Summary of the Great Conflict:
War broke out in heaven over 6000 years ago, and this was the beginning of the great conflict between good and evil, light and darkness, truth and deceit. Lucifer and his fallen angels came to earth, and the evil one deceived Adam and Eve into disobeying God. Since then, earth is a war zone, where the forces of good and evil battle it out to win souls to their respective sides. Marla Ilona reveals little-known details about this conflict and the implications for all of us that will determine our eternal life or death.
In today’s show we’ll be laying the foundation for understanding the main plot that runs throughout the entire Bible. We’ll be talking about Heaven, what it is, who lives there, and how it’s governed. We’re going to retrace the origin of evil and the great conflict that’s raged on earth for nearly 6000 years. Then we’re going to analyze more closely what measures God has taken to save His children from this conflict, and ultimately how it will all end.
Heaven is a real place
Heaven is a real place, the desired destination of every Christian who’s ever walked the planet. Where is heaven located? To clarify, the Bible talks about 3 heavens:
-the FIRST heaven is earth’s atmosphere where birds fly, for ex. in the expression “the fowls of heaven” or “the dew of heaven”
-the SECOND heaven is outer space where the planets and stars exist, as in the expression “host of heaven” or “firmament of the heaven”
-the THIRD Heaven is referred to in the Bible as the third Heaven, also called “the Father’s House” or “the Kingdom of Heaven”.
This distinction between the three heavens is confirmed by Deuteronomy 10:14: “Indeed heaven and the highest heavens belong to the Lord your God” and Psalms 115:16, “The heaven, even the heavens, are the LORD’S.”
Heaven is the capital of the universe, the dwelling place of God Almighty our Creator and the Supreme Ruler of the entire universe. God has His throne room in the third Heaven, from where He governs all creation. Heaven is the seat of God’s Kingdom, and like all kingdoms, Heaven has laws and rules that govern how things are done and how beings interact with one another. This point is critical; we’ll come back to it shortly.
Who lives in Heaven besides God the Father?
First of all of course, Jesus who is God is in Heaven, sitting at the right hand of the Father, officiating as High Priest of the Order of Melchizedek, interceding on our behalf in the Lord’s sanctuary.
The Holy Spirit, which is on Earth and dwells with us and within us, is also in Heaven. “And out of the throne proceeded lightnings and thunderings and voices: and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God.” Revelation 4:5
This is a reminder that God is omnipresent, He can be everywhere at the same time.
In terms of humans, Enoch, Moses and Elijah are in heaven, together with the saints who were resurrected and ascended to heaven at the time of Jesus’ ascension. But today we’re going to focus our study on the angelic beings that dwelled and dwell today in Heaven. In Isaiah 6:1-3 we read:
“In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple. Above it stood seraphim; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one cried to another and said: Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory!” Isaiah 6:1-3
In the Book of Revelation these seraphim are described as the four living creatures that surround the throne night and day. “The four living creatures, each having six wings, were full of eyes around and within. And they do not rest day or night, saying: “Holy, holy, holy,?Lord God Almighty,?Who was and is and is to come!” (Revelation 4:8)
So we know with certainty that seraphim inhabit Heaven. Angels are powerful and extremely intelligent creatures. God created angels as beings superior to men, and He gave them powers we do not have. (“For You have made him (man) a little lower than the angels, and You have crowned him with glory and honor.” Psalm 8:4-5)
We also know from the book of Revelation that there are 24 Elders who sit around God’s throne. The Elders make up God’s Heavenly Council, who assists Him in ruling over all Creation, deliberating on the issues brought before them and making decision for the well-being of the entire Universe.
“Around the (God’s) throne were twenty-four thrones, and on the thrones I saw twenty-four elders sitting, clothed in white robes; and they had crowns of gold on their heads. … The twenty-four elders fall down before Him who sits on the throne and worship Him who lives forever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying: “You are worthy, O Lord,?To receive glory and honor and power;?For You created all things,?And by Your will they exist and were created.” (Revelation 4:4,9-11)
“Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne, the living creatures, and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands.” (Revelation 5:11)
As we can see, Heaven is a glorious place, teeming with a majestic concentration of extremely powerful and holy beings! There’s a lot of activity taking place at all times, centered on the Most High, the Ancient of Days, who is the object of continuous adoration and worship. Heaven was a place of peace and perfect harmony with the will of our Creator.
The Origin of Evil in the Universe
But there is someone missing from this heavenly paradise. One of God’s creatures was expelled from Heaven, because he rebelled against God and disobeyed His law. Lucifer was the most exalted of God’s creatures. God gifted him with extraordinary beauty and intelligence; Lucifer was the light-bearer in God’s Kingdom. He was God’s anointed cherub. Here’s how the prophet Ezekiel describes Lucifer:
“You were the seal of perfection,?Full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. You were in Eden, the garden of God;?every precious stone was your covering:?The sardius, topaz, and diamond,beryl, onyx, and jasper,?sapphire, turquoise, and emerald with gold.?The workmanship of your timbrels and pipes?was prepared for you on the day you were created. You were the anointed cherub who covers. ?I established you; you were on the holy mountain of God;?you walked back and forth in the midst of fiery stones. You were perfect in your ways from the day you were created, till iniquity was found in you.” Ezekiel 28:12-15
Unfortunately, Lucifer became enamored with his own perfection. He took his attention away from God and centered it upon himself – this is always a recipe for disaster! Whenever we become self-centered, pride and self-exaltation take root. Lucifer coveted God’s throne and became jealous of His power and rule.
“How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning !?How you are cut down to the ground,?you who weakened the nations! For you have said in your heart: ‘I will ascend into heaven,?I will exalt my throne above the stars of God;?I will ascend above the heights of the clouds,?I will be like the Most High.’ Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol, to the lowest depths of the Pit.” Isaiah 14:12-15
At this point Lucifer was on a mission to win over the angels to his side, and started spreading lies among the angels, defaming God’s character, accusing God of being unjust. Until Lucifer’s rebellion, heaven – and the entire universe for that matter – was a place without sin. No one had ever said a lie. The Bible tells us that “The devil is a liar, and the father of it” John 8:44. Otherwise, how would these angel beings, so wise and intelligent, rebel against their Creator? It is because there had never been a lie in Heaven, and therefore when Lucifer spoke they believed him, they thought it was the truth.
So Lucifer, in his rebellion, broke the laws of the kingdom, at least two of God’s Ten Commandments: he coveted God’s throne, and he deliberately lied to deceive the angels about God’s character and government.
God’s Government and the Opinion of Angels
Let’s take a moment to talk about God’s law and government. Love is the foundation of God’s government. The Ten Commandments instruct us to love God above all things and to love our neighbors as ourselves. These Ten Commandments were already in place in Heaven before God wrote them on two stones and gave them to Moses. So Lucifer began violating these eternal laws that make for peace among angels AND men.
Of course, God could see Lucifer’s wicked intentions because only God can read the heart. Nothing would’ve been easier for God than to zap the rebel and destroy him without trace. That would’ve squelched the rebellion immediately, but the angels – having believed the lies Lucifer spun about God – would’ve submitted to the Creator from a place of fear. They would’ve fallen back in line but their obedience would’ve come from fear and not love. They most likely would’ve continued to doubt God’s character based on Lucifer’s false testimony. It is really important to God that His creatures obey Him because they love Him and want to please Him. God always respects our free will and our freedom to choose to love Him, or not. He doesn’t want any love that is imposed.
War in Heaven
Bear in mind that until now, no one in heaven had seen or experienced sin. Sin is described as “the transgression of the law” (1 John 3:4). No one had ever transgressed the law before, so the angelic host had no inkling of the consequences of sin. So in order for them to come to their own conclusion that God’s government was just and represented the higher good of all creation, it was better for the Lord to allow the rebellion to unfold. However, the rebels could not be allowed to stay in Heaven, so we read in Chapter 12 of the Book of Revelation that Lucifer and one-third of God’s angels were expelled from Heaven.
“And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer. So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.” (Revelation 12: 7-9) So Lucifer who was once God’s light-bearer became Satan, God’s archrival.
God creates Planet Earth and the First Man
God, whose essence and nature are perfect love, was saddened by the declaration of war and the loss of one third of the heavenly host. So the triune God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) created planet earth and mankind in six days and rested on the seventh day. He created a perfect world – lush and abundant vegetation, beautiful landscapes, friendly animals. It didn’t rain back then, instead the Book of Geneses describes that a light mist arose from the earth itself to water the vegetation. Genesis 1:26 tells us that “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’”
God created Adam and Eve to have free will and the ability to make their own choices. They communed with God who walked with them in the Garden of Eden, and it was truly a privileged, blissful relationship they had with the Creator. God’s plan was for this perfect state to last eternally, since God creates creatures that are destined to be eternal. However, God needed to test Adam and Eve’s love by testing their obedience. (By the way, this is something God will do to each and every one of His children. In our walk with Him, we can expect that there will be an obedience test at some point. That’s why we need to get to know Him and trust Him so that when that test comes, we’ll be prepared to obey willingly.)
God pointed out the one tree from which they could not eat – the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. In Genesis 2:9 we read “Out of the ground the Lord God made every tree grow that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.”
The Fall of Man
“The Lord God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” (Genesis 2:16-17)
So we all know the story. Satan, who’d been ejected from Heaven and was roaming the universe, spying on God’s movements, one day saw Eve walking perilously close to the forbidden tree. So Satan disguised himself as a serpent and totally mesmerized Eve. This is how the dialogue went:
“Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?”
And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.’”
Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (Genesis 3:1-5)
So Eve eats the forbidden fruit and offers it to her husband who also ate of it.
Satan’s Tactics Can Make Us Fall Too
The serpent planted doubt in Eve’s mind about God’s words and intentions – exactly as he’d done with the angels prior to that. In that short exchange, Satan did three things: 1) Made Eve DOUBT God’s word: “Is that what God really said?”; 2) Beguiled Eve that she could BE LIKE GOD; and 3) Lied to Eve by CONTRADICTING GOD’S WORD and telling her that if she disobeyed God’s command she would NOT surely die.
Embedded in the story of Eve’s temptation and fall are the three classic ways in which to this day Satan continues to deceive God’s children and makes them stray outside His hedge of protection. An army general doesn’t change a winning strategy. Satan is still using this old and proven strategy to lead us astray. All Eve needed to do was to stand firmly on the Word of God: “God said it, I believe it, that settles it.” We’re going to come back to this crucial point again in future shows, especially in the context of Satan’s endtime deception.
Consequences of Man’s Fall
Now Adam and Eve’s eyes are opened, they’ve lost their innocence and their robes of light, which had clothed them up this point. This is why they saw their nakedness and tried to cover it with fig leaves.
Let’s understand more fully what happened when Adam and Eve chose to disobey God. First of all, let’s understand that they made a choice – remember that they were created with free will. And yes the serpent deceived Eve, but ultimately Eve CHOSE to disobey God’s command. There were many terrible consequences of that choice, let’s discuss the top three.
The FIRST and most painful consequence of sin was our separation from God. The Lord used to walk with Adam and Eve in the garden; they had free and direct access to God. But sin cannot stand in the presence of God. This is why Lucifer and his dissident angels had to be expelled from Heaven. And this is why Adam and Eve were expelled from the garden.
The SECOND consequence of sin was the loss of eternal life and the entrance of death on the scene. “So He (God) drove out the man; and He placed cherubim at the east of the Garden of Eden, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life.” Genesis 3:24 Romans 6:23 tells us that “the wages of sin is death”. Until they sinned, Adam and Eve were created to be eternal beings. But when they sinned they opened the door to death, aging, illness, and pain. Compared to their previous condition the clock was now ticking, every moment bringing them closer to their ultimate death.
The THIRD consequence was that by their sin, they handed over our planet to the devil. Let’s examine how this happened. In Genesis 1:28 God says to Adam and Eve: “’Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” In Genesis 2:15 we learn that “The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it.” So God had given Adam and Eve dominion over the planet as well as the stewardship of it. Having sinned however, they now gave Satan what is called “Legal Right” to claim dominion over planet earth and its inhabitants.
What is Satan’s legal right based on? Well, Matthew 6:24 tells us that “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.” And more pointedly, Romans 6:16 describes the essence of spiritual bondage: “Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness?”
Therefore Satan immediately claimed the legal right to be the master of this world. In John 14:30 Jesus called Satan “the prince of this world”. He roams freely to and fro upon the earth (Job 1), roaring like a lion, seeking whom he may devour. (1 Peter 5:8)
God’s Plan of Redemption
At this point, Adam and Eve are doomed to die. God’s predicament is that Adam and Eve transgressed the law. God’s law is eternal and it cannot be changed, even to save them. “And according to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission.” (Hebrews 9:22) Remember, the wages of sin is death. Hence someone had to die for their sin!
God, who still SO loves them despite their sin, clothes them with animal skins. This is extremely significant. These animal skins with which God covered Adam and Eve pre-figured the sacrifice of Jesus,“the Lamb who was slain from the foundation of the world”. (Revelation 13:8)
This is how God demonstrates his infinite, boundless love for all mankind. As we’ll see, from Genesis to Revelation, the entire Bible is a beautiful love story. It’s the story of how God, who SO loved the world, “… gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)
“But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone.” (Hebrews 12:9)
“Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.” (Hebrews 14:15)
The Lord of this entire universe, King of Glory, decided to sacrifice His divinity, to leave Heaven the most perfect place, and to be born into a woman’s womb. He accepts to walk this earth and ultimately die in our place, suffering tremendous pain and humiliation. His blood would pay the ransom to buy back humanity from the sentence of death. This is a big plot, the object of the entire Bible. Jesus was already prophesied in the Old Testament and fulfilled in the New Testament.
“For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.” (Romans 5:19)
I know we’ve heard this story so many times, but no matter how often we hear it: the enormity of His love and His sacrifice remains the same. Ever since I gave my life to Christ, I am still moved every time I hear the salvation prayer or an altar call. Because I know from what depths of darkness the Lord rescued me, to give me hope and a new and better life.
Our generation is a troubled one, and we need much grace to refocus on true North and on what is really important in this life. “Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away. For if the word spoken through angels proved steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just reward, 3 how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, (Hebrews 2:1-3) The answer is we won’t, we won’t escape, unless we surrender totally to God’s perfect plan of salvation for ourselves and our world. If we fail to accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior, by default we accept Satan as the ruler of our lives, and will be destroyed with him. God never intended for any of His creatures to suffer trial and tribulation or to be separated from Him. But that’s one of the risks of free will. We can choose to follow Satan simply by failing to follow Christ.
The end of the Great Conflict
Let’s go back to where we left off with the angels. God wants the angelic host to see how the consequences of sin and transgression of the law play out on planet earth. He wants the angels to see that He truly is holy and His government just and righteous. God wants them to realize for themselves how evil has destroyed Lucifer, and how his evil designs will lead all those who follow him, both angels and men, to eternal destruction. Planet Earth is the ravished theater where this great conflict is being played out, and the entire angelic host is watching.
So how does it all end? The end is spelled throughout the entire Bible, and not only in the Books of Daniel and Revelation. The condensed version is: those who accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior are promised eternal life, Satan is ultimately defeated and totally destroyed, and Jesus Christ returns in full glory to take His people home. “And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:4)