Revelation 12: 7-12
7Then war broke out in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. 8 But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. 9 The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.10 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 Messiah. For the accuser of our brothers and sisters, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down. 11 They triumphed over him 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. 12 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.”
“Our loss, heaven’s gain,” is frankly a phrase that irritates me. It’s one of those trite statements people make in the face of tragedy, suffering and loss. One of the most irritating things I ever witnessed was after a child was killed in a hunting accident. The caregiver who was trying to comfort the grief-stricken parents said “God must have needed another angel up in heaven.” I was incensed for the parents. I thought that we needed that child on earth much more than God did in heaven. In the wake of the Sandy Hook school shooting these phrases seem a little inadequate.
Having said that, Revelation 12 outlines for us the origin of this phrase. In dazzling poetic language, John describes the war in heaven by which Michael and his angels fought against the dragon and prevailed so that Satan was kicked out of heaven and cast down to the earth. That was truly earth’s loss and heaven’s gain.
As I reflect on this passage, I am glad that this war happened even if we have to deal with Satan on earth. Much deeper than the issues of gun control and mental health issues which are legitimate issues to discuss, is that fact that we leave in enemy occupied territory. There is a real Satan that is on the loose who seeks to devour us. Thankfully, that is not the end of the story. God has also invaded earth in the person of Jesus Christ and we have access to God and to the army of angels who originally defeated Satan.
The good news is that we only have to deal with him temporarily. Heaven is the place that needs to be free of Satan because this short struggle on earth pales in comparison to an eternity that is free of Satan and free of evil. Imagine dying and going to a war-torn heaven. Because Satan has been defeated we look forward to an eternity where tragedy and evil will never reign again. Therefore, our loss when Satan was unleashed on our planet was also our gain. Satan is relegated to the realm of temporariness while God reigns for all eternity.