hence, when the accuser is “thrown down to the earth,” it means he is thrown out of court. His case against “our brethren” has been rejected. His calling is to accuse us, using our sin and imperfections against us. Under normal circumstances, the accuser has a case against us, for all have broken the law of God. However, after the Child of the woman has been born, and after His ascension to the throne, the dragon’s case against us carries no merit. 1 John 2:1, 2 says,
1 My little children, I am writing these things to you that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; 2 and He Himself is the propitiation [expiation] for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.
An Advocate is a defense attorney, the one called to defend those who are accused by the prosecutor (devil). The blood of Christ, who paid for all sin by His death on the cross, removed the devil’s grounds for accusation. When Christ took upon Himself the sin of the world (John 1:29), He became the Victim of all sin ever committed. This gave Him the right as a victim either to hold men accountable or to forgive and release it.
While yet on the cross, He chose to forgive (Luke 23:34). Hence, even though He has also held men accountable—and will yet do so at the Great White Throne—those who are judged will be saved in the end when all sin (debt) is canceled at the great Jubilee. God holds men accountable as a way to bring men to repentance and to train them as they grow to spiritual maturity. In the end, this time of judgment is limited by the law of Jubilee, and for this reason the Scriptures tell us that the time is aionian, “pertaining to an age.”
Though some translations have mistranslated this word as “eternal” and “forever,” in the end, the devil has been cast down, and Jesus Christ has become “the Savior of all men” (1 Timothy 4:10).
Salvation Has Come
Revelation 12:10 thus tells us that “salvation” has come. Although this is written in Greek, we must understand this with the Hebrew mindset. Jesus’ Hebrew name, Yeshua, means “salvation,” and so His name is both Jesus and salvation itself. All of the Old Testament references to salvation (yasha, yeshua) prophesy of Jesus Himself, and we often see this connection in the New Testament.
Simeon had revelation that the Messiah would be born on the feast of Trumpets and that His name would be Yeshua, so he waited in the temple on the fortieth day after Trumpets, when he knew that he was to be presented to God according to the law. It had been revealed that he would live to see the Messiah, and so when Joseph and Mary came and identified the name of the son as Yeshua (Jesus), Simeon rejoiced, took the baby in his arms, blessed God, and said in Luke 2:29, 30,
29 Now, Lord, Thou dost let Thy bond-servant depart in peace, according to Thy word; 30 for my eyes have seen Thy Salvation [Yeshua].
On another occasion, Jesus told the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4:22, “Salvation is from the Jews.” In other words, Yeshua-Jesus was to come from Judea, or the tribe of Judah, not from Samaria.
How to Overcome the Accuser
Revelation 12:7 indicates that Michael cast the serpent-devil out of heaven to the earth, but Revelation 12:11 says that “they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb.” In this case, “they” refers to “our brethren,” that is, those who had been accused day and night. This process of overcoming has been timeless, because before the cross men applied the blood of lambs to their sin, and this showed faith in the true Lamb that was yet to come. After the cross, the blood of animals ceased to have merit in the divine court, for any use or dependence upon animal blood could only express one’s lack of faith in the true Lamb of God.
The brethren overcame also by “the word of their testimony.” The Greek word for “testimony” is marturia, which means “witness, testimony,” but which also implies that many would die as “martyrs” on account of this testimony in the courts of men. So it is not only the blood of Christ as the Lamb of God that allows the brethren to overcome, but also their own witness that was often sealed by their own blood as part of the body of Christ.
For this reason, the Greek word for “lamb” used here is arnion, “little lamb,” or, as the Concordant Version reads, “lambkin.” This refers to the overcomers themselves, for when John 1:29 speaks of “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world,” he uses the Greek word amnos to describe the full-grown Lamb—Jesus Christ. But at the end of John’s gospel, Jesus told Peter, “Tend My lambs,” using the word arnion.
Although John himself shows in his gospel that he understood the difference between the amnos and the arnion, the book of Revelation never uses the term amnos. It is always arnion, the little lambs. Hence, “the unveiling of Jesus Christ,” which is the title of the book itself, is about how Christ the amnos is being unveiled in the brethren, the arnion.
So also we see Michael casting the accuser out of the divine court, but after this, the brethren must also overcome the dragon on the earth. It is a two-step program, one for the Head and the other for the body of Christ. The first part was accomplished by Jesus’ death, resurrection, and ascension, which is prophesied in Revelation 12:1-10. The second part has taken place over many generations, as each of the “brethren” individually overcome by their testimony and even by their own blood if necessary.
This is part 91 of a series titled "Studies in the Book of Revelation." To view all parts, click the link below.
Dr. Stephen Jones