12:10 ACCUSER OF THE BRETHREN
“And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, ‘Now have come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ; for the accuser of our brethren has been cast down, who accused them before our God day and night, ” (Revelation 12:10).
Revelation 12:10 shows that one of Satan’s chief activities is that of accusing “the brethren,” the followersof God. We see this activity manifested in the story of Job—in the heavenly council he accuses, “Does Job fear God for nothing? Have You not made a hedge around him?...You have blessed the work of his hands…but now stretch out Your hand and touch all that he has, and he will surely curse You to your face!” (Job 1:9-11). In Zechariah 3 we also have a chance to look behind the scenes. “Joshua the high priest” who was one of the leaders in the re-establishment of the temple worship after the Babylonian captivity, is pictured “standing before the Angel of the Lord,” apparently in the judgment, with “Satan standing at his right hand to oppose him.” (v.1) Satan was able to point to the inconsistencies and impure motives even in Joshua’s service to God—“Joshua was clothed with filthy garments”( v.3).
What does Satan have to gain in his accusations against the people of God? It is possible that these accusations are part of his strategy to prolong his own survival. Satan is well aware of the character of God and seeks to play two of God’s primary characteristics, His justice and His mercy, against one another. “Righteousness and Justice are the foundation of Your throne” (Psalms 89:14). The justice of God demands the destruction of the wicked: “The unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Corinthians 6:9). “All the wicked He will destroy” (Psalm 145:20). Satan, as the instigator and leader of the “spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12) would be first on the list for destruction. All who pursue wickedness invite wrath and destruction, but Satan, unlike many who sin in ignorance, is fully aware of God’s decree that “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). For this reason he tries to capitalize on another of God’s chief attributes: His mercy.
“Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne: Mercy and truth go before Your face” (Psalm 89:14). As basic as justice is, mercy is closer to God’s mind and heart. With his accusations Satan seeks to prove that all are guilty, just as he is. Satan knows very well God’s great heart of love, and so he tries to prove that there is no real difference between those who call themselves God’s people and himself. If God in His great mercy forgives anyone and allows them to live, he argues, then he will have to allow Satan to live as well.
Along with arguments such as these, Satan offered the irrefutable proof of his accusations that “there is none righteous, no not one…They have all turned aside... There is none who does good, no, not one” (Romans 3:10-12). But God met Satan’s challenge in Jesus. He became a man, taking upon Himself human nature: “Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same.” He led a perfect life, being “in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin”, and then died for us “that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil” (Hebrews 2:14, 4:15).“He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows…and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:4-6).
The good news of the gospel is that through Jesus and His sacrifice God can be both “just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus” (Romans 3:26). When we believe in Him, His perfect obedience is credited to our account as if it was our own righteousness (Romans 4:1-12). His death is credited to us as if it was our own death for our sins (Romans 5:6-8). This is where Satan’s accusations fail: eternal life is a provision for those who believe that they are guilty sinners and that Jesus took their place on the Cross. Satan does not believe this; he continues to believe that God is wrong and he is right. But Michael (Jesus) said to Satan, “The Lord rebuke you!” (Jude 9), and Satan, having been cast out, can no longer appear in Heaven to accuse us. Now we who believe and trust in Jesus can have the courage to “come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).
 In the book of Haggai, Zerubbabel and Joshua were instrumental in encouraging that which Satan hates the most: the sanctuary service, which points to the sacrifice and priestly ministry of Jesus.
 2 Corinthians 5:10 tells us that “we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ”. However, from these passages in Job and Zechariah we see that we may be unaware that we are being judged.
 In Isaiah 64:6 filthy garments (rags) are a symbol of our own attempts to be righteous: “all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags.” This contrasts with the righteousness of Christ which covers our uncleanness: “God has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness” (Isaiah 61:10). After the angel rebukes Satan, He commands, “Take away the filthy garments from him…see, I have removed your iniquity from you, and I will clothe you with rich robes” (Zechariah 3:4). This is a beautiful picture of the righteousness God credits to our account when we believe in Jesus and allow God “to give repentance to [us] and forgiveness of sins” (Acts 5:31).
 In the earthly sanctuary, the throne of God, the “Mercy seat”, sat upon the “foundation” of the ark of the covenant, which contained the Ten Commandments (Exodus 25:10-22, Hebrews 9:4,5).
 “The expectation of the wicked is wrath…so he who pursues evil pursues it to his own death…Though they join forces, the wicked will not go unpunished” (Proverbs 11:19-23).
 When God declared His name to Moses, He emphasized first His mercy and then His justice: “The Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering and abounding in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilt” (Exodus 34:6,7).
 A poignant example of God’s mercy is found in God’s treatment of Ephraim in the book of Hosea. God repeatedly points out Ephraim’s sin. “Ephraim is joined to his idols” “For now, O Ephraim, you commit harlotry” “Ephraim has mixed himself among the peoples…they do not return to the Lord their God nor seek Him” “Because Ephraim has made many altars for sin, they have become for him altars for sinning.” (Hosea 4:17, 5:3, 4,11, 6:4, 7:8,9, 8:11). Yet despite all of Ephraim’s sin, God at an emotional level could not bring Himself to give them up. “I taught Ephraim to walk, taking them by their arms; but they did not know that I healed them. I drew them with gentle cords, with bands of love. How can I give you up, Ephraim?…My heart churns within Me; My sympathy is stirred. I will not execute the fierceness of My anger; I will not again destroy Ephraim. For I am God and not man” (Hosea 11:3,4,8,9).