Revelation 12, Zechariah 3 and the details of the war in heaven between Michael and the dragon, called the devil and Satan, and how Jesus Christ won that war and became the Mediator between God and man.
Many people have asked the question, “Why does God allow evil?” The simple answer is that God created a paradise for us to live in and offered His love, joy and protection for eternity. We, mankind, are the ones who gave away that paradise through our disobedience. Yet still, God has offered us a way out of our problem. He has shown, by the death of His most beloved Son, that He would rather die for us than to leave us in our misery and despair. He opens a door back into paradise, but we persist in disobedience. We are the ones who continue to choose evil. If God were to stop the evil right now, it would appear to all the universe that He has done so against our will and forced His kingdom on us.
As we continue to discover the identity of the Lion of Daniel 7, we have to look deeper into the great controversy that has been going on in the universe since before the creation of Earth. We have to reveal the rebellion of Adam that allowed sin to enter our planet. And we have to expose the evil mastermind behind the suffering and death that is all around us. For after all, this is the purpose of the prophecies of Daniel which we are studying. Their job is to expose the antichrist and bring us down to the end of this earth’s history and our return to paradise. And more than that, this part of our study will reveal another great victory of God in the War He is fighting in order to save us.
At the end of Part 3: He is Lifted Up, we read a story about a Woman who gave birth to a male child. In Revelation 12:5 we read:
“[The Woman] bore a male Child who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron. And her Child was caught up to God and to His throne.”
That Woman was the church God had established within the nation of Israel. The tribe of Judah had long been promised that she would bring forth the Messiah out of the lineage of Judah and David. And that “male Child” was Jesus of Nazareth. Born a rightful King through the tribe of Judah, born of the lineage of David, born a man from the virgin Mary and born with the Spirit of the Almighty, He became
The Lion of the Tribe of Judah,
the Root of David
and was destined to fulfill all the desires of Israel and all the hopes of mankind. Revelation 12 tells us that after the Child was born, He was “caught up to God and to His throne.” This event is followed by the inaugural scene in the Throne Room that we read about in Revelation 5 (Part 1: In the Heavenly Throne Room) and by a significant battle in the great war.
In Chapter 5 we saw that when Jesus arrived in the Throne Room, He was found worthy to open the Scroll and loose its seals because He had “prevailed.” Here is the story of how He prevailed over Satan so that He could open that Scroll. This piece is important in understanding the Lion of Daniel 7. And here we will continue opening the Scriptures that Jesus shared with His disciples on the road to Emmaus.
War in Heaven
Before the creation of Earth there was rebellion in Heaven. Lucifer, a great and glorious covering cherub, questioned the authority of God. Though we cannot hope to understand all the details of this rebellion, we can surely see its effects on our planet and our humanity. Ezekiel gives us some insight into what started the rebellion that later caused one-third of the angels to lose their positions in heaven. He shows Lucifer before he fell into sin, the root of his disaffection and what will be his final reward. You will soon see that God is actually talking about Lucifer when He speaks metaphorically to the King of Tyre.
“Son of man, take up a lamentation for the king of Tyre, and say unto him,
“ ‘Thus saith the Lord GOD, ‘You were the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. You were in Eden, the garden of God. Every precious stone was your covering, the sardius, topaz, and diamond, beryl, onyx, and jasper, sapphire, turquoise, and emerald with gold. The workmanship of your timbrels and pipes was prepared for you in the day that you were created. You were the anointed cherub who covers. I established you. You were on the holy mountain of God; you walked back and forth in the midst of fiery stones. You were perfect in your ways from the day you were created, till iniquity was found in you.
“ ‘By the multitude of your trading you became filled with violence within, and you sinned. Therefore I cast you as a profane thing out of the mountain of God: and I destroyed you, O covering cherub, from the midst of the fiery stones.
“ ‘Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty, you corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor. I cast you to the ground, I laid you before kings, that they might gaze at you.
“ ‘You defiled your sanctuaries by the multitude of your iniquities, by the iniquity of your trading; therefore I brought fire from your midst, it devoured you, and I turned you to ashes upon the earth in the sight of all who saw you. All who knew you among the peoples are astonished at you; you have become a horror, and shall be no more forever.’ ” Ezekiel 28:12-19
The prophet Isaiah gives us more details into the desires of Lucifer’s heart that caused him to rise up against the government of God.
“How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, you who weakened the nations!
“For you have said in your heart, ‘I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will also sit on the mount of the congregation, on the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.’ Yet you shall be brought down to hell, to the lowest depths of the Pit.
“Those who see you shall gaze at you, and consider you, saying, ‘Is this the man that made the earth tremble, who shook kingdoms; who made the world as a wilderness, and destroyed its cities; who did not open the house of his prisoners?’ ” Isaiah 14:12-17
So war had begun in Heaven before mankind was created. But when Adam sinned he brought our little planet Earth into the war. By rebelling against the authority of God, he aligned himself—and all of mankind—on the side of the rebels. God’s tender heart was not content to lose the new beings He had so recently created in His image. He chose to rescue us and initiated the plan of salvation that He had formed from the foundation of the world.
Just like any other war, this rebellion is composed of many skirmishes and battles until at last there is a victor. Here before us is the tale of one of the most significant of these battles which turns the tide in this Heavenly war.
War Breaks Out
On the morning of His resurrection, when Christ was brought before the Ancient of Days, there was a struggle for power. We read:
“Her Child was caught up to God and to His throne. . . . And war broke out in heaven. Michael and His angels fought against the dragon and his angels.” (Revelation 12:5, 7)
Who won this war? We are told in verses 8-9.
“But [the devil and his angels] did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer. So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.” (Revelation 12:8-9)
Here we are allowed to see another glorious accomplishment of Christ and we also see how worship in Heaven changed again. Now this victory brings forth another new song in Heaven exalting and praising God for His work:
“Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, ‘Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.’ ” (Revelation 12:10-11)
On that glorious and fateful morning, Satan was kicked out of Heaven and we see the Beings who live in Heaven rejoicing. But they are concerned for the inhabitants of Earth because they know first-hand that a deadly foe has come to live among us. They sing:
“Therefore rejoice, O heavens, and you who dwell in them! Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and the sea! For the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has a short time.” Revelation 12:12)
Ever since Adam sinned, Satan had been Earth’s representative in the Heavenly Court. Instead of lending a sweet aroma to our prayers as Jesus does, Satan was busy trying to make men look bad before God. In these verses Satan is called, “the Accuser of Our Brethren.” Where in Scripture can we see an example of this? Let’s turn to Job 1 & 2.
“Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them.
“And the LORD said to Satan, ‘From where do you come?’
“So Satan answered the LORD and said, ‘From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking back and forth on it.’
“Then the LORD said to Satan, ‘Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil?’
“So Satan answered the LORD and said, ‘Does Job fear God for nothing? Have You not made a hedge around him, around his household, and around all that he has on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But now, stretch out Your hand and touch all that he has, and he will surely curse You to Your face!’ ” (Job 1:6-11)
“Again there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them to present himself before the LORD. And the LORD said to Satan, ‘From where do you come?’
“Satan answered the LORD and said, ‘From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking back and forth on it.’
“Then the LORD said to Satan, ‘Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil? And still he holds fast to his integrity, although you incited Me against him, to destroy him without cause.’
“So Satan answered the LORD and said, ‘Skin for skin! Yes, all that a man has he will give for his life. But stretch out Your hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will surely curse You to Your face!’ ” (Job 2:1-5)
Here are some examples from the Bible
of Satan exerting his power in Heaven.
|Job 1:6||“The sons of God came to present themselves and Satan came among them.”|
|Jude 1:9||“Michael contended with the devil over the body of Moses.”|
|Luke 4:6-7||Satan told Christ, “All this I will give to you . . . for this has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I wish.”|
|Zech 3||“Joshua the high priest stood before the Lord and Satan stood there opposing him.”|
The text we are going to look at in depth comes from Zechariah in a little parable about a high priest named Joshua. This story will give us some details about the war that was fought in Heaven at Christ’s ascension. Read Zechariah 3.
“He showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the Angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to oppose him. And the LORD said to Satan, ‘The LORD rebuke you, Satan! The LORD who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is this not a brand plucked from the fire?’” … (Zech. 3:1-2)
The Story of Joshua and the Angel: Zechariah 3
There was a man named Joshua who was the High Priest after the restoration of Jerusalem. But the scene in Zechariah 3 is actually a parable about Christ.
“ ‘Hear, O Joshua, the high priest, you and your companions who sit before you, for they are a wondrous sign; for behold, I am bringing forth My servant the Branch. For behold the Stone that I have laid before Joshua: upon the Stone are seven eyes. Behold, I will engrave its inscription,’ says the LORD of hosts, ‘And I will remove the iniquity of that land in one day.’ ” (Zech. 3:8-9)
We are told this scene is symbolic when it says the characters [Joshua/Satan/the Angel of the Lord] “are a wondrous sign” which will tell us about Christ, who is called “the Branch” and “the Stone.” Remember how we read in Revelation 5:6 that the Lamb had these “seven eyes?” The phrase, “I will remove the iniquity of that land in one day,” is also an important piece of the prophecy of Daniel. It tells us about how Christ will remove all the sin on the final Day of Atonement.
Here on Earth we picture wars as battles with dangerous weapons. Artists depict the war in Heaven with swords and spears. But why not machine guns or nuclear weapons? Instead of trying to picture this battle in our own human way, why not let the Bible describe the war for us? We will find that the Bible tells us this “War” in Heaven is fought in the courtroom. This scene with Joshua and Satan standing before the Angel of the Lord is the “War” that we read about in Revelation 12:7-12.
The parable of Joshua is about a battle that would involve Jesus. This is a Heavenly Court Room scene in which a judgment is about to be decreed on one or the other parties. Why is Satan allowed to oppose Christ? Because he was rightfully given dominion over the earth by Adam and he does not want to relinquish his power voluntarily. But Jesus has also rightfully gained the authority to take back the dominion over earth. So God is about to decide between the two. Which one will be our representative in the Heavenly Courts and hold dominion over the affairs of the earth? And just like we read in Revelation 12:8, Jesus (Michael/Joshua) will prevail. Here are the events which have led up to this scene:
- God gave Adam dominion over the earth.
- Adam gave away this dominion to Satan.
- Satan was our representative in the heavenly courts.
- Satan was accusing us before God. Who was going to kick him out and take back our rights?
- Jesus came to earth in the form of humanity so that He could be our “Brother.” This gave Him the right to be our representative in Heaven.
Jesus was unable to become the mediator between earth and Heaven before He took on the form of humanity. We can see in Job that God did not have rights, as God, to mediate on our behalf. It was only after Christ came from God and took on the form of humanity that He could lay His hand on both God and man and join us together.
“For He is not a man, as I am, that I may answer Him, and that we should go to court together. Nor is there any mediator between us, who may lay his hand on us both.” Job 9:32-33
It was only after Jesus became the Son of Man that He could redeem us and buy back our freedom and our right to rule the Earth.
Our Chosen Representative
At Creation, God had given Adam dominion over the entire earth.
“So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.
“Then God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.'” (Genesis 1:27-28)
This didn’t mean that Adam was to rule over earth with a cruel and selfish power, but that he was responsible for caring for the earth and all of its creatures. But when Adam sinned against God he relinquished that role to the devil because Adam showed that He would rather obey Satan than God. And when Satan had that dominion, he did choose to rule with cruelty.
Jesus had taken on the form of humanity, but that alone did not give Him the right to replace Satan as our representative. Adam made a choice. So it would also require a choice on our part to grant authority to Christ to take back our dominion.
We read in Revelation 12:11 that during the war in Heaven “They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.” This “word of their testimony” is the same as saying that they stood up in court and spoke out as witnesses on behalf of God. God is the one who is on trial here. This text shows that in combination with the blood that Jesus shed, there were also enough “men” who showed their allegiance to God so that the Devil could be overcome.
This will be the same again in the final battle for the Throne. The universe will be looking to see if there are any people who would rather choose God over Satan as the Sovereign of Earth.
This is why it is so important for us to stop sinning. When we sin and rebel against God, we show that our allegiance continues to favor Satan as our leader.
In the parable of Zechariah 3 about Joshua and the Angel, did you notice that Joshua wore “filthy garments?” These are the blood-stained robes that we read about in Genesis 49:11; Isaiah 63:3 and Revelation 19:13. As Joshua and Satan stand before God, they both have equal rights to represent mankind but there is a difference between them. It is these filthy garments that are going to decide who is the victor in this battle. Christ’s garments are “filthy” because He took all of our sins on Himself, just like we read about in Part 2: The Lion of Judah. Remember Isa. 63:5? “Their blood is sprinkled on My garments . . . Therefore My own arm brought Salvation.”
We read in the prophecy of Genesis 49:11 that “He washed His garments in wine and His clothes in the blood of grapes.” Jesus Himself tells us that the wine—or grape juice—symbolically refers to the blood.
“Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them saying, ‘Drink from it all of you. For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.’ ” Matthew 26:27-28
These blood-stained garments show two participants. Christ was not alone in staining His robes. He was willing to take our sins onto Himself, but it also shows that men were willing to turn back to God and accept His mercy. It was by confession of sin that the blood of the sacrifice was transferred to the priest who was then able to “cleanse” the sin.
As Jesus (Joshua) and Satan stood before God, it was Jesus who was chosen as we see by the words, “Is this not a Brand plucked out of the fire?” (Zech 3:2) He was chosen because of His filthy garments. Jesus was the only One who did the will of His Father in taking on our sins so that we could be saved. Whereas Satan continued to accuse us in Heaven until Christ took on our humanity so that He could buy us back from our bondage. Through His willingness to take on our sins, and through man’s choice, Christ prevailed and Satan was kicked out of Heaven. Christ now represents us and He will judge, not with accusations or cruelty, but with righteous judgments.
“But with righteousness He shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth.” Isaiah 11:4
“Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war.” Revelation 19:11
Once the case was decided, Joshua’s filthy garments were removed and a crown was placed on His head.
“Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and was standing before the Angel. Then He answered and spoke to those who stood before Him, saying, ‘Take away the filthy garment from him.’
“And to Him He said, ‘See, I have removed your iniquity from you, and I will clothe you with rich robes.’
“And I said, ‘Let them put a clean turban on his head.’ So they put a clean turban on his head, and they put the clothes on him. And the Angel of the Lord stood by.” Zechariah 3:3-5
Just as He did for Joshua, God will take away our iniquity and give us clean garments. Our iniquity will be removed in one day—on the Day of Atonement—when Christ will cleanse the sanctuary. This is the work that God has been longing to do for us, but it hinges on our choice.
“ ‘Come now and let us reason together,’ says the Lord. ‘Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool.
“If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land. But if you refuse and rebel, you shall be devoured by the sword.’ For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” Isaiah 1:18-20
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9
“If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not practice the truth:
“But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin.” 1 John 1:6-7
Notice the key word, “If.” “If we are willing and obedient,” “If we confess our sins,” “If we live according to the light,” “If we practice the truth.” These actions reveal our choice to be governed by God.
A Brand Plucked From the Fire
What does this phrase mean, “Is this not a Brand plucked out of the fire?” It has a lot to do with the sin-stained robe. You know that, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) And so our little planet is destined to be burned to a crisp. But wait. We have not been burned yet when in the presence of a Holy God because of the “grace” of Christ. At the instant sin entered mankind, Jesus stepped in between guilty man and an offended God like a veil of protection. This covering will keep us alive for a grace period while Jesus accomplishes all things necessary for our salvation.
So try to picture the earth on fire along with all mankind. Yet there was one man snatched out of the fire because He did not sin and did not fall short in God’s eyes. Even though Christ arrived in Heaven with filthy robes, it was not His own sin that dirtied Him. Because He was without sin, He was able to be plucked out of the fire—or that is to say, He is not deserving of the same death that we are. So He is a “Brand plucked out of the fire” and is worthy to have clean garments placed on Him.
When the time comes for us to stand before the Angel of the Lord with Satan at our right hand to accuse us, we will be clothed in filthy garments that show our own sin. But here is the good news. On that day, we will have Jesus standing beside us as our witness. He will be able say, “When I was lifted up to Heaven I had garments that were stained with their sins. And these garments have been removed. Therefore, because I took all their sins onto Myself, they have no iniquity.” On that final day of judgement, we too will have our filthy garments removed, for God not only removed Joshua’s filthy garments, but He extended the promise to do the same for us when He said, “I will remove the iniquity of that land in one Day.”
Consider for a moment the practice of branding cattle. The strong branding iron was left in the fire until it was red hot. It was then plucked out of the fire and used to set an identifying mark of ownership on the rancher’s own cattle. Are we not looking forward to that moment when Jesus has cleansed us of our deep-seated iniquities, washed clean the handwritten sentence that stands against us–“You are weighed in the balances and found wanting”–, washed our robes white in His own blood and set His seal upon us to show that we belong to Him! Of that day God said,
“And they shall be Mine, saith the LORD of hosts, in that day when I make up My jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him. Then shall ye return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth him not.” Malachi 3:17-18
Witnesses of the War in Heaven
Within the symbolic lessons of the Feast Days there is a picture of this “war” in Heaven. Shortly after the Passover came a firstfruit offering called a “wave sheaf.” On the day of the wave sheaf in the earthly temple, the priest would gather a little bundle of the first fruits of the harvest and “wave the sheaf before the Lord to be accepted on your behalf.” (Leviticus 23:11)
The harvest needed to receive God’s approval. Likewise, after His death on the Cross, Jesus needed to know if His sacrifice was acceptable to God. We can see that He waved before His Father on the morning of His resurrection. Mary came to the tomb shortly after He had risen and when she recognized Him declared, “Rabboni!” But Jesus stopped her from reaching out to Him because He had not yet ascended to His Father.
“Jesus saith unto her, ‘Touch Me not, for I have not yet ascended to My Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, I ascend to My Father and to your Father, and to My God and your God.’ ” John 20:17 KJV
Later that same day He met two heartbroken disciples walking home from Jerusalem to Emmaus. He talked with them and went into their home and broke bread with them. (Luke 24:28-32) And the same day at evening He joined the disciples and showed them the nail holes in His hands. (John 20:19-20) Eight days later He encouraged Thomas to touch the nail holes in His palms. (John 20:27) So it was only early in the morning after His resurrection that He didn’t want to be touched or detained because He needed to appear before His Father’s throne.
This meeting with His Father was the moment when this “War” took place. This was the moment when it was decided that Jesus’ sacrifice had been acceptable to God. The writer E.G. White gives us another view of this awesome scene as it occurred on the morning of the Resurrection.
“Jesus refused to receive the homage of His people until He had the assurance that His sacrifice was accepted by the Father. He ascended to the heavenly courts, and from God Himself heard the assurance that His atonement for the sins of men had been ample, that through His blood all might gain eternal life. The Father ratified the covenant made with Christ, that He would receive repentant and obedient men, and would love them even as He loves His Son.… All power in heaven and on earth was given to the Prince of Life, and He returned to His followers in a world of sin, that He might impart to them of His power and glory.
“While the Saviour was in God’s presence, receiving gifts for His church, the disciples thought upon His empty tomb, and mourned and wept.” (White, The Desire of Ages, p. 790)
Jesus Is The Victor
By His humanity, His death and His willingness to take our sins onto Himself, Christ prevailed over the devil and won back our rights.
“Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil.” (Hebrews 2:14)
Satan was our accuser before the throne. Now Christ has became our faithful Advocate.
“For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” (1 Timothy 2:5)
On that resurrection morning, when He stood before His Father in the courts of Heaven and received the acceptance of His Father, He may have stood on the feet of a man, and in His chest beat the heart of a man, and on Him hung filthy garments stained with the blood of our sins, but He wore the kingly crown of a Lion and His glory shown as the only begotten and beloved of His Father, full of grace and truth. This battle was won. He had prevailed so that He could begin opening the Scroll which would reveal one victory after another until all the kingdoms of the earth are vanquished and He will be given the Kingdom. There we will live in joy and harmony with God forever.
Yet His heart remains with man. He left the majesty of His Father’s presence and returned to Earth where we find Him on a dusty road, comforting two disheartened disciples on their way to Emmaus.
As the worship in Heaven swells and grows with each conquering victory of Christ, let us review what we have learned of His accomplishments so far . . .
- He was tempted as we are, yet He did not sin. (Hebrews 4:15; Hebrews 2:18)
- He was slain. He overcame death. (John 10:17-18)
- By His bloodline—His humanity—we are redeemed to God. (Revelation 5:9; Hebrews 2:11, 17)
- He has been lifted up—ascended to His throne and exalted to sit at the right hand of the Majesty on high. (Hebrews 1:3; Hebrews 8:1)
- He has overcome the devil and cast him out of Heaven. (Revelation 12:7-8; Hebrews 2:14)
- He has prevailed to open the scroll. (Revelation 5:5)
- He is now our representative, not accusing us, but mediating as our great High Priest and judging with righteous judgments. (1 Timothy 2:5; 1 Samuel 2:35)
You are fairer than the sons of men:
Grace is poured upon Your lips:
Therefore God hath blessed You forever.
Gird Your sword upon Your thigh, O Mighty One,
With Your glory and Your majesty.
And in Your majesty ride prosperously because of truth, humility and righteousness;
And Your right hand shall teach You awesome things.
Your arrows are sharp in the heart of the King’s enemies;
The peoples fall under You.
Your throne, O God, is forever and ever:
A scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your kingdom.
You love righteousness, and hate wickedness:
Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You
With the oil of gladness more than Your companions.
All Your garments are scented with myrrh and aloes and cassia,
Out of the ivory palaces, by which they have made You glad.
Let’s see how all this begins to come together to describe the Lion of Daniel 7:4 in Part 5: The Lion of Daniel 7–coming soon.