Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Reveling in Revelation ~ When God Thwarts the Red Dragon

7 Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen. (Revelation 1)

          It must have been a tremendously gleeful moment of wicked delight when Satan thought his strategy of leading man into sin ended Jesus’ plan to have a creature in his own image and likeness[1]. The serpent must have been so happy in his evil success, believing he had succeeded in using the beauty and glory of the divine nature, the holiness, righteousness, purity, perfection, and justice of the God he despised, to force God’s hand. With Adam’s fall into sin, God himself, the only one who can cast people into hell[2], would be forced to throw the first couple he had made into the everlasting destruction prepared for the devil and his angels[3].

          You see, Satan had already been shocked to find that the beauty and majesty of God his Creator was far superior to the beauty and majesty that Satan thought was his by inherent right. Satan had already discovered the perfect holiness and righteousness of God that would not tolerate his insolent, wicked arrogance in the divine presence. Satan already knew that he was helpless against the authority of Jesus Christ, the only Son of God. Satan knew that God had the authority to cast his angels into hell for their sin, and would then be required to cast any of his other creatures into hell with them if Satan could lure them to follow him. He actually thought he had God beat because now God would have to take these creatures he made, this male and female created in Jesus’ image, and cast them into the everlasting fires of hell.

          It is hard to imagine the wickedness of Satan’s delight. He thought he knew God so well that he could succeed at forcing God to exercise his glorious authority to judge sin against the creature he made to be pure and holy like Jesus. Satan succeeded at drawing Eve to pridefully think she could handle a discussion with someone who began by questioning God[4]. She did not call on her head, her husband, to handle the serpent’s arrogant suggestion that God could not be trusted[5]. She did not call on Jesus to come and take on the serpent. She fell under the serpent’s spell and began expressing the same independent pride that got Satan thrown out of heaven[6]. It would lead to Adam and Eve being cast out of the Garden of Eden[7]. And, for a tiny moment, Satan would think he won.

          There was no doubt that this situation had the appearance of Satan’s victory. The only two people in the world had fallen into sin. The first children to be born would be born in sin. There was no hope of finding a human creature without sin, so God could never have human beings who were in his own image and likeness. Or, so it APPEARED!!!!

          However, God had other plans: “The Lord God said to the serpent, ‘Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life. I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.’”[8]

          While Satan thought he had strategically forced God to destroy his own creation, and that he had guaranteed that there now could never be a human offspring who could be in the image and likeness of Jesus Christ, God had already planned something more phenomenally good, and righteous, and wise, and perfect than Satan’s wickedly arrogant mind could conceive.

          Here is the wonder: the one who has the authority to “destroy both soul and body in hell” makes sinners alive[9] so that both soul and body are restored to their design in original creation[10], along with the promise to give us a glorified body to match our glorified state in Christ[11].

          While Satan was reveling in how he had thwarted God’s good plan, and how he had guaranteed that there would never be a human offspring who was without sin,

there was something he could not have known. God would do something that was so much bigger in the divine mind than Satan could have imagined, that totally changed the picture from Satan’s juvenile pride in his pseudo-success, to his conscious awareness that he was defeated even in his greatest strategy against the human race and against God’s creative act.

          Here are the words that Satan could not have guessed: “he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”[12] The offspring of the woman refers to one person. There was only one person who could be a sinless human being and counteract Satan’s brilliant plan of mass destruction. Jesus, the image of God, could come in the image of man, to restore sinful man to the image of God.

          What an unthinkable mystery. God had one way that he could have one sinless human being who could do something about the sin of other human beings. He would have to be more than human, but he would have to be human. Satan thought there was no one left. Satan thought that, because he had brought sin into the human race, that all humans would be born in sin. He did not know that God could send his Son into the human race without him passing through a man, and so inheriting sin. He would make this God-man the offspring of the woman, not the offspring of the man.

          In other words, as we weave our way through Scripture towards the book of Revelation where the tribes of the earth that followed the red dragon wail on account of Jesus, we see that this is only happening because God thwarted Satan right there in the Garden of Eden. Satan’s apparent success was so quickly thwarted that he did not even have time to enjoy a good gloat. The offspring of the woman he had deceived would become the God-man who was sinless, and so could be a human being in the image of God.

          It is no small thing that Jesus was born of a virgin[13]. He had to be the offspring of the woman, not the offspring of a man. It is through Adam that sin came into the world[14]. It is through the men that sin is passed from one generation to another. The sin nature is passed on through Adam, not through Eve. The Messiah had to be the offspring of the woman so that he could be human, but not the offspring of man so that he would not inherit Adam’s sin nature.

          In other words, the prophecy of Jesus’ virgin birth was not just something remarkable that would distinguish the Messiah from other religious leaders. It was actually the fulfillment of the prophecy given in the Garden of Eden, and the one way that a sinless human being could enter the world. Satan simply could not have guessed that God could do such a thing.

          This brings us back to the Scripture at hand: “Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen.[15] This is the last book of the Bible telling us what the first book of the Bible already promised. Jesus came to earth to bruise the serpent’s head, to destroy Satan’s authority over man. At the same time, to destroy Satan’s authority, Jesus was bruised, beaten, wounded, pierced and put to death for our sakes.

          However, Jesus is alive, he has ascended into heaven, and one day he will come in the clouds where everyone who has surrendered to the evil one will mourn at his sight because they will know that Jesus is victorious and they are not on his side. At the same time, all those who received Jesus Christ by faith will be fully restored to the image and likeness of God[16], just as Jesus began in the Garden of Eden.

[1] Genesis 3; Genesis 1:26-27
[2] Luke 12:5
[3] Matthew 25:41
[4] Genesis 3:1
[5] Genesis 3:4-5
[6] Revelation 12:9,10,13
[7] Genesis 3:24
[8] Genesis 3:14-15
[9] Ephesians 2:1-10
[10] Romans 8:28-30
[11] I Corinthians 15:35-49
[12] Genesis 3:15
[13] Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:23
[14] Romans 5:12
[15] Revelation 1:7
[16] I John 3:1-2

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