In Revelation 12 we read about the archangel Michael. “And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon: and the dragon and his angels fought, but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer… Satan, who deceives the whole world, was cast to the earth and his angels were cast out with him” (Revelation 12:8,9).

The Hebrew word “Michael” means “who is like God?”, a question that challenges Satan’s contention “I will be like the most high” (Isaiah 14: 14).  A careful comparison of the other scriptures that mention Michael show that he is none other than Jesus in His role as the One who contends with Satan.

Michael is called “the archangel” in Jude 9, a title which can mean Leader of the angels.  This title is never used in the Bible for any other angel; only church tradition and books that were not included in the Bible have assigned this title  to Gabriel and other angels.

At the Second Coming of Christ “the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God.  And the dead in Christ will rise first” (1 Thessalonians 4:16).  Jesus made it clear that it is His voice that will bring the dead out of their graves (John 5:26-29), thus He is the archangel.

 In Jude 9 “Michael the archangel, in contending with the devil over the body of Moses… said, ‘The Lord rebuke you”.  In a similar dispute recorded in Zechariah 3 (the only other place in the Bible where this phrase is used), “The Lord (Yahweh) said to Satan, ‘The Lord rebuke you Satan!” (Zechariah 3:2). This shows that it is the Lord Himself who rebukes the devil, which shows that Michael the archangel is “the Lord”.

Some have thought it strange that Jesus would be called an angel, but a number of Old Testament texts show that one of God’s titles was “the Angel of the Lord”.  In Exodus 3 God who spoke from the burning bush is first identified as “the angel of the Lord” (v.2), then as God (Elohim, vs. 4, 6, 11, 13, 14, 15, 16, 4:5), and the Lord (Yahweh, vs. 4, 7, 15, 16, 4:2, 4, 6). He also identified Himself as “I AM” (Exodus 3:14), a name Jesus applied to Himself ( John 8:58 [1]).

In Daniel 10-12 Michael is called “One of the chief princes” (10:13), “Your Prince” (10:21) and “The Great Prince that stands for the children of your people” (12:1).  He is depicted as doing battle with the powers of spiritual wickedness and contending with earthly authorities for the benefit of His people (Daniel 10:13, 20,21).  In chapter 8 He is called  “The Prince (Hebrew sars) of the host”.

This exact Hebrew phrase is also found in Joshua 5:14 where a “Man stood opposite him (Joshua)” and said, “as Captain (sars) of the host of the Lord I have come”.  He allowed Joshua to fall on his face and worship Him and told him to “take your sandal off your foot, for the place where you stand is holy” (prerogatives of God only).  The passage continues, “And the Lord (Yahweh) said to Joshua…” (Joshua 6:2).  These verses in Daniel and Joshua show that Michael, “the Prince of the host”, is “the Lord”.  And in fact, it is hard to imagine a lesser being contending over the body of Moses or casting Satan out of heaven.

This is an important point.  The view that Michael is simply one of the powerful angels would mean that the “war in heaven” is an angelic battle, with God curiously absent, “minding His own business” while angelic factions struggle for supremacy.  But a correct view shows that God is intimately and personally involved in the struggles and battles of the Great Controversy, deeply concerned about everything that concerns His people.

Obviously, God vs. Satan is no contest in terms of raw power; God has omnipotence on His side. This shows that it is a battle of ideas, loyalties and affections.  Satan on the one hand can use what God cannot— lies, sophistry, flattery, accusations, threats, and persecution.  God uses love, self-sacrifice and demonstrations of His character.  Ultimately love is victorious.

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<![if !supportFootnotes]> [1]  <![endif]> Compare also Judges 6:11 with vs. 14, 16, 22 and 23, compare Judges 13:3, 9, 15 and 16 with vs. 22 and 23, and compare Acts 8:30-35, 38 with Exodus 19:3,11,19, 20:20-22.