“There was war in heaven” the Bible tells us in Revelation 12:7. The combatants were one third of the angels led by the Dragon and two thirds led by Michael, ruler of the angels. Revelation, chapter 12, relates the brief account of this war, we discover that the Dragon is the Devil. The stars which followed him would be angels according to the symbology of Revelation, chapter 1. Just how many participants were involved in this war is staggering.
Revelation 5:11 tells us of the number of angels surrounding God’s throne. It does not say that these are all the angels, but the ones that were present numbered “thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand.” Using elementary multiplication, we can easily discover that this number is in the billions. Even a third of that would be several hundred million. To visualize this we might equate it roughly to the entire population of the United States. If this many angels were walking among us, they would represent approximately 5 % of the world’s population. This is about one out of every twenty individuals.
Why would they even be walking around here on Earth? Revelation tells us that when the Devil lost the war, he and his army of angels were cast out of heaven to the earth. (See Revelation 12:9) If they were cast out soon after the earth was created, there was lots of room even for such a large host to keep to itself. But now with a human population exceeding seven billion, it might be easier to hide in plain sight. This would not be hard, for as our verse at the top of the page tells us, Satan and his angels are capable of appearing even as beautiful and righteous beings.
Satan’s battle against Michael continues here on this earth. Some identify Michael with Christ because Michael literally means “Prince of God.” If God the Father is King then His Son would be Prince and heir to the throne of heaven. Other evidence to support this conclusion would be the voice of the archangel which calls for the dead to rise from their graves. (See 1 Thessalonians 4:16) This indicates the ability to give life which is an ability Jesus demonstrated with Lazarus. (See John 11:43) In any event, even without regard to this understanding concerning Michael, we can see from the Bible that Jesus and the Father are one. (See John 10:30) For the Devil to war against God is the same as making war against Christ. This makes him anti-Christ. The concept of an antichrist apparently originates with the Devil and this war.
The war has not ended. It has only changed theatres. The battle that raged through heaven now rages here. We don’t know how the battle was fought above. Artists often depict it as a medieval battle with swords and lances. However, these are beings with far greater capabilities for either good or evil than mankind. We may not even be able to comprehend the weapons they had at their disposal. Our wildest science fiction fantasies may not even come close to what that war was like. We can see a faint glimmer of what they might have been capable of when we consider our own sordid history of warfare. We have progressed from clubs and rocks to the point where we can now send weapons to kill one another from the far side of the globe. We can annihilate entire nations without ever setting eyes on our enemies. We no longer need hear their screams or see their pain. We can destroy them as dispassionately as we would eliminate bacteria in an autoclave.
World War II was the worst conflict mankind ever experienced with tens of millions swept into the grave in a few short years. Yet, as horrible as that conflict was we continue to dabble with warfare in hot spots all over the globe. While we fear the potential devastation our weapons can produce. We seem to take a perverse delight in seeing how close we can come to the line with our ability to wage war without actually crossing it.
Even if we do go too far, we no longer need direct human involvement as with the Enola Gay over Japan, or the death camps of Nazi occupied Eastern Europe. Perhaps the only thing limiting the level of our depravity and inhumanity is our relatively short life spans. How much worse must the depravity be for the fallen angels who have lived for eons and continually studied methods to keep the war against heaven alive?
Somehow we think we can escape this conflict. Christians might be tempted to project the idea of an antichrist onto some being that will be revealed in the future. We may convince ourselves that when that time comes, we will make the right choice. We might allow ourselves to become lulled into a sense of complacency while telling ourselves we have plenty of time to prepare for something future. But John wrote that it is not future. He wrote “…every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.” 1 John 4:3. NIV He also wrote that those “…who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world. Any such person is the deceiver and the antichrist.” 2 John 1:7, NIV
Perhaps we make the mistake of projecting the antichrist into the future when we consider the beast of Revelation 13 to be THE antichrist. But the same John who wrote Revelation also wrote the Epistles of John. It does not appear that he saw it that way. The beast power is simply another tool used by the true antichrist, Satan, to continue his warfare to the bitter end. We all can become tools in that conflict. Anytime we prefer our way over God’s way, we open ourselves up to manipulation by one who has little regard for our humanity beyond what he can compel us to do to hurt his true enemy, Jesus. Adam and Eve discovered this in the Garden of Eden. It seems we have continued discovering it ever since.
Perhaps this is what Jesus meant when He said “Whoever is not with me is against me…” Matthew 12:30, NIV He knows that the Devil will allow no middle ground. There is no safe, neutral sanctuary in this war. To choose against one is to choose in favor of the other. Someone might say “I know my own mind, and if I reject God, I can still choose to be a good person anyway.” However, even in some popular movies we can see from the plot lines that it is not so hard to compel someone to do something they otherwise would not. If humans can compel one another, how much easier would it be for a being with angelic abilities to do so? If they assumed the forms that our opening verse indicates, they might even convince those being manipulated that they were doing a righteous deed while actually doing evil. Perhaps some of those who dropped the Zyklon B into the showers at Auschwitz were convinced they were doing something righteous and were exterminating a threat to Christianity when they exterminated so many so-called “Christ Killers.” For them this was only an end game for prejudices against the Jews that had been allowed to germinate for generations.
How can so many, who are purportedly Christian, do such a thing? Perhaps one way is when we allow others to do our thinking for us. When we allow someone else to tell us what is right and wrong instead of developing a personal relationship with God. If we have that personal relationship with Him, then when someone tells us something that isn’t right, even if they appear to be well-educated and righteous themselves, we can say, “I know that isn’t right because I know God personally, and I know He would never go along with that.”
The world is full of voices telling us to go this way or that, think this or believe that, and promote this cause or oppose that one. If we give in to them, in the end, we come face to face with disappointment. Only if the way we are traveling is God’s way do we find peace and safety. Going the wrong way is much like voting for a political candidate. Once the election is over, the promises are forgotten, and we feel empty and deceived. Unfortunately, like someone who has just been through a bad divorce and feels the only answer is to jump right into another troubled relationship, we all too often fail to learn from experience and jump right back in for another round of deception.
I have sometimes heard young Christian men lament, “Why do so many pretty girls seem to prefer the excitement of bad boys who abuse them? Don’t they care that they will only be left hurting?” Perhaps God can ask the same of us. Why do so many of us prefer the excitement the antichrist offers even though it destroys us physically, mentally and spiritually? Don’t we care that we will only be left hurting? It does not matter what the book of Revelation tells us is waiting for us in the future. If we can’t figure out how to have a relationship with Jesus and avoid the antichrist now, we won’t be able to handle the future either, beast or no beast.
Sripture marked (NIV) taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica, Inc. All rights reserved worldwide. Used by permission. NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION® and NIV® are registered trademarks of Biblica, Inc. Use of either trademark for the offering of goods or services requires the prior written consent of Biblica US, Inc.