Wars of God

Paradise Lost: Did Satan Already Fall From Heaven?

By 1674, English author John Milton had published a 12-book epic poem that began its tale with the reign of Satan in Pandemonium, a fictitious capitol of Hell. According to this tale, the war in heaven depicted in Revelation 12 had occurred long ago. Before the creation of man, Michael and his angelic forces had cast Satan and his celestial army over the edge of heaven and into the fiery lower regions of the earth.

From centuries on, this classic tale became a favored doctrinal position for many Churches. Most every Christian teacher in America will convince the church that Satan fell from heaven before God created Adam and Eve. However, is such an account scriptural? What does the bible say about Satan's fall from heaven? Is Satan still in heaven, is he stuck on the earth or is he in hell? The account of Satan's descent into hell is detailed in Isaiah 14.

And it will be in the day when the Lord gives you rest from your pain and turmoil and harsh service in which you have been enslaved, that you will take up this taunt against the king of Babylon [Satan], and say, "How the oppressor has ceased, and how fury has ceased! The Lord has broken the staff of the wicked, the scepter of rulers which used to strike the peoples in fury with unceasing strokes, which subdued the nations in anger with unrestrained persecution." (Isaiah 14:3-6, NASB)

The timing of this taunt against the “king of Babylon” is after his oppression has ceased and come to an end. If the king of Babylon is Satan, then this account is future tense, because Satan is still persistently subduing, persecuting, and oppressing God’s people. His fury has not yet ceased.

"The whole earth is at rest and is quiet; they break forth into shouts of joy. Even the cypress trees rejoice over you, and the cedars of Lebanon, saying, 'since you were laid low, no tree cutter comes up against us." (Isaiah 14:7-8, NASB)

After Satan’s oppression and fury has ceased, the whole earth will be at rest. However, such a state does not currently exist. Presently, the earth is not at rest, nor is the earth quiet, therefore Isaiah 14 must be future tense.

"Sheol [hell] from beneath is excited over you to meet you when you come; it arouses for you the spirits of the dead, all the leaders of the earth; it raises all the kings of the nations from their thrones. They will all respond and say to you, 'Even you have been made weak as we, you have become like us. Your pomp and the music of your harps have been brought down to Sheol [hell]; maggots are spread out as your bed beneath you and worms are your covering.’” (Isaiah 14:9-11, NASB)

Satan is going to be thrown into hell. When he is thrown into hell, the spirits of the dead who reside in hell will mock him. There are spirits from every nation down there, even former kings and leaders of the earth. If Satan were thrown into hell before the creation of Adam and Eve, there wouldn’t be any spirits down there to mock him. Therefore, Isaiah 14:9-10 completely rules out the idea that Satan is currently in hell. If Satan isn’t in hell now, when will he get thrown into hell?

Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; and he threw him into the abyss, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he would not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were completed; after these things he must be released for a short time. (Revelation 20:1-3, NASB)

Satan will be thrown into hell at the end of the tribulation, after Armageddon (Revelation 19:11-21), and he must remain in hell while Jesus reigns on the earth for one thousand years.

"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!” (Isaiah 14:12)

The Latin translation of 'son of the dawn' is Lucifer. The Hebrew translation is Helel. All angels have within their Hebrew name the suffix -el (e.g. Micha-el, Gabri-el) to signify their association to God. Satan, who is also referred to as the king of Babylon, was originally known as the angel Helel. Although Isaiah 14 is a prophecy about Helel’s (i.e. Satan’s) imprisonment in hell, verses 12-14 recount his fall from heaven. Even so, in Isaiah 14, there is no reference to when exactly Satan’s fall from heaven will occur.

"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. I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.'” (Isaiah 14:13-14, NASB)

Satan wanted to become God, even to overthrow him. He also wanted power and authority over the stars (i.e. angels) of God. The root of Satan’s evil – and perhaps even the concept of evil – lies in the desire to become God, even to destroy Him.

"Nevertheless you will be thrust down to Sheol [hell], to the recesses of the pit. Those who see you will gaze at you, they will ponder over you, saying, 'Is this the man who made the earth tremble, who shook kingdoms, who made the world like a wilderness and overthrew its cities, who did not allow his prisoners to go home?'” (Isaiah 14:15-17, NASB)

While the spirits in hell continue to mock him, they also continue to affirm the timing of his descent into hell. Before Satan is cast into hell, he will have made the earth tremble, he will have shook kingdoms, he will have overthrown the cities of the earth, and he will have oppressed and imprisoned God’s children. Since Satan hasn’t yet already accomplished all of these things, he is not in hell.

If he isn’t in hell, has he already been thrown out of heaven? The account of Satan's fall from heaven is detailed in Ezekiel 28.

Again the word of the Lord came to me saying, "Son of man, take up a lamentation over the king of Tyre and say to him, 'Thus says the Lord God, "You had the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty.” (Ezekiel 28:11-12, NASB)

Just as Isaiah 14 mentions Satan as the “king of Babylon”, Ezekiel 28 mentions Satan as the “king of Tyre.” Satan is full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. This is a far cry from how many Christians imagine him. Satan is not a red monstrosity with horns and a pitchfork. He is full of wisdom and perfect in beauty.

"You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone was your covering: the ruby, the topaz and the diamond; the beryl, the onyx and the jasper; the lapis lazuli, the turquoise and the emerald; and the gold, the workmanship of your settings and sockets, was in you. On the day that you were created they were prepared.” (Ezekiel 28:13, NASB)

The real king of Tyre was not in Eden, which is why it is generally understood that Ezekiel 28 is not a message to a human king, but to Satan. According to this verse, Satan has a pretty stunning suit of armor. Yes, two-winged cherubim wear armor.

"You were the anointed cherub who covers, and I placed you there. You were on the holy mountain of God; you walked in the midst of the stones of fire. You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created until unrighteousness was found in you. By the abundance of your trade you were internally filled with violence, and you sinned; therefore I have cast you as profane from the mountain of God. And I have destroyed you, o covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire. Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom by reason of your splendor I cast you to the ground; I put you before kings, that they may see you.” (Ezekiel 28:14-17, NASB)

When Satan is permanently kicked out of heaven, the kings of the earth will witness his descent to the earth. If Satan fell from heaven before the creation of Adam and Eve, there would have been no kings on the earth to serve as witnesses to the event. When Satan falls from heaven, the kings of the earth will see him fall. Therefore, his fall is future tense, unless there exists an ancient historical account of his fall as witnessed by kings.

"By the multitude of your iniquities, in the unrighteousness of your trade you profaned your sanctuaries. Therefore I have brought fire from the midst of you; it has consumed you, and I have turned you to ashes on the earth in the eyes of all who see you. All who know you among the peoples are appalled at you; you have become terrified and you will cease to be forever."'" (Ezekiel 28:18-19, NASB)

After Satan is permanently kicked out of heaven, all the people who are alive on the earth will witness his defeat. According to Ezekiel 28 and Isaiah 14, Satan will first be kicked out of heaven. His fall to the earth will be witnessed by kings, his defeat will be witnessed by people on the earth, and his imprisonment in hell will be witnessed by the spirits of all the kings who reside in hell. Because there was never a moment in history that men witnessed Satan’s fall from heaven, Satan must not have fallen yet. Satan’s fall from heaven is future tense. If so, when will Satan’s fall from heaven take place?

"Therefore write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after these things.” (Revelation 1:19, NASB)

In the book of Revelation, concerning the end of age, Jesus provides a few helpful time markers for John. John is asked to write down what he had just seen (Revelation 1), what currently is (Revelation 2-3), and to write down what eventually will be (Revelation 4-22). In the beginning of Revelation 4, John receives a time marker affirming that everything from chapter 4 and on will be future tense.

After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven, and the first voice which I had heard, like the sound of a trumpet speaking with me, said, "Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after these things." (Revelation 4:1, NASB)

Every verse after Revelation 4:1 is future tense. Every verse after Revelation 4:1 concerns the end of age. From Revelation 6 to Revelation 12, the tribulation begins. Increased aggression, wars, and famine will kill a fourth of the world’s population (Revelation 6:1-8), most of God’s children will be murdered for maintaining their allegiance to Jesus Christ (Revelation 6:9-11), the sun will become darkened and the moon will become blood red (Revelation 6:12-13), the sky will split open like a scroll revealing the throne of God (Revelation 6:14-17), God’s few remaining children who are still alive on the earth will be protected from God’s judgments (Revelation 7:1-8), God’s children who had died during the tribulation for maintaining their allegiance to Jesus will be seen standing before God’s throne in heaven (Revelation 7:9-17), God’s judgments will begin to destroy the earth (Revelation 8:1-13), locusts will plague and torment the whole earth for five months (Revelation 9:1-12), two hundred million beastly horsemen will ravage the earth and kill another third of the world’s population (Revelation 9:13-19), two of God’s anointed witnesses will begin to prophesy to the nations (Revelation 11:1-14), Jesus will make preparations for his reign on the earth (Revelation 11:15-19), and Satan will make a trip to the earth with his angelic ranks to war against the rest of God’s children and ensure they don’t mature into sons (Revelation 12:1-6).

Approximately 3.5 years will have transpired since Revelation 6. At Revelation 12, Satan falls from heaven.

And there was war in heaven, Michael and his angels waging war with the dragon. The dragon and his angels waged war, and they were not strong enough, and there was no longer a place found for them in heaven. 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. Then I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, "Now the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, he who accuses them before our God day and night. 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 when faced with death. For this reason, rejoice, o heavens and you who dwell in them. Woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, knowing that he has only a short time." (Revelation 12:7-12, NASB)

Satan is known for unceasingly standing before God in heaven and accusing God’s people. Satan attempts to overthrow God. Rejoicing is declared in heaven when Satan is permanently cast out and consigned to the earth.

After he is consigned to the earth and in a last ditch effort to overthrow God, Satan attempts to muster the forces of mankind through the aid of his poster boy, the antichrist, and war against Jesus on the earth. By the end of Revelation 19, Satan again loses, and in the beginning of Revelation 20, Satan is cast into hell for one thousand years.

Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; and he threw him into the abyss, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he would not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were completed; after these things he must be released for a short time. (Revelation 20:1-3, NASB)
When the thousand years are completed, Satan will be released from his prison, and will come out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together for the war; the number of them is like the sand of the seashore. And they came up on the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, and fire came down from heaven and devoured them. And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. (Revelation 20:7-10, NASB)

Satan is destroyed in the sight of men on the Earth. These accounts in Revelation line up quite nicely with Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28. The war in heaven has not yet been waged and Satan has not yet been permanently kicked out of heaven, nor has he been exiled to hell. Although Satan presently has the ability and authority to move around the earth, his base camp is still in heaven. The majority of his forces are up there, and it will take a war between his forces and God’s forces midway into the tribulation in order to permanently kick him out.

Satan's Fall from Heaven

Presently, Satan resides in heaven with his celestial forces. He has the authority to travel to the earth with these forces. During the tribulation, he wages a war in heaven, loses, attempts to wage a war on earth, loses again, is exiled to hell for one thousand years, is released and wars against Jesus, loses again, and is permanently exiled to the Lake of Fire.

John Milton may have written a very poetic and fantastical tale, but a tale it ought to remain. Christians must understand that Satan is still in heaven. They must acknowledge that it will take a war in heaven midway into the tribulation in order to get him kicked out. Most importantly, Christians must understand that they were created in order to be the reason Satan gets kicked out.

The seventy [disciples] returned with joy, saying, "Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name." And [Jesus] said to them, "I was watching Satan fall from heaven like lightning. Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing will injure you. Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are recorded in heaven." (Luke 10:17-20, NASB)

Jesus’ prophesies Satan’s fall from heaven only in response to the power that God’s children have in His name over the enemy. Jesus created mankind in order to make the enemy subject to Jesus. He created us to ensure that Satan falls from heaven like lightning. He created us to fight the war in heaven.

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