You are here Michael's War With The Dragon (Revelation 12: 7 - 12)

Michael's War With The Dragon (Revelation 12: 7 - 12)

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By jcarter - Posted on 17 February 2006

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.

Ransom's picture

Although initially willing to look at this, I bucked at 1 Thess. 4:16, when in one phrase it calls Jesus the Lord, then immediately (supposedly) renames him the archangel. I looked it up in Greek, and found that the actual structure is "The Lord Himself with a shout with a voice of (an) archangel with a trumpet of God will descend from heaven..." This looks like it's drawing a simile with the voice of an archangel. There is no definite article with the "archangel" word here, which definitely leads to the idea that there is a class of angels called "archangels."

Similarly troubling is the identification of Jesus as even the first among the chief princes. That seems to create a class that Jesus is somehow among that sounds more like Arianism than most of us are willing to follow.

jcarter's picture

Thanks all... (even those who may disagree.)

I was hesitant to post this piece. I worried that the J.W. issue would be sensitive - it proved to be too tricky a distinction for some other friends to accept, and caused a serious rift for a while...

Thanks for the kind words. I'll do my best to write and think well, for the glory of God.

There is no life without prayer. Without prayer there is only madness and horror. - Vasilii Rozanov

Virgil's picture

Very cool stuff Jeff. Until now, it never occured to me to associate what Jesus said in Luke 10 with the "driving out" of Satan from the heavens. Good stuff!!

Islamaphobe's picture

I enjoyed the article, ran it off, and shall study it carefully. I can tell there are some good points in it. I must also suggest, however, that I do not think the case for having Michael be Christ is quite as strong as Jeff thinks. For one thing, if Michael is Christ, then why is it that in Revelation it is only in chapter 12 that the name Michael is used to identify Him?

But I do not claim to have expertise about Revelation, and I recognize that David Chilton, Kurt Simmons, and other authorities take Michael to be Christ in Revelation 12. I do claim some expertise with regard to the Book of Daniel, and I have problems identifying the Michael of Daniel as Christ. Michael is identified in Daniel 10:13 as ONE of the chief princes, not THE chief prince, and he is identified as being the prince of the Jewish people in 10:21 and 12:1. He is NOT explicitly associated with the messianic figure of 7:13-14, who is given everlasting dominion over the EARTH and is worshipped by all peoples.

Now if the Michael in Daniel nevertheless symbolizes Christ, then who is the man dressed in linen of 10:5 and 12:7? And who is the "one who looked like a man" of 10:16 and 10:18?

I shall be very interested in comments in response to the issues I have raised here.

wilycowboy's picture

If the man in linen (10:5-6)...is Jesus as some of you are saying - why would Jesus need Michael to come help him against the prince of the kingdom of Persia (10:13)?

Duncan's picture

John,

I am glad you spoke up. I wasn't going to (didn't want to be a naysayer) but your comment encouraged me and it is good to give another side to the discussion. I agree with you. I think Jesus is Jesus (the incarnate Word of God). and Michael is Michael (the archangel, the head angel). Notice that the glorious Man of Dan. 10:5-10 is differentiated from Michael (vv. 13, 21). I agree with Young that "the majestic Person here presented [in Dan. 10:5-10] is none other than the Lord Himself. The revelation therefore is a theophany, a preincarnate appearance of the eternal Son. This is proved by the very similar description (Rev. 1:13-15) of the One whom John sees walking in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks." (Young, Commentary on Daniel, 225). I might add that both Daniel and John were floored by the glory of this Person who is clearly Jesus in Rev. 1 (Dan. 10:7-11; Rev. 1:17).

Even if one sees the glorious Man in Dan. 10 as an angel. He is greater than Michael (which would again not fit with Michael being Jesus). Baldwin was less certain on the identity of the Man than Young, but said the following: "The one who appears to him [Daniel in ch. 10] is described as a man, is more radiant than Gabriel and greater than Michael, and has power to strengthen Daniel 11:1... The description bears resemblances to Ezek. 1:26-28 and to Rev. 1:12-16, both of which portray the glory of the Lord. Here no such identification is made, and most commentators speak of an angel, for he was sent as a messenger, v. 11. (Baldwin, Commentary on Daniel 178, 180).

Whether the glorious Man is an angel or the Lord is debatable (I think He is the Lord) but he is different and greater than Michael. For me this is evidence against any Jesus is Michael theory.

Duncan

Islamaphobe's picture

Duncan,

It does sound like we are in synch with each other here, and I appreciate your comment. I agree with your analysis. I add that with the tremendous emphasis given to the one like a son of man in Daniel 7:13-14, one would logically expect this being to reappear in the later visions of Daniel. Some say He does, in the form of Michael. It is my belief, which I am glad to see that you apparently share, that He reappears as "the glorious Man" (your wording); i.e. the man dressed in linen of Daniel 10:5-6 and 12:6-7.

John S. Evans

Islamaphobe's picture

I feel the need to quickly amend my comment. Since the one like a son of man DOES reappear, I believe, in Dan 9:25-27, I meant to write "one would logically expect this being to reappear in the long vision of Daniel 10-12."

Flakinde's picture

I am glad you have brought this issue. I too have read some good, even compelling, arguments for making the "Jesus=Michael" assertion, but have yet to read one that deals with that particular appearance in Dan 10.

In my opinion, there is clear evidence that the "man in linen" is the Lord Jesus, when we look at the parallels between the description here and the one in Revelation 1:

1) both girded with gold (Dan 10:5; Rev 1:13)
2) eyes of fire (Dan 10:6; Rev 1:14)
3) feet like metal (Dan 10:6; Rev 1:15)
4) loud voice ("army" in Dan 10:6, "waters" in Rev 1:15)
5) Bright face ("like lightning" in Dan 10:6; "like the sun" in Rev 1:16
6) Daniel / John alone seeing the vision (Dan 10:7-8; Rev 1:10,12)
7) Both fall to the ground (Dan 10:8-9; Rev 1:17)
8) Both reach out and touch the subject on the ground (Dan 10:10; Rev 1:17)
9) Both say "do not fear" (Dan 10:12; Rev 1:17)
10) Both come to bring revelation.

These are just too many parallels to ignore this clear OT reference in Revelation. So, if this connection (Jesus="man in linen" of Dan 10) is true, then the assertion "Jesus=Michael" is falsified, as the "man in linen" in Dan 10 speaks of Michael in third person, as you have already mentioned.

I am interested to see what those with a different opinion have to say about this.

Blessed in His rest,

A. Rodriguez

ThomasS's picture

I think there are other reasons for not accepting the identification of Jesus with Michael (so, I am in agreement with Duncan and John), but I do appreciate this list. Interesting, indeed!

BTW, what is your take on the four kingdoms in Daniel?

Thomas S.

Flakinde's picture

Hello Thomas . . . not sure if the question was directed to me, but I'll respond.

I would hate to pose as an expert on the book of Daniel. In fact, I was a neophyte on the subject of History before I delved into Preterism less than 2 years ago, and I still remain undecided and uninformed on some issues, especially those that pertain to correspondence of prophecy to historical events.

Having said this (and hoping that it's clear that I do not have what it takes to debate this issue), I default to the traditional understanding of Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece and Rome.

I apologize if this was not directed to me . . . the Lord's blessing upon you.

A. Rodríguez

ThomasS's picture

Thanks for answering my question! (It was directed to you.)

Best wishes

Thomas S.

atavistadvocate's picture

Josephus reports this war between Michael and Satan in Dissertations History Book 5, Chapter 13 in the Appenddix of Josephus's Complete Works:
"Such prodigies had happened, as this nation, which is superstitius enough in its own way, would not agree to expiate by the ceremonies of the Roman religion, nor would they atone the gods by sacrifices and vows, as these used to do on the like occassions. ARMIES WERE SEEN TO FIGHT IN THE SKY AND THEIR ARMOR LOOKED OF A BRIGHT LIGHT COLOR, AND THE TEMPLE SHONE WITH SUDDEN FLASHES OF FIRE OUT OF THE CLOUDS. THE DOORS OF THE TEMPLE WERE OPENED ON A SUDDEN, AND *VOICE GREATER THAN HUMAN* WAS HEARD, THAT THE GODS WERE RETIRING, and AT THE SAME TIME THERE WAS A GREAT MOTION PERCEIVED,AS IF THEY WERE GOING OUT OF IT,which some esteemed to be causes of terror."
The above is a remarkable confirmation and parallel to 2 Corinthians 5:1-4; 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 and Revelation 12:7-9. Amazing, isn't it?

~Markos

Markos Mountjoy
mm80220@aol.com

mazuur's picture

Excellent work. Thank you very much, as I am only just getting started to study this very topic. You have given me a great start.

I do have one question. You mentioned Jude 9. It reads as follows,

"But Michael the archangel, when he disputed with the devil and argued about the body of Moses, did not dare pronounce against him a railing judgment, but said, “The Lord rebuke you!”"

Help me out here. If Michael is Jesus, why would Jesus (who is God) be afraid to pronounce a judgement against Satan, and call on the Lord?

Thanks,
Rich

-Rich

Duncan2's picture

Hi guys,

I think Rich's point is a good one. If I am hearing it right it is something like the following:

The context of Jude vv. 8-9 is people who reject authority.

8 Likewise also these dreamers defile the flesh, reject authority, and speak evil of dignitaries. 9 Yet Michael the archangel, in contending with the devil, when he disputed about the body of Moses, dared not bring against him a reviling accusation, but said, "The Lord rebuke you!" 10 But these speak evil of whatever they do not know...

Jude seems to be saying that even someone as great as the archangel Michael seemingly had respect for Satan’s position of authority. Either way, Michael’s deferring to the Lord in his rebuke definitely does not sound like Michael is Jesus. This is especially true considering Jude just called Jesus "Lord" in v. 4 (For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ).

Duncan

jcarter's picture

"But Michael the archangel, when he disputed with the devil and argued about the body of Moses, did not dare pronounce against him a railing judgment, but said, “The Lord rebuke you!”"

Help me out here. If Michael is Jesus, why would Jesus (who is God) be afraid to pronounce a judgement against Satan, and call on the Lord?

my guess is that it was because at that time the Satan still had the right to bring accusations against God's people.

jcarter

There is no life without prayer. Without prayer there is only madness and horror. - Vasilii Rozanov

davo's picture

Great article Jeff.

Quite some time ago now I came across an article of the same leaning, I think it is worth the read. The author Michael Scheifler a Sevent-day Adventist – HERE.

Another like-minded and well researched article by Bob Pickle is – HERE.

Yes JW's claim that Jesus was merely an angel – but that is way different than saying "the" angel was in fact Jesus.

davo – pantelism.com –

leo724's picture

Davo,

The article by Michael Scheifler is very convincing. I'll have to look back at the first part of Hebrews again to see if my thoughts on angels there have changed.

Bill

chrisliv's picture

Yeah,

Very good article and points.

Initially, some might get uptight with associating "Michael" with Christ, even as a sort of title, believing that might suggest a Watchtower orientation. I certainly resisted accepting this association many years ago when in dialogue with Watchtower personnel many years ago.

Of course, we known that the pre-incarnate "Word," according to John's Gospel, and elsewhere, informs us that "He" created all "things" and is before all "things". So, Christ cannot be a spirit/person/angel created by God, as the Watchtower maintains, i.e., even as "the first and greatest creation of Jehovah God".

No, there is only two classes of existence: the Creator, and the "things" which exist by creation that have an actual starting point.

It's probably inaccurate to even refer to the person of the pre-incarnate Christ as the Son of God, since the "Son" title is really only functional in time and space (like Father and Mother are too), relative to the Incarnation or as a prophetic reference in the O.T. And that's probably why John chose to make reference by saying "In the beginning was the Word..." rather than, "In the beginning was the Son..." And even that (Word) seems somehow lacking.

Again, nice article on a tricky little topic.

Peace to you all,
C. Livingstone

chef's picture

Hi Guys!

I see your point about Christ not being created, but begotten. Michael Heiser, PHD (Ancient Semitic and Greek languages) has some good material on the "logos" in John's epistle. He also has some interesting literature with regards to this type of exegeses.

www.thedivinecouncil.com/dc101Psalm82John10.pdf

www.thedivinecouncil.com

I believe that not only was Jesus possibly Michael, but Lucifer too.

Take Care and God Bless
Chef Tony

Chef Tony

MichaelB's picture

Well the Watchtower got the "no kingdom till the resurrection" issue right too...

Even though they hold to it as future and literal bodies...

MichaelB's picture

Lemme Clarify...

I am open (and still studying) to Jesus being Michael. I am not open to Jesus not being God - I think scripturally it is very clear (that is where JW's go wrong).

Jw's got the issue right that there is no Kingdom for believers without the judgment. In other words The judgment / resurrection and receiving of kingdom are all related. The JW's are in error regarding the nature and timing of these.

vinster's picture

Hey Mike,

Not only are the JW's and Seventh-Day Adventists completely wrong in their false futuristic ideas, But they are completely outside of understanding the grace of God, based on their bondage to Old Covenant aspects of the Law, that they incorporate into their forced doctrinal yoke, (keeping the sabbath, dietary laws, no blood transfusions-(which is a misinterpretation of animal sacrificial blood).

Yes, religious cults can understand some minute aspects of the truth, but it always comes back to putting their people back under bondage.

BTW - Jeff, did I say what a great job you did on the article ;^)

MiddleKnowledge's picture

They got the nature and timing wrong from Christians who got it wrong. Futurism spawns unforseen problems.

Tim Martin
www.truthinliving.org

chrisliv's picture

Yeah,

Much like the "Michael" title, "the Angel of the LORD" appearances in the O.T. were undoubtedly Deity in most cases. But, obviously, "angel" couldn't imply "created being" there. Same with those places where "the word of the LORD came unto me, saying...," and was probably the pre-incarnate Christ communicating with Abraham, the prophets, et. al.

Peace to you all,
C. Livingstone

MiddleKnowledge's picture

Jeff,

Very good article.

I got into a discussion with an old-earth creationist futurist a few weeks ago and claimed essentially what you present here without an explanation. He had a quick comeback that I was teaching JW stuff. At the time I had not thought of all these connections you present. Remarkable work, my friend.

I wish I had had your article two months ago, but isn't that the way life goes sometimes? Keep it up,

Tim Martin
www.truthinliving.org

psychohmike's picture

I think I just want to go back to the Bible not making sense.

Does anyone know where I can find Morpheus...I need to take the blue pill.

8) Mike

MichaelB's picture

Well I think we have stumbled on to some good study subjects here PsychoMike and JL...

1. The flood,
2. and Michael.

Maybe our Oceanside group can do some studies on these soon.

JL's picture

Very good Jeff.

Thank-you

JL

Blessings,

JL Vaughn
Beyond Creation Science

MichaelB's picture

Good reasoning Jeff. Thanks for your hard work. We will have to do a study on this one JL when you come down again. I think this is really interesting...

JL's picture

I wish I had a free Sunday. I was backpacking with the Boy Scouts Superbowl weekend. Does that give you an idea how full my calendar is with Boy Scouts alone?

Blessings,

JL Vaughn
Beyond Creation Science

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