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Michael's War With The Dragon (Revelation 12: 7 - 12)
by Jeff Carter
Who is Michael? And why is he figting the Dragon rather than Jesus? When does this holy war in the heavens take place? What does it mean for us?Who is Michael? And why is he figting the Dragon rather than Jesus? When does this holy war in the heavens take place? What does it mean for us?Having failed to devour the man-child as it was being born, the great red dragon finds himself suddenly attacked by "the Michael" (the definitive pronoun precedes the name Micael) and his army of angels. And while the dragon and his army of angels attempt to fight back, they are utterly defeated. It has been pointed out by numerous writers that it seems strange that it is Michael, rather than the Messiah, who overcomes the dragon, identified with the Devil, or Satan in vs. 9, especially when later in these verses the victory is ascribed to the "blood of the Lamb" - a messianic reference. Perhaps this seems strange because we've misunderstood the nature of "the Michael."
Only here and Jude 9 in the NT is Michael mentioned. In the OT there are a number of people named Michael, but the supernatural Michael is found only in the book of Daniel (10: 13, 21, 12:1) His name means "Who Is Like God?" and he is called "one of the Chief Princes" (Dan. 10: 13), "your Prince" (Dan. 10:21), "the great Prince, defender of your people" (Dan 12:1) and "the archangel" (Jude 9).
According to the Roman Catholic understanding of the order of angels, "Archangel" is a class or type of angle. But the word is better understood as a title meaning "chief of the angels" or "chief of the messengers." The Archangel is the Captain of the angelic armies (Josh. 5: 13 - 15). The Captain of the angelic armies is the Lord of the hosts. "Archangel" is a title for none other than Jesus himself.
The only other place in scripture where the word "Archangel" is used is 1 Thessalonians 4:16 where Paul writes, "For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God..." It is important to note that it is not with the shout of an archangel - as if there were more than one of them - but with the voice of the archangel; there is only one mentioned in the bible. In this passage it is the voice of archangel that awakens the sleeping saints to thier resurrection. But whose voice is it that calls the dead from their graves? It is the voice of the Messiah (John 5:25 - 29, 11: 43 - 44) It is The Christ who shouts with the voice of the Archangel and arrives with the trumpet call of God.
This is not to say that the Jehovah's Wittnesses have had it correct all along. According to the J.W. Jesus has existed in three different, separate states:
1) Michael the archangel , God's first creation. He ceased being Michael when he became
2) A perfect man on earth for 33 years In his resurrection he again became
3) Michael the archangel ( You May Survive Armageddon into God's New World pg. 112)
"The foremost angel, both in power and authority, is the archangel, Jesus Christ, also called Michael." - The Watchtower, November 1, 1995, pg. 8
"He [Jesus] has rightly been called Michael the Archangel. His lfie-force having been transfered to Mary's egg cell by Almighty God's power that overshadowed Mary meant that he, Michael, disappeared from heaven. By human birth by Mary, the Jewish virgin, he was to become a human soul." ( Gods' "Eternal Purpose" Now Triumphing For Man's Good pg. 137-138)
This is wrong; very wrong. Jesus was not the "first created being." He is the eternal God, who came to dwell among men as a man without ceasing to be the eternal God. But the title "Archangel" - "chief" or "prince" of the angels can aptly be given to Jesus without diminishing or discrediting his Divinity or his Humanity. The Messiah is described as an angel in Malachi 3:1, " the angel of the covenant for whom you long is on his way..." So the idea of Jesus as the archangel is not without warrent or scriptural basis.
Some object that Michael is described as "one of the chief princes" in Daneil 10: 13, not the chief prince. Yet the word for one (Hebrew - echad) can mean first. In fact, Young's Literal Translation of the Bible translates Daniel 10:13 as " And the head of the kingdom of Persia is standing over-against me twenty and one days, and lo, Michael, first ['echad] of the chief heads, hath come in to help me, and I have remained there near the kings of Persia." (YLT)
The Hebrew name Michael means "Who is Like God?" or "one who is like God." This name fits perfectly with the Angel of Yahweh (Who is recognized to be God himself), who had God's name in him (Ex. 23:21) and was the "Presence" of Yahwheh among the people (Ex. 33:14, Deut. 4:37, Isa. 63:9). It also fits perfectly with Christ, who is the exact image of God (2 Cor. 4:4, Col. 1:15, Heb. 1:3).
Michael the archangel is a symbolic presentation of Jesus - the one who is like God, the leader of the angel armies of heaven, the first of the chief princes. He is the one whose shout awakens the dead to resurrection, the one would arise to fight for his people during a time of great tribulation (Dan. 12:1).
The battle in Revelation 12 is between the "'Michael and his angels' on one side, and the 'dragon and his angels' on the other. Christ, the great angel of the covenant and his faitful followers; and Satan and all his instruments. This latter party would be much superior in number and outward strength to the other; but the strength of the church lies in having the Lord Jesus for hte Captain of their salvation." (Matthew Henrey's Commentary on the Whole Bible pg. 2477)
Now judgment is upon this world; now the ruler of this world shall be thrown out. John 12:31
The great dragon, the primeval serpent, known as the devil or Satan, was defeated and driven out of heaven. The various names given to this great red dragon help us to identify the person and character of Satan. He is the great dragon - the sea monster of chaos. Like the Leviathan ("Twisted One") of the OT, twisting and turning and thrasing about. He is the Primeval Serpet - the subtle serpent in the Garden of Eden who decieved Adam and Eve. He is the Devil - (Greek diabolos ) indicating that is is an accuser or a slanderer, especially in a court setting (Ps. 109:6). He is the one who stood before God to make accuastions against the people of God. As Satan (Hebrew HaSatan) he is the "adversary" or the "enemy" (Ps. 38:20, Zech 3:1, Job 2: 1 - 6) In the OT this is less of a name, than a title: he is The Satan.
Such is the case in the book of Job, where we see the angels presenting themselves before Yahweh and The Satan,or The Accuser also came with them. The accusations he brought, however, were not all honest accusations. The name "devil" indicates that he is a slanderer - a liar and "the father of lies" (Jn 8:44). His lies had decieved the whole world. But now, after being defeated by The Michael and hsi angels, the Satan is thrown out of heaven. He no longer has access to God to make accusations agains the people of God.
He is "cast out" of heaven. No place could be found for him there. 3Xs in verse 9 alone the word ballo is used to describe the casting out of Satan and his angels. They were excommunicated from the presence of God. Ballo is the smae word used in a slightly different form (ekballo) to describe the "casting out of demons" accomplished by Jesus and his disciples (Mt. 7:22, 8:31, 10:1, Lk. 11:18 - 20).
During Jesus' ministry he sent his apostles out to proclaim that the "Kingdom of God is very near to you" (Lk. 10:11). When they returned from this mission they excitedly recounted to Jesus, "even the devils submit to us when we use your name." To this Jesus replied, "I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven (Lk. 10: 1- 20)." Satan was driven out of heaven (ballo) by the Michael and his angels as the demons were being driven out of the people (ekballo) by Jesus and his apostles. When the dragon was flung down from heaven worshipping voices shouted, "Salvation and power and empire for ever have been won by our God, and all authroity for his Christ, now that the acccusser, who accused our brothers day and night before our God, has been brought down." During his ministry on earth Jesus expressed the same thought, " If I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, then the Kingdom of God has come upon you. (Mt. 12:28)"
"The Holy War between Michael and the Dragon therefore cannot possibly be a protrayal of the final battle of history at the end of the world. It cannot be future at all. It is not a battle to take place at the Second Coming . The victory over the Dragon, according to St. John, does not take place by means of a cataclysmic event at the end of history, but by means of the cataclysmic event that took place in the middle of history; the sacrifice of the Lamb. The language used to describe the basis of Michael's conquest has nothing to do with the Second Coming, but has everything to do with the First Coming. The martyrs have overcome by means of the shed blood of Christ, and by means of the fearless proclamation of the Gospel and the Gospel alone." (David Chilton - Days of Vengeance pg. 315 - 316)
Heaven had reason to rejoce. We have reason to rejoice: the Satan had been thrown out. But Earth had reason to fret and woe for the great red dragon had been hurled down full of wrath, knowing that he had only a very short time before his final end. Praise be to God.