War in Heaven
Heaven? That seems like the least likely place for a war. The Bible tells us that “war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer” (Revelation 12:7-8). How did this conflict begin, and what was it all about? The answer to these questions reveals the reason behind the unrest plaguing planet earth, as well as the human heart.
The prophet Ezekiel provides insight into this first war and Satan’s rebellion against God. Lucifer, described as “the anointed cherub who covers,” was “perfect” when he was created until “iniquity was found” in him (Ezekiel 28:14-15). This position of covering cherub (or angel) reveals much about Lucifer’s rebellion. In the Old Testament, God had given Israel a miniature model of His throne room in Heaven called the sanctuary (see Exodus 25:8). Paul writes that this sanctuary was a pattern or blueprint of “heavenly things” (Hebrews 8:5). Inside, in a special room called the Most Holy Place, the Ark of the Covenant held the Ten Commandments. On top of this ark was a “mercy seat,” and on either side of the mercy seat was a “cherub” “covering the mercy seat” and the ark (See Exodus 25:16-22; 1 Kings 8:7).
These texts show that God’s throne is a seat and foundation of mercy, and His kingdom is governed by His law. Lucifer, who was once a “covering cherub,” was responsible to uphold and protect or “cover” this law. However, rebellion began because “iniquity” or sin was found in Lucifer. And what is sin? “Sin is lawlessness” (I John 3:4). Lucifer, who was supposed to defend the law of God, the very foundation of the government of heaven, rebelled against it. As a result, war began in heaven.
What was Lucifer’s argument against the law? Notice another powerful insight into this controversy given by the prophet Isaiah. “How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! . . . For you have said in your heart: ‘I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; . . . I will be like the Most High” (Isaiah 14:12-14). Lucifer posed an argument that he could be “like God,” that is, in righteousness, without a need to obey God’s law. He thought he himself could determine what was right and what was wrong. In other words, Lucifer’s rebellion was one based on self-righteousness. He argued that the law was restrictive and that free, intelligent angels needed no such rule. This argument deceived a great number of angels. Consequently, these angels and Lucifer were thrown out of Heaven, along with their anti-law sentiments.
War in the Human Heart
With this insight we can better understand why earth and the human heart so often experience unrest. Satan today hates the law of God, which is the foundation of God’s government. God is seeking subjects for His kingdom, but they must be willing to abide by the laws of Heaven. The same is true for any government.
When Satan approached Adam and Eve in the garden, he tempted them with the same deception—you can be “like gods” without obeying Him (Genesis 3:1-4). The same deception that led to the fall of angels in heaven led to the fall of Adam and Eve in the garden. And just as angels were thrown out of heaven, so Adam and Eve were removed from the Garden of Eden. “So he drove out the man; and He placed cherubim at the east of the garden of Eden, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life” (Genesis 3:24). Adam and Eve had their minds twisted by Satan. They now had a “carnal mind,” which, as Paul wrote, “is death. . . . Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God” (Romans 8:6-7).
But God did not leave man to die. He sent His Son into the world. Man would have a second chance. In order to enter the kingdom of heaven, man must once again be subject to its laws. Paul writes, “But the Holy Spirit also witnesses to us; for after He had said before, ‘This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws into their hearts, and in their minds I will write them,’ then He adds, ‘Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more’” (Hebrews 10:15-17). All unrest on earth and in the human heart is a result of buying into Satan’s lie that man need not obey the law of God or that he can be righteous without God’s influence. Satan has gone so far as to disguise this lie under an appearance of righteousness: professed Christians teach that the law of God is obsolete, that grace somehow cancels the need to obey God’s commandments. John warns against this deception of self-righteousness when he writes, “Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, ‘I know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him” (1 John 2:3-4).
War on Earth
Satan is angry with those who do not fall for this deception. He goes “to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ” (Revelation 12:17). The Bible reveals how Satan will work to deceive people concerning the law of God. The prophet Daniel records Satan’s attempt to “change . . . law” (Daniel 7:25). Why? Because Satan knows that to disregard one commandment is to be guilty of breaking them all (James 2:10-12).
Indeed Satan has cunningly changed one of the Ten Commandments and few people seem to realize it. He has done this right within the church. We encourage you to read prayerfully the Ten Commandments as recorded in Exodus 20 and discover which commandment has been replaced by the traditions of men. If Satan can lead Christians to disregard any of God’s commandments, he is, in effect, leading them to adhere to his own anti-law sentiments.
Near the end of this world a small group of people will withstand the devil’s deceptions and prove themselves loyalists to the kingdom of heaven. They will not deviate from God’s law. The first war ever fought was over the law of God. The last war on earth will be over the same. John writes of this victorious group. “Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city” (Revelation 22:14).
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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