Satan’s kingdom is highly organized. Today we find out how it operates. Why should we care? “To be forewarned is to be forearmed.” Arm yourself with these facts about the kingdom of Satan.
It’s good to be with you again as I continue to share with you on a theme that is of the greatest practical importance for every one of us. In fact, it’s a matter of life and death, the theme of Spiritual Warfare.
In my introductory talk yesterday I explained that as disciples of Jesus we necessarily find ourselves involved in an all-out spiritual war that affects not only the entire globe on which we live but indeed the entire created universe. Furthermore, this spiritual war is growing ever more intense as the present age draws to its close.
The Scripture which most clearly depicts the nature of this war is found in Ephesians 6:12:
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (NIV)
Paul makes it very clear there that as Christians we are involved in a life and death struggle with a highly organized kingdom peopled by evil, rebellious spirit beings, and that the headquarters of this kingdom is in the heavenly realm.
This raises a particular problem in the minds of Christians, the phrase “the heavenly realm.” The problem could be expressed this way: I thought Satan was cast out of heaven long ago. How then can he still occupy any kind of place in the heavenly realm?
Today I am going to address myself to this problem. Let me begin by pointing out some passages that describe events long after the initial rebellion of Satan against God and his initial casting down as a result of that rebellion. And these passages indicate that at the time they were true, Satan still had access to the presence of God in heaven. We can start in Job 1:6-7, where it says this:
“One day the angels came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came with them. The Lord said to Satan, ‘Where have you come from?’ Satan answered the Lord, ‘From roaming through the earth and going back and forth in it.’” (NIV)
Almost exactly the same incident is recorded again in Job 2:1-2:
“On another day the angels came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came with them to present himself before him. And the Lord said to Satan, ‘Where have you come from?’ Satan answered the Lord, ‘From roaming through the earth and going back and forth in it.’” (NIV)
So at that time, which was in the days of Job, we see that Satan still had direct access to the presence of the Lord. When God’s angels came to present themselves and report to the Lord, Satan was there among them. It seems to me that the passage somewhat indicates that the other angels didn’t identify Satan for who he was. And I can understand this because in 2 Corinthians 12, Paul says that Satan is transformed as an angel of light. The passage creates in my mind the impression that the only one that identified Satan was the Lord. So he could appear in the presence of God apparently mingling with the other angels and not be detected.
The Lord said, “Where have you come from, Satan?” In other words, “What are you doing here?” But the Lord didn’t immediately banish Satan from his presence, He actually had some kind of a conversation with him. So we see in the time of Job Satan was still having access to the presence of God in heaven.
And then let’s go on to the last book of the Bible, Revelation 12:10-11:
“Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: ‘Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down.’” (NIV)
The accuser of our brothers we know is Satan. And notice that at this time he’s still been accusing God’s people before God day and night. Then we go on to read:
“They overcame him [that’s Satan] by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death. [Then there’s this commentary:] Therefore rejoice, you heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has gone down to you! He is filled with fury, because he knows that his time is short.” (NIV)
That passage indicates that at whatever point that applies, and I believe myself it is still in the future, Satan still has access to the presence of God and he uses his access to accuse God’s people in the presence of God. Clearly, all the above passages that I have quoted refer to periods long after the original rebellion of Satan. So what is the answer? My answer is this: There is more than one heaven. I believe this is clearly indicated all through Scripture. For instance, in the first verse of the Bible, Genesis 1:1, it says:
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”
The Hebrew word for heavens is shamaim. “Im” is the plural ending. The first heaven is introduced, it is introduced in the plural.
And then in 2 Chronicles 2:6, we have this utterance of Solomon in his prayer to the Lord at the dedication of the temple. He says this:
“But who is able to build a temple for him [that’s the Lord], since the heavens, even the highest heavens, cannot contain him?” (NIV)
Where the translation says “the highest heavens,” the Hebrew says literally “the heaven of heavens.” Clearly, either translation indicates there is more than one heaven. The word “heaven” of the phrase “heaven of heavens” to me suggests a heaven that is above heaven as high as heaven is above earth. At any rate, more than one heaven.
In 2 Corinthians 12:2-4, Paul is even more specific. He says:
“I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows. And I know that this man, whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows, was caught up to Paradise. He heard inexpressible things, things that a man is not permitted to tell.” (NIV)
Paul says there he knew “a man who was caught up to the third heaven.” Before I became a preacher, I was a logician and sometimes I can’t get away from logic. Logic convinces me that if there is a third heaven, there must be a first and a second. So there are at least three heavens. And apparently, the third heaven is where Paradise, the place of rest of the departed righteous, is now located. It is also where God Himself speaks.
And then again in Ephesians 4:10, speaking about the death and resurrection of Jesus, Paul says:
“He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.” (NIV)
Notice that phrase “all the heavens.” The word “all” can only be correctly used of at least three. I remember when I was teaching English to African students in Kenya. One day a student said to me, “All my parents have come to see me.” I said, “You can’t say ‘All my parents,’ because no one has more than two parents and if you only have two you can’t say ‘All.’” Well, that applies to the phrase “all the heavens.” There must be at least three. I think that is clearly indicated by the whole tenor of Scripture. So I believe that leads us to the answer to the problem how Satan’s kingdom is still in the heavenly realm.
I have suggested to you that the Bible indicates that there are at least three heavens. In colloquial speech we sometimes use the phrase “the seventh heaven” describing a condition of great happiness. I suggest that it isn’t scriptural. Actually, the phrase is taken from the Koran, the sacred book of Islam, and is probably not appropriate for Christians. So, if you are feeling particularly happy, let me suggest that you say you are on cloud nine. Because there are plenty of clouds in heaven and that is more in line with Scripture. Jesus is coming in the clouds.
Well, let us look at this revelation then that there are three heavens. I want to offer you my opinion. I do not offer this as established doctrine but as what I believe to be a reasonable opinion which seems to fit all the known facts of Scripture and of experience. There are three heavens. The first heaven is the visible heaven: the sun, the moon, the stars, that which we see with our eyes, the natural heaven.
The third heaven, we know from 2 Corinthians 12, is God’s dwelling place. It is where Paradise is, the place of rest of the departed righteous. It is the place where this man who was caught up heard God speaking words that could not be uttered.
So we’re left with the second heaven. Clearly, this must be between the first and the third. So I understand there is an intermediate heaven between the heaven of God’s dwelling and the visible heaven that we see here on earth. And I believe that in this intermediate heaven is where Satan’s headquarters are located. I believe this explains the facts of our experience. It explains the fact that when we pray, we often find ourselves in an intense wrestling match.
Sometimes I think we do not realize it is hard to break through to God. Sometimes we pray a prayer that is in the will of God, we believe God hears, and yet the answer tarries. Now, there can be more than one explanation of that, but I believe one major reason for experiences of this kind in the life of sincere, committed believers is that we are involved in a warfare and that the headquarters of Satan’s kingdom is located between the visible heaven and the heaven of God’s dwelling.
Now, our time is up for today but I’ll be back with you again tomorrow at this time. Tomorrow I’ll continue with this theme of spiritual warfare. In particular, tomorrow I’ll be turning to the book of Daniel for a specific example of spiritual warfare that casts further light on the location of Satan’s kingdom, a particular prayer that Daniel prayed, and the amazing results. In fact, I’ll be describing a battle of angels.