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A passage from the Book of Revelation declares that a war took place before God in heaven:

Revelation 12:7-9: "And there was war in heaven, Michael and his angels waging war with the dragon. The dragon and his angels waged war, 8and they were not strong enough, and there was no longer a place found for them in heaven. 9And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him."

Is this wording symbolic (the general tenor of the Book), or are we to understand this literally, that a war can and did take place before Almighty God in heaven? If so, how would He ever allow such?

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    Where (in the text) are we told that the war (which was in heaven) was 'in the presence of Almighty God' as the header of the question declares, or 'before God' as the body of the question states ?
    – Nigel J
    Aug 25 '21 at 18:46
  • @NigelJ Thanks for the question. I'm assuming that God resides in heaven, the third heaven. In that abode, I cannot imagine where else He could be.
    – Xeno
    Aug 25 '21 at 18:48
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    And, so I would also ask, where are we told that this war was in 'the third heaven' ? The first heaven is what we see, the constellations ; the third is where God dwells ; and there is a second heaven . . . . .
    – Nigel J
    Aug 25 '21 at 18:49
  • @NigelJ If I understand the argument from one contributor below, this was as literally in heaven where God resides. We know from Paul's words in 2 Cor. 12:2: "I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven." Unless I am mistaken, almost all commentators agree that the "third heaven" is heaven itself (i.e. not earth's atmosphere, or the realm of the stars and planets). -- Sorry, I just realized I misunderstood your question. Could you restate?
    – Xeno
    Aug 25 '21 at 18:59
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    The first heave we see : stars. The third heaven is where God resides. The second heaven, I understand, is the realm of angelic powers. I suggest that that is the 'battleground', not the personal dwelling of the Lord Almighty. See Job for the sons of God presenting themselves, and Satan among them (at that time).
    – Nigel J
    Aug 25 '21 at 19:03
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There are numerous passages that describe God engaging in war. Here is a sample:

  • 1 Chron 5:22 - and many others fell slain, because the battle belonged to God. And they occupied the land until the exile.
  • Num 21:14 - Therefore it is stated in the Book of the Wars of the LORD: “Waheb in Suphah and the wadis of the Arnon,
  • 1 Sam 17:47 - And all those assembled here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the LORD saves; for the battle is the LORD’s, and He will give all of you into our hands.”
  • Josh 5:13-15 Now when Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with a drawn sword in His hand. Joshua approached Him and asked, “Are You for us or for our enemies?” “Neither,” He replied. “I have now come as Commander of the LORD’s army.” Then Joshua fell facedown in reverence and asked Him, “What does my Lord have to say to His servant?” The Commander of the LORD’s army replied, “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so. Josh 6:2 makes clear that is the the LORD Himself!
  • Deut 1:30 - The LORD your God, who goes before you, will fight for you, just as you saw Him do for you in Egypt
  • Deut 3:22 - Do not be afraid of them, for the LORD your God Himself will fight for you.”
  • 2 Chron 20:17 - You need not fight this battle. Take up your positions, stand firm, and see the salvation of the LORD on your behalf, O Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid or discouraged. Go out and face them tomorrow, for the LORD is with you.’ ”
  • Josh 10:25 - “Do not be afraid or discouraged,” Joshua said. “Be strong and courageous, for the LORD will do this to all the enemies you fight.”

... and so forth. Therefore, the "war in heaven" (whatever that actually means) is consistent with the OT images of God fighting the enemies of God's people. I also notice that we have another image in Rev 19.

11 Then I saw heaven standing open, and there before me was a white horse. And its rider is called Faithful and True. With righteousness He judges and wages war. 12 He has eyes like blazing fire, and many royal crowns on His head. He has a name written on Him that only He Himself knows. 13 He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood,c and His name is The Word of God.

14 The armies of heaven, dressed in fine linen, white and pure, follow Him on white horses. 15 And from His mouth proceeds a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and He will rule them with an iron scepter. He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. 16 And He has a name written on His robe and on His thigh:

KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.

This image of Jesus with a sword leading the armies of heaven is reminiscent of the theophany of Joshua in Josh 5:13-15 quoted above.

Thus, the idea of God fighting wars as in Rev 12:7-9, is entirely consistent with Bible theology.

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  • One of his names is "Lord of Armies"
    – Robert
    Aug 26 '21 at 1:20
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**Can wars take place in the Presence of Almighty God (Rev. 12:7)?

War in heaven.**

It is not symbolic, it should be understood literally.

Satan is ejected, pitched out of heaven, and his demons are cast down to the earth with him. The one who has misled the entire inhabited earth to the extent of becoming its god is finally restricted to the vicinity of this planet, where his rebellion first began.

2 Corinthians 4:3-4 NASB

3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled [a]to those who are perishing, 4 in whose case the god of this [b]world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that [c]they will not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.

The Bible describes the joy of the faithful angels after Satan and his demons were thrown out of heaven. We read:

Revelation 12:12 NASB

12 For this reason, rejoice, you heavens and you who dwell in them. Woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has come down to you with great wrath, knowing that he has only a short time.”

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Before the Israelites crossed the Red Sea, Exodus 14:

10 As Pharaoh approached, the Israelites looked up, and there were the Egyptians, marching after them. They were terrified and cried out to the Lord. 11They said to Moses, “Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt? 12Didn’t we say to you in Egypt, ‘Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians’? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!”

13 Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. 14The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”

After the Lord had defeated the Egyptian army, Miriam sang in 15:

3The Lord is a warrior;
the Lord is his name.
4Pharaoh’s chariots and his army
he has hurled into the sea.

Can wars take place in the Presence of Almighty God?

Yes, further, the Lord also engaged in the fighting.

Revelation 19:

11 Then I saw heaven standing open, and there before me was a white horse. And its rider is called Faithful and True. With righteousness He judges and wages war.

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    That relates to wars where God fights against enemies on earth. And God is not personally present, but in his people. The question deals with angelic war in heaven.
    – Nigel J
    Aug 25 '21 at 19:05
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Can wars take place before Almighty God?

Answer: It depends. We must tread very carefully.

Here are the verses in question:

Revelation 12:7-9: "And there was war in heaven, Michael and his angels waging war with the dragon. The dragon and his angels waged war, 8and they were not strong enough, and there was no longer a place found for them in heaven. 9And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him."

Often, we tend to overlook the symbolism that we read in Scripture. This is common, and many of us tend to fall into that trap on occasion. The Books of Daniel and Ezekiel are filled with symbolism. The language being used in the Book of Revelation is often similarly so.

The picture that we have painted in our minds might be that Satan assembled all of his celestial cohorts against Michael and those who reside under the sovereign control of Almighty God in heaven. They were then subject to a battle in a realm of absolute holiness, perfection, and grandeur.

Does this not sound a bit odd? Should we not consider certain factors when interpreting this text? For example:

  1. How could an omnipotent God ever allow this to occur in His Presence?
  2. Is God's power so limited that He simply cannot restrain angelic servants? (Heb. 1:14).
  3. Does this not impugn God's omnipotence?
  4. If this happened once, could it not also happen when we enter paradise?
  5. Is "paradise" really the right word for heaven under such circumstances?

If these passages are literally describing a war in heaven, then much of what we know about God must be false. However, suppose we interpret these passages the way they were meant to be understood, symbolically, and not literally — at least, certainly not in "heaven".

Let us suppose the following for a moment:

  1. The one place we know that a spiritual battle really did take place God and the Devil was on earth. When was that?
  2. This occurred when Christ, as God, fought against the powers of darkness during His ministry.
  3. Christ's enemies were the Devil and "his angels" — the demons that Christ would continually confront and exorcize.
  4. Christ was aided by angels following His wilderness temptation and His encounters with Satan.
  5. Christ was aided by (at least) an angel in the Garden of Gethsemane.
  6. We know that Satan is "the dragon, the serpent of old" (Rev. 12:9).
  7. Christ's angels (disciples, apostles, (the 70)) preached and cast out demons - the Devil's angels.
  8. Instruments of Satan (Rome, Jews) humiliated, mocked, beat, tortured, and killed Christ.
  9. Christ's death on the Cross, however, was a victory: Satan "was not strong enough."
  10. Christ envisioned the Devil being cast from heaven (Lk. 10:18, Jn. 12:31) after His Sacrifice.
  11. And, Michael? We will discuss this shortly.

Here are the two passages mentioned in Point #10 above:

Luke 10:17-18: "The seventy returned with joy, saying, 'Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name.' 18And He said to them, 'I was watching Satan fall from heaven like lightning.'"

John 12:31: "Now judgment is upon this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out."

Armed with what we have considered, suppose we now try to paraphrase the verses in Revelation 12 using bracketed notation:

Revelation 12:7-9: “And there was war in heaven [a spiritual war between Christ and Satan on earth], Michael [Christ] and his angels [angels, disciples, cf. Luke 10:17, etc.] waging war with the dragon [casting out demons]. The dragon and his angels [demons, Rome, Jerusalem] waged war, and they were not strong enough [they were continually defeated, cast out], and there was no longer a place found for them in heaven [they had forever lost any chance of salvation. cf. Mk. 5:5].”

9”And the great dragon [Satan] was thrown down [Lk. 10:18, Satan was deprived of his authority over the death of saints], the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down [Christ also envisions his fall, Jn. 12:31] to the earth [cf. Job 1:6, 2:1ff., Satan "now walks to and fro on the earth"], and his angels were thrown down with him [condemned to Hades and the abyss, cf. Lk. 16:19ff., Matt. 25:41].”

All I have done is carefully follow the logic. Since Michael is the one being portrayed as defeating the "dragon" (Satan) in these verses, let us reflect for a moment on who this "angel" really is. It will be remembered that:

Jude vs. 9: "But Michael the archangel, when he disputed with the devil and argued about the body of Moses, did not dare pronounce against him a railing judgment, but said, “The Lord rebuke you!"

Where else do read such a statement as, "The Lord rebuke you, Satan!"? Well, we find it in the Book of Zechariah:

Zechariah 3:2a: "The LORD said to Satan, 'The LORD rebuke you, Satan!'"

Let us ask ourselves this: What exactly is the "body of Moses"? Well, just as the "body of Christ" is the Church, the "body of Moses" was represented by the nation of Israel. That is, Israel was the embodiment of the Law of Moses.

Notice: What were the Lord and Satan arguing over? They were arguing over the high priest Joshua, the man who represented the nation of Israel before God. They were arguing over the body of Moses. Who was the One rebuking Satan? "The LORD." Who are we told Michael was arguing with in Jude vs. 9? Satan.

So, who is Michael based solely on this logic? The LORD (the Preincarnate Christ). What other evidence do we have? Well, perhaps this:

Deuteronomy 1:30: "The LORD your God, who goes before you, will fight for you"

Who are we told would fight for Israel in Daniel?:

Daniel 10:21b: "Yet there is no one who stands firmly with me against these forces except Michael your prince."

We should immediately contrast the previous verse with this one:

Deuteronomy 3:22: "Do not be afraid of [your enemies, Israel], for the LORD your God Himself will fight for you.”

Cumulatively, as we add the evidence - and there is much to consider, it seems perfectly clear that Christ and Michael are One and the same Being. In response to the OP, the only way a "war" could be fought against God was on earth. And that occurred during Jesus' ministry.

It is unfortunate that so many do not recognize the symbolism of the Book of Revelation, instead inserting literal ideas where the text is very symbolic. There is so much to learn from this treasured volume that often goes entirely unheeded. However, if we carefully deconstruct the passages in the Book properly, the results can be fascinating.

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  • This is the first time I've ever heard this kind of perspective. upvoted.
    – Muriel
    Sep 25 '21 at 19:42
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    @Muriel Thanks. This is an "amillennial" view of the Book. You will note that this view derives its meaning by regarding Revelation as a very symbolic work. In other words, most of what is written was accomplished by roughly the end of the first century A.D. In my opinion, there are two judgments to be observed: 1) Jerusalem and Judah, and 2) Rome. (1) is largely described in chapters 6-12 1/2 while Rome becomes the target of God's wrath in chapters 13-19. The great symbolism becomes rather clear when considering the events in that manner. I'd be glad to assist you with it further.
    – Xeno
    Sep 26 '21 at 13:23

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