Author: Ron Graham
Satan At War
—A Physical or Spiritual Battle?
Judgment of the Beasts (Revelation 12-20) >Seven Final Visions >5th vision >Excursus on the battle visions
We continue to think about “The Battle of Armageddon” Those who believe in a future reign of Christ on earth for 1000 years, see this battle as a great war on earth just prior to, and/or at the end of, that millennium. But is the war with Satan a physical battle?
1 Satan Our Adversary
Some people think of the war visions as describing physical battles, one between the Satan and Michael in the long distant past, and the other between Satan and Christ in the very near future. In fact, these visions symbolise a spiritual battle (but a real battle nevertheless) being waged in everybody's present life and experience, including yours and mine.
The following quote from Paul makes this quite clear...
¶“10Finally my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11Put on all the armour of God so that you will be able to stand firm against the strategies of the devil. 12We don't struggle against flesh and blood. We struggle against the foremost heavyweights among cosmic powers of darkness. We struggle against spiritual forces of evil in the celestial realms” (Ephesians 6:10-12).
2 Satan Furious
"Be alert! Your adversary the devil, prowls like a lion roaring, seeking someone to devour" (1Peter 5:8).
Paul spoke of the spiritual battle represented in these visions. He warned us of "the spiritual forces of evil in heavenly realms". He tells us to "therefore put on the full armour of God, so that when the day of evil comes you may be able to stand your ground" (Ephesians 6:12-13).
Many a day in our lives is "the day of evil". However if we stay in solidarity with Jesus Christ our King, Satan’s "flaming arrows" cannot touch us, even though in this real battle he gets to fire them —unlike the non-battle of Armageddon in the vision.
That the war will not go on indefinitely. A day is coming when the age old conflict between Satan and Christ will be over once and for all. Will you then be celebrating victory with the followers of the Lamb?
3 Satan Crushed
As we said earlier about the visions, the battle of Armageddon (or Gog and Magog) was a battle in which the evil armies never got to fight. They were destroyed before they fired a shot or thrust a single sword.
This non-battle signifies that although there is a very real spiritual battle going on, and we are in it, our enemies will be ineffectual, we will not be harmed, and we will win decisively, so long as we stay firmly on the Lord’s side.
Satan and the powers that he manipulates in this world will be crushed by the wrath of God. The Christians in Rome were promised, "The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet" (Romans 16:20)
These battle visions signify the solid truth that Christ in Heaven is supreme. "You are of God little children, and have overcome [the spirits of antichrist] because greater is he who in you than he who is in the world" (1John 4:4).
According to premillennislists, the Antichrist’s career and the incredible events of a seven-year tribulation, end in the climactic war of Armageddon —a war that would annihilate the world if not for the intervention of Christ’s second coming.
Typically, the premillennialist will interpret a vision in Revelation as though it were a news report from the future.
Things seen in dreams and visions, however, are not always possible in reality. The vision well represents the spiritual battle that is going on in the world today. But it's not a literal description of an actual physical battle —for the simple reason that it's physically untenable.
For example, why would horses be used in a modern day battle? And how could a river of blood like that in the vision exist in reality? (Revelation 14:20).
The sensational claims about this imagined future conflict distract us from the very real battle now being waged between the spiritual forces of good and evil (Ephesians 6:10-17)