When Was Satan Thrown Out of Heaven?

There is Disagreement Among Evangelicals on This Topic

"The first restriction upon Satan had come when he originally went into rebellion and many insist that that was the time he was cast from Heaven but the Scriptures do not appear to say this; the difficulty for some could be in a failure to understand that not all of 'Heaven' is the Heaven of God's throne."



The only way to consider this question is, firstly and most importantly, to consider what the New Testament says about it. Only then should we consider certain controversial Old Testament texts which may or may not refer to Lucifer/Satan and may allude to his casting out of Heaven. We must understand that revelation is progressive therefore, on this point, we should look at the New Testament first.

We must consider both Luke 10:18 and, of course, Revelation 12, the entire chapter, then certain verses in Revelation 20 would also seem to be significant, as are two or three verses in John 12.

Before even commencing we must note that Revelation is the Bible's great symbolic book, therefore we should not expect literalism, nor even, necessarily, a strict conforming to any time order as we might anthropologically consider it, rather we must expect to see the great truths of God depicted and painted in beautiful and enticing colours. The utter truth is certain but the representation is symbolical and poetic. This does not lessen it's truth, it magnifies it, it expands it.

So let us start with Revelation 12. I think we need to consider the entire chapter.

Rev 12:1: And there appeared a great sign in the heavens, a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon was under her feet, and a crown of twelve stars on her head,

All Bible commentators agree that this woman depicts the Church of God (not denominationally, of course, but as a spiritual body), during this Church Age. Everything in Revelation occurs during this present age of the church (Revelation 1:1), until we get to some final references to the New Heavens and New Earth in chapters twenty-one and twenty-two.

In what manner is this woman clothed with the sun? Because, as the Church, she is the light-bringer, that is, the true light-bringer (Satan is the false 'angel of light' in 2 Corinthians 11:14). In this very same book (Revelation 1-3) the Church is represented as the 'seven candlesticks.' God has appointed His Church to be the world's only light-bringer during this present age. The twelve stars upon her head are almost certainly a reference to the original twelve apostles.

Rev 12:2: and having a babe in womb, she cries, being in travail, having been distressed to bear.

The Church is sometimes depicted as being the bearer of the baby Jesus whom she is in travail with, then finally delivers. In like manner, all true Christians may be said to become the children of the Church of God (again, please understand, I do not use 'Church of God' as a denominational name).

Rev 12:3: And another sign was seen in the heavens. And behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on his heads!
Rev 12:4: And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and cast them onto the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman being about to bear, so that when she bears he might devour her child.

The dragon, of course, refers to Satan (made clear in verse 9 which we will shortly reach). The 'heads' and 'crowns' refer to his temporal earthly authority in various forms and at various times. Stars are usually angels in Scripture so the 'third part of the stars' is often considered to be referring to a third part of the angels whom, under Satanic influence, became demons. This seems the most likely explanation. The dragon comes close to the woman as she is about to be delivered of her child, fully intending to devour Him there and then. This was fulfilled when Herod sought to have the newborn baby boys destroyed in an attempt to destroy Jesus (Matthew 2:1-21).

Rev 12:5: And she bore a son, a male, who is going to rule all nations with a rod of iron. And her child was caught up to God and to His throne.

So this refers to the life of Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God. The second part of this verse refers to His ascension to Heaven as depicted at the beginning of the Book of Acts.

Rev 12:6: And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she had a place prepared by God, so that they might nourish her there a thousand, two hundred and sixty days.

This time period comes up in Revelation more than once although always expressed differently. It always refers to the Church Age. At the beginning of this age the Church did indeed often have to exist in a literal wilderness well away from persecuting authorities, yet at all times the Church must operate in a spiritual wilderness. God always protected His Church but, don't forget, He protected it - and continues to protect it - as a spiritual body ; not necessarily every Christian at all times. The Church was not to die out at any time but must always be represented in this world during the present age (Matthew 16:18). So this number mentioned in Revelation 12:6 (symbolical, of course) is always of the same total figure wherever it occurs (Revelation 11:3, for instance), because God Himself knows the exact period of time between the first and second comings of Christ and how long the church is expected to function upon earth, but the Church itself is not given this information.

Rev 12:7: And there was war in Heaven. Michael and his angels warring against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels warred,
Rev 12:8: but did not prevail. Nor was place found for them in Heaven any more.
Rev 12:9: And the great dragon was cast out, the old serpent called Devil, and Satan, who deceives the whole world. He was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.

Now we get to the point of being able to address this specific question. It was at the time of the beginning of this Church Age that Satan was expelled from Heaven, thereafter going to work in seeking to attack the Church upon earth, yet now under restraint, only being allowed to go as far as God allows. So far these events are in an approximate time-order. The first apostles had been given power over the demons (Luke 10:17), necessary when the demons commenced to wander the earth seeking victims, and in the very same Scripture Jesus makes a very revealing association:

Luk 10:18: And He said to them, I saw Satan fall from Heaven like lightning.
Luk 10:19: Behold, I give to you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the authority of the enemy. And nothing shall by any means hurt you.
Luk 10:20: Yet do not rejoice in this, that the evil spirits are subject to you, rather rejoice because your names are written in Heaven.

So although Jesus could have seen Satan being expelled from Heaven at any time (verse 18), the whole context makes it plain that this happened at the commencement of the Church Age, and we would suggest that this was at the time of the resurrection when 'all things' were effectively accomplished. So Satan and his demons were now on earth though subject to very strict limitations on their activities. Revelation 20 refers to the same occurrence:

Rev 20:1: And I saw an angel come down from Heaven, having the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand.
Rev 20:2: And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him a thousand years.
Rev 20:3: And he cast him into the abyss and shut him up and set a seal on him, that he should deceive the nations no more until the thousand years should be fulfilled. And after that he must be loosed a little time.

The '1,000 years' refers to the length of time that Satan is restrained - '1,000' is only ever used symbolically in Scripture ('the cattle upon a thousand hills,' Psalm 50:10, for example). Satan is cast into the 'abyss' - make no mistake, compared to Heaven, the earth is an 'abyss,' however, the term 'abyss' has in mind the fact that Satan is now effectively imprisoned, he is restrained. Yes, he is unable to deceive the nations but this needs to be understood in the sense that he cannot prevent God from adding the called and elected numbers to His Church. While Satan himself can currently probably do little, his demons certainly do roam the earth looking for mischief (1 Peter 5:8).
At the end of his earthly imprisonment, Satan will finally be 'loosed a little time' and this refers to his final activity of attempting to completely destroy the Church just prior to Christ's return. He will undoubtedly incite a world-wide conflagration of nations at the same time.

Rev 12:10: And I heard a great voice saying in Heaven, Now has come the salvation and power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of His Christ. For the accuser of our brothers is cast down, who accused them before our God day and night.

While Satan had been in 'Heaven' (this was not not the 'Heaven' of God's throne, of course), even then he was obviously restricted to an extent, not having close or immediate access to God, yet he had been able to accuse and to attempt to undermine God's people during this period. The first restriction upon Satan had come when he originally went into rebellion and many insist that that was the time he was cast from Heaven but the Scriptures do not appear to say this; the difficulty for some could be in a failure to understand that not all of 'Heaven' is the Heaven of God's throne. But notice again here that Satan's banishment from Heaven is clearly tied in with the revelation of Christ upon the earth. Christ's victory occurred at the resurrection, although the world will not witness it until the Second Coming. Indeed, as Jesus was going to the cross He could say the following:

Joh 12:31: Now is the judgment of this world. Now shall the prince of this world be cast out.
Joh 12:32: And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all to Myself.

So the point when salvific victory was satisfied was when our Saviour was 'lifted up from the earth.' This was - necessarily - when Satan was expelled from Heaven. Let us not forget that Jesus had said,

Mat 12:28: But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come to you.
Mat 12:29 Or else how can one enter into a strong man's house and spoil his goods, unless first he binds the strong one, and then he will plunder his house.

Every major Bible commentator of note agrees that this was a reference to Jesus binding the power of Satan prior to the calling out of the Church. Thus, when discussing the power granted to the first apostles, we may read,

Luk 10:18: And He said to them, I saw Satan fall from Heaven like lightning.
Luk 10:19: Behold, I give to you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the authority of the enemy. And nothing shall by any means hurt you.
Luk 10:20: Yet do not rejoice in this, that the evil spirits are subject to you, rather rejoice because your names are written in Heaven.

Okay, to continue with Revelation 12,

Rev 12:11: And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb, and because of the word of their testimony. And they did not love their soul until death.

So true believers do have to do direct battle with Satan in the sense that his demons are active, yet this does not affect the fact that Satan - through his demons - can only do so much at the present time and they cannot prevent God's people from becoming convicted by the Holy Spirit and being thus added to the Church. This is the victory of Christ and the victory of the Gospel.

Rev 12:12: Therefore rejoice, O heavens, and those tabernacling in them. Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and in the sea! For the Devil came down to you, having great wrath, knowing that he has but a little time.
Rev 12:13: And when the dragon saw that he was cast to the earth, he persecuted the woman who bore the man child .

So there we have it and we again see Satan's real wish to destroy the Church, yet his inability to do so.

Rev 12:14: And two wings of a great eagle were given to the woman, so that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the serpent's face.

Again, this refers back to this age during which God will certainly protect His Church in the 'wilderness' - the Church of God has always existed in a spiritual wilderness, but verses such as this assure us that God may vary things according to current conditions so that the Church is continually protected.

Rev 12:15: And the serpent cast out of his mouth water like a flood after the woman, so that he might cause her to be carried away by the river.
Rev 12:16 And the earth helped the woman. And the earth opened its mouth and swallowed up the river which the dragon cast out of his mouth.

So there we may see that whatever Satan may attempt to throw at the Church, he is restricted from destroying the Church during this present age. The Church will be in continual existence, only right at the very end, possibly only days before Christ returns, all Christian witnessing will finally be silenced, in full accordance with God's plan (Revelation 11:3, 7-13).

Rev 12:17: And the dragon was enraged over the woman, and went to make war with the rest of her seed, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.

So there you have Revelation the 12th chapter which explains when Satan was banished from Heaven.


So Who Was "Lucifer"?


But now what about certain verses in Isaiah and Ezekiel, over in the Old Testament, what, if anything do they tell us?

The arrogant babylonian king referred to in Isaiah 14:12 is not actually 'Lucifer,' that is, he is not actually Satan!

The main problem here is with that word, 'Lucifer' - this word and/or name only occurs in the KJV, Webster, Latin Vulgate and Roman Catholic Bibles; it has been taken out of other translations simply because it is a mistranslation. 'Lucifer' is a Latin name. So (the question might be asked) how did it find its way into a Hebrew manuscript?

The truth might shock many believers: This "Lucifer" in the fourteenth chapter of Isaiah is not really a description of a fallen angel at all (although thousands of Christians have thought differently), this is all about a fallen Babylonian king, who during his lifetime had persecuted the children of Israel. But why called Lucifer? In Roman astronomy, Lucifer was the name given to the morning star (the star we now know by another Roman name, Venus). The morning star appears in the heavens just before dawn, heralding the rising sun. The name derives from the Latin term 'lucem ferre,' bringer, or bearer, of light. In the Hebrew text the expression used to describe the Babylonian king before his death is Helal, son of Shahar, which can best be translated as "Day star, son of the Dawn." The name evokes the golden brightness and glitter of a proud king's dress and court.

The scholars authorized by King James I to translate the Bible into English often did not use the original Hebrew texts, but were heavily influenced by Jerome's Latin Vulgate Bible of the fourth century. Jerome had mistranslated the Hebraic metaphor, "Day star, son of the Dawn," as "Lucifer." Of course, later on the name 'Lucifer' really did become applied to Satan (before his fall) by most Christians and this is now the accepted approach among many but originally - in the Hebrew - this was the description of a proud and arrogant balylonian king. Many Bible commentators know this but they have sometimes (but not always!) accepted a duality here between this king and Satan, since Satan is also arrogant and boastful. So was Isaiah thinking of the one whom we know as Satan although he knew he was specifically writing about a vain king? It is really very hard to say but we can see that this king certainly showed many traits of the character of Satan himself.

Likewise most of the verses in Ezekiel 28, which warn about a ruler of Tyre, were not originally about Lucifer, or Satan. Neverthless, some of those verses certainly could also apply to Satan and, in the case of two or three verses it is hard to see how they could not refer to Satan! There is very possibly a duality involved, however, we must gain our understanding of when Satan was expelled from Heaven from the New Testament which, in Revelation 12, seems to be quite clear.

As James Patrick Holding has written of this particular Old Testament 'Lucifer problem,'

"From the start, a telling sign against an identification with Satan is that the equation here was made in the 3rd and 4th century AD, by church writers -- not by Jews of the OT or NT era. This does not mean it is wrong, but it does place a greater burden of proof on claimants."
You can read James' entire article on the identification of Lucifer here.

So Satan no longer dwells in Heaven, rather, he is active upon the earth, or perhaps we should say that he causes his demons to be active, for he himself is imprisoned upon the earth. Nevertheless Christ’s victory is accomplished and the Devil’s defeat is ensured.

So Satan is now cast out of Heaven and currently allows his demons to roam this earth, but we must understand that limits are imposed upon them by God. I always compare this to a dangerous dog on a leash. Such a dog can actually be more dangerous than before but only within a limited area; his scope only extends as far as his 'restrainer' (the leash) allows.

Jas 4:7: Therefore submit yourselves to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

There is no denying that this is a somewhat tricky topic and if you have further questions, by all means e mail me.

Robin A. Brace, December 14th 2008.

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