Lesson 1

War in Heaven

(Revelation 12, Isaiah 14, Ezekiel 28)
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Introduction: Do you find it hard to trust God? Have you seen situations that are simply unfair? Not too long ago, I was asked to be a guest Bible teacher at a church. One of the members of the church asked me to come to her home to meet relatives. When I got there, the relatives were a married couple. I was told their parents and children were riding together in a car when they had an accident and all were killed. In one day this couple lost their parents and their children. I had been invited to the home to explain how a God who would allow this was both loving and trustworthy. Our lessons this quarter explore this issue of how an evil world can exist when a loving God is in charge. Let's jump into our first lesson!

  1. War

    1. Read Revelation 12:7-9. When you think about heaven, what kind of place comes to mind?

      1. When you think of angels, what kind of beings come to mind?

      2. Under what circumstances can you imagine war in heaven and angels fighting angels?

    2. Let's see if we can understand this better. Read Revelation 12:3-5. Who is this child? (Jesus. Jesus rules all nations and is with God on His throne.)

      1. Who is the dragon who tried to kill Jesus? ( Revelation 12:9 tells us the dragon is that "ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan." Matthew 4:1-11 gives us an insight into how the devil (Satan) tried to get Jesus to sin when Jesus was here on earth. Genesis 3:1-6 recites how Satan got Adam and Eve to sin.)

      2. What do you understand the "third of the stars" in Revelation 12:4 to mean? (Since we know Satan is the dragon, that he tempted Jesus to sin and was able to get humans to sin, it makes sense that this is an illusion to Satan causing one-third of the angels in heaven to sin.

      3. Does this give you a better idea of the circumstances under which war could exist in heaven? (Now we know how we could have (Rev. 12:7) angels fighting angels. Revelation 12:9 makes it clear that Satan corrupted angels who were expelled from heaven with him.)

    3. Let's stop and consider this for a moment. Who won the battle between good and evil in heaven? (God did and Satan and his forces were defeated and hurled to earth.)

      1. Is God all powerful?

      2. Did things happen in heaven that God did not want to have happen?

    1. Read Revelation 12:10-12. Does the war continue? If so, where? (Yes it does continue. God threw the devil out of heaven, but this means (unfortunately) he moved into our neighborhood!)

      1. Is the devil a nice neighbor? (Verse 12 says he is mad as a wet hen and is on a mission of woe!)

      2. Can you find any good news in Revelation 12:12? (Yes! It says Satan's "time is short.")

      3. What is your status in this continuing war? Are you an observer or a combatant? (Read Revelation 12:17. If you believe in Jesus and obey God's commandments then you are a combatant and a target of Satan.)

      4. Is this a war we can win? ( Revelation 12:11 says that we can overcome Satan "by the blood of the Lamb" and by "the word of [our] testimony.")

    2. A rather young neighbor of mine recently died of cancer. When I was discussing spiritual matters with her before her death, she told me that she did not believe in a devil. What do these texts we have read suggest about the accuracy of her belief?

      1. If you were dying of cancer, and you did not believe in the devil, how would you view God? (God would be the source of evil. Knowing a war is going on makes a tremendous difference in our outlook on life. If we are at war, then we can understand why bad things happen even though God is in charge.)

  1. Why War?

    1. How did this war start? If God is a perfect God and He created a perfect heaven, how did evil arise?

    2. Were Adam and Eve created perfect? ( Genesis 1:26-27, 31 report that we were made by God in His image and His creation "was very good.")

    3. If Adam and Eve were created perfect, and if the entire creation was perfect, if we figure out how sin entered our world will that likely give us clues about how sin entered heaven? (I think so.)

      1. Let's look at the familiar story in Genesis 3:1-6.

      2. After reading this story, what is your conclusion about how sin began on earth? What caused sin? (We can see some obvious causes for sin. First, Eve and Adam were given the freedom to choose. Second, Satan was given some freedom to tempt them. Third, Eve distrusted God and believed Satan. Fourth, the line that caused Eve to accept Satan's word instead of God's word was (v. 5) the one about being like God.)

      1. If you were God, what would you have done differently? (The choices seem limited. You could take away the freedom of Adam and Eve to choose. You could take away the freedom of Satan to tempt humans. You could work on having humans trust you more. You could forget the whole "creation thing" in the first place.)

        1. Are there problems with your "God options?" (If you take away the human freedom to choose you have robots. If you take away Satan's freedom to tempt, then he is screaming about you winning through force and not because you are right or fair. If humans are too dumb to trust you after you created them, what can you do? Take the ultimate step and die for them?)

  1. How Sin Began

    1. Read Isaiah 14:12-14. Who is this text speaking about? (If you look at Isaiah 14:3-4 you will see this refers to "taunt[s] against the King of Babylon.")

    2. Read Ezekiel 28:12-17. Who is this text speaking about? (Verse 12 says "a lament concerning the King of Tyre.")

    3. Our lesson suggests these texts are about Satan. In our study of how sin began, why do we care about the Kings of Babylon and Tyre? (It is customary for commentators to also link these texts to Satan. Some do it without even bothering to acknowledge the link to these earthly kings. Our lesson (Tuesday) has a brilliant explanation which acknowledges the context of these texts and explains why they are properly linked to Satan. The lesson suggests these texts also refer to the power behind these earthly thrones. Why is this understanding appropriate? Because Peter does the very same thing when he takes King David's comments about himself ( Psalms 16:9-11) and tells us(Acts 2:25-32) that this really applies to Jesus. Just as Jesus was the power behind the throne of David, so Satan was the power behind the throne of the Kings of Babylon and Tyre.)

    4. Since these texts in Isaiah and Ezekiel refer to Satan, let's look at them more carefully. Compare Ezekiel 28:12-14 with Isaiah 14:12. Is Satan a created being? (Yes. Ezekiel 28:13)

      1. What kind of being was Satan? ( Ezekiel 28:12 tells us he was "the model of perfection." That he was "full of wisdom and perfect in beauty." He must have been something special because Isaiah 14:12 calls him "morning star, son of the dawn.")

      2. What kind of position did Satan have in heaven? ( Ezekiel 28:14 tells us he was a "guardian cherub" "on the holy mount of God." This must have meant he held a very high position in heaven. He worked, as it were, in the throne room.)

    5. Compare Isaiah 14:13-14 with Ezekiel 28:15&17to see what we can learn about how evil began. How did evil begin in a high-ranking perfect being, in a perfect world? (It sounds like pride. Ezekiel tells us specifically that Satan's beauty and wisdom caused his heart to become proud. Isaiah tells us that Satan decided that he was entitled to be like God.)

      1. Let's revisit Genesis 3:4-6. Remember we thought that figuring out how sin occurred on earth might give us a clue about how it began in heaven? It turns out we were right. What would you say is the most deadly sin? What is the "grandaddy" of all sins? (Pride - specifically, wanting to become like God.)

      2. Has anyone in your church ever been disciplined for pride? Or, do you make the proud people the leaders of your church?

    6. Can we even recognize the sin of pride? What are examples? Can you think of any examples in your life?

      1. Have you ever said, "I know what the Bible says, but I know better how I should live?"

    7. Friend, can you understand now how sin began in heaven, a perfect place? Can you understand now how sin was exported to our world - created as a perfect place? Knowing how sin began, knowing that Satan's "big weapon" is pride, will you pray that God will give you wisdom and His Spirit to overcome pride in your life?

  2. Next Week: Issues in the Great Controversy

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Lessons on The Cosmic Conflict Between Christ & Satan

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