Part 1 can be read HERE
VICTORY REVEALED, REBELLION RENEWED
“I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.” – Lk 10:18
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
The victory of Christ in His death and resurrection surely sealed the fate of sin and death, and spelled certain doom for the rule of Satan on the earth; but not yet has the full task been manifestly completed. The legal groundwork is laid; but the war is far from over. The gavel has resounded with “it is finished;” but now God builds His kingdom upon that decree in our hearts just as a man builds his house upon a foundation. The Potter has chosen His lumps of clay in Christ; but now He puts them to His wheel for the making of vessels, and tries them each by fire.
Yet for now, my focus is drawn primarily to the cosmic regime change at which the Lord hints in the phrase, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me.” This is in stark contrast to His earlier acknowledgement by silence that the kingdoms of the earth were rightfully under the rule of the Devil (Matt 4:8-10). But now, they are rightfully under Christ’s rule, in just as direct a sense that they were once rightfully under the Devil’s – yet here is where men of God become puffed up in their understanding. And to counter their leaven, we need look no further than His prescription for the church in light of His total authority: “MAKE DISCIPLES.”
Now one will say, “But He says, ‘of all nations’ – so surely the body of Christ is meant to eventually disciple the very kingdoms of the earth even in this age.” How such men must then interpret the kings of the earth committing fornication with the Great Prostitute, I am quite at a loss. For it would imply a total failure on the part of His church, thus reflecting a poor record upon He who said “the gates of hell will not prevail against it.” Little do they realize, however, that such a mixture of the city of God and the city of man is the very fornication there spoken of! But no, we are to make disciples from out of all nations. In Luke’s account of the same great commission, Jesus says to preach the gospel into or among the nations [“εἰς” – Str. G1519 ] – it is the personal call of the gospel’s command to repent unto the Lordship of Christ, not a commission for the broad moral or spiritual conquest of society as a whole. It is the call to suffer outside the camp which turns the world upside-down, not the call to reorder the camp. It is the countering of worldly agendas with a heavenly gospel that throws men off balance from their mesmerization with the world; it is the individual repenting of his race to the bottom of depravity which offends the flesh; it is the simple holy life lived against the stream of the spirit of the age that sheds the most light upon the Devil’s work. We ought to be so heavenly minded that the scriptures would include us in the saying, “of whom the world was not worthy” (Heb 11).
We would do well to take heed of Jesus’ words to the seventy-two; when they had experienced the power of His authority yet admired it according to the flesh, which leads to all manner of unholy mixture:
The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your Name!” And He said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”
The Lord Jesus was not impressed by the mere excercise of His authority; He sought for His own an eternal perspective of His kingdom, a heavenly mindset in which men find no earthly good – for God Himself is the only absolute good. But in the midst of this discussion, He remarks, as if out of nowhere, upon the scene in the heavenlies that backdrops His first coming: “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.” And it is this very scene in time which the apostle John saw regarding the birth of that Son of Man…
And a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. She was pregnant and was crying out in birth pains and the agony of giving birth. And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads seven diadems. His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven and cast them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she bore her child he might devour it. She gave birth to a Male Child, one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron, but her Child was caught up to God and to His throne, and the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, in which she is to be nourished for 1,260 days.
This woman was the Israel of that day, from which the Christ was brought forth; and upon His coming, the Devil incurred yet another rebellion of heavenly hosts to thwart the rule of He “who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron.” Yet the Anointed One did NOT immediately establish this full reign upon the earth, as had been expected by the wisdom of this world; but was rather “caught up to God and to His throne” (the ascension), “and the woman fled into the wilderness…” And that woman is made of all those to whom He comes, as unto His own, and they receive Him not (Jn 1:11).
Now as we read above, it is within the context of the first coming of Christ – not the fall of Adam – that a third of the stars of heaven were “swept down” by the dragon. And these are the forces against which much of our warfare is fought today. For it says of the first incursion of the fallen sons of god (the bên ‘ĕlôhîym – read part 1) that Christ has now kept them “in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day…” (Jude 5-7)
But concerning the new rebellion, the beloved apostle writes further of what was shown to him:
Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels fought back, but he was defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world – he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come [Mt 28:18-20], for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.
This describes the current age. Here the great commission is echoed in the saying, “the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come;” because Satan fell, as Jesus said, like lightning from heaven: “for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God.” He shall never again set foot in the divine council; but on earth he works to establish a kingdom of darkness, and to wear out the holy ones of God through the whoredoms of the earthly powers, upon whom he imposes his wicked influence.
“It cannot be that a prophet should perish away from Jerusalem.” – Lk 13:33
“And in her was found the blood of prophets and of saints…” – Rev 18:24
Therefore, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!” And when the dragon saw that he had been thrown down to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child. But the woman was given the two wings of the great eagle so that she might fly from the serpent into the wilderness, to the place where she is to be nourished for a time, and times, and half a time. The serpent poured water like a river out of his mouth after the woman, to sweep her away with a flood. But the earth came to the help of the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed the river that the dragon had poured from his mouth. Then the dragon became furious with the woman and went off to make war on the rest of her offspring, on those who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus. And he stood on the sand of the sea.
The Devil’s scheme is the seduction of all who do not obey the Spirit of Christ; and in his rage against the Son of God, he turns to persecute and stamp out the offspring which are born after His image. For notice where the woman flees to: “into the wilderness;” and there she is preserved “where she has a place prepared by God.”
But for what is she prepared? It could have been for mercy; but the story quickly changes. We see that the dragon in his wrath does not continue this pursuit of her, but turns rather to the persecution of her spiritual offspring (the church). And notice by what she is helped when the dragon sought her utter destruction: she is helped not by God, who had borne her away in mercy for a time; but she is now helped by the earth, which “opened its mouth and swallowed the river that the dragon had poured from his mouth…” I see in this a turning of the woman away from the purposes of God to fully embrace the methods of the rulers of the earth, which the Christ foretold to her worldly children saying, “I have come in My Father’s Name, and you do not receive Me. If another comes in his own name, you will receive him.” (Jn 5:43) For until this day, all who reject Christ, especially they which call themselves the Jews, have turned to the kings of the earth for help; and having thereby aquired a lust for power, have embittered the whole world against them. This is the tale of all to whom He comes, yet who do not receive Him; and it remains a warning to His church. “He came unto His own; but…”
It is at this very junction that judgement begins anew at the house of God, resulting in the distinction between two women: the bride and the whore. And this is the age of judgement in which we now live; for this judgement befalls every generation in one way or another. As Christ said, “For judgment I have come into this world, that those who do not see might see; and that those who see might become blind.” (Jn 9:39)
Later, the woman is found again in the wilderness and is pronounced fallen, “for she has BECOME a dwelling place for demons, a haunt for every unclean spirit, a haunt for every unclean bird, a haunt for every unclean and detestable beast.” (Rev 18:2)
This is what John saw concerning she who had become the mother of harlots:
And he carried me away in the Spirit into a wilderness, and I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast that was full of blasphemous names, and it had seven heads and ten horns. The woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and jewels and pearls, holding in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and the impurities of her sexual immorality. And on her forehead was written a name of mystery: “Babylon the great, mother of prostitutes and of earth’s abominations.” And I saw the woman, drunk with the blood of the saints, the blood of the martyrs of Jesus. When I saw her, I marveled greatly.
Now Babylon is not only the city in which “is found the blood of the prophets and saints” – a characterization which Christ Himself makes of the earthly Jerusalem (Lk 13:33) – but she is also the city in which is found the blood of “all who have been slain upon the earth” (Rev 18:24). Christ indeed seems to place the epicenter of Babylon during His earthly ministry at Jerusalem, as that is where the judgement of the gospel began; but then as the gospel spread, so also did the daughters of Babylon follow to the ends of the world. And now her cancer is found across the whole face of the earth; as she and her daughters are ever the more proficient at seducing men of God into her worldly ways. They are the false prophets which seduce the flock, they are the apostates which secretly prey upon the children of His inheritance; they are the synagogue of Satan, “who say that they are Jews and are not, but lie;” for the true Israel of God are the children of the very faith of Christ which dwelt in Abraham, but those who do not receive Him are cut off from the Vine. “And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.” (Gal 3:29)
And note what characterizes the beast on which she is carried: “it had seven heads and ten horns.” This is because the mode of her operation is religious in nature, but secular in power. Yet even the secular power in the end will hate her, resenting her sway over them, and her mixture will be her downfall.
And the angel said to me, “The waters that you saw, where the prostitute is seated, are peoples and multitudes and nations and languages. And the ten horns that you saw, they and the beast will hate the prostitute. They will make her desolate and naked, and devour her flesh and burn her up with fire, for God has put it into their hearts to carry out his purpose by being of one mind and handing over their royal power to the beast, until the words of God are fulfilled. And the woman that you saw is the great city that has dominion over the kings of the earth.”
The great whore is seated in stark contrast to the true bride of Christ. For while the former sits arrayed in purple and scarlet, the latter humbly adorns herself in the white raiment bought beyond price; and unlike the former, she drinks not the blood of her enemies from a chalice of gold: but she purifies herself in the blood of her Beloved through the fellowship of His sufferings to keep her garments unstained. And the betrothed of the Lord looks not for an earthly dwelling, but for a city whose builder and maker is God. For the assertion of Babylon is, “I sit a queen, and am no widow” (Rev 18:7); but the cry of the true daughter of Zion is, “Make haste, my Beloved!” (SS 8:14)
The pursuit of the kingdom by the will of man is the road to Babylon. The mixture of the holy with the profane is the abomination which causes desolation. Those who do these things are truly the murderers of the apostles and prophets; they are the perverters of all that the Lord would work in the hearts of His people. But in the seeing of the Son and in the suffering for His Name, the holy ones are brought to kingdom-come; and the whores will be delivered into the vengeful hand of He to whom belongs all power and glory.
That Word above all earthly pow’rs,
No thanks to them, abideth;
The Spirit and the gifts are ours
Through Him who with us sideth;
Let goods and kindred go,
This mortal life also;
The body they may kill:
God’s truth abideth still,
His kingdom is forever.
– Martin Luther
Part 3 can be read HERE