What Angels Saw at the Cross
Revelation 12:10-12 says, “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. 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.
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.‘” From this I gather the heavenly beings were able to cast out Satan by what they saw at the cross of Calvary. My question to you is “What did they see at the cross that made them once and for all times cast Satan out of their heart and minds. And does mankind need to see the same thing so they too can cast the devil out too? Is the casting out of the devil what is needed so that Christ can restore us to His image?
Great questions, thanks!
The unfallen angels in heaven stood in relationship to Satan in a different position than that of sinful humankind. Angelic beings in heaven had experienced Satan before his apostasy and it is likely that many of them had memories, emotions and even affection for the once great light bearer and covering cherub. Many of these beings knew Satan personally and had developed a level of trust for him. We can surmise that those with the greatest confidence followed him in his rebellion and were cast out with him (Rev 12:9). But, even those who chose loyalty to God had questions that needed answers, and still retained levels of respect and perhaps love for Lucifer, until the cross where he stood exposed. It was at the cross that all affection for Satan was finally severed from the intelligences in heaven.
Jesus referenced the drawing power of the cross when he said, “When I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to me.” (Jn 12:32) Some translations use the word “men” as in, “I will draw all men” but the Greek does not contain the word men. Thus a translation that says, “I will draw all” or “I will draw everyone” is more accurate, as Jesus was not only drawing fallen human beings to him but also solidifying the loyalty of the unfallen beings in the universe.
Paul confirms this when he says, “For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.” (Col 1:19,20) Notice that things in heaven were reconciled to Christ at the cross. Not in the sense that they were sinful needing to be cleansed, but in the sense that they had doubts, questions, uncertainties that needed to be addressed and resolved. This Christ did.
So what did the angels see and understand at the cross that led to the casting out of Satan from their affections and the solidification of their hearts to Christ?
At the cross of Christ the two antagonistic principles stood face to face. God’s character and methods of selfless love stood opposed to Satan’s character and methods of selfishness. Use your imagination and contrast the two sides – Jesus in humble, loving, dignity, self-composure, calm grace and gentle forgiveness, looking upon the mob with compassion, longing for their healing. Though all-powerful, Jesus didn’t even have a thought to injure them. He demonstrated that though possessing all power he would rather allow his creatures to kill him than use his power to protect himself or injure them.
By sharp contrast, the mob, incited and inflamed by satanic agencies, lost self-control, and was wild, abusive, deceitful, destructive, hateful, slanderous, murderous, vile, animalistic, and grotesque. Before the entire universe the evidence of God’s character, methods and principles stood in contrast to Satan’s character, methods and principles. Satan stood exposed for all to see – a liar and fraud.
Mankind was created in the image of God to reveal God’s true nature. In the humanity of Christ, God stood in his true character of love, as Jesus, God in human flesh, revealed him, “I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do…I have revealed you.” (Jn 17:4,6) What do God’s methods result in – look to Jesus and you will see what humankind becomes when filled with God’s presence. Then turn to the mob and see what Satan’s methods result in – humanity debased, devoid of love, bereft of compassion, hardened of heart, and denuded of goodness, stripped down to the vile, grotesque, and evil likeness of Satan.
At the cross, the kingdom of love faced down and overcame the kingdom of selfishness. Every question was answered, and a healing remedy for humankind was achieved. In summary, what Christ achieved at the cross:
- Revealed the truth about the nature of the Father and himself
- Exposed Satan as a liar and fraud
- Revealed what humanity is designed by God to be
- Christ’s victory in humanity proved that there was no “manufacturer’s defect” in Adam, i.e. Adam’s fall was not because God created Adam defectively
- Revealed what humanity becomes when severed from God and God’s methods
- Revealed what obedience to the “rules” results in when the heart is not renewed in love (they wanted Christ down by sunset to keep the Sabbath rules)
- Revealed that power does not corrupt God and thus God is safe with all power
- Revealed that God and Christ are truly selfless
- Revealed that God does not execute and kill the sinner, but sin severs from God (the source of life) and results in death.
- By the exercise of his human brain Christ overcame the temptation to “save self” and restored God’s “law of love” into the human species. In Christ, humanity became what God originally designed it, in Adam, to be.
- Christ developed a perfect human nature/character and offers this perfection to all who will accept it. “once he was made perfect he became the source of salvation for all who obey him. (Heb 5:8) Christ thus becomes the remedy for us. As we see the truth, we surrender in trust and the Holy Spirit takes what Christ achieved and reproduces it in us. (Jn 16:14) Thus we become partakers of the divine nature and it is no longer “I” but Christ lives in us. (2Pet 1:4, Gal 2:20) He actually writes his law of love, his character of love, upon our hearts and minds. (Heb 8:10, 10:16) This is how we are reconciled to God. All through the achievements of Christ!