Have you ever thought about how our redemption relates to the angelic world? Have you ever thought about the cosmic implications of the cross of Christ? I confess that, for a long time, I barely gave the reality of angels a second thought, let alone consider how they might fit into God’s great plan of redemption for man. But I have come to believe, and will argue here, that there is more to the redemption story than just our own redemption. Our salvation is a glorious part of this story, but it is not the whole story. The reality is that Christ’s work on the cross has affected the whole angelic world as well. Thus, the redemption story is not just about us. It goes beyond us to include the triumph of God’s kingdom over the kingdom of Satan here on earth, with the wisdom, power, grace, and glory of God being put on display to the angels in heaven. In fact, the following Scriptures that I will present will show that, in some way, our redemption required an overthrow of Satan and his dominions. Or, to say it another way, the defeat of Satan and the redemption of man were not mutually exclusive events but were rather necessarily tied together. Satan had to be defeated for us to be saved. And beyond this, our redemption is not an end in itself, but also the means by which God puts His manifold wisdom and power on display to the whole angelic world. The result is that we are saved and God is glorified in all His creation, particularly by the angels. The following Scriptures seem to support these themes.
Genesis 3:15. In this early verse of Scripture, we read what is commonly referred to as the “proto-evangelium,” or the “first gospel.” It’s named such because this is the first place in Scripture where the Messiah is prophesied to come. What makes this a clue to our thesis is that this first mention of a Redeemer for man includes a word of judgment for the serpent. (In fact, the promise of a Redeemer comes in the very context of judgment on the serpent.) Thus, our redemption is tied closely together with the crushing of the serpent. From the very beginning, we are told that the cross will spell the end of the dominion of Satan and his dominion.
Job 1-2. What I find fascinating about the story of Job, chapters 1-2 in particular, is that all that happens to Job in the earthly realm results from a dialogue between God and Satan in the heavenly realm, completely unbeknownst to Job. Satan comes into God’s presence, and God offers up Job to Satan, almost as a challenge. The challenge seems to be, can Satan get God’s servant to curse God? So, Satan kills his family, takes away all that he owns, and inflicts Job with a painful illness, but God’s servant Job never curses God. In the end, God blesses him with twice as much as he had before. So, there are three main, general characters in this story: God, angelic beings, and men. The clash in heaven between Almighty God and the demonic angel Satan is played out on earth in the life of Job, with God being vindicated, Satan being defeated, and man being blessed.
Matthew 25:41. What I see significant in this verse is the fact “the eternal fire” is not prepared primarily for sinful man, but is “prepared for the devil and his angels.” Certainly, those who forsake God and reject Christ will be cast into the eternal fire as well (the text clearly states this), but Hell is prepared first and foremost for the cosmic rebel (and his angels )who deceived man, initiated his fall, and continues to blind his eyes and hold him captive in this world. When God prepared the eternal fire, he prepared it for the devil and his angels.
Mark 1:23-25. The clash between Jesus and an “unclean spirit” is another hint at the cosmic struggle between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of Satan. With the coming of Christ, we see the beginning of the overthrow of Satan’s dominion on earth as Jesus exercises His authority and casts out demons. We also get a taste of what the kingdom will be like in its fullness at the consummation of the ages. It will be a kingdom devoid of demons and their influence where Christ will reign and rule as King.
Mark 3:27. Before one can plunder the strong man’s house, one must first bind the strong man. This seems to be precisely what Jesus does to Satan in His incarnational ministry. First, he disarms him. Then, he plunders his kingdom by redeeming and rescuing those He came to save, those who were previously lost and held captive in the “domain of darkness.”
Colossians 2:15. The cross of Christ was not only the place of forgiveness for man with the payment of a debt; it was also the place of victory over “the rulers and authorities” in the heavenly places. In fact, the former seems to have led to the latter. By paying our debt at the cross, Christ “disarmed” and “triumphed over” the demonic rulers and authorities which never ceased to harass and accuse us before God. The cross thus had a heavenly element of victory in it.
Ephesians 2:7; 3:10. These two texts are most telling. In the first, we see the purpose of God’s grace toward us, and in the second, we see the purpose of God’s wisdom in His Church. Both seem to involve a display or exhibit for the angels (and demons?) in the heavenly places. In 2:7, God puts His grace on display. We, the objects of His mercy, become like trophies in a trophy case, living examples of His great love and mercy, testifying throughout the ages to the angels who worship Him. The angels look on in wonder. And in 3:10, God uses the church as an instrument to make known His manifold wisdom “to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.” So, God purposes to use reconciled men on earth to exhibit His wisdom to angels in heaven. These verses seem to suggest a bigger story than our restored relationship with God alone. The cross of Christ has cosmic implications.
Hebrews 2:14-18. “Through death,” Jesus destroyed “the one who has the power of death, this is, the devil” and delivered those He came to save. So, Jesus overcame death to destroy the devil’s power over us. Our victory came through the devil’s defeat.
1 John 3:8. “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.” Here it is stated plainly. Christ’s purpose was focused on crushing the enemy of both God and man.
Revelation 12:10. Lastly, the kingdom of God seems to come in its fullness when the “accuser of our brothers” is finally thrown out. One kingdom, Christ’s, comes with the destruction of the other, Satan’s.
In sum, Scripture seems to support the idea that our redemption is wrapped up in the devil’s defeat. The cross of Christ has cosmic implications. This should cause us to ponder anew the glory of Christ’s redemption. It not only rescues us and blesses us, but goes beyond us to impact angels and demons in the spiritual world. It spells the end of Satan’s kingdom, and it signals the triumph of the kingdom of God. And it should remind us that we are key players in God’s great story of redemption. It is through God’s church that He has chosen to put His wisdom on display. This reality should make us pause, wonder, and look around us because the reality is that angels are truly watching.