COSMIC CONFLICT! STAR WARS!
SATAN and HIS KINGDOM!
ANGELS! DEMONS! SEDUCING SPIRITS!
By Pastor Dan Gayman
For untold ages, the children of God have considered the invisible world of the unknown. While most people are literally consumed with the physical world of the five senses, many of us know that beyond this present physical world is an all too real but invisible world full of conflict in the spirit world, between good and evil, right and wrong, life and death. So it has been since beginning of time, and so it is still.
Yes, beyond the veil of this present physical world that we discern with our five senses is a vast, invisible, but real world that far surpasses anything that we can possibly imagine. In this cosmic world of the unknown is a literal war waged through the centuries to this very day, involving all the souls of Adam kind ever created. In this invisible world where God and His holy angels dwell with the redeemed souls of His saints who have gone before us is the scene of warfare from ages past. As redeemed children of God, we should be resolved not to limit ourselves to those things which we discern with our physical senses. We should be willing to consider the eternal things of the spirit and not confine our focus to just this temporal, physical world. Our advocate in this life is the Holy Spirit, just as Jesus Christ is our advocate and intercessory mediator in heaven. The Holy Spirit will render wisdom and inspiration through the revelation of God’s Word as we seek to understand the literal but invisible world of the spirit.
God has not left us without confirmation of this invisible world. We clearly understand from Scripture that Jesus Christ, “Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature” (Col. 1:15), is the creator of all things “…that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist” (Col. 1:16-17). This invisible world is just as real as the world in which we live—perhaps even more so. Can we see the wind? No. But we know it exists. We feel it against our skin and see it in the sway of the trees and grass. Can we see an electrical current? Perhaps in lightning strikes, but not always. Yet if we touch a hot electrical wire, we certainly will feel the sizzle of the current. So it is with the invisible world, where a tremendous cataclysmic struggle has been ongoing for ages.
We who dwell in these physical bodies of dust are fulfilling the role our sovereign and holy God assigned us. We will not always dwell in these corruptible bodies of flesh and blood. “For our light affliction which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal” (II Cor. 4: 17-18). We are instructed in I Corinthians 15:50, “Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.” There is an appointed time when the Living God, together with His angels, will descend from the heaven, along with the souls of all the redeemed of God who will come to be reunited with their resurrected and glorified bodies. This will mark the beginning of the thousand-year millennial reign of Jesus Christ with His redeemed saints in Christ’s glorious Kingdom.
To understand the nature of the cosmic conflict that wages around us, we should examine in some detail the origin of this warfare and the introduction of evil into God’s perfect world. The Bible opens with this brief but powerful introduction: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (Gen. 1:1). God declares in Psalm 115:16 that “The heaven, even the heavens, are the LORD’S: but the earth hath he given to the children of men.” The earth was made for Adam kind, but the heavens are reserved for God.
Scripture teaches us that there are three heavens. First is the heaven where the clouds and all of our weather patterns form. Second is the planetary heavens. Remember that our deepest probe into outer space has barely touched this second heaven. The third heaven is where our Eternal Father dwells (II Cor. 12:2), together with His holy angels. It is in this glorious paradise that the souls of the redeemed dwell while they await the return of Jesus Christ to be joined with their resurrected bodies.
To clearly understand the origin and development of evil, we must look beyond measurable time and reaffirm what the Bible teaches about the original world of absolute perfection, peace, joy, and contentment that once filled the universe. God filled His gloriously created world with various life forms—plants, animals, and mankind. God challenged Adam kind to exercise headship over the created world and to take dominion over every living thing. God also commanded Adam and Eve to procreate within their own kind. They and their children could live forever—if they chose to obey their Creator’s command and abstained from eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. In the Garden of Eden, all was peace and joy—paradise—until Adam and Eve fell.
In the vast universe where God and all his hosts of angels dwell, all is peace and exceeding great joy. In this glorious and unparalleled third heaven is the very throne of God. Here, in His one divine essence, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit enjoy complete communion and harmony. Surrounding the throne are the Cherubim, Seraphim, and Ophannim, all high-ranking angels, each with a particular assignment to glorify God. The total number of angels that surround the throne is beyond human calculation, but Revelation. 5:11 records this: the “…number of them (angels) was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands.” These angels have specific assignments based upon their hierarchy: those levels are thrones, dominions, principalities, and powers, all of them operating in the heaven (Col. 1:16) where God resides.
The Fall of Lucifer
Most theologians agree that the angel accorded the highest authority in the hierarchy of angels was the brilliant Lucifer, or Day Star, the pre-fallen name assigned to Satan, whom we now know as “…the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan” (Rev. 12:7; 20:2). Lucifer is never to be confused with Jesus Christ, the Morning Star of Revelation 2:28, the bright and morning star (Rev. 22:16), or the Day Star (II Peter 1:19). Lucifer was placed in charge of all the angelic hosts and was endowed with exceptional gifts. He was perfect in beauty and excelled in wisdom. His most detailed description is recorded in Ezekiel 28. This interesting prophetic word opens with a discussion of the prince of Tyrus. Quickly the narrative advances to the king of Tyrus (verse 12) and then to Lucifer, whom we know as Satan, the real but unseen and invisible ruler filled with pomp, pride, and self-exaltation. Ezekiel continues to reveal the pre-fallen state of Lucifer as well as his fall from glory into fulfilling himself in and through an earthly king. In confirmation of how Satan is found fulfilling himself in and through an earthly king and credits himself with honors that belong exclusively to God, consider this passage from Ezekiel 28:12-17. “Son of man take up a lamentation upon the king of Tyrus, and say unto him, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Thou sealest up the sum, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty.”
It is important to note that in his un-fallen state, Lucifer was characterized as being filled with wisdom and adorned with beauty. The description continues in verse 13: “Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of thy tabrets and thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou was created.” What can we learn from this passage?
1) We can discern that Lucifer had been in Eden the garden of God, which of course is not true of the earthly king of Tyre. This singular fact confirms that the real subject of this narrative is the pre-fallen Lucifer.
Scripture continues to describe Lucifer in verses 14 and 15: “Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so: thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire. Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou was created, till iniquity was found in thee.” Consider these possibilities.
This anointed cherub was perfect in every way from the day of his creation to the point when he rebelled against God. The pathology of sin Lucifer pursued is established in verse 16: “By the multitude of thy merchandise they have filled the midst of thee with violence, and thou hast sinned: therefore I will cast thee as profane out of the mountain of God: and I will destroy thee, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones o fire.” Because of his sin, Lucifer was cast from the presence of God in the heavens.
The inspired prophet continues to establish more detail about the fall of Lucifer and the introduction of sin into the universe: “Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness: I will cast thee to the ground, I will lay thee before kings, that they may behold thee” (Ezekiel 28:17). Lucifer was the first sinner in creation. He was exalted in pride and vainglory. Overcome by his own beauty and wisdom, Lucifer was prideful enough to vaunt himself above God Himself. The manner in which this occurred is documented in Isaiah 14:12-15, which concerns Lucifer, the prince of this present world system of greed, lust, and force. As the unseen but very real angelic leader, he is the invisible ruler of the successive world powers that have occupied the earth, especially following the rise of heathen empires after the kingdoms of Israel and then Judah.
The fall of Lucifer is detailed in Isaiah 14:12-14: “How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north. I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.” What can we deduce from these verses?
In trying to understand the fall of Lucifer from such an exalted position of authority and power, why would he not be content with his God-ordained role as the anointed Cherub? And, why did our sovereign God not prohibit Satan from pride, self-exaltation, and iniquity? He could have created angels without any freedom to choose between good and evil, right and wrong. But what pleasure would the Creator derive in creating mechanical beings lacking the freedom to choose? Apparently, our holy God enjoys the fellowship and worship of His creatures and wanted them to love and worship him of their own volition rather than by any form of coercion.
Bear in mind that our physical world functions in continuous harmony because of the laws of physics that our sovereign God built into creation. Likewise, the unseen, invisible world of the spirit is held together by moral laws that are just as real, just as necessary, and just as binding as the laws of physics are to the natural world. The moral law of God that operates in the spiritual world consists of laws or commands that issue from a Holy God: “The works of his hands are verity and judgment; all his commandments are sure. They stand fast for ever and ever, and are done in truth and uprightness” (Psalm 111:7-8).
Consider how the Ten Commandments are a summary of the specific moral laws that govern the spiritual world. The first table of commandments indicates the attributes of God and the relationship we should attain with Him, detailing the power, territory, authority, and honor that we should reserve for Him. The second table of commandments is a summary of the heights to which our earthly relationships should aspire, whether they be between us and our parents or toward our neighbor. They address our views toward the sanctity of human life, the sacredness of others’ property, personal ownership, the integrity of our neighbor’s reputation, and avoiding a covetous and greedy heart. No individual, family, community, church, or nation can long endure without honoring and obeying the moral laws that govern the spiritual world.
Prior to sin’s arrival, the various hierarchies of angels lived in perfect harmony and obedience to the moral laws of God. Lucifer’s was the first formal attempt to challenge the authority and absolute nature of God. As we have learned here, pride, self-exaltation, and a narcissistic spirit were the motivating factors in Lucifer’s challenge to God and His Law.
The War in Heaven
Not content to be alone in his rebellion, Lucifer immediately set about to entice other angels to follow him. Not unlike all sinners, Lucifer wanted company in his rebellion, although why any angel would want to follow this rebel is difficult to understand. All of the angels were given freedom to exercise their will to love and serve God or to use this freedom to engage in rebellion. Not unlike the posterity of Adam, angels are subject to temptations and could choose to love, serve, and obey the Creator or rebel and through pride, self-will, and self-exaltation rebel as Lucifer did.
The Word of God documents the terrible war that waged in heaven following Lucifer’s rebellion. The extent of that war is described in a unique linguistic style in Revelation 12:7-9. While this war may have erupted in the Heavenlies on more than one occasion and may well indicate a future conflict, the following language gives strong indication of the intensity of this cosmic conflict: “And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, and Prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. And that great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.”
This war in heaven was waged between a contingency of angels led by Michael, one of the archangels and those who followed him, and another band of angels led by Lucifer, described as that great dragon, that “old serpent, called the Devil and Satan.” The Word of God gives explicit information as to the origin of the angels that followed Satan in this furious battle: “And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and 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” (Rev. 12:3-4).
The stars described in this biblical narrative are angels (Job 38:7; Psalm 147:4). They are again described as stars in Revelation 12:4 and in the use and Revelation 12:7. The end result of this battle was that Michael and his angels triumphed over the dragon and his angels, the latter being cast into the earth. This war in heaven invites further investigation into the nature of angels and their cosmic conflict in the heavenlies.
The use of the term star wars indicates the struggle of the angels and their rebellion against God. That warfare in the cosmic, unseen spirit world continues to be real is confirmed in the limited Scriptures available on this subject. Revelation 12:4-5 provides clear confirmation that Satan, referred to as the dragon, did indeed entice one-third of the angelic host to follow him in his rebellion. Revelation 12:7-9 documents the war that waged between Michael and his angels and the Dragon and the angels who followed him. Jude 6 gives clear evidence of angels, who, leaving their first estate, did so in an act of rebellion classified as sin: “And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.”
The Apostle Peter also makes definite reference to the angels who, because of sin, lost their estate or place of honor in the heavens: “For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment; And spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly…” (II Peter 2:4-5). The narrative of Jude and II Peter (both cited above) provides some indication of the nature of these angels’ sins and why it cost them their estate in the heavens. Hebrews 2:2 also indicates that through their disobedience, the angels received a just payment for their sin. Job 4:18 confirms that our sovereign God charged his angels with folly, clearly confirming their rebellion.
It may be difficult to imagine all the conflict that continues to wage in heaven. In their exercise of their freedom of choice, angels can rebel against God. I Timothy 5:21 clearly references the elect angels, suggesting that just as a sovereign God has chosen an exact number of mortals to be heirs of His great salvation (Eph. 1:4,5, II Tim. 1:9), so did God choose a definite number of the angels in election (Rom. 9:11; 11:5).
There is every reason to believe that as the conflict and tension grow ever more intense at the consummation of human history, we will witness more conflict and warfare among the ranks of the angels of heaven. And, Revelation 12:7-9 may well be descriptive of a final struggle of the angels in this ongoing cosmic conflict.
Lucifer Becomes Satan, the Adversary
The archangel that had dwelt in the presence of God and reigned over all the spirit world chose to challenge the authority of the Living God, transgress His holy commandments, and assault the very gates of heaven. This same angel that once held such powerful sway as the highest of created beings became the enemy of God. Lucifer, the archangel, became Satan, the adversary of God and of all things righteous. One question that is sometimes posed is why God did not simply destroy Satan and all the angels who rebelled with him. Obviously, this would have been no great feat for Almighty God. He could simply have commanded their destruction, and it would have been so. But ponder this possibility: if God had vaporized or destroyed Satan and the angels that followed him, this would only have confirmed the doubts and suspicious concerns of the other angels, making it appear that the omnipotent God ruled by force and coercion. In order for good to triumph over evil and for love to overcome hate, perhaps it was necessary that our holy God allow evil to run its course. Ultimately, it would confirm that those who truly lived to serve, honor, and obey God did so out of love, not from coercion. This principle seems to be established in the words of Jesus in Matthew 13:30. Speaking of the wheat and tares (good seed and evil seed), Jesus declared, “Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.” Ultimately love, honor, and obedience will win over hate and rebellion.
The War in Heaven Comes to Earth
When the Dragon, that old serpent called the Devil and Satan (Rev. 12:9; 20:2), was cast out of heaven and with him one third of the angels, the warfare resumed on earth. Having lost his station in heaven, Satan was not content to retreat from his warfare against God. Immediately upon being cast out of heaven, he began his assault on the earth, seeking to overthrow God’s plan for Adam kind. Satan was highly motivated to challenge the purpose of God and the race of Adam. Why is that?
Once he had lost his exalted position as the highest ranking angel in the heavens and was cast into the earth with the other errant angels, Satan roamed from point to point, seeking how he could most effectively continue his assault against God. Without any hope of regaining his former station in heaven, Satan cast his focus on the newly created man, Adam, and his wife, Eve. Having been created just a step lower than the angels (Psalm 8:5-6) and having been given the dominion over all the earth and every living on it, Adam was next in Satan’s crosshairs. Satan purposed to assault Adam and Eve in their earthly paradise and innocence.
God charged Adam man with subduing the earth and all living things therein. This specific mandate is established in Genesis 1:28: “Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.” This call to dominion is further confirmed in Psalm 8: “For thou has made him (Adam man) a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour. Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet:…” Having lost his standing with God in heaven, Satan focused next on seizing dominion of the earth from Adam and Eve. As a created angel, Satan was gifted with supernatural wisdom and the ability to transform himself into an angel of light, an angel clever enough to deceive Adam and Eve. “And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works” (II Cor. 11:14-15).
Exactly what strategy did Satan use to seize dominion of the earth and continue his warfare against God, Adam, and Eve? This, dear reader, is the subject of another well-deserved excursion into Scripture—coming your way soon!