The word Satan occurs in three places in the Old Testament as a name for the devil (I Chron. 21:1; Job 1:6-12; 2:1-7; Zech. 3:1-2). It means "accuser" and in the last two of these passages Satan is seen in heaven accusing men before God. He accused Job of serving God only because God was blessing him, although that accusation proved false. And he accused the high priest Jeshua of being unworthy to offer the sacrifices for Israel.
In the New Testament also Satan is seen as an accuser in heaven, for so he is called in Revelation 12:10. But in that vision John saw a remarkable thing, for Michael the archangel and his angels defeated the devil and his angels, and the devil was cast out of heaven. When this happened, a voice was heard 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, who accuses them day and night before our God."
The question may fairly be asked, when does this happen? When is Satan cast out of heaven? Has it already happened, or is the vision of things yet future? To answer these questions, we must ask other questions, for the voice gives a time indication: now--when the salvation and power and kingdom and authority of Christ came. When did God show His salvation in a special way never equaled? Was it not when Christ died on the cross? And on what day did God display His great power? Was it not when Christ rose from the dead by that power (Rom. 1:4)? And when did God's kingdom manifest itself on earth in a way greater than at other times? Was it not on the day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit was poured out on the apostles? And finally, when did Christ receive all authority? Was it not when He gave the Great Commission (Matt. 28:18-20)? All of these events happened in a period of the world's history that was less than two months long but affects all the rest of history. That was the time when Satan lost the war and was cast out of heaven.
But not only has our accuser been thrown out of heaven, but Jesus now serves as our advocate, interceding there for us (Rom. 8:34; Heb. 7:25; I John 2:1). The picture is one of a courtroom where the prosecuting attorney has been thrown out of court and only the defense attorney remains. What a comfort that should be!
But we cannot allow ourselves to take the devil too lightly. True, he is no longer accusing us in heaven, either falsely or not so falsely, as the case may be. But he is very much at work here on earth. In his vision John heard a voice saying, "But woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!" (Rev. 12:12). And Peter warns us that "the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking some one to devour" (I Pet. 5:8). We must resist him here, knowing that just as he has lost in heaven, so with God's help, he will lose on earth also.
Copyright © 1993, Bruce Terry. All rights reserved. This article may be freely reprinted in bulletins and newsletters so long as no charge is made to the reader and this copyright notice is included.