Warfare in Heaven and on Earth

In chapter 12:7-12 there is a new scene. The action now moves back to heaven, and John describes a battle that is going on. Michael and his angels are fighting against the dragon and his angels. Up until this battle it appears that the dragon and his angels still had a place in heaven, but when they lost the battle, they no longer had that place, for they were cast down unto the earth. Myth is used to convey the message that the battle in which the church is engaged is being fought on both a physical and a spiritual front. The dragon is now clearly identified. He is the ancient serpent, the Devil, Satan, the deceiver. He represents forces that are contrary to the divine, forces that once reached into heaven, but have now been cast out. We are meant to understand that this battle has been going on since the creation. The “now” of verse 10 indicates that the victory is present, has already taken place. A new song of victory is sung, proclaiming the Lordship of Christ. The victory is won by the blood of the Lamb, by the testimony of the faithful, and the sacrifice of their lives. This suggests that the battle in heaven has its earthly counterpart. The church is engaged in a war with the world, and this has become more terrible because now the devil has come “in great wrath” against the church. But the suffering will be brief, and that is the encouragement that John wants to communicate to his churches. John wants his churches to know that they are already under the Lordship of Christ, that the spiritual warfare will continue against them, but that in the end they will win, because Christ has already won the victory for them.

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