What can the devil do?
War in Heaven

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Although the Bible says nothing about how spirit beings wage war, it IS clear that they do fight. The devil will ultimately lead FOUR great battles against God and the forces of righteousness. Two of these fights take place in heaven and two of them occur on the earth. For information regarding spiritual warfare that does not include Satan see our article entitled "Do angels fight BATTLES?"

The first, and greatest, fight in the devil's ongoing rebellion against God occurred in the distant past soon after he sinned. After an unspecified length of time deceiving one third of the angels (Revelation 12:4), he led them to WAR in heaven. His purpose was to forcibly take control of all creation from the Eternal, declare himself the new ruler of everything, then demand to be worshipped as god (Isaiah 14, Ezekiel 28, see also 2Thessalonians 2:4, Revelation 13).

The Bible does not state whether the Eternal knew ahead of time that a satanic army was approaching his throne in heaven in order to make war. Although he certainly CAN know everything going on everywhere in the universe, there are times when he chooses not to know certain things in advance (see our article on God's attributes).

It is interesting to note that Scripture says nothing about righteous angels actively fighting the devil in this first war in heaven. It is entirely possible that, in order to give the rebelling angels every chance to halt their madness and repent, that they were allowed to come right up to God's throne. How close did they get? They got close enough where Jesus Christ stated he personally witnessed (sitting on God's right hand) Satan and his demons being ejected, like lightning, from the presence of the Eternal (Luke 10:18).

Who sits on God's LEFT hand?
What are the levels of heaven?
Map of King David's war victories

Satan versus righteous angels

The second major offensive the devil will lead, which will occur in the near future, will also take place in heaven. It will commence just before his open rule of the earth through the Beast and the False Prophet. God, however, will not personally be involved in this battle. This time, an army of righteous angels led by the archangel Michael will fight and defeat the demonic hoards and cast them, yet again, to the earth.

7. And there was war in heaven; Michael and his angels warred against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels warred. 8. But they did not prevail, neither was their place found any more in heaven. 9. And the great dragon was cast out, the ancient serpent who is called the Devil and Satan, who is deceiving the whole world; he was cast down to the earth, and his angels were cast down with him (Revelation 12:7 - 9, HBFV).

This second defeat in heaven marks the permanent banishment of any evil angel from accessing God's throne. It effectively stops FOREVER Satan's ability to constantly accuse humanity of sin before the Eternal (Revelation 12:10). It also, sadly, leads to the beginning of the Great Tribulation, since the devil will know he will only have a short time remaining to carry out his plans.

12. Therefore, rejoice you heavens and those who dwell in them. Woe to those who inhabit the earth and the sea! For the Devil has come down to you, having great wrath . . ." (Revelation 12:12).

Expulsion of rebel angels from heaven by Hieronymus Bosch
Expulsion of rebel angels from heaven
Hieronymus Bosch (1500 - 1502)

The war in Megiddo

The third battle the devil will lead is called "the battle of that great day of the Almighty God" (Revelation 16:14, HBFV) or, more commonly, the battle of Armageddon (verse 16). It takes place entirely on the earth at a place called the valley of Jezreel or Megiddo. This time, he and his demons will deceive the ENTIRE world into going to war against a returning Jesus Christ coming out of heaven (Revelation 16:12 - 16, 17:14 - 18, 19:17 - 21). The army of righteousness, led by our Savior, will be composed primarily of resurrected saints who will be allowed to govern the earth under Christ for 1,000 years (Revelation 20:4, 6). After the battle is won a powerful angel will grab Lucifer and throw him into a spiritual cell of solitary confinement until the Millennium is completed (verses 1 - 3).

The last battle

The final spiritual battle in the war between good and evil will take place entirely on the earth. The devil will be let out of his millennial prison and again be allowed to deceive humanity into thinking God is an enemy. This time, Scripture seems to indicate that Satan will lead an army composed entirely of deceived humans. Their goal will be to conquer Jerusalem, the world's capital city, from which Christ and his saints have ruled for a 1,000 years (Revelation 20:7 - 9). His total defeat will occur when the Eternal sends fire from heaven to consume his army after it surrounds Jerusalem to attack it (verse 9).

Additional Study Materials
Timeline of Man's Last Days
What does the Bible say about going to war?
What happens at the end of the Bible?

What can the devil and
demons DO and NOT DO?
What can they do?

What can they not do?

Series Primary Sources

Adam Clarke's Commentary
Barnes' Notes on the New Testament
Bible Knowledge Commentary
Complete Book of Bible Secrets and Mysteries
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown's Commentary
John Wesley's Explanatory Notes
Matthew Henry's Commentary
Willmington's Guide to the Bible

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