What did Jesus mean when He said, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven”?Question: "What did Jesus mean when He said, ‘I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven’?"
Answer: In Luke 10:18 Jesus says, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.” The context of these words is the return of the 70 (or 72) disciples that Jesus had sent out to evangelize and prepare His way to Jerusalem (see verse 1). When the 70 return and give their report, they are joyful and a little surprised that “even the demons submit to us in your name” (verse 17). Jesus’ first words in reply are, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven” (verse 18).
In referencing Satan’s fall from heaven, Jesus most likely had in mind Isaiah 14:12, “How you have fallen from heaven, morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations!” The fall of Satan that Jesus saw happened after Lucifer’s sin, before Adam and Eve’s temptation in the Garden of Eden. In his pride, Lucifer had lifted himself up, but God had cast him down out of his original place in heaven (although he retains a limited access to heaven for now, according to Job 1:6). Jesus’ statement in Luke 10:18 speaks of Jesus’ pre-existence and the Lord’s defeat over the power of Satan in a general sense.
When Jesus’ disciples came back to report their joy over their authority over demons, Jesus, in so many words, tells them they should not have been surprised. Satan is a fallen foe and has always been subject to the authority of the Son of God. Jesus had sent the 70 out in His authority, which extends over the demonic realm. Satan’s fall “like lightning” indicates that his judgment in heaven was swift and obvious. Not only did Jesus give the 70 authority over devils, but He also enabled them “to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy” (Luke 10:19).
As the 70 are celebrating that the demons were subject to them in Jesus’ name, in Luke 10:17, Jesus redirects their excitement by pointing to an even bigger blessing: their salvation! Jesus says, “However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven” (verse 20). Casting out demons has a temporal, limited benefit in this world, but having your name written in heaven is an eternal, unlimited blessing!
Revelation 12:9 refers to another time in which Satan is cast out of heaven: “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.” We believe this happens during the future tribulation period when Satan is barred access to heaven once and for all.
At the end of the Great Tribulation, Jesus will return, overthrow the kingdom Satan was attempting to set up, and bind the devil for 1,000 years (Revelation 20:1–3). At the end of 1,000 years, Satan will be released for one final battle, but he is defeated again and thrown into the lake of fire for eternity (Revelation 20:7–10).
Jesus has power over Satan and power to save us. Still today, believers face a spiritual battle against forces of evil (Ephesians 6:12). With God’s Spirit, we do not need to fear Satan or evil spirits; rather, we depend on the Lord’s strength for victory in our spiritual struggles and trust that God will preserve us for heaven’s inheritance. “The one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world” (1 John 4:4).
Recommended Resource: Angels: Elect & Evil by C. Fred Dickason
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What did Jesus mean when He said, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven”?