War in Heaven: Past or Future?

And there was war in heaven, Michael and his angels waging war with the dragon. . . . And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan . . . And when the dragon saw that he was thrown down to the earth, he persecuted the woman . . . So the dragon was enraged with the woman, and went off to make war with the rest of her children, who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus. —Revelation 12:7-17.

Despite unnecessary awe and lots of misinformation, the Revelation given to John in about 90 AD is fairly simple, straightforward, and sequential. It’s not the to-be-avoided mystery most would like to make it out to be. It’s also not to be used out of context and out of sequence to support manmade doctrine. One example places the war in heaven seen in Chapter 12 at the very beginning of time before Adam and Eve.

This position is based on taking Isaiah 14:12-14 out of context. Isaiah chapter 14 is an apocalyptic writing that contains an unveiling of the last days. In it, Isaiah witnesses the end-times Antichrist (labeled as the “Assyrian” in a near-far prophecy), Satan’s influence on him, and his eventual destruction. Isaiah sees something that will happen in the future. John’s vision in Revelation Chapter 12 confirms this and puts the war in the heavenly realm in the context of the beginning of the future three-and-a-half year authority of the Antichrist. During this time, he’ll persecute and kill God’s people – both Jew and Christian.

So, if the war in heaven hasn’t happened yet, does Satan still have access to heaven? Yes! We understand that he lost his authority as one of the archangels created by God.  However, he has had, and still has, access to heaven. You only have to look at the Book of Job and John’s Revelation (i.e. Revelation 12:10) for confirmation.

Need more? Let’s look at the sequence of the Revelation and the war’s position within it. Here’s a breakdown of the entire apocalyptic book:

Chapters 1-5: Introduction by John, letters from Christ to 7 churches of Asia Minor, and an invitation to heaven to watch the end-times events.

Chapter 6: Seals 1-6 depicting birth pangs and Great Tribulation ending with a complete darkening of the sun, moon, and stars (see Matthew 24:29-31 for corroborating information!).

Chapter 7:  Protection of the 144,000 of the Jewish remnant against God’s imminent judgments; bride of Christ seen in heaven after the gathering at the darkening of the sun, moon, and stars.

Chapters 8-9: Seal 7; God’s trumpet judgments 1-6.

Chapter 10: Seventh trumpet judgment, which ends the 3.5-year reign of the Antichrist.

Chapters 11-13: Three-and-one-half-year period of Great Tribulation detailed (Chapter 11 = 3.5 year witness of God’s chosen two; Chapter 12 = 3.5 year persecution by Satan through the Antichrist after losing the war in heaven; Chapter 13 = details on the 3.5 year reign of the Antichrist).

Chapter 14-18: all things that will happen at about the end of the three-and-a-half-year Great Tribulation or shortly thereafter by the end of the trumpet judgments; Seven vial judgments that will complete God’s wrath; Description (and destruction) of figurative Babylon near the end of God’s wrath; Antichrist kingdom details.

Chapter 19-22: Armageddon at the end of God’s wrath; marriage supper of our Christ and His Thousand-year reign; great judgment following Christ’s kingdom; New heaven and earth after the judgment; Final admonishments and closure.

Rather than take a chunk out the middle of an otherwise sequential Revelation, let’s take it all together and in context. The future will reveal a defeated Satan, resulting reign of the Antichrist, and darkening of the natural lights after about 3.5 years. You may want to check out my 2011 book titled, “Finding the End of the World” (available from ronbraley.com, Amazon, or Barnes&Noble) to learn more about what the Bible and history have to say on the subject of the end of the world to include the war in heaven.

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