JESUS AND THE WORLD RULER: XI
The Bible states that God made a good world! God made man and woman in “His image” and in “His likeness” (Genesis 1:27, 31). Why then, would God turn and punish or even destroy His own creation? The truth is that God does not impose hardships on the world and in particular, on man. It is Satan the devil, God’s enemy, who does inflict man with diseases and suffering. Satan instigates hostilities among human beings. Satan causes the upheavals in nature (Revelation 12:7-12). Satan, too, uses man to do his devastations by injecting his evil intentions into the human minds (Genesis 3:4-5). Satan deliberately blinds his subjects from seeing their erring ways and their need for correction. It is Satan’s primary objective is to derail the “Redemptive Mission” of Jesus the Lamb of God. The Apostle Paul warned the Corinthians, as well as every other human being, “In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the likeness of God” (II Corinthians 4:4).
The Parable of the Sower is an example how Satan manages to filter the message so that only a fourth of the listeners respond to the preaching of the gospel. Satan closes the hearts of seventy five percent of the people with issues that affect the listeners. The seeders, themselves, are not targeting the right people and ought to pay closer attention to the parable. The wrong people will treat the seed and the sower like pigs do pearls (Matthew 7:6). Jesus, Himself, targeted the lost sheep and the sick (Matthew 15:24; 9:12). Jesus sent his disciples to the lost sheep of Israel. Jesus urged his followers to go after the one they knew was lost (Matthew 10:6; Luke 15:4-5). Both evangelists, Mark 4 and Matthew 13 agree, but Matthew gives it even a larger application:
And he told them any things in parables, saying: “A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they had not much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil, but when the sun rose they were scorched; and since they had no root they withered away. Other seeds fell upon thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. He who has ears, let him hear.”
Then the disciples came and said to him, “Why do you speak to them in parables?” And he answered them, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. For to him who has will more be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who has not, even what he has will be taken away. This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. With them indeed is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah which says: ‘You shall indeed hear but never understand, and you shall indeed see but never perceive. For this people’s heart has grown dull, and their ears are heavy of hearing, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should perceive with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and turn for me to heal them.’ But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear. Truly, I say to you, many prophets and righteous men longed to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.
Hear then the parable of the sower. When any one hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one (Satan) comes and snatches away what is sown in his heart; this is what was sown along the path. As for what was sown along the rocky ground, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has not root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away. As for what is sown among thorns, this is he who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the delight in riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. As for what was sown on the good soil, this is he who hears the word and understands it; he indeed bears fruit, and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty” (Matthew 13:3-23).
The parable concludes that a person can be good and produce good fruit that satisfies God, but never good enough for Satan. Satan is clever and deceptive enough to inject his poison into everything that is good in the sight of God. And Satan makes us feel inadequate and guilty, and not satisfactory to God. In one of the things Satan excels is distorting and changing what we do and even what we say. He simply can not allow the consistency of a Heavenly Kingdom and the Will of God to prevail on earth. Satan’s advocates progressive change to everything that is godly and what God regards as good. The Parable of the Weeds is another example of what Satan does to what is good.
Another parable he put before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field; but while men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. So when the plants came up and bore grain, ten the weeds appeared also. And the servants of the householder came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then has it weeds?’ He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The servants said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ But he said, ‘No; lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them. Let both grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn’” (Matthew 13:24-30).
It broke Jesus’ Heart to watch his disciples being manipulated and being used by Satan to thwart Jesus from doing what was “a must be done for redemption.” Satan used Peter to stop Jesus from speaking about dying for the cause of redeeming man from sin. Specifically, Satan used Judas to betray his Teacher when there was no need for it. No one could derail Jesus, the Son of God, from going where He had to go and doing what He had to do. Peter repented for his mistakes and he was forgiven. Yet, Judas did not seek forgiveness! To Judas, Jesus said, “What you are going to do, do quickly” (John 13:27). While looking at Peter, Jesus said to Satan, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me; for you are not on the side of God, but on the side of men” (Matthew 16:23). To Peter, Jesus directly said:
Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail; and when you have turned again, strengthen your brethren.” And he said to him, “Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death.” He said, “I tell you, Peter, the cock will not crow this day, until you three times deny that you know me” (Luke 22:31-34).
Jesus had sent out seventy preachers and they returned with glowing faces, beaming with success, and boasting in self-glory. Jesus dashed their enthusiasm with a warning, they were not aware of:
The seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to your name!” And he said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I have given you authority to tread upon serpents and scorpion, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing shall hurt you. Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you; but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”
In that same hour he rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, “I thank thee, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to babes; yes, Father, for such was thy gracious will. All things have been delivered to me by my Father; and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, or who the Father is except the Son and any one to whom the Son chooses to reveal him (Luke 10:17-24).
The term or word “Satan” stands for adversary that performs his task as an accuser, a deceiver and a hater. Jesus called him the “Chief” (archon) of the world who could not find any fault with Jesus, so he had to create false accusations with false witnesses (John 14:30; Mark 14:56-59). In the Book of Revelation, Satan is called the dragon and the devil. Satan is being charged with deceiving the whole world and accusing the people of God falsely (Revelation 12:9-10). Satan and his angels chose to inhabit the earth; so Satan and his demons can deceive and plague Adam and Adam’s seed. Satan deceived Adam. Satan made Adam unfit to remain in Eden. And Satan has perpetuated the doctrine of man’s total depravity. This is contrary to Jesus’ view that to God one life is worth more than the whole world (Matthew 16:26). God has never stopped loving man; regardless how successful Satan has been in depicting man as worthless dung, even through the pen of the Apostle Paul (John 3:16; Philippians 3:8).
If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, will he not also give us all things with him? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies; who is to condemn? Is it Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised from the dead, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us? Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, “For thy sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor thing present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:31-39).
Satan failed in stopping Christ from completing “His Redemption of man” from Satan. Nevertheless, Satan has continued to degrade the work of Christ and as kept far too many out of the “Kingdom of God” by accusation and by deception. Satan’s first attempt was to make Jesus one of “Satan’s supreme governors” failed. In Satan’s second attempt, he sent his demon possessed people into meetings where Jesus attended and expose “Jesus as the Son of God,” so the leaders could have him stoned for making Himself equal to God. However Jesus silenced these demons.
And they went into Capernaum; and immediately on the sabbath he entered the synagogue and taught. And they were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes. And immediately there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit; and he cried out, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God.” But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!” And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying with a loud voice, came out of him. And they were all amazed, so that they questioned among themselves, saying, “What is this? A new teaching! With authority he commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.” And at once his fame spread everywhere throughout all the surrounding region of Galilee (Mark 1:21-28).
Again, Satan failed and Jesus became even more popular. In Satan’s third attempt, Satan allowed his followers to accuse Jesus of using Satan’s name to cast out “Satan’s own demons.” Jesus’ own family was led to believe that something was wrong with Jesus’ mind:
Then he went home; and the crowd came together again, so that they could not even eat. And when his friends heard it, they went out to seize him, for they said, “He is beside himself.” And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem said, “He is possessed by Beelzebul, and by the prince of demons he casts out the demons.” And he called them to him, and said to them in parables, “How can Satan cast out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but is coming to an end. But no one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man; then indeed he may plunder his house.
Truly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever blasphemies they utter; but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin”—for they had said, “He has an unclean spirit.” And his mother and his brothers came, and standing outside they sent to him and called him. And a crowd was sitting about him; and they said to him, “Your mother and your brothers are outside, asking for you.” And he replied, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” And looking around on those who sat about him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers!” Whoever does the will of God is my brother, and sister, and mother” (Mark 3:19b-30).
Satan had a fourth attempt to deter and frighten Jesus into giving up “His Mission” to set man free from his world of sin. To intimidate Jesus, Satan sent a legion or an army against Jesus. Jesus had no problem converting these legions. Jesus turned to the man, with an army of a legion of demons, into the “first missionary” to his people. All Jesus did, was Jesus set this man free from the demons. And in the process of freeing this man, Jesus proved that no number of demons can take a man’s life or a man’s soul from Jesus the Christ:
They came to the other side of the sea, to the country of the Gerasenes. And when he had come out of the boat, there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit, who lived among the tombs; and no one could bind him any more, even with a chain; for he had often been bound with fetters and chains, but the chains he wrenched apart, and the fetters he broke in pieces; and no one had the strength to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains he was always crying out, and bruising himself with stones. And when he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and worshiped him; and crying out with a loud voice, he said, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I adjure you by God, do not torment me.” For he had said to him, “Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!” And Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” He replied, “My name is Legion; for we are many.” And he begged him eagerly not to send them out of the country. Now a great herd of swine was feeding there on the hillside; and they begged him, “Send us to the swine, let us enter them.” So he gave them leave. And the unclean spirits came out, and entered the swine; and the herd, numbering about two thousand, rushed down the steep bank into the sea, and were drowned in the sea.
The herdsmen fled, and told it in the city and in the country. And people came to see what it was that had happened. And they came to Jesus, and saw the demoniac sitting there, clothed and in his right mind, the man who had had the legion; and they were afraid. And those who had seen it told what had happened to the demoniac and to the swine. And they began to beg Jesus to depart from their neighborhood. And as he was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed with demons begged him that he might be with him. But he refused, and said to him, “Go home to your friends, and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” And he went away and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him; and all men marveled (Mark 5:1-20).
In addition to impairing man with physical handicaps, like hurting a woman for eighteen years and plaguing Paul with a thorn in his flesh (Luke 13:10-17; II Corinthians 12:7), Satan has world leaders convinced they are serving God. The leaders in Jesus’ day, proved by their deeds, whom they followed and that has been Satan’s clever deception:
Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I proceeded and came from God; I came not of my own accord, but he sent me. Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks according to his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies. But, because I tell the truth, you do not believe me. Which of you convicts me of sin? If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me? He who is of God hears the words of God; the reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God (John 8:42-47).
I have said all this to you to keep you from falling away. They will put you out of the synagogues; indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God. And they will do this because they have not known the Father, not me. But I have said these things to you, that when their hour comes you may remember that I told you of them (John 16:1-4a).
Satan, the ruler of the world, has been judged! And Satan will be incarcerated when all his crimes make it impossible to remain on earth (John 16:11; Revelation 20:10). Satan is preparing his forces for a showdown against God and God’s people.
And when the thousand years are ended, Satan will be loosed from his prison and will come out to deceive the nations which are at the four corners of the earth, that is Gog an Magog, to gather them for battle; their number is like the sand of the sea. And they marched up over the broad earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city; but fire came don from heaven and consumed them, and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night for ever and ever (Revelation 20:7-10).