Rev. 12:12 – Therefore rejoice, O heavens, and you who dwell in them! Woe to the earth and the sea, for the Devil has come down to you with great fury, because he knows he has a short time. (HCSB)
Rejoice, O heavens … woe to the earth and the sea
As a result of Satan’s expulsion from heaven and the victory won by the blood of the Lamb and the word of the saints’ testimony, the voice in heaven declares, “Therefore rejoice, you heavens, and you who dwell in them! Woe to the earth and the sea, for the Devil has come down to you with great fury, because he knows he has a short time” (v. 11).
There is rejoicing in heaven when a sinner repents, being transported by faith out of Satan’s kingdom of darkness into Christ’s kingdom of light (Luke 15:7). There is rejoicing on earth when Jesus casts out demons; when He rides triumphantly into Jerusalem; and when He rises from the dead, being declared the Son of God with power and defeating the Devil and his works. And there is rejoicing in “the heavens” – the sky, the stellar heavens, the unseen spiritual realm – when Satan is banished and his span of influence is severely restricted. The angels, the redeemed – even creation itself – exults in this epic event with everlasting benefits. There is rejoicing everywhere the glory of God dispels the darkness of Satan.
But in this passage there also is woe, because Satan has not yet been banished to the abyss for a time, or to hell for eternity. For a short time, Satan and his demons are confined to earth, and knowing his time is short, he rules his fleeting kingdom with great fury. It’s interesting to look ahead one verse, where the dragon sees that he has been thrown to earth. It’s as if he cannot believe his lot. Once an anointed cherub, once a mighty, beautiful, intelligent servant of God, with the universe at his disposal, he now finds himself confined to the “earth and the sea,” and he is not happy about it.
Rev. 12:9 – So the great dragon was thrown out – the ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, the one who deceives the whole world. He was thrown to earth, and his angels with him. (HCSB)
The great dragon was thrown out
The battle ends and John records that “there was no place for them [Satan and his angels] in heaven any longer. So the great dragon was thrown out – the ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, the one who deceives the whole world. He was thrown to earth, and his angels with him” (vv. 8-9).
John makes it clear that the dragon is a sign, or symbol, of Satan. The apostle is not given to myths and legends but uses the imagery of a vile, dangerous, and wicked beast to describe the one who once was “an anointed guardian cherub” (Eze. 28:14) and who appears to people as an “angel of light” (2 Cor. 11:14). John rips away the Devil’s mask and exposes him for who he is: