SPECIAL TOPIC: FALL OF SATAN AND HIS ANGELS (from Rev. 12:4)

Rev. 12:4 "his tail swept away a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth" Because the term "the stars of heaven" is used quite often in the OT to refer to the saints of God (cf. Gen. 15:5; Jer. 33:22; Dan. 12:3), some have assumed that this refers to saints, but the context probably refers to angels (cf. Dan. 8:10; 2 Pet. 2:4; Jude 1:6). Falling angels (i.e., in the imagery of falling stars) are a common motif in Jewish intertestimental apocalyptic literature (i.e., I Enoch).

Satan (see  Special Topic: Satan) is depicted with the angels in heaven before God in Job 1-2 and Zechariah 3. He was possibly a "covering cherub" (cf. Ezek. 28:12-18). This description, using metaphors from the Garden of Eden, does not fit the King of Tyre, but the king's pride and arrogance mimicked Satan's (I am becoming more and more uncomfortable with this approach because in Ezekiel 31, where the king of Egypt is described as the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Ezekiel regularly uses Eden terms to describe kings). In the OT Satan is not an enemy of God, but of mankind (cf. Rev. 12:10). Satan was not created evil but developed into an arch enemy of all things good and holy (cf. A. B. Davidson's An Old Testament Theology, pp. 300-306). Several times he is said to have been cast out of heaven (cf. Isa. 14:12; Ezek. 28:16; Luke 10:18; John 12:31; 2 Pet. 2:4; and Rev. 12:7-12). The problem is when. Is it:

1. during the OT period

a. before the creation of man (i.e., between Gen. 1:1 and 1:2, called "the gap theory"; see Special Topic: Day)

b. some time after Job 2:1 but before Ezekiel 28:16

c. during the post-exilic period, but after Zechariah 3:1

2. during the NT period

a. after Jesus' temptation (cf. Matt. 4:10)

b. during the mission trip of the seventy (cf. Luke 10:18)

c. at an end-time moment of rebellion (cf. Rev. 12:9)

One wonders if "the third of the stars" refers to angels who rebelled against God and chose to follow Satan. If so, this may be the only scriptural basis for the demonic of the NT related to fallen angels (cf. Rev. 12:9,12). The number, "one-third," may be related to the

1. limit of the destruction during the trumpet judgments (cf. Rev. 8:7-12; 9:15,18) and not a specific number

2. it may represent Satan's seduction of part of the angels

3. it may be a mythoogical allusion to a Babylonian creation account

 

At this point it may be helpful to remember that although this issue is interesting, it was not the author's intent in this context to discuss

1. the origin of the demonic

2. the fall of Satan

3. an angelic rebellion in heaven

In apocalyptic literature the central theme of the vision is crucial, but the literalness of the presentation, the details and the images are dramatic, symbolic, fictional (see Special Topic: Apocalyptic Literature). It is our curiosity and western thinking that motivates our detailed, logical, doctrinal formulations of these symbolic texts. Be careful of pushing the details; apocalyptic literature is often true theology presented in an imaginative framework. It is true, but symbolically presented!

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