“Then there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon and his angels. And the dragon lost the battle, and he and his angels were forced out of heaven. This great dragon—the ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, the one deceiving the whole world—was thrown down to the earth with all his angels. Then I heard a loud voice shouting across the heavens, ‘It has come at last— salvation and power and the Kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers and sisters has been thrown down to earth—the one who accuses them before our God day and night. And they have defeated him by the blood of the Lamb and by their testimony.'” This passage from John’s revelation of the future indicates there is a rebellion against God that is of epochal or universal proportions. And this world and humanity are the battleground for this war. This passage explains that the dragon to which it refers is Satan and that he deceives the world and has a following of other angelic beings. Some interpret this time of the dragon’s defeat and ejection from heaven as referring to the incarnation, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Nevertheless, three principles arise from this passage that help explain the presence of evil in the created order:
- The events of this world are decreed and managed in heaven. God actively presides and rules over His created order. Thus, ultimate control and supreme authority over the universe emanate from God.
- The evil that exists in this world is of cosmic proportions. The evil of this world transcends earthly events and its fundamental nature is ultimate insubordination to God’s authority.
- Evil is fundamentally a spiritual issue and, therefore, must be addressed in the spiritual realm.
Our ancestors effectively joined Satan’s rebellion and so by being born human we are co-conspirators in this rebellion. God’s justice system requires supreme restitution for the crime of rebellion, but Christ received the punishment for this high crime on behalf of all human beings. In other words, Christ has come to defeat the rebellion of Satan and those of humanity who join Satan in this rebellion against God’s Kingdom: “But the Son of God came to destroy the works of the devil.” (I John 3:8). While the mastermind of this rebellion, Satan, has enjoined humanity in his sedition, is it the result of a cosmic error in planning by God? An unintended consequence of free will? Collateral damage to the created order? Absolutely not! The redemption of human beings has always been God’s plan since the creation of the world: “Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world” (Matthew 25:34). The redemption of humanity is not to fix any galactic mistake or oversight God made in creation. We know from the biblical record and from our own human experience that we often learn best by learning from our mistakes. The biblical narrative is replete with well-intentioned and some not-so-well-intentioned people not obeying God. Regrettably, people often better understand God’s will by not doing it! Mercy is better received by those in need of it! John’s revelation clearly discloses that God wins! God ultimately defeats the evil that has infiltrated this world though He may allow it to reside for a time to advance His redemptive plan. God is almighty and His plan is supreme, even to the extent that He can use the evil acts committed by persons and even the devil himself to work His good purposes. It seems that God is best able to redeem people in a world that is occupied by evil.