[Note: Commentaries and expositors offer many different answers to the question: When was Satan Cast Out?]
[Note: Cultivated arguments for determining when Satan was cast out of the presence of God have in some measure been influenced by the language of the biblical text, and by imaginative ideas and also by comparing information across the various texts of the Bible.]
[Note: To answer the question of “When was Satan Cast Out?” we are directed to consider the use of a general timeline to see what it reveals in regard to Satan being cast out of heaven.]
[Note: Points to consider in determining when Satan was cast out of heaven using a general timeline related to biblical events:
1) The prophet Isaiah speaks of Satan’s direct presence in an individual who will turn the world into a “wilderness,” and he wrote: “How hast thou fallen from the heavens, O shining one, son of the dawn! Thou hast been cut down to earth, O weakener of nations. And thou saidst in thy heart: the heavens I go up, Above stars of God I raise my throne, And I sit in the mount of meeting in the sides of the north. I go up above the heights of a thick cloud, I am like to the Most High. Only—unto Sheol thou art brought down, Unto the sides of the pit. Thy beholders look to thee, to thee they attend, Is this the man causing the earth to tremble, Shaking kingdoms? He hath made the world as a wilderness, And his cities he hath broken down, Of his bound ones he opened not the house” (Isa. 14:12-17, YLT). [Author’s emphasis throughout.]
This verse reflects a mentality that expresses the direct influence of Satan upon an individual who is expected, according to prophecy, to have a significant influence among the nations in the future.
2) The prophet Ezekiel adds to this description regarding Satan who was at one time an “anointed cherub,” which places some of these things before the time of the prophets of Israel. Moreover, Ezekiel places the one who became known as Satan in the “garden of God,” speaking of Eden, with the understanding that he was still at that time able to “walk up and down in the midst of the stones of fire.”
For Ezekiel wrote: “Moreover the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, Son of man, take up a lamentation upon the king of Tyrus, and say unto him, Thus saith the Lord God; Thou sealest up the sum, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty. Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created. Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so: thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire. Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee” (Eze. 28:11-15). (Satan was expectedly judged to have iniquity in him before he tempted Adam and Eve.)
Ezekiel brings to our attention that “iniquity” was found in Satan, but he does not address the issue of whether Satan is still able to be in the presence of God.
Bringing us to ask the questions: When was iniquity discovered in Lucifer? Was it exposed prior to the creation of Adam and Eve? Or, was it exposed when he tempted Eve to disobey God?
It is reasonable to consider that this iniquity was revealed in Satan before he beguiled Adam and Eve with his lies, resulting in his removal as the “covering cherub.” However, we realize Satan’s established nature when he confronted Adam and Eve, and we see that his work is certainly directed against humanity, which in the days of Noah eventually led to a crisis for Adam’s family that brought about God’s intervention with a destroying Flood.
3) Notably, Satan was still able to present himself before God, and to challenge God’s work and will in regard to humanity, as was the case with Job. “Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan came also among them. And the Lord said unto Satan, Whence comest thou? Then Satan answered the Lord, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it” (Job 1:6-7).
Demonstrating that Satan was able to venture around in the earth, and to inflict harm and death upon humanity, and to also present himself in the presence of God. Therefore, even though we have a record of Satan’s fall as an “anointed cherub” who was at the throne of God, we see that his work and power is still manifested against humanity on this earth, but subject to the will of God.
4) Then we have a case where Satan influenced king David: “And Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel” (I Chron. 21:1). This led to the death of many people, which shows us that the work of Satan was consistently set to overturn the will of God concerning the people of Israel.
Leading us to say that the idea of Satan having to wait until he was “cast out,” or “cast down,” until he decided to persecute the commonwealth and its peoples is not a valid conclusion. Or, in other words, it was not necessary for Satan to be “cast out” of his “place” for him to bring about a persecution against the people of Israel. He was already at work to stand in opposition to God’s will regarding the Commonwealth of Israel since the time of Adam.
5) Near the end of Jesus’ ministry he tells the disciples about an impending judgment, noting that Jesus confirmed something in his teachings about the giving of the holy spirit that related to Satan. For Jesus said: “Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: Of sin, because they believe not on me; Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged” (Jn. 16:7-11).
Telling us then that a judgment was made regarding Satan, and the giving of the holy spirit was the evidence of Jesus’ ascension and a judgment being made upon Satan. This was only possible should Jesus die, be resurrected, and be glorified to sit at the right hand of God.
Thus, Jesus had said that the holy spirit would reprove the world 1) of sin, 2) of righteousness, and 3) of judgment, and this judgment was related to the judgment of Satan. To this issue Jesus also said: “This voice came not because of me, but for your sakes. Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out. And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me. This he said, signifying what death he should die” (Jn. 12:30-33).
In this case we have a “judgment” that is linked to the death of Jesus and his resurrection and ascension that would precede the coming of the “comforter,” and this judgment is also made regarding Satan—the “prince of this world.” Therefore, we have a general timeframe for this judgment, inclusively and somewhere between the exaltation and glorification of Jesus and the Day of Pentecost.
Allowing us then to present some reasonable conclusions: When Jesus said that Satan was “now” to be “cast out,” he did not refer to 1) Satan’s fall as the covering cherub, or to 2) Satan’s removal as the “god of this world” or “prince of this world,” or to 3) the time when Satan failed to persuade Jesus to rebel against the will of God, or to 4) an event long into the future and shortly before the return of the Christ.
6) It is evident that Jesus said “cast out,” and that he did not say “cast out of heaven,” and for some expositors this is evidence that Jesus’ comment is not related to what is stated in Revelation 12:10 regarding the casting out of Satan from his “place” in heaven. (By “place” we mean that there was no accommodation for him to be found anywhere in heaven.)
However, we will point out that in Revelation 12:9-10 it tells us that Satan was “cast down,” and “cast out,” but not “out of heaven,” which is only qualified in the previous statements regarding the confrontation between Satan and Michael and the statement that he was cast to the earth. That is to say that because John tells of the confrontation between Michael and Satan we are able to reason the conclusion that Satan was cast out of heaven as a result of that confrontation, augmented by the statement that he was cast down to the earth. Noting that without the information of the confrontation in heaven and its result being stated, we wouldn’t know what brought about the fact that Satan was “cast out” to the effect of no longer being able to have “place” in heaven.
7) Jesus does not tell us what the result was of Satan being “cast out,” except that he related it to his death and resurrection, and the giving of the holy spirit, and the judgment placed upon Satan. Simply, Jesus told the disciples that there was an impending judgment of the world and Satan that would coincide with his death, resurrection and ascension into heaven. The coming of the holy spirit was the evidence that the judgment had been passed, and the sentence likely carried out, upon Satan.
8) The question that is raised by Jesus’ statement regarding the judgment of Satan would be that if it didn’t relate to his fall as a covering cherub, or to his continuance as the god and prince of this world, then: What was the result of the judgment against Satan?
9) Was the judgment about removing Satan from having “place” in the presence of God, which is to say: When Satan was judged, did it mean that he was to be “cast out” of heaven and out of the presence of God?
For it is clear that Satan is not cast out of this world, or out of the work that he has been doing since the time of Adam, for the Apostle Paul tells us that: “if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake” (II Cor. 4:3-5).
Also, what the apostles made clear was that Jesus was exalted to be a “prince,” and this occurred as a part of his glorification, for: “Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than man, The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree. Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him” (Acts 5:30-32).
10) Consequently, if this judgment on the world and Satan was accomplished with the ascension and glorification of Jesus and confirmed by the giving of the holy spirit, then we may reckon with some confidence that Satan was “cast out” relative to these events.
So the question we are brought to ask in regard to Jesus’ statement is: Cast out of what?
The answer brings us to realize that there are only two individuals who addressed this subject with some directness in Scripture, and these two individuals were the Apostle John and Jesus. The significance of this cannot be overestimated because if Jesus associated a casting out of Satan with his death, resurrection and ascension, and with a judgment upon the world and Satan, and we have confirmation that Jesus was able to baptize with the holy spirit, which was realized on the Day of Pentecost, then we are brought to consider if these events can be associated with what John said in his prophecy regarding the casting out of Satan.
Simply, Does the Apostle John explain Jesus’ statement that Satan is “now” “cast out” by telling us what Satan was “cast out” of relative to the prophecy of the woman who gave birth to the child?]
[Note: The Apostle John tells us in his uninterrupted narrative that after the “child was caught up unto God” there was also “war in heaven,” for John said: “she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne. And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days. And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him” (Rev. 12:5-9).]
[Note: John’s narrative associates “and to his throne,” with “and there was war in heaven,” because even though the three and one-half years is relevant to the prophecy, it is not made relevant in time and place to Jesus’ ascension and the war in heaven, which means that its relevant timeframe to John’s prophecy is understood in the context of all the prophecies given in Scripture. Also, we know that the relevance of the three and one-half years cannot be determined based on contrived notions imposed upon John’s prophecy, such as the “day-for-a-year principle” that is sometimes used to create “prophetic years,” which alters the statements of Scripture. But the fact that people use this method shows us that they don’t associate the three and one-half years with the war in heaven.]
[Note: John tells us that the “dragon” who confronted the “woman” was able to descend to the earth before the birth of the child, and it was the dragon who brought the demons with him to confront the symbolic “woman” who gave birth to the child. With the war in heaven we see that Satan and his demons were cast out as a result of a confrontation with Michael.]
[Note: A voice from heaven states: “Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power [authority] of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night” (Rev 12:10). The statement raises an issue regarding the “authority of his Christ,” and so we ask these questions:
When was it possible for this voice to say, Now has come salvation, the kingdom of God and the authority of Jesus? Is it to be at some unknown moment in the future when we know that Jesus has already been given all power and authority? Should we think that when Satan is/was cast out that this act should result in the coming of Salvation?
It is unreasonable to say that these things are so given what is stated about the power and authority of Jesus, who is able to give the holy spirit, and it is unacceptable to say that Satan has anything to do in the direct sense with salvation and Jesus’ authority, because Satan—being cast out—did not bring these things about, and so it is reasonable to say that he was cast out as a result of a judgment that took place with the death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus when salvation became possible for humanity—not because Satan was cast out of heaven.]
[Note: The statement: “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death” (Rev. 12:11) is a parenthetical insert, and its relevance is better understood by placing it at the end of Revelation, chapter 12. This is based on a comparison of this statement with what we read in Revelation 20:4.]
[Note: With these things in mind we should address some important statements made in Scripture.
The first is that Satan was cast out, and consequently back to a realm of limited influence, with the foreknowledge that he had a “short time,” and by this we know that the casting out was revealing of this short time for us and not Satan. Because Satan already knew this when he was “cast out” and this tells us that the knowledge of the beginning of the “short time” was relative to an event other than the casting out of Satan.
The second is that in knowing that he had a short time, we are brought to consider what the “short time” was all about, because from the moment Satan was cast out he knew that a deadline was approaching relative to some event. Therefore, we must consider what it was that would happen at the end of the season that he has, and it is in this context that we consider also his impending sentence to be imprisoned—beyond earthly influence—in a bottomless pit or abyss.
Third, when we realize that Satan has always been persecuting the Commonwealth of Israel, and the world, then we have to think that the end of the “short time” or season had nothing to do with the immediate persecution of the “woman” in the vision given to John. Which leaves us with two considerations:
1) From the time Satan was cast out it would be a short time before the return of Jesus and the establishment of the kingdom of God with the presence of the expanded family of God. For in Revelation we read: “Behold, I come quickly: blessed is he that keepeth the saying of the prophecy of this book” (Rev. 22:7).
2) From the time Satan was cast out it would be a short time before Satan would be subjected to his sentence of being imprisoned in the bottomless pit or abyss. “And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season” (Rev. 20:1-3).]
3) By these two issues we have a definable beginning and ending for the “season” that Satan has after being cast out of heaven. Keeping in mind that the action of being “cast out” did not create the knowledge of a “short time,” but Satan came down “knowing that he has a little time,” and therefore the knowledge of the “short time” preceded the act of casting out Satan (Rev. 12:11, LITV). This is what brings us to consider at what point was such knowledge made certain for Satan, and in this consideration—as it relates to salvation and the authority of the Christ—it is reasonable to conclude that it was with the ascension of Jesus to the throne of God.
[Note: Points to consider when determining the time that Satan was cast out of heaven using a known endpoint for the “short time” that Satan knew that he had:
- It is reasonably concluded that Satan had access to the presence of God during the time of Jesus’ ministry.
- Jesus stated before he died that Satan was to receive a judgment and would be judged in connection with Jesus’ death, resurrection and ascension into heaven.
- In regard to that judgment, Jesus stated that Satan would be cast out, and to this we must consider what he was “not cast out of” in order to reason what he was “cast out of” and this leaves us with a limited conclusion. Meaning that what remained was that Satan was “cast out” of heaven at the time of the judgment.
- Leaving us to consider the nature of that judgment and the sentence that was attached to that judgment.
- Was the judgment that Satan should be cast out, or was the judgment that Satan would eventually receive a sentence of imprisonment in the bottomless pit, or was it both?
- If the judgment was about being “cast out” and being bound to the “bottomless pit” then it would establish a length of time that can be measured in the events recorded in Scripture. Creating the knowledge of a “season” of time for Satan.
- Many claim that God speaks of things as if they have already happened when spoken through the prophets, but we should rethink this in terms of God’s decisions and humanity’s decisions, and what God will allow to be foretold in regard to the results of those decisions.
- Therefore, in regard to Satan we could see it rather as a time of decision, a time of judgment, and a statement of sentence, and a record of the fulfilling of that sentence, which in regard to Satan this would be a result of Jesus’ ascending to the throne of God.
Thus, we first have a decision that Satan will be judged at that time, and then a judgment is made that Jesus would understandably come to be in the presence of God and Satan would be removed from the presence of God, and so the sentence would be that Satan had to be cast out of heaven, and to be sentenced to imprisonment in a bottomless pit, and then there is a time period before the sentence is carried out completely—presenting us with a “short time” or season before the sentence is carried out in relation to the establishing of the kingdom of God.
For we note that when Jesus confronted the demons that they had an awareness of judgment that had been pronounced upon them. Some commentators would claim that the demons were referring to their time of judgment, but as they already knew of their coming judgment then what we can say is that they were aware of their limited time when the sentence would be carried out. Noting also that a judgment is a decision regarding the right and wrong of the issue, and the sentence is the statement of the punishment, and the punishment may be carried out at a later time respective to the judgment (See Mt. 9:29).
- Importantly, what we read in the Apostle John’s narrative is that Satan is “cast out,” and his influence is subjugated to the earth, but he is not completely consigned and confined permanently to a bottomless pit, and so the knowledge of having a “short time” was not related to the three and one-half years because we do not know how long the persecution lasts until the woman flees into a wilderness.
- Therefore, it is reasonable to conclude that Satan’s “short time” is related to an event that preceded his “casting out,” and his eventual imprisonment in the “bottomless pit” at the establishment of the kingdom of God. Or, we might say that there is a timeframe set when his ability to “deceive the nations,” and to “persecute the woman,” will come to an end.
- Reasonably concluding then that Satan was most likely cast out of heaven with the ascension of Jesus to the throne of God, marking the beginning of a “short time” or season that would last until his imprisonment with the coming of the kingdom of God.]
[Note: If Satan is “cast out” at some undetermined time in the future unrelated to the words of Jesus and his ascension to the throne of God, then there is at this moment no “short time” to be considered. That is to say there is no such time period yet to be established by which we can place the prophecy given to the Apostle John.
But as John already wrote of a “short time,” and Satan is aware of John’s writings, then Satan is already aware that he has a “short time,” even before that period of time is to begin, which is a contradiction to the fact that Satan knew he had a short time when he was cast out of heaven, which he didn’t learn from John. Because such a claim that this event is future would tell us that the angelic world is also anticipating a war without surprise, and a result that is known before it is attempted, and so we would have to think that Satan would not bother with such a conflict if the outcome were already known to him and to the angels and also to John and to us as well.
Simply, if what John wrote was a foregone conclusion before the event, then it would behoove Satan—in knowing of John’s writings—to begin persecuting the woman long ago instead of waiting until some future time. To say that Satan will be cast down in the future is like saying that Satan is yet to have “great wrath,” and is yet to persecute the “woman” to force her into a wilderness.
So, from the narrative of John’s vision we have a series of events that have already occurred, and the “short time” (Greek, kairon, “season”) for Satan has already started relative to his judgment and the giving of the holy spirit, and the three and one-half years that applies to the woman has yet to come as a result of Satan’s persecution, and so it is the three and one-half years that is anticipated and its beginning is unknown to us at this time.]
[Concluding Notes: The claim that Satan will be cast out of heaven in the future is based on the idea that his casting out is immediately and directly associated with the three and one-half years the woman is in the wilderness, but this idea is challenged by:
1) The words of Jesus who spoke of Satan’s judgment and his being cast out in relationship to Jesus’ death, resurrection and ascension, and the strict narrative of John’s prophecy regarding the “woman” who gave birth to the child who ascended to the throne of God before war began in heaven, and the fact that Satan is already here on earth and already has great wrath and he already knows that he has a short time based on what he can discern for himself from the writings of John, and there is an unknown and undeterminable amount of time between the casting out of Satan and the time when the woman flees into a wilderness.
2) Therefore, an “as is” acceptance of John’s narrative reasonably places the casting out of Satan in conjunction with the ascension of Jesus, which means that the persecution of the woman has been and will continue to be until it reaches a point where she must flee into a wilderness, which means that Satan continues his work now as always until his season is completed and he is bound in the abyss.]
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