Michael the Archangel
Revelation 12:7

War in heaven?

    "And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven." (Rev. 12:7, 8)
   We tend to think of heaven as a place where nothing ever goes wrong and we ask, how can a good God allow such things? People are quick to conclude that either God wasn't really good or that He can't help what happens when evil comes. The fact is that, throughout the Scriptures, we see Him as one who stands at the door and knocks (Rev. 3:20). He never pushes His way in. We let Him in only if we want to. We can choose to disobey. This means that when we choose to be loyal, it is really our free choice. God has arranged for us to have something to give. He made us and everything around us and he gives us every breath and heartbeat. In spite of total ownership, He decided to let us choose to love Him or choose not to. Our choice to give Him our loyalty is a real gift and one He treasures immensely.
    God is not the author of evil de3204, ps09215. The universe and world he created came perfect from His hand, ge0131.
    That choice was also given to the angels He created. We do not know how many centuries or millennia passed before rebellion broke out in heaven. They loved their leader and enjoyed their relationship of total cooperation. But one day a cloud began to roll in and heaven was not the same.


Who is Michael?

    "And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven." (Rev. 12:7, 8)

   Michael is not mentioned often the Bible but, by comparing texts, we can learn his more common identity. We begin with the little book of Jude:
   "Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst [dared] not bring against him a railing [slanderous, 1306a2] accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee." (Jude 9). Jude's purpose in this verse is to condemn those who teach grace as license jude04 and who criticize authority jude08. He takes the dispute with the devil as an example, revealing other information that is of particular interest to us. So Michael is also the archangel. The prefix "arch-" means to be "first" or "reigning over."  This agrees with verse 7 where Michael is commander of the angels re1207. (Also 1pe0321f)
   Next let's look at a verse describing the archangel. "For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout [command], with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:" (1 Thess. 4:16)
   So the archangel, whom we saw in Jude as also Michael, calls the dead to life. Only one person has been given that authority. "Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live. For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself; And hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man. Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation." (Matt. 5:25-29)
   "Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:" (John 11:25)
   "I [Jesus] am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell [the grave] and of death." (Rev. 1:18)

   In other words, only Jesus Christ will call the dead, so he is the archangel in 1st Thessalonians 4:16, 17 and He is Michael who calls Moses to life in Jude. And He is Michael who, with His angels, cast Satan out of heaven! Compare Song 5:10 which harmonizes with our seeing Him as head of the angels.
   In Joshua 5:15, Christ identifies Himself as the captain of the Lord's host. He was the captain of the angels of heaven. They are the Lord's army (Rev. 19:14). Furthermore, He would not have accepted Joshua's worship if He had been an ordinary angel (see Joshua 5). Thus again He is the archangel, Michael.

But angels are created. How is Christ an angel?
   Without considering the explanation above, this is a logical argument. Christ was with the Father from the beginning (John 1:1). He is the Creator, with the Father, not the created. Beyond these concepts, which God has revealed, we have not been told and could not understand correctly. Speculation is not only fruitless because we must guess but it is not for us to indulge in. "The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law." (Deut. 29:29). We do know the simple concepts we have just discussed and can accept them.
   Christ is a human because He took on humanity to save us. This does not prevent Him from also being divine. We do not know very much about His relation to the angels, but He was one with them and he was their commander. We cannot rule out the possibility that He also took their nature as He has ours. Lucifer wanted Christ's job as he tried to work his way up to higher positions in the government of the universe (Isa. 14:13).
   The word for angel in Greek and Hebrew also means messenger. So Christ, the messenger of the covenant in Mal. 3, is also the angel of the covenant. We see Him as an angel in Rev. 10:1, too, but that's beyond the scope of our study.
   See a summary explanation of Michael on another page.


Sidelight on death and the resurrection

First here is the verse we are discussing:
   "Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil, he disputed about the body of Moses, durst [dared] not bring against him a railing [slanderous] accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee." (Jude 9)

   Why would Michael dispute with the devil over the body of Moses? Satan doesn't want anyone resurrected. How he must have trembled when our Lord arose from the tomb! The Jewish leaders who sent Jesus to the cross were clearly inspired by Satan. Their idea of sealing the tomb (Matt. 27:64) was likewise inspired by him. He claimed victory and wanted it secure. Their excuse that the disciples, who were hiding from them, might steal the body is hardly convincing. (John 20:19).
   Many who read these lines assume that the inner person escapes the body at death and goes, in spirit form, to heaven or hell. Although we find no support for this idea in Scripture 1411g, I respect those who have not understood. Seeing the faithful ones sleeping in their graves and not going to heaven before we all do helps us realize that Christ was asserting authority over His sleeping saints which Satan naturally opposes he1139. This authority would be confirmed by Christ at Calvary and by breaking the seals as the worthy Lamb 0501.

Connection with the story of Moses
   Jude tells us that Michael the archangel, whom we recognized above as Christ 1207b, contended with the devil over the body of Moses. We also know that Christ was the Lord of the Exodus. He identified Himself to the Jews as the I AM that was before Abraham (John 8:58). We can see that they understood this as His claim to divinity because they were ready to stone Him. This claim would have, in their minds, justified stoning because they did not accept His divine mission. (See Matt. 26:63-65)
   At the burning bush, He had told Moses, "I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you." (Ex. 3:14). This same I AM later gave them the commandments. "And God spake all these words, saying, I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage." (Ex. 20:1, 2).
   At the end of his term of service 1402a, Moses went to "the mountain of Nebo, to the top of Pisgah" across the Jordan Valley from Jericho. There the Lord showed him the promised land. "So Moses the servant of the LORD died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the LORD. And he buried him in a valley in the land of Moab, over against Bethpeor: but no man knoweth of his sepulchre unto this day." (Deut. 34:1-6)
   Connecting this with what we learned from Jude, we see that the same Lord who buried him raised him to life again and took him to heaven. Thus we find Moses with Elijah in the transfiguration (Mark 9:1-7). Satan would keep his victims eternally in the grave if he could. Praise God for the One who is our life-giver, too. Moses' resurrection was based on the coming victory on the cross (Rev. 1:18).

A challenge to the popular theory
   If Moses' spirit had gone to heaven at death and would get reconnected with his body at the resurrection, Michael would have had no special interest in his body at an earlier time. Or even if He were doing something to make sure the later connection would take place, why was Moses the one involved? The matter should have been settled with Abel or Adam.
   Still supposing that a conscious part of good people goes to heaven at death, we must ask why Michael would not have been interested in Moses' "spirit." If the devil were going to block the process after death, he would have opposed the spirit's going to heaven, not what happened to the body. The simple fact is that the the popular idea is contrary to what God has told us in His Word 1411g. Death is an unconscious "sleep."
   For more on the topic of death click the image (© Corel):

   Because Christ was raised, we may have that hope, too. At His return, those who have committed their lives to Him and have passed to their rest in the grave "shall all be made alive."



   "And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven." (Rev. 12:7, 8)

   Now that we understand Michael a little better, we notice that the dragon "prevailed not." He and his followers didn't succeed in overthrowing the kingdom of heaven (Praise God). Notice that "their place" was no longer in heaven. It became this earth Rev. 2:4a. But their place is here only temporarily. The time is short as we will see. Jesus described their final new home. "Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:" (Matt. 25:41)
   But on a cheerful note, where is our place?  See Eph. 1:3-5. Of course it's our place if we choose it and accept God's work of preparing us for it. Rev. 13:8c

   Next we will see something interesting about the dragon.

Chapter 12 home
Revelation home
Commentary home