Revelation 12:7-9

Sermon preached on November 24, 2013 by Laurence W. Veinott. © Copyright 2013. All rights reserved. Other sermons can be found at

Unless otherwise noted, quotations are from The Holy Bible: New International Version (NIV). Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House.

I was born and raised on Cape Breton Island. We try to go back there every summer. We love it. It has beautiful scenery. Some of the vistas there are absolutely gorgeous. In 2009 it was voted the third best island in the world by readers of Travel and Leisure magazine. Actually, I think they got that wrong—it should have been number 1. Not only is Cape Breton beautiful but most of the people there are absolutely wonderful. Cape Breton is renowned for its hospitality. Many of its people are very kind and over the years many strangers have experienced this.

But unfortunately, there are some bad things about Cape Breton. A year or two ago I read about a murder that was absolutely shocking. Angus MacLean, who was 82, was murdered in his home. He lived alone, out in the country, on a gravel road overlooking the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Some people say that it is one of the most picturesque vistas on Cape Breton Island. He was a retired farmer and fisherman who lived with his dog, Lassie. From what I read he was a wonderful man, a quiet gentleman who cared for his family, having taken care of both his brother and sister in his home when they were dying a few years ago. He loved children and was always kind to them. In his later years he sold fishing licenses out of his home. Friends said he would help out anyone in need. But on December 8, 2010 he was found murdered in his farmhouse. It took the police four months to make an arrest and during that time the residents of that area, especially the senior citizens, lived in a state of fear. It was hard to believe that something like that could happen there.

But I've heard of other things that are troubling. In some of the rural communities alcohol and drug abuse among some of the younger people are a real problem. I heard how an elderly couple in one small community lived in fear because a gang of lawless youths were terrorizing them.

Cape Breton also has a sad history of union related violence. The senior's building where Marg's mom lives was supposed to be part of a two building complex. But shortly after construction started on the second building it was destroyed by fire. The owners were using non-unionized construction workers in the days leading up to the fire the union members had been protesting at the site. Some people think that the union workers burned it down. It was never rebuilt.

The town I grew up in was a harbor town, a port, and seaports have a reputation for being a bit rough. Right next to our town was another town Sydney Mines, a coal mining town. That town was even rougher. Across the harbor was Sydney, a steel manufacturing town. I have this vague recollection of a story I think it was my grandfather told me about Sydney, when he arrived there. I'm not sure if it happened to him or to someone else when they arrived in Sydney. They story was when this man arrived in Sydney by train, when he got off the train and entered the station, a man came up to him and said,

"Do you know how to fight?"

The man said, "No." The other man said,

"Well, take off your coat, and we'll teach you."

When I was in school I experienced that very thing. I was in Grade 3 and I was on my way home after school one day when a group of my friends ran up to me and very excitedly told me that Martin Lomond was coming to beat me up. I hardly knew Martin. I never did anything to him. I don't think I had ever even spoken to him. The main thing I knew about him was that he was a big guy. The next thing I knew a big crowd of kids had gathered to watch. My brother and his friends were there as well. But my brother wasn't there to help me—like the others he had come to watch. It was terrifying. It could be that when I told my grandfather about that fight that my grandfather told me his story.

So even though Cape Breton is a beautiful place with some great people—it does have its dark side. Sin is there and it has greatly affected that area. To a great extent it has ruined part of paradise.

It was bad when sin entered this earth. Sin ruined so much. But think of when sin entered heaven—when Satan rebelled against God and dragged a third of the angels with him. How much worse that was than when sin entered this world. These words— "And there was war in heaven," are incredible. God is holy. Heaven is His home. For sin to enter heaven, to be found there—was such an affront to God, to His glorious attributes.

Can you imagine sin in heaven? Can you imagine that there—Satan wanted to take glory to himself, glory that belonged exclusively to God? I get a sense that any words I use are inadequate to describe the horror of the situation. But let's try to consider what it must have been like.

Heaven—what is it like? Chapters 4 and 5 of Revelation gave us a glimpse into the glory of God and the worship that occurs there. One of the great themes we saw there was that some of the praise was antiphonal—praise was given to God by one group and another group then responded to that praise. In chapter 4 we saw that the 4 living creatures praised God for His holiness and then the 24 elders responded with their worship and gave glory, honor and power to God because He created all things. In chapter 5 we saw that when the Lamb on the throne took the scroll from the right hand of Him who sat on the throne, the four living creatures and the 24 elders fell down before the Lamb. They sang a new song and praised Him for His worthiness to open the scroll and for His work on the cross and how He saved men from every tribe and language. Then there was the sound of many angels, 10 thousand times 10 thousand—singing in a loud voice, (Revelation 5:12)

"Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain,
to receive power and wealth
and wisdom and strength and
honor and glory and praise!"

When they did so—every creature in heaven joined in and praised God and the Lamb. They said, (Revelation 5:13)

"To him who sits on the throne
and to the Lamb be praise
and honor and glory and power,
for ever and ever!"

Then the four living creatures said, "Amen," and the elders fell down and worshiped.

What incredible pictures they are. God is so worthy. There is no one like Him. How right and proper it is that the whole heavenly host is caught up in the worship and praise of God. He is perfect. He is full of love, full of grace, full of truth. He excels in kindness. His holiness is such that Isaiah 6 tells us that the seraphs are above the throne calling out to one another, (Isaiah 6:3)

"Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty;
the whole earth is full of his glory."

God is good. All His attributes are perfect. His will is perfect. His ways are perfect. How right it was that the whole heavenly host serve, honor and praise Him.

But what happened? Ezekiel 28:14–16 speaks of Satan and says,

"You were anointed as a guardian cherub,
for so I ordained you.
You were on the holy mount of God;
you walked among the fiery stones.
You were blameless in your ways
from the day you were created
till wickedness was found in you."

He was a guardian cherub. He failed to do his duty. Satan's sin was an attack on God, on His honor, on His glory. Isaiah 14:12–14 says of Satan,

"How you have fallen from heaven,
O morning star, son of the dawn!
You have been cast down to the earth,
you who once laid low the nations!
You said in your heart,
'I will ascend to heaven;
I will raise my throne above the stars of God;
I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly,
on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain.
I will ascend above the tops of the clouds;
I will make myself like the Most High.' "

At one point, instead of a group responding with praise, glory and adoration to God—there was sin, there was idolatry, there was someone trying to steal God's glory.

The books of Daniel, Matthew and Mark talk about the 'abomination that causes desolation'. That was referring to the temple in Jerusalem being defiled. How much more horrendous was it when heaven was defiled.

How horrible it was when Satan tried to take what properly belonged to God and make it his own. It as the most heinous sin. It was most wrong. It was most evil.

It could not be allowed to stand. In Isaiah 42:8 God declared,

"I am the LORD; that is my name!
I will not give my glory to another
or my praise to idols."

Colossians 1:15–18 tells us about the glory of Jesus.

"He is the image of the invisible God,
the firstborn over all creation.
For by him all things were created:
things in heaven and on earth,
visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers
or rulers or authorities; all things were created
by him and for him.
He is before all things,
and in him all things hold together.
And he is the head of the body,
the church; he is the beginning and
the firstborn from among the dead,
so that in everything
he might have the supremacy."

There is war in heaven. There are certain things for us to note about this war in heaven.

The first thing we see is that

the archangel Michael is the one that leads the fight against Satan.

This is important. Grant R. Osborne writes, (Revelation, BECNT; p. 469)

"It is crucial to note that the two adversaries are not the dragon and God but the dragon and Michael. There is no true dualism in this book between Satan and God, for there is no equality. The dragon's adversary is the archangel Michael, and he is the more powerful. It is Michael and 'his angels' who 'go to war against the dragon.'"

God is all powerful. Created beings do not have life in themselves. God upholds and sustains all things. He is the Almighty. Simon J. Kistemaker tell us that Michael, (Revelation, p. 361)

"forces the evil one into battle, which is an indication that he has the upper hand and is sure of the victory."

Michael, an angel, a servant of God—He casts Satan out of heaven. G. K. Beale writes, (Revelation: NIGTC, p. 652)

"Here the language of Dan. 7:21 is applied to the defeat of the dragon. The overall context of Daniel 7 itself has in view the final defeat of the beastly kingdoms. What better language to use to portray the devil's defeat than what the book of Daniel used to speak of the devil's victory over the saints? Thus the devil is mocked by this parody."

What this means for us is that

as we serve Jesus we should have confidence.

Michael and his angels could defeat the dragon and this means that, in your life, through God's grace, you can defeat the dragon, you can successfully resist his attacks against you. Michael is your example here. In Ephesians 6:10–11 the apostle Paul told Christians,

"Finally, be strong in the Lord
and in his mighty power.
Put on the full armor of God so that
you can take your stand
against the devil's schemes."

We can stand against the devil. Ephesians 6:13 says,

"Therefore put on the full armor of God,
so that when the day of evil comes,
you may be able to stand your ground,
and after you have done everything, to stand."

Verse 16 tells us to,

"take up the shield of faith,
with which you can extinguish
all the flaming arrows of the evil one."

We Christians must not have a defeatist attitude toward the Christian life. Satan is not too strong for us. As the apostle John tells us in 1 John 4:4,

"the one who is in you is greater
than the one who is in the world."

Secondly, this means that

you should have a great passion for God's glory.

Michael and his angels fought on God's behalf. They were concerned about God's glory.

What about you? How concerned about God's glory are you? I mean, the Bible tells us that the whole reason you are here on this earth is for God's glory— but how seriously do you take this responsibility? In Isaiah 43:20–22 God complained to His people. He said,

"The wild animals honor me,
the jackals and the owls,
because I provide water in the desert
and streams in the wasteland,
to give drink to my people, my chosen,
the people I formed for myself
that they may proclaim my praise.
'Yet you have not called upon me, O Jacob,
you have not wearied yourselves for me,
O Israel.
You have not brought me sheep
for burnt offerings,
nor honored me with your sacrifices.'"

These were the people that God said in verse 7,

"whom I created for my glory,
whom I formed and made."

Are you concerned about glorifying God, about making sure that He get the praise, honor and glory that He deserves? Shame on us for our indifference about God receiving glory. Oh that it could be said of all of us what God said in Numbers 25:11,

"Phinehas son of Eleazar,
the son of Aaron, the priest, has turned
my anger away from the Israelites;
for he was as zealous
as I am for my honor among them,
so that in my zeal
I did not put an end to them."

Do you stir up yourself to praise God like you should, like David did in Psalm 103:1–5?

"Praise the Lord, O my soul;
all my inmost being,
praise his holy name.
Praise the Lord, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits—
who forgives all your sins
and heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit and
crowns you with love and compassion,
who satisfies your desires
with good things so that your youth
is renewed like the eagle's."

Do you, like David did when he ended that Psalm, want all other creatures to praise and honor God? (Psalm 103:20–22)

"Praise the LORD, you his angels,
you mighty ones who do his bidding,
who obey his word.
Praise the LORD, all his heavenly hosts,
you his servants who do his will.
Praise the LORD,
all his works everywhere in his dominion.
Praise the LORD, O my soul."

Do you want to shout out like the author of Psalm 66, (verses 1-3)

"Shout with joy to God, all the earth!
Sing the glory of his name;
make his praise glorious!
Say to God,
How awesome are your deeds!"

Thirdly, I ask you,

are you prepared to fight for God?

This battle shows us that there is an inevitable hostility between God's servants and those that are against God. Are you prepared to fight for God's glory and give Him praise and honor even when people around you don't want you to? By that I'm not meaning that we fight with the weapons of this world, with swords and violence. No, are you willing to fight by being righteous, by refusing to be conformed to this world?

Jesus did so much for you. He died for you. His death here on earth decided the heavenly battle. G. K. Beale says of our text (verses 7-9), (Revelation: NIGTC, p. 650)

"The actions described are the heavenly counterpart of earthly events recorded in vv 1–6."

Jesus work on earth—in dying and rising again—meant the defeat of Satan in heaven.

We are still on earth, where Satan has been cast. We need to defeat Him here. We are representatives of God. We are His people. This earth belongs to God. Live for His glory, His honor—do it every day.

Two points in closing. For Christians,

the devil was not strong enough.

How thankful we ought to be for these words. How thankful we ought to be for Jesus and His death and resurrection. Where would we be without Him? How wonderful that His work ensured the defeat of our great enemy.

Lastly, for those of you who are not Christians, note who wins. It is Michael and his angels. Note the side they are on. They are on God's side.

In Jesus there is victory and life. On Satan's side is defeat and misery. It's inevitable. Go to Jesus, the One who loves you. You need to be on Jesus' side.