In the beginning, God created a vast family in the universe. That family existed in the context of perfect love, freedom and peace. There was peace because all the members of God’s vast family trusted each other, and all of them trusted their heavenly Father. The Father in turn could safely trust in them. In the context of mutual trust and trustworthiness, there is perfect freedom. Perfect peace. Perfect security.
But the Bible speaks of a war that began at the very center of God’s family, a crisis of distrust. Sin in its essence is a breach, a breakdown of trust. And thus sin entered our universe for the first time. The story begins with the most brilliant of all God’s creatures, the one who went forth from the presence of God bearing light and truth to his fellow angels. But moved by jealousy and pride, this brilliant, most trusted, even revered angel, set out to undermine trust in God by circulating misinformation and lies about our heavenly Father. And thus he became, not a bearer of light and a teacher of truth, but a bearer of lies. He charged that God did not respect the freedom of His children; that He was arbitrary, exacting, vengeful, unforgiving, and severe. With carefully chosen words Satan hoped to turn his fellow angels away from God, and win them to worship him instead.
God bore long and patiently as He watched this insurrection developing in His family. He watched until one-third of His brilliant, intelligent angels agreed with Satan that God was not worthy of their trust. It was at this point that “war broke out in Heaven” (Rev 12:7-8). Satan and his angels were expelled from heaven, but the war in the universe continued. He wasted no time passing his lies on to our first parents in the garden, thus involving us in the conflict as well. So whether we want to be or not, all of us are now caught up in the consequences of this war. Everyone in the universe is unavoidably involved. And the future of God’s family, to which we all belong, depends upon the outcome of this war.
Through the book of Revelation you see that God has already won this war, and the angels in heaven all agree with Him. This is the good news. Revelation also invites us to join in the celebration; and then to go out to the world and invite all who are willing to listen, to join in God’s victory in the war. When Christians discover this larger view of things, they don’t need to be on the defensive all the time; they have good news to tell. God and those who are on His side will win in the end. God is waiting until the truth about Him, the good news about His character and government, has been spread all over the world. The highest privilege of God’s friends on this planet today is to understand and to present the plan of salvation in the larger setting of the great controversy.
How God wages this war, how He refutes Satan’s lies, and what He asks of us are all issues to be addressed in the chapter summaries to come.