Sunday, July 19, 2009

Revelation 12:7-9, the Binding of Satan

"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."

Where were they thrown? Jude 1:6, "And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, He has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day."

There is a common error in our day that teaches that Satan has great power, and that his judgment is something that will be in the future. Indeed, the Bible does teach the threat of Satan. For example, I Peter 5:8 says, "Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour." But, do you recall the multitude of demon possessions described in the Gospels, such as the Gerasene demoniac (Mark5:1-20)? Some have cast aspersions on the New Testament because we do not see such possessions in our time. Yet, Jude reveals that we shouldn't expect them, because Satan has been bound. Others see a demon behind every bush.

Satan was definitively judged in the resurrection of Christ. His judgment is progressively applied during the New Testament era, through the Gospel (Rev. 12:10-11). Yet, his death throes are hazardous (v. 12, and I Pet. 5:8). And his judgment will be finalized, after a brief rebellion, in the great judgment (Rev. 20:7-10). Imagine a rabid dog: he is captured, and put in a cage, so that his ability to cause harm has been constrained; however, if you put your hand into the cage, the dog will attack you, so there is still danger from him, but only to the careless; and finally, the dog is destroyed, such that the danger is eliminated permanently and completely. Such is the condition of Satan.

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