Thrown out of the throne room

Posted: 18th October 2008 by ElShaddai Edwards in Uncategorized

The relationship between Satan and Heaven is an interesting one to dig into. One popular view is that Satan led a revolt of angels in pre-history and was in opposition to the Creator from the start, such that the serpent in Eden was the physical embodiment of Satan. Yet throughout the Old Testament, we see Satan (or “a lying spirit” which we associate with Satan) with access to Heaven (cf. Job 1.6-12, 1 Chronicles 21.1, 1 Kings 22.19-23, Zech 3.1-2, Psalm 82), also depicted as the courtroom of God.

One suspects that for the OT writers, it was not so much that Satan was thrown out of Heaven by God, but that Satan was an agent of God, the one willing to do the dirty work of tempting and enticing humans. The Zechariah passage depicts Satan as standing at the right hand of Joshua the high priest, waiting to accuse him before the angel of the Lord (Jesus?) Clearly Satan seems to have had God-granted authority to affect human action and then accuse them in the courtrooms of Heaven.

We then come to Luke 10.18-20, which records Jesus’ reply to his disciples’ reports of success as witnesses to the Kingdom of Heaven:

I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.

Which parallels Revelation 12.7-9:

And there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. The great dragon was hurled down-that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.

But what’s of interest to me is what’s is recorded in the next verse in the Revelation passage:

Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say:
“Now have come the salvation and the power
and the kingdom of our God,
and the authority of his Messiah.
For the accuser of our brothers and sisters,
who accuses them before our God day and night,
has been hurled down.

John goes on to record that when Satan saw that “he had been thrown down to the earth” (Rev. 12.13), he “went off to make war against […] those who keep God’s commands and hold fast their testimony about Jesus.” (Rev. 12.17)

Satan, the accuser, has had his access to Heaven’s courtroom revoked! He was cast out of Heaven and lost his authority over humankind when Jesus became a mortal man and established the beachheads of the Kingdom of Heaven. Where before he was free to roam through the earth and go back and forth to Heaven, presenting himself to God whenever he had evidence to accuse humans with, now he is permanently stuck on earth as “the prince of this world”, an impotent potentate without access to Heaven.

Satan has lost his place in the grand courtroom of the Sovereign God. This means that we do not have an Accuser, a Lawyer, a Prosecutor who is constantly seeking to convict us for every misdeed and unrighteous act. We have a temptor who seeks to deceive us and lead us astray from the Kingdom of Heaven, but we are not living in a present state of being accused and convicted of those temptations.

In an earlier post on a modern representation of Satan as the spirit of negation rather than of creation, I included a quote by Ligon Duncan, who sees “a simultaneously increasing opposition to the kingdom [of Heaven] growing alongside an ever advancing and expanding kingdom [of Heaven].” That is, as the Kingdom of Heaven grows and expands from its initial beachhead in the humanity of Jesus Christ, Satan’s kingdom here on earth must also advance and expand. The kingdom of earth feeds on the fruit of the Kingdom of Heaven, poisoning wherever it can gain a hold, but always dependent on a renewing Creation for the substance of its negation. The kingdom of earth is truly impotent.

There will come a time when we are judged as to which kingdom we belong to, but we have the assurance that our sentencing will be by the Just Judge, not a Double-dyed Deceiver, and that we have the Great Defender available, Jesus Christ himself.

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HT: Brent Kercheville

  1. Thanks, Peter. It’s interesting to me how the Bible seems to clearly indicate that Satan’s power over humanity decreases with the advent of the Kingdom of Heaven, but that Christians throughout history have devised various ways of creating a powerful Satan who rivals God himself!

    The nuance of the power to accuse vs. the power to tempt was interesting to explore. We are exhorted many times in the NT to resist temptation – when we do so, we render Satan completely powerless!

  2. Yes, the same distinction as fighting from a position of victory vs. still fighting for victory.