When Did Satan Fall from Heaven? Frankly Answered Questions - FAQs

When Did Satan Fall from Heaven?
Frankly Answered Questions - FAQs

When Did Satan Fall from Heaven?
Q: Hi, Devilman. I'm hoping you can help me here. I've been asked for scripture
relating to Satan being cast out... a fallen angel. I responded with
Revelation 12:7-13. It does relate the story. However, the person who I
responded to said that would indicate the battle happens during the end-times,
since this passage is found in the midst of end-time judgements. I re-read it
and passages prior to it, and am thinking it is kind of a "flashback" of
occurrences getting to that point. But, I'm not convinced of that. Any
thoughts? I don't want to leave the person hanging.
A: Well, you asked for it. I always end up giving you more than you probably
want. I also think that I am probably going to muddy the waters for you,
rather than clear them. Here goes...

The "turning" of Satan happened prior to Adam & Eve eating the fruit, since
Satan tempts them against God. The Bible calls him the first sinner (1 John
3:8), so in the sense of a "moral fall," Satan morally fell prior to the
temptation of Eve.

Concerning a "geographical fall," the issue is much more complicated. After
Adam & Eve's fall, Satan still had access to God's throne in heaven. This is
seen in his appearances before God with the other angels (see Job 1:6,12;
2:1,7). It is clear that Satan has no authority in heaven, but he can appear
there and accuse the brethren (cf. Revelation 12:10). Although Satan doesn't
have authority in heaven, he does have authority in the earth (Matthew 4:8-9;
Ephesians 2:2; 6:12; 1 John 5:19).

The term "falling from heaven" is a Near Eastern way of saying that someone is
suffering defeat. The term is used in non-biblical literature to describe the
fall of kings from power. It's like our term "falling from grace." We don't
mean an actual change of geographic position, rather a change of relationship.
All of the passages that mention a fall of Satan are somewhat symbolic, so it
is hard to know exactly how to take them. The four passages are:
Revelation 12:7-13 -- the one you mentioned
Luke 10:17-24
Isaiah 14:12-17
Ezekiel 28:11-19
Let me take them one at a time.
Revelation 12:7-13
Concerning the Revelation passage, it would seem that the woman spoken of is
"the people of God," i.e. true believing Israel. She gives birth to the
Messiah. It is clear that the child is the Messiah, because only Jesus is the
one who is said to "rule the nations with a rod of iron" (Psalm 2:9;
Revelation 2:27; 19:15).

If John intended this prophecy as chronological, then the war in heaven (vv.
7-8) happens sometime between the birth and ascension of Christ (vv. 5-6) and
before the second coming (v. 12). So your friend could be right. Either the
war in heaven happened because of the death, resurrection, and ascension of
Christ, or it happened sometime between AD 30 and now, or it will happen
sometime between now and the Second Coming.

But taking any prophecy chronologically is always iffy, unless the prophecy
clearly says so. George Ladd in his commentary on Revelation says:
Here John employs apocalyptic mythological language to describe a spiritual
fact. We misunderstand the character of John's thought if we try to place
this heavenly battle somewhere in the stream of time. John is only concerned
with the fact that Satan is defeated....The reference to Satan being 'hurled
down' is only meant to describe Satan's actions against God's people losing
their force. We are not to think of any actual change of domicile.
I guess my own tendency IS to take the passage as chronological, but to take
the "losing their place in heaven" (v. 8) as more symbolic of some sort of
defeat, rather than an "actual change of domicile." So when did Satan suffer
this defeat? This war in heaven appears to happen sometime after (or because
of) Jesus' ascension to the Father (v. 5). I don't think we can say anything
more certain than that.

Luke 10:17-24
Now let's look at the Luke passage. Luke records Jesus' words: "I saw Satan
fall like lightning from heaven" (Luke 10:18). Commentators have often tried
to decide when in Jesus' thought this fall occurred. In this passage, the fall
of Satan is connected with the return of his disciples from a short-term
missions trip. The disciples were able to cast out demons. This is somewhat
similar to the statement in Revelation: "They overcame Satan by the blood of
the Lamb and the word of their testimony" (Rev 12:11). The shed blood of
Christ is the real means of victory over Satan. The secondary means of victory
is the actions of Jesus' people.

My own sense is that just as in Revelation the "fall of Satan" doesn't refer
to any particular change of residence, but is a symbolic way of saying that he
is being humbled and defeated by the actions of the apostles. This fits with
Old Testament language regarding the fall of nations and kings.

Isaiah 14:12-17
Concerning the Isaiah passage, some people believe that Isaiah is giving a
description of the fall of Satan (vv. 12,15). But the passage clearly applies
to the king of Babylon. I really don't see any legitimate reason to see Satan
in the passage. It is the king of Babylon who suffers defeat and humiliation

Ezekiel 28:11-19
This a prophecy concerning the king of Tyre (see verses 2 & 12). But the
prophecy seems to go beyond the king of Tyre, because of the symbolic
language. Ezekiel calls the king "a guardian cherub" and refers to Eden. What
does this mean? Is this a veiled reference to Satan behind the king of Tyre?

I honestly don't know. The imagery keeps shifting. Some of it could refer to
Satan, I suppose, but some of it could also refer to Adam (in Eden, clothed
only with precious stones around you, blameless until wickedness was found in
you). And there are also symbols that seem to refer to the high priest of
Israel (9 stones that are mentioned are among the 12 worn by the Jewish high
priest, ordained to guard God's holy mountain, i.e. Jerusalem).

Whoever is being referred to here was "driven from the mount of God
(Jerusalem), expelled from among the fiery stones, and thrown to the earth."
Is the language just meant symbolically of the king of Tyre or is it a
reference to some fall of Satan behind the king of Tyre?

Honestly, it's just not clear to me. I guess you could see Satan behind the
king of Tyre, but all of the imagery doesn't seem to fit Satan (e.g., "through
your widespread trade, you sinned" -- v. 16). Furthermore, you are still left
with the question, when did this fall happen? Is this a third fall of Satan?
If it is a fall of Satan, then when was Satan driven from Jerusalem (v. 16)!?

So here's my opinion:
I don't think the Isaiah & Ezekiel passages have anything to do with Satan.
I think that the reference to Satan's fall is a symbolic way of describing
some terrible humiliation and defeat (the defeat must be defined and
understood from the context).
Based on that I think that there have been a number of "falls" of Satan: the
moral fall before Eve's temptation, Jesus' disciples on their mission trip,
the death of Christ on the cross, the testimony of martyred saints.
Of course, that is just opinion. Now for things that are NOT just my opinion:
Jesus defeated Satan and all spiritual forces of evil at the cross
(Colossians 2:14-15).
The testimony and work of Christians is helping to defeat Satan (Revelation
Satan's ability to accuse us before God has been (or will be) limited
(Revelation 12:10).
Satan will finally be defeated and his destiny is in the lake of fire
(Revelation 20:10; Matthew 25:41)!

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