“And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name. And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven. Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you. Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven.” (Luke 10:17-20)
Please bear in mind that all of this was done and said in connection with the disciples of Christ and their work. Therefore this could not refer to the devil being cast out of the eternal heaven where God dwells, because the devil did not just at this time show up in the earth. He showed up in the Garden of Eden in the form of the serpent (Genesis 3). He came along in Job’s time (Job 1:7; 2:2). He was operating all along ever since Adam and Eve’s time.
These disciples of the Lord had been out on a mission for Him, and they had been able through His Name to cast devils out of the hearts of people who were possessed with them. It is in this connection that Jesus made this statement. Satan had taken a very exalted place and had dared to intrude into the hearts of men which had been made for God only. Through the power of Christ and His gospel he was defeated and dethroned and cast out of his exalted place in human hearts and cast down from the high esteem in which he had been held by those whom he had deceived and possessed.
“Heaven” is a term which may be and often is used to denote an exalted position or high place, as well as to denote the habitation of God and the eternal dwelling place of the saints. Take, for instance, the statement of Jesus only a couple verses previous to the passage above, where He said, “And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted to heaven,” (Luke 10:15) etc. We know that the city of Capernaum never physically got up to heaven, but Jesus referred to their pride and being lifted up in heart and mind and pronounced judgment upon them for it.
The Bible also refers to “the third heaven.” This was an experience related by the apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:1-4. In verse 2 he refers to one being “caught up to the third heaven.” Then in verse 4 he says “he was caught up to paradise.” This identifies the third heaven with paradise. Yet paradise is not the place of God’s abode, as we shall see. Jesus said to the penitent thief who was crucified with Him, “To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:43) So we know Jesus went into paradise on the day of His death. But after His resurrection the third day following, He said to Mary, “Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father.” (John 20:17) He had been to paradise, but He had not been to His Father at that time.
Now the Bible speaks explicitly of at least three “heavens”:
- There is the aerial heaven that surrounds this earth in which are the clouds as well as the sun, moon, and stars, etc. This is what is referred to in Genesis 1:1: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.”
- Then there is the ecclesiastical or spiritual heaven referred to in Ephesians 2:6: “And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” There are several other references in the Scriptures to these spiritual or church heavens.
- The third heaven or paradise is referred to in 2 Corinthians 12:1-4, as mentioned above.
In light of these, the eternal heaven which is the abode of God must be yet another. To understand this properly furnishes us the key to the proper interpretation to many Scriptures which would be very confusing in connection with other Scriptures, if we think that every time the term “heaven” is used in the Bible, it refers only to the abode of God.