Text: Revelation 12:7-12
Angels, they’re always a popular topic to people. We are told as a child that our guardian angels are ever protecting us. We have the erroneous perception that when we die, we become an angel. There have been television shows devoted to angels, such as “Highway to Heaven” and “Touched by an Angel” and their work on earth, at least according to Hollywood. But what is the true role of angel in God’s creation?
Today gives us an opportunity to remember St. Michael and All Angels. We remember the work of the angelic host and how they are God’s servants to His people. Angels are best known for their true purpose: messengers of God. It was an angel who brought good tidings to the saints of God in the Old Testament, as well as to Zechariah, Joseph, and Mary. Besides the role of messenger, we see other roles the angels serve in. For instance, in the Garden of Eden, an angel was placed at the entrance of the Garden following Adam and Eve’s dismissal from the Garden. Angels guard us when we are in peril. The angel of God stopped the mouths of the lions when Daniel was cast into their den. An angel delivered the Apostle Peter from the cruelty of Herod. An angel gave bread and water for Elijah when he sat starving under the broom tree. In working for our protection and benefit, they render perfect service to their Lord and creator.
Angels come as great heralds of God’s Word and they come to minister to people in their times of need. But as we see in our text from Revelation today, angels have another role in which they serve God: as warriors in battle.
Our text begins with a statement that boggles the mind—there was a war in heaven! It sounds strange to us that there could ever be a war in heaven. How could this be? Heaven is eternal bliss in the glorious presence of God. It is peace and everlasting blessedness—how could a war take place here? But St. John records for us the fact that a war occurred.
We have to remember that war has raged in heaven ever since Satan strived to show that he was superior to God. Within the first six days of creation, God created the angelic beings. Also during that time, Lucifer, known better as Satan, sought to assert his superiority over God and was struck down by God.
This war in heaven is truly waged against God and His creation. From Lucifer’s revolt to the Fall into sin, Satan has had it out for God and His creation. This war that John writes about is the war of words that Satan has perpetrated against men since the Fall into sin, for he is the accuser, who accuses us of our sin and iniquity before God in heaven. He tempted Adam and Eve, and because of that, evil triumphantly entered the world and Satan became the prince of this world. Since the Fall, the devil was permitted to retain a certain power over the earth. Satan extended his rule over the whole of humanity, for sin is an ever-present reality to God’s creation.
Satan stands as our accuser to God. Here he makes his case, condemning mankind before the judgment seat of God. Unlike lying and deceiving to Adam and Eve and all of creation, what he tells God is true. We are guilty for we have sinned. Such a war between the deceiver and God’s heavenly angels is a war beyond our comprehension. You and I and all of God’s creation are at stake in this war. For while Satan might lie to us, we cannot say that he lies about us. He might deceive men on earth, but he cannot pull the wool over the eyes of Almighty God. And he doesn’t have to. We are all sinners in need of forgiveness.
Satan takes his war beyond heaven and wages it fully against the Church. This war will rage until the end of time, until the Seconding Coming of Christ. But until then, Satan will unleash all that he has at God’s creation, going back to the number one tool in his bag of tricks: doubt. That is what he used on Eve and it proved successful. That is what he uses against the people of God, hoping to ensnare them in doubting God’s Word, questioning the great love that God has for His creation. The assaults of the devil continue to plague the Church as a whole and the Church individually, for these are assaults that you and I face daily.
We know how this war ends. St. John records for us that Satan and his minions were defeated. He writes: “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb….” The war is finally over and God has prevailed, just as He promised in the Garden of Eden. It ends with the complete overthrow of the devil and his minions. Revelation 20:10 says, “and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.”
Satan has been forever defeated because of the blood of Christ shed upon the cross. Salvation is now ours; not something that will come at a later time, but a salvation that is yours now because of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
St. Michael and all the angels are victorious in their fight against Satan and his minions. Yet they triumphed over him not on account of their own might, but because God Himself sent His only Son to atone for the sins of the world. The power of sin, death, and hell have been destroyed, for Christ Jesus has already defeated their master, the devil.
Therefore rejoice in Christ Jesus, for salvation to us has come. Give thanks to God for His messengers, who brought good tidings of great joy and who serve their Lord in perfect holiness, seeking our benefit and protection. Rejoice in their defeat of Satan and his minions, with Michael leading the charge. But above all, rejoice in knowing that you have the forgiveness of all of your sins, and that your names are written in heaven in the Lamb’s Book of Life, because of the supreme victory of Satan, sin and death on account of Jesus Christ. In Jesus’ name, amen. The peace of God that passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds through faith in Christ Jesus, amen.