If we are correct that the book of Revelation is mostly a prophecy about the future, then very soon, Satan will be active on earth as never before. As that day grows near, we expect that these zones of strangeness will become increasingly active. There is a debate concerning the timing of Satan’s final purging from Heaven. Because the chapter refers to Jesus’ birth and death (Revelation 12:5–6), many have argued that Satan was thrown down by the atonement of the cross. That view is supported by Jesus’ statement just prior: “Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out” (John 12:31). Jesus also said, “I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven” (Luke 10:18). Considered in isolation, a case can be made that the cross fulfilled Revelation 12:6. However, there are serious problems with that position.
A good case can be made that Satan falls three times in Scripture. First, Satan fell through vanity sometime before the incident in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:1–14). Ezekiel 28 looks back to the garden when the “anointed Cherub” fell from grace. C. S. Lewis famously wrote, “It was through pride that the devil became the devil: Pride leads to every other vice: it is the complete anti-God state of mind.”[i] Although he had fallen, Satan was not barred from Heaven or Earth after his prideful defection.
Second, after the seventy disciples returned celebrating their discovery that “the devils [demons] are subject to us,” Jesus witnessed Satan “as lightning fall from heaven,” and He later said the devil was about to be “cast out” as He prepared for the cross and resurrection (Luke 10:18; John 12:31). These passages are the basis of the view that the Revelation 12 expulsion is a past event.
Third, as a result of the angelic war, Satan will be cast down to the Earth for a brief period of intensified suffering on Earth, during which Hell literally breaks loose, the Antichrist declares himself to be god, and the world is overrun by demons, Nephilim, elementals mistaken to be extraterrestrials, and transgenic monstrosities from the abyss. We believe a study of the circumstances leads to the conclusion that these three falls are distinct events—two are historical and the final one is future.
In Revelation, Satan is cast down as the result of Michael’s army’s triumph over their fallen adversaries, not the positional checkmate accomplished by the cross that “spoiled principalities and powers” (Colossians 2:15). On display is the “already but not yet” paradigm characteristic of New Testament theology. At the cross, the victory was secured in that sin was atoned for, but, in the sense of a geopolitical theocracy, the spoils of that victory have not yet been assumed in the “rod of iron” manner promised at Jesus’ return (Revelation 19:15). Of course, scores of messianic prophecies in the Hebrew Bible declare the resulting golden age of world peace (Isaiah 11:6, 62:25). However, that era will not occur until Satan is cast down and chained as predicted.
The Hebrew term satan means “adversary,” implying a prosecutorial role like the accuser in Revelation 12:10. How can he still be “your adversary the devil” (1 Peter 5:8), if he was cast from his accusing role two thousand years ago? The amillennialist should consider Satan’s active deceit of many nations in light of the millennium’s inaugural proclamation that “he should deceive the nations no more” (Revelation 20:3b). Finally, the fact that Jesus stands as our intercessor (Romans 8:34; Hebrews 7:25) implies an ongoing prosecution by the adversary. The cumulative weight of these passages leads to the conclusion that Satan’s final expulsion from Heaven has not occurred.
John received the vision of the Great Red Dragon’s expulsion many decades after Jesus’ death on the cross, miraculous resurrection, and glorious ascension as a promise of Christ’s return to judge evil and redeem the earth. Any claim to a historical fulfillment of Satan’s angelic war expulsion (like the cross) must satisfy the conditions of the divine hymn sung in response:
And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, “Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.”
And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.
Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! For the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time. (Revelation 12:10–12)
The hymn is proclaiming the impending return of Christ in power. The time is said to be short because, after a brief period no greater than three and one-half years, the Messiah will chain the devil in the pit for one thousand years (Revelation 20:3). The hymn’s celebrated events have not yet been fully accomplished, as New Testament scholar Robert Thomas pointed out:
To refer it to the present era would mean that the accusing work of Satan is over, according to the next line of the hymn. This can hardly be. The removal of Satan from heaven is in conjunction with the victory of Michael in heaven, not with the cross of Christ.[ii]
Many passages support the ongoing tempter/accuser role (Job 1:9–12; Matthew 4:1–11; Mark 1:12–13; Luke 4:1–13, 22:31; 2 Corinthians 2:11; and 1 John 5:19). Consequently, one is hard pressed to remain consistent while contending that Satan’s expulsion in Revelation 12 is a past event. Of course, that implies the time is at hand when Satan and all the immortals aligned with him will be cast down upon the earth (Revelation 12:9). If so, then some of the people now holding this book will see the immortals on the earth for the battle of Armageddon.
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Finally, a prophecy in the second chapter of the book of Joel with parallels in Amos 7 and Revelation 9 implies an end-times invasion of immortals and hybrids. While some expositors claim Joel was describing an army of locusts with phrases like “[They are] a great people and a strong” and “they shall run like mighty men [gibborim, a term associated with the Nephilim],” it is hard to accept these verses as talking about grasshoppers. We think this describes a demonic invasion that could possibly include Nephilim.
[They are] a great people and a strong; there hath not been ever the like, neither shall be any more after it…and nothing shall escape them. The appearance of them is as the appearance of horses; and as horsemen, so shall they run….
They shall run like mighty men [gibbowr, gibborim]; they shall climb the wall like men of war.…
They shall run to and fro in the city; they shall run upon the wall, they shall climb up upon the houses; they shall enter in at the windows like a thief. The earth shall quake before them.…
And the Lord shall utter his voice before his army: for his camp is very great: for he is strong that executeth his word: for the day of the Lord is great and very terrible; and who can abide it?” (Joel 2:2–11)
Joel 2 is paralleled by a vision given to Amos of a similar locust army invasion. The LXX translation by Brenton renders, “Thus has the Lord God shewed me; and, behold, a swarm of locusts coming from the east; and, behold, one caterpillar, king Gog” (Amos 7:1).The thing that makes this use of Gog distinct is that it is not a variant translation from the Masoretic text, because the Masoretic uses no name at all. Missler draws significance from juxtaposing “locusts have no king” (Proverbs 30:27) against the “locusts” in Amos who do have a king, arguing that it implies Amos must not be talking about insects, but rather about immortals.
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The locusts in Revelation 9 have a king, Apollyon or Abaddon, but Proverbs 30:27 says that locusts have no king. So these locusts in Amos and Revelation are not natural locusts; they are demon locusts. If that’s the case, then the Gog in Amos, who is the king of the locusts, is a demon king.[iii] The locust imagery also matches Revelation: “And the shapes of the locusts were like unto horses prepared unto battle; and on their heads were as it were crowns like gold, and their faces were as the faces of men” (Revelation 9:7). Taken at face value, these entities cannot be immaterial spirits. Scholars, those who take end-time prophecy seriously, invariably conclude that these end-time hordes of immortals manifest in mongrelized bodies. Arnold Fruchtenbaum also notes their hybrid nature:
The description of these “locust-scorpions” given in verses 7–10 clearly shows that they are something other than literal scorpions or locusts. Their origin being the Abyss further shows that they are demons. It is not unusual for demons and other angelic beings to have animal-like features.[iv]
The acclaimed Christian apologist and religion scholar Walter Martin believed that the UFO phenomenon could play a role in this end-time incursion.[v] He offered that UFOs might be instrumental in Jesus’ description of the events prior to His return: “Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken” (Luke 21:26, emphasis added). “Things which are coming on the earth” implies that they themselves are not of the earth; rather, they are, by definition, extraterrestrial. In reference to the portal opening at the fifth trumpet judgment, the first woe, in the book of Revelation, Martin offered this novel hypothesis:
In addition to what is coming upon the earth, the book of Revelation speaks of the bottomless pit being opened (9:2). A bottomless pit does not have to be one that is down—it could very well be one that is up, since in space there is neither up nor down, but out from the earth. This could reveal that what comes upon earth is from space, and not from under the earth. The symbolic language may easily refer to the manifestations of the powers of darkness near the consummation of the age. It is biblically predicted that Antichrist will reveal himself with signs and lying wonders so that if it were possible, he would deceive the elect. (2 Thessalonians 2:9; Matthew 24:24)[vi]
We believe all of these immortals and hybrid monsters play key roles in the horror of the Great Tribulation and Battle of Armageddon. This finds support in the Qumran War Scroll (1QM) reveals it is Satan and his powers that are behind the final battle:
For this shall be a time of distress for Israel, [and of the summons] to war against all the nations. There shall be eternal deliverance for the company of God, but destruction for all the nations of wickedness. All those [who are ready] for battle shall march out and shall pitch their camp before the king of the Kittim and before all the host of Satan gathered about him for the Day [of Revenge] by the Sword of God.[vii]
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The Qumran War Scroll corroborates the idea that the Battle of Armageddon is not merely a human war but a battle fought by humans and immortals. These immortals will manifest on the Earth at the conclusion of war in Heaven, and the locust armies will amass at opening of the portal to the abyss (Revelation 9:2). Finally, a prophecy from Enoch frames this as a last-days angelic struggle on par with the one in Revelation chapter 12:
Last struggle of heathen Powers against Israel
5 And in those days the angels shall return
And hurl themselves to the east upon the Parthians and Medes: They shall stir up the kings, so that a spirit of unrest shall come upon them,
And they shall rouse them from their thrones,
That they may break forth as lions from their lairs,
And as hungry wolves among their flocks.
6 And they shall go up and tread under foot the land of His elect ones,
[And the land of His elect ones shall be before them a threshing-floor and a highway]:
7 But the city of my righteous shall be a hindrance to their horses.
And they shall begin to fight among themselves,
And their right hand shall be strong against themselves,
And a man shall not know his brother,
Nor a son his father or his mother,
Till there be no number of the corpses through their slaughter,
And their punishment be not in vain.
8 In those days Sheol shall open its jaws,
And they shall be swallowed up therein,
And their destruction shall be at an end;
Sheol shall devour the sinners in the presence of the elect.[viii]
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[i] C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (NY: Harper Collins, 2001) 122.
[ii]Robert L. Thomas, Revelation 8–22: An Exegetical Commentary (Chicago: Moody, 1995) 133.
[iv]Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, The Footsteps of the Messiah: A Study of the Sequence of Prophetic Events, (Tustin, CA: Ariel Ministries, 2003) 226.
[v] Walter Martin, “A Christian View: UFO Encounters,” audio recording, Sermon Audio http://www.sermonaudio.com/sermoninfo.asp?SID=2190615720 (accessed January 15, 2013).
[vi] Dr. Walter Martin, Jill Martin Rische, and Kurt Van Gorden, The Kingdom of the Occult (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2008) 372–373.
[vii]Geza Vermes, The Dead Sea Scrolls in English, Revised and extended 4th ed. (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1995), 141 [1 QM 15.2-3].
[viii] R. H. Charles and W. O. E. Oesterley, The Book of Enoch (London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 1917) Enoch 56:5–8.