“And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels,” (Revelation 12:7 KJV)
There are differing views on what this verse and the whole passage actually mean, but all the views agree that there is a literal war between God and Satan. The struggle between good and evil exists, and it will continue until its culmination in God’s appointed time. Let me share some personal thoughts on the passage and this supernatural war.
#1: Archangel Michael and Other Angels Fight for God.
Verse 7 says that the angel, Michael, leads the heavenly army of God. In this army are unfallen angels who remained faithful to God. Daniel 10 and 12 refer to Michael as a prince, and he holds a special role as guardian of God’s people, the Israelites. We find only one other reference to him in the New Testament (Jude 9), where he is described as Michael the Archangel. He most probably holds the highest rank among God’s angels, since he bears leadership over the army of heaven.
#2: Fallen Angels Fight for the Dragon, Who Is Satan.
The “dragon” is Satan himself. The New Testament uses this term 11 times and only in the Book of Revelation. Each occurrence applies to Satan (Revelation 12:3, 4, 9, 13, 16, 17; 13:2, 4, 11; 16:13; 20:2). Although the “beast” in Daniel 7:7-8 & 24 is not specifically called “dragon,” the similarity in description with Revelation 12:3 and its prophetical context makes it clear that this reference in Daniel is also representative of Satan’s aggressiveness, power, and control in the last days, as it is here in Revelation 12:7.
In this verse, angels that sided with Satan, who is the dragon, are clearly fallen angels. Many Bible teachers believe that the phrase “the third part of the stars of heaven” in Revelation 12:3, which Satan cast to the earth, refers to the fallen angels (cf. Daniel 8:10; Jude 6). They base this belief on Isaiah 14:12, which refers to Satan as the “morning star,” and on Revelation 9:1, which states that the “star” fell from heaven to the earth. Hebrews 12:22 talks of an innumerable company of angels, so we can just imagine how large 1/3 (Satan’s fighting army) must be.
The description in verses 3-4 also reflects the extent of Satan’s power. His attempt to conquer heaven and his dominance on the earth is clear in this whole passage.
#3: There Is an Inevitable War.
The struggle between good and evil has been ongoing since Satan rebelled against God (Isaiah 14:12-15; Ezekiel 28:11-19). And the devil has never let up in choosing humanity as his special target. Ever since man became involved in this spiritual warfare, God has sent His angels to be on our side (Psalm 91: 11; cf. Matthew 4: 6). As the war continued, the brewing larger supernatural war in this passage in Revelation was inevitable.
Let me point out three important things in understanding this war.
a. The Outcome
No matter how extensive Satan’s power is and despite his fierce aggression, verse 8 states that he is not going to be strong enough. I believe this is going to be a short battle, like those described in Revelation 19:11-21 & 20:7-10, with a one-sided swift outcome. Evil will be defeated. Verse 10 further says that Satan, the “accuser,” and his demons, will no longer be allowed access before God in heaven.
b. The Time Period
I do not believe this war refers to the first rebellion of Satan, as is clearly shown by the context and its succeeding events. Although the passage does not specify when this war will happen, the phrase “neither was their place found any more in heaven,” which describes the outcome in verse 8, evidently shows us that this war has not yet occurred.
Clearly, the devil still has access to heaven today as our “accuser” (vs.10), so the context of the passage obviously points to the end time. I believe this war will happen in the future, sometime before the Lord’s battle with the armies of the earth in Revelation 19:11-21.
c. The Significance
The passage is a reminder for us of one of God’s triumphant phases that will culminate in His final victory. Verses 12-18 show that evil will run rampant on earth as Satan goes on an all-out offensive against Israel (the “woman” in verses 1, 13-14) and the rest of mankind. These events all unfold from Revelation 13-18, but this war in Revelation 12:3 happens just before the Lord’s coming in chapter 19. The passage and the succeeding chapters show Satan’s desperation because he knows his time is already limited (v.12). But all his evils will be temporary because God will come to cause victory.
We see the growing evil around us every day. Many Christians feel weary, fearful, and defeated. Some think of giving up because of the heavy struggles we all go through. But no matter what seemingly insurmountable obstacles we face, and no matter how powerful our supernatural adversary is, there is absolutely nothing that can separate us from the love of Christ (Romans 8:32-39). And Revelation 12:7 is another reminder of the present victory we already have in Christ, which is our motivation to continue in our service, knowing full well that our “labor is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:57-58).
Natalie Regoli is a child of God, devoted wife, and mother of two boys. She has a Master's Degree in Law from The University of Texas. Natalie has been published in several national journals and has been practicing law for 18 years.