In Revelation 12:4 we read that the Great Red Dragon drew one third of the stars of heaven to the earth with his tail. Almost with universal repetition, from one expositor to another, we are told that these “stars” are the fallen angels who followed Satan in his initial rebellion. I cannot understand why the application of a little simple logic has not put this error to death long since. Later in the same chapter we find Satan and his angels still in the heavens, not cast down to earth. It is only as a result of the heavenly warfare that they are finally dispatched to earth by Michael.
Who then are the “one third of the stars of heaven”? They are not Satan’s angels, they are the Lord’s. Daniel had already been shown this scene in some considerable detail. See Chapter 8.
Daniel was shown a vision of a two-horned ram, and a he-goat. The ram was symbolic of the kings of Media and Persia, which were put down by the Grecian King, Alexander the Great, depicted by the goat. When he died suddenly in Babylon, his kingdom was divided between his four generals. This was seen by Daniel as the breaking of the goat’s great horn, and four smaller horns arising in its place. These four rulers were as follows –
1. Ptolomy, who ruled Egypt, Palestine, and some parts of Asia Minor.
2. Cassander, who ruled Macedonia and Greece.
3. Lysimachus, who ruled Bithynia, Thrace, Mysia, etc.
4. Seleucus, who ruled Syria, Armenia, and the territory east of the Euphrates.
This was the setting of the vision Daniel received. He was then taken on chronologically to a far distant time, “when transgressions had reached their full measure” (v.23), “the vision is for the time of the end” (v.17), “at the last end of the indignation” (v.19). These are the days in which we live, and therefore the vision is of the greatest importance to us.
Daniel was told that in that far distant time, “out of one of [the four kingdoms] comes forth a LITTLE HORN, who grows exceedingly great.” (v.9) “It grows great even towards the host of heaven, and casts down some of the host and of the stars to the ground, and tramples them underfoot.” (v.10) “He even magnifies himself to the prince of this host [Michael], and takes away from him the daily sacrifice, and the place of his sanctuary is cast down.” (v.11)
This picture is of the heavenly sanctuary, not that in the earthly Jerusalem, a sanctuary presided over by the angel Michael. The “daily sacrifice” is taken away, which was administered each evening and morning, receiving the sweet smelling aroma of the prayers of God’s people on earth. 2,300 of these “evening and morning” sacrifices would be prevented until the sanctuary was vindicated and sanctified. (vv,13-14)
The LITTLE HORN is a king of mighty presence, understanding dark sayings, and possessing great power, which is not his own, but bestowed upon him [by Satan]. (v.23) He destroys in an amazing fashion, even the mighty ones and the holy people. He causes deceit to prosper in his hand, and magnifies himself in his own heart, and by careless security destroys many. Finally he stands up against the Prince of princes [the Lord Himself], and will be broken by a non-human agency. (vv.24-25)
So we come back to the “one third of the stars” of Revelation 12:4. They are hurled to the ground by the Dragon’s tail. “The prophet who tells lies, he is the tail,” says Isaiah (9:15) These are God’s angels who are thrown out of heaven by the deceit of Satan’s power. Some may object to this, but the evidence from Daniel 8 is overwhelming. What happens in practice? These angels are born on the earth as normal human beings. They grow up as men and women, and (so far as my limited understanding goes,) are even unaware of their origin. But they engage in heavenly warfare from the earth-dimension. When (in Rev.12:7) we are told that there is “warfare in heaven”, we must not suppose that angels are firing arrows at each other “up there”. There comes a time when Michael “stands up” (Dan.12:1) just as the Little Horn “stood up”, and warfare proceeds as envisaged by Paul in Ephesians 6. “Our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, powers, the world-rulers of this darkness, and against spiritual wickedness in the heavenlies.”
How do Michael and his angels overcome the Devil and his angels? “They overcome him by the blood of the Lamb, by the word of their testimony, not loving their soul-life unto death.” This is earth-based warfare being fought in the heavenlies. My understanding is that this battle is even now being fought, oftentimes by those who know not their origin, nor even the intelligence of the visionary apparatus of Daniel 8 and Revelation 12. But they take their faith with great earnestness, and are fearless in testifying their beliefs, even to the loss of life and limb. They spend their lives “in heaven”, being members of the “Jerusalem which is above, their Mother” (Gal.4:26) and “being risen with Christ, they seek the things which are above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. They set their affection on that which is above, not that which is upon earth.” (Col.3:1-2) and “praying always with all prayer and supplication in the spirit” (Eph.6:18).
What is the outcome of this warfare? It will result in the Devil and his angels being dispatched to the earth, where they will be born as humans. Woe to the earth when this happens. Perhaps it has already started. But one thing is certain. When it has finally been achieved, a great proclamation goes forth, “Now has come salvation, strength, and the Kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ, for the accuser of our brethren is cast down.” (Rev.12:10)
The Lord taught His disciples to pray, “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, as in heaven, so upon earth.” It is not until the Devil is cast down that the Kingdom is able to be manifested on earth. It may be growing internally in each and every believer, but the outward manifestation awaits the end of the warfare in heavenly places.
But Revelation 12 is also full of pictorial information about the final gathering of the Church, in three phases. First the Manchild, then the Woman, and finally the Rest of her seed. These are the “three measures of meal” in which the woman placed the yeast to cause them to “rise” to their full inheritance; these are the “three ribs” that were seen in the bear’s mouth of Daniel 7:5, in tribulation awaiting their creation as God’s New Eve; these are the seeds that fell into good ground, and brought forth 100, 60, and 30 fold according to their several abilities. In all such symbolism we see part of a great struggle, mainly invisible to the world, whereby the Church, God’s Little Flock, is enabled to move into her inheritance, and become the corporate ruler of this world, to govern in righteousness, to teach the nations, to bring in everlasting righteousness and peace, to gather God’s greater harvest from the world, until “every knee shall bow, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.”
These climactic events are now nearing their climax, and need to be prayed through to their culmination. The “one third stars” of God’s angels fight until the Dragon “prevails not, neither is found any more place for him in heaven.” This is accomplished on behalf of the Church, which is born out of labour pains into a glorious heavenly setting. In that higher dimensional state, where all those who are “accounted worthy to attain that age, and the resurrection from among the dead . . . are equal to angels,” (Luke 20:35-36) they shall, together with their Lord and Master, “rule all nations with a rod of iron.”
Can you see the wonder and the glory of what lies ahead? Are you completely captivated by the magnificent panorama set forth in prophetic Scripture? Does your heart yearn for these things to come to pass? Do you pray without ceasing for the fulfilment of the warfare and the establishment of God’s Kingdom?
Today (October 20th) is the 7th day of Tabernacles, the last and great day of the Feast, which depicts the final harvest of the land. The first harvest was the Lord Himself, at Passover, the First of the firstfruits. The second harvest was at Pentecost, with the remainder of the firstfruits, awaiting resurrection/change. These together represent the Church as Head and Members. But Paul tells us that if these, the firstfruits, are holy, then the “lump” is also holy, in other words, the great Tabernacles harvest is made holy by virtue of the firstfruits. This is why we preach a final and total victory for the Lord as a result of His suffering at Calvary. No one is left out. All were included in the Master’s suffering. This is why we yearn for the day when the Kingdom will start, and the “residue of men” may begin to find the Lord Jesus for salvation. This will be the great and glorious task of the Church in the coming age of gold.
“Up, up the hill, to the whiter than snow-shine,
Help me to climb, and dwell in pardon’s light.
I must be pure as Thou, or ever less
Than Thy design of me – therefore incline
My heart to take men’s wrongs as Thou tak’st mine.”