Satan: Accuser of Our Brethren

As I continue my reading (and teaching) journey through the book of Revelation, there’s a question that is often asked about chapter 12. It has to deal with Satan’s relentless and slanderous statements about believers on earth before the throne of God.

Revelation 12:10 reads, “Then I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, he who accuses them before our God day and night.

This accuser is none other than Satan himself. So how is it that he could have access to the throne-room of God? Doesn’t this contract other Scripture? Once again, Dr. Walvoord’s commentary is instructive1:

It may seem strange to some that Satan should have access to the very throne of God. Yet this is precisely the picture of Job 1, where Satan along with other angels presents himself before God and accuses Job of fearing God because of God’s goodness to him. Thus early in biblical revelation, Satan is cast in the role of “the accuser of our brothers,” the title given to him in Revelation 12:10.

51+kCOxCuJL._AC_UL320_SR214,320_.jpgFrom this point in Revelation, therefore, Satan and his hosts are excluded from the third heaven, the presence of God, although their temporary dominion over the second heaven (outer space) and the first heaven (the sky) continues.

Satan’s defeat in heaven, however is the occasion for him to be cast down to earth and explains the particular virulence of the great tribulation time. Note that even as Satan accuses believers before God day and night prior to his being thrown out of heaven, so the four living creatures of 4:8 do not stop day or night to ascribe holiness to the Lord.

This is another place where we must let the words and events of Scripture speak for themselves and taken them at their face value unless compelled to do otherwise. Satan, the deceiver of the whole world (literally, “the inhabited earth”), is now limited in the sphere of his operation. A major step is taken in his ultimate defeat.

Believers in this present dispensation, who are now the objects of Satan’s attack and misrepresentation, can rest assured of the ultimate downfall of Satan and the end of his ability to afflict the people of God.

Walvoord’s reference to Job 1:6 is a necessary one—for we see God’s sovereign suppression of sin as He both permitted and limited Satan’s actions before Him. There is nothing in all of Scripture that would lead us to believe that God was not in control of all the events surrounding Job, or worse—that He had no prior knowledge of them. (This false doctrine is known as open theism.)

Instead, the Bible consistently teaches the highest view of God’s sovereignty (and foreknowledge). God is omniscient and omnipotent. He is holy and just. We must never lose sight of His attributes as taught in His Word, especially as it relates to sin.

Here in Rev 12:10, we see that the ultimate hypocrite is shut down by God; as the evil one will no longer be allowed to falsely appeal to God’s righteousness for the sake of his own unrighteousness.

The following phrase is helpful and has long been attributed to Martin Luther, “Satan is on a leash, whose length is determined by God.” It’s spot-on. God sovereignly regulates and restrains sin in His presence. Whether it is from a fallen angel or man himself (cf. Isa 6). Furthermore, there is a day fast approaching when He will ultimately judge and throw it all (including the accuser) into the “lake of fire” (Rev 20:14).

1 Walvoord, John F. The John Walvoord Prophecy Commentaries: Revelation (Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2011). 196-197.