Answer: I think we’ll get more details to this critical story when we get to heaven. For now we have a few verses of Scripture that put together basic elements of the story. Let’s look at them.
In Revelation 12:7-9 we can read about a war: “There was war in heaven. Michael and the angels under his command fought the dragon and his angels. And the dragon lost the battle and was forced out of heaven. This great dragon—the ancient serpent called the Devil, or Satan, the one deceiving the whole world—was thrown down to the earth with all his angels” (NLT).*
So God did throw Satan down to the earth as a result of war in heaven. But the reasons for the war aren’t given here.
In Genesis 3:1-24 you can read about one of Satan’s initial activities on earth. It’s a story that we sometimes refer to as “the Fall.” It begins with Satan appearing to Eve as a wise serpent, which may be difficult for us to imagine, since we’ve seen serpents only after God cursed them (see Genesis 3:14). We find out that Satan, the serpent, is a liar. When Jesus lived on earth, He confirmed this fact—He called Satan “the father of lies” (see John 8:44).
God pronounced a curse and a promise after the Fall. Genesis 3:15 says: “From now on, you and the woman will be enemies, and your offspring and her offspring will be enemies. He will crush your head, and you will strike his heel” (NLT).
The battle that took place in heaven has been repeated on earth through the ages following Adam and Eve’s choice to believe Satan, the serpent. The end result is injury to God and His people (heel being struck) but a deathblow to Satan and his followers (head being crushed).
For reasons that caused the war in heaven, two passages many turn to are in Ezekiel and Isaiah. Ezekiel 28:12-17 reads: "Son of man, weep for the king of Tyre. Give him this message from the Sovereign Lord: You were the perfection of wisdom and beauty. You were in Eden, the garden of God. Your clothing was adorned with every precious stone—red carnelian, chrysolite, white moonstone, beryl, onyx, jasper, sapphire, turquoise, and emerald—all beautifully crafted for you and set in the finest gold. They were given to you on the day you were created. I ordained and anointed you as the mighty angelic guardian. You had access to the holy mountain of God and walked among the stones of fire. You were blameless in all you did from the day you were created until the day evil was found in you. Your great wealth filled you with violence, and you sinned. So I banished you from the mountain of God. I expelled you, O mighty guardian, from your place among the stones of fire. Your heart was filled with pride because of all your beauty. You corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor. So I threw you to the earth and exposed you to the curious gaze of kings” (NLT).
While the context of this passage is actually a description about the king of Tyre, some of the elements can’t be about that king, such as being in the Garden of Eden. Since the king of Tyre receives judgment from God for his ungodly actions, it’s easy to see that the power behind the king of Tyre is actually Satan.
People also point to Isaiah 14:12-14 as a passage having to do with Satan and his fall, even though the context is aimed at the king of Babylon. The ego-centrism that God points out in these verses is definitely rooted in Satan.
If you were also wondering about the possibility that if Satan wasn’t on the earth, maybe Adam and Eve wouldn’t have sinned, well, I haven’t come across anything in the Bible that addresses that. However, you can find some terrific details that will help to answer your questions in the book Patriarchs and Prophets by Ellen White. The first chapter is called “Why Was Sin Permitted?” In it you’ll find some really good background details about this entire story. The second chapter is about “The Creation,” followed by the next chapters, “The Temptation and Fall” and “The Plan of Redemption.” I strongly recommend that you read these chapters.
This story could be rather depressing if it weren’t for the reality that Satan wasn’t the only one who came to earth. Jesus did, too. And Jesus continues to be present on earth through the Holy Spirit. Even though we don’t have a choice about whether or not we’re on this earth, as long as I’m here, I choose to be on God’s side, not Satan’s. How about you?
*Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.