THE FALL OF SATAN
In this study we are looking the very unusual statement Jesus made when He said, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.” The seventy disciples had returned from all of the cities in Palestine to which He had sent them. They now returned with joy and rejoicing. Their message was the Messianic kingdom was at hand, and it was to be established in Israel and the world in the very near future. Their message was,”The kingdom of God has come near to you,” that is, it is at hand or soon to begin. The real meaning of their message was the Christian religion is about to begin on earth, although they did not understand the full significance of their message. They not only healed the sick; they also healed demon-possessed people and cast the demons out of the poor, sick and afflicted people. When they returned full of joy and told Jesus that even they had power over demons, it was then Jesus made the statement that He saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.
The difficulty in this statement is that when Jesus spoke these words, Satan was no longer in heaven. Satan and all of the fallen angels were cast out of heaven sometime back in eternity before the universe had come into existence. Peter said, “God did not spare the angels who sinned but cast them down to Tartarus and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment”(2 Peter 2:4). Jude made the statement that the angels who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own abode, God has reserved in everlasting chains for the judgment of the great day(Jude 6). That's all we know about the subject. They fell from heaven into another location. That event in the remote past was related to this statement in that Jesus was reminded of that event and used it to predict a similar even to happen in the near future. When the seventy returned rejoicing that they had power over even the fallen angels who were afflicting people, then Jesus said to the seventy, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.”
This words were not a reference to the remote past in eternity when Satan fell from heaven, but were really a prophecy about the near future when Satan was going to take another fall. At that remote time Satan was removed from heaven, but Jesus saw another time very near when his influence and power would be removed from the earth. Satan had not fallen or been removed from the earth when the Seventy did their work of healing and casting out demons. Their work was only a feint indication of the wonderful and migvty victory the Christian religion would have over the religion paganism and its idolatrous religion in the pagan Roman Empire.
Satan was about to suffer a fall and defeat comparable to the one that befell him when he dwelled in heaven. Not exactly the same but similar. This statement refers to the battle between the religion of Christ and the pagan religion of the Roman Empire in the first, second and third century A. D.
This statement is more fully explained by Jesus Himself in the gospel of John 12:31. Jesus had just predicted His death on the cross, and it was to take place in less than one week. Then He said to the disciples, “Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of the world will be cast out. And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to Myself.” What did He mean by saying, “Now the ruler of this world will be cast out? Cast out of what? Cast out of the earth. He fell from heaven once, and he will fall a second time from the earth. God cast him out of heaven, and God is going to cast him out of the earth. When He said, “Now is the judgment of this word,” He meant that there is a time coming soon, a time of decision when the rightful ruler of this world is to be determined.
Satan had unlawfully exercised control of the world, but the death of Christ will dethrone him, and he would no longer have unlimited sway over mankind. He is to be dethroned from his position of worldwide influence in their hearts and lives of men and women. . Christ called Satan the prince of this world because the world has been under his dominion from the time of the fall in the garden of Eden. Satan took over mankind in the garden of Eden, and the first indication that this was going to change was the success the seventy and the apostles had over demons during the ministry of Christ. Tthe death of Christ was to be his downfall. When Jesus said “he would be cast out,” He meant that his dominion of mankind was to be be broken and ultimately to fail. The death of Christ was the action God took to restore the law and authority of God in the world. The cross now divides all mankind into two groups–those who obey the mandates of God and those who remain under the dominion and control of Satan. Satan's decline began at Calvary, and it will be totally terminated at the coming of Christ. Satan has not literally been cast of the earth, as he was cast out of heaven, but Christ has destroyed his power and influence.
The prophecy, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven, “ began to be fulfilled on the day of Pentecost. The gospel freed men and women all over the Roman Empire in the first, second and third centuries. Satan lost much of his control over the human race in the first three centuries because the gospel was preached throughout the world but under Satan's persecution. Satan led that persecution, but he could not destroy the church.
However, Satan assumed almost full control of the human race during the Dark Ages, from 500 to 1500 A.D. The true gospel was not preached during this time, the Bible was chained to the pulpits and preachers were not free to teach the truth. Hence the church fell into apostasy, idolatry returned and mankind suffered for a thousand years.
Since l500 the true gospel once more began to be preached worldwide. The cross of Christ was one again proclaimed to the whole world. Since 1500 Satan's power over mankind has received its greatest blow. The knowledge of Christ is now proclaimed in most all countries of the earth, and where it goes and is accepted, Satan and his influence is cast out of peoples' lives.