When Was the War in Heaven?

One of the most intriguing passages in Revelation is the war in heaven found in Revelation 12. Here is the passage:

Then war broke out in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him. (Revelation 12:7-9)

What is happening is fairly clear. But where in the timeline of history does this appear? Here are the three main options:

  1. Beginning of time (the original fall of Satan).
  2. Crucifixion of Jesus.
  3. End times (just before Jesus returns).

When I teach on Revelation and ask my students, the majority usually choose the first option. They see this as a description of Satan’s fall, his original rebellion with God. This is often because this story is connected with a passage in Isaiah 14. Many see this as describing Satan’s (Lucifer) rebellion from God. However, I’m not convinced that Isaiah 14 has anything to do with Satan. See my post: Is Lucifer the Proper Name for the Devil?

What we need to remember is that as late as the time of Job, Satan still had access to heaven. There is no reason to believe his casting out of heaven had to happen at the very beginning.

With the victory in heaven, we read this: “Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Messiah.” (Revelation 12:10) When did that happen? That doesn’t seem to describe events before the Garden of Eden.

John also describes for us what happened after the dragon was cast down: “Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to wage war against the rest of her offspring—those who keep God’s commands and hold fast their testimony about Jesus.” (Revelation 12:17) The ones that the dragon declares war on are the followers of Jesus.

I have come to the conclusion that the war of heaven actually took place when Jesus was on the cross. An ongoing theme throughout Revelation is that there is a spiritual reality in heaven that parallels what is happening on earth. It was on the cross that victory against Satan was achieved. As Jesus was winning that victory on the cross, so was Michael winning in heaven.

I am open to other interpretations, but at this point, that is where I am at. I believe that the war in heaven took place when Jesus was on the cross.

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4 thoughts on “When Was the War in Heaven?”

  1. It could not have been at the time of Crucifixion because the war in Heaven happened after a wondrous sign appeared in Heaven.The sign of a pregnant woman.God’begotten Son.Remember Israel was God’s wife before she rebelled.

    The sign was preparation of coming salvation.

    The eventual coming fall of man and Israel.So God’s arm worked out a salvation plan to have a Saviour come out of Israel.
    The Woman is Israel pregnant with baby Jesus. Salvation comes from Zion.

    As you read further the passage, it talks of the Woman fleeing to a desert place prepared for her for a time times and half a times. This is the tribulation years.
    When devil can’t get him (on the cross) he goes off to make war against the woman’s other offsprings- Christians from other nations who bear the testimony of Jesus Christ.They are killed at tribulation.

    This scripture Jesus shows John about the beginning of the fallout, the current situation and what will come.
    The Book of Revelation is not written chronologically.For example one need to was Rev 13 and Rev 12 to understand Rev 11

  2. I have believed the War took place before the fall of Adam and Eve. However after reading it took place in the book of Revelation I’m confused at the timing. But I don’t believe it was when Jesus was on the Cross.

  3. I agree that this world turning event happened 2000yrs ago. But more specifically, i would say that it occured at the RESURRECTION of Jesus, not his death. Because without the resurrection it is all a sham and waste of time.
    In Zech 3, Joshua the high Priest is seen in a vision as standing before the angel of the LORD, the scene appears to be at the throne in heaven. Satan is at the right hand of the angel throwing mud at Joshua. I think it is significant that Satan is said to be at the ‘right hand’ in Zech 3:1. He has been displaced from that position. Jesus the Risen Christ is now at the right hand in the heavenly realm.
    My full explanation here: http://www.deadsoulsyndrome.com/satan's_defeat.htm

  4. I’m glad to find support for the idea that (the) Satan’s final rebellion and casting out is a direct result of Christ’s triumph… and more importantly, Christ’s coronation following the Ascension (Rev 5).

    Victorious Jesus is exalted, takes the 7-sealed scroll,and is given the name above every name (that of “Lord”)… the name at which every knee should bow. But Satan refuses to bow or confess, this causes the rebellion (Rev 12:7) and the casting out.

    The key seems to be that the war and casting out are a direct result of the Lamb’s triumph by blood. .. which took place at the cross.

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