Wednesday, 3 March 2021
So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. Revelation 12:9
Verse 4 described the fiery red dragon with seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems on his heads. That was seen to be an earthly governmental body, probably a group of nations. Verse 4 said his tail drew a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. Of those stars, it was determined that they were probably human rulers and could be either religious or political figures.
What is said in these verses shows that the dragon now being described is an angelic being. This account is given to reveal why this angelic being has concerned himself in earthly affairs. Michael and his angels defeated the dragon who then has worked out his wicked plans among humanity. If he cannot rule the universe, he determined that he would rule over God’s highest form of creation in the universe.
With that in mind, John says, “So the great dragon was cast out.” The Greek reads, “the dragon, the great.” It is showing that this dragon is not the same as seen in the earlier verses, even if he is behind the power of that group of nations.
Saying he was “cast out” means that he lost his angelic position and no longer bears any authority or right to rule in the heavenly realm. With that stated, John then explains exactly who this great dragon is, saying, “that serpent of old.”
Again, the Greek reads, “the serpent, the old.” These words take the reader back to Genesis 3:1 where the serpent was introduced. It is he who deceived the man and brought him under the power of sin and death. In John 8:44, Jesus says –
“You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.”
Jesus uses the term archēs, or “beginning.” Here John uses the term archaios, meaning “original,” “primitive,” “ancient,” and so on. Both words are etymologically linked. In other words, the connection between the serpent and the Devil has already been made in Scripture, but John’s words now are definitively tying them together, as he next says of this serpent, “called the Devil and Satan.”
The serpent is the Devil, but he is also Satan. The word comes from the Hebrew ha’satan, or “The Accuser.” His role is poignantly highlighted in Job 1 and 2. In particular, it says in Job 1:6 (and as repeated in Job 2:1) –
“Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them. 7 And the Lord said to Satan, ‘From where do you come?’”
By this time, Satan had already been cast out of heaven and thrown down to the earth. Therefore, when it says that “the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord,” it is not speaking of angels. Rather, it is speaking of men who worship the Lord. Satan, as he has done since the beginning, has come among them to destroy this union between men and the Lord. This is evidenced by Satan’s response –
“So Satan answered the Lord and said, ‘From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking back and forth on it.’” Job 1:7
This is now his realm, and it is where he conducts his wicked affairs, just as both Paul and Peter state –
“For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. 15 Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works.” 2 Corinthians 11:13-15
“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” 1 Peter 5:8
Even John refers to this working of Satan (the devil) in his first epistle –
“He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.” 1 John 3:8
It is this entity, the serpent who is the Devil and Satan, “who deceives the whole world.” He deceived Adam at the beginning, and he continues to deceive humanity. He will continue to do so right up until the time of the millennium where it says –
“Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, having the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. 2 He laid hold of the dragon, that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; 3 and he cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal on him, so that he should deceive the nations no more till the thousand years were finished. But after these things he must be released for a little while.” Revelation 20:1-3
This is the foe that is being described now. The apocalyptic scene has taken us back to the very beginning to show what happened, and why the serpent has been hounding humanity all along. As noted above, if he cannot rule the universe in the spiritual realm, he would still attempt to rule over God’s highest form of creation in the physical realm by working out spiritual darkness all around him. And this rule is one of deception. Jesus said so in John 8:44 (above) and Paul clearly indicates this in his words –
“Now whom you forgive anything, I also forgive. For if indeed I have forgiven anything, I have forgiven that one for your sakes in the presence of Christ, 11 lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices.” 2 Corinthians 2:10, 11
Seeing the progression of thought concerning him here helps us to understand what occurred and why. John finishes by saying that after he was defeated in heaven, “he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.”
The satanic and demonic forces of the spiritual realm are here because they were cast out of their position in heaven. Their desire is to thwart God’s plans, ruin God’s people, and to destroy humanity who bears God’s image. If one wonders why, for example, women literally rejoice at the passing of laws allowing for abortion, it is because they are being influenced by the deception of the devil to destroy the very image-bearers of God that he is determined to destroy.
What John is describing now shows why the world is in the state it is in. Satan and his angels are here among us, and they are working out their wickedness as vehemently as they can.
Life application: The serpent corrupted man in the Garden of Eden and man fell. This fall has brought about wickedness in man since then. In similar fashion, the devil has also caused angels to fall along with him. It is the pride of his beauty and the lust of holding the power of the universe which brought all of this about. Instead of looking to his Creator, he looked to replace Him.
In the end though, it will only bring about his final and eternal destruction in the Lake of Fire. Until that day, he will continue to deceive the whole world and bring about more chaos and death.
Understanding that the dragon is the serpent, the devil, and Satan, we can see that all of these individual titles found elsewhere in the Bible are tied into this one wicked and destructive being.
It is he who even tempted the Lord at the beginning of his ministry, but he failed there. It is he who again tempted the Lord when Peter spoke and indicated that he wouldn’t let Jesus fulfill His ministry by dying. Again, he failed there. The devil tried and failed in each instance to bring about ruin in the ministry of the Lord, but God’s Messiah prevailed over his attempts. In this, we must be ever thankful because He has done what we could not do. He has destroyed the works of the devil because He is JESUS!
Great is the Lord God Almighty and wondrous are His deeds. The Lamb has prevailed over the work of the devil, and so all who call on Him are freed from the penalty of sin and rebellion which has endured throughout the ages. Thank You Lord for coming and releasing us from this impossible debt! Great and glorious is the Lamb of God! Amen.