Part 2: The biblical structure of reality

THE INVISIBLE GOD: “I AM”

The first and foremost description of God is that God is. There is a constant affirmation that God acts. I find it really strange that some people can read the Bible right through and leave God out of it. Today, everything is attributed to natureand man; nothing seems to be attributed to God. The presupposition of modern man is that there is no God. It requires a deliberate and selective blindness that screens out what the Bible is about.

The Bible asserts, uniformly and from beginning to end, that there are different levels of intelligent and active life: beasts, man, angels, demons, Satan, God. More are unseen than are seen. All but the beasts are intelligent agents whose actions profoundly affect human history. To smash them all down to one level of existence – the natural – is to read the Bible without resolute intelligence.

The central decleration of the Scriptures is that God is. When God comissioned Moses to lead the people of Israel, Moses wondered if the people would recognize his commission as genuinely divine. God said to Moses: I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.” (Exodus 3:14)

Through the prophet Isaiah God said:Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me,
Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure:” (Isaiah 64:9-10)

“In the beginning God… are the very first words of the Bibel. Look at Genesis 1: “And God said…” “And God saw…” “And God made…” “And God called…” “And God set” “So God created…” “And God blessed them…” “So God created man…” “And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good.” The Bible is largely an account of God in action!

In Genesis and throughout the Bible we see God exercising attributes of volitition (His own will to chose) and intelligence and personality and speech of which man is capable of on a diminished scale, because man is made in Gods image (Genesis 1:26-28). God endowed the first man Adam with attributes of will and intelligence and speech so that man was like his creator.

The Bible says thatGod is a spirit” (John 4:24). He is invisible and He is immortal (1 Timothy 1:17). The invisible God expressed Himself in physical creation. His creative hand is seen in the natural order. Romans 1:20 says: “For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:

God is aspirit, invisible to the eye of man, and He dwells on the spiritual plane. He is supernatural – that is, above nature. All that we see in the natural realm, from the intricate design of the atom to the great balanced wheels of stars and galaxies, is the product of Gods creative genious and His infinite power. The Milky Way alone is a system of over a hundred billion stars.

The God revealed by the Bible is a ersonal God who reveals Himself to individual men. He deals directly and personally with women and men. He seeks them out to belong to Him. The prophet Hanani told Asa, the king of Judah: For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him.” (2 Chronicles 19:9).

THE INVISIBLE GOD MADE VISIBLE

There is no more awsome and wonderful fact that God, the Creator, in making Himself known to man, has come to man as man. Of several means of revelation God uses to reveal the truth about Himself, the chief one is the incarnation: God coming as a man!

God Himself – theCreator – came to Israel as a man prophesied in the most expicit terms in the Old Testament. Isaiah 9:6 says: “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” Think of that: A man born a Jew – nothing less than Emmanuel, a name that means God with us

Never has the natural and the supernatural, the human and the divine, come together so absolutely as in the incarnation. It is the crux, the decisive center, of human history…

Today, we can learn about God by reading the Bible, but God wants more than that for you. He wants you to know Him personally, if you don’t already. God spcifically offers to come into your life in so definate a way that you will know He has come in; you will know He is there, with you and in you. It doesn’t matter who you are.God is no respecter of persons” (Acts 10:34). The social and class distinctions means nothing to Him. After He had risen from the grave, He said:Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” (Revelation 3:20).

Most people have heard that “God is love“. The whole passage is found in 1 John 4:7-10. Here we read: “¶ Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.
He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.
In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.”

God created the world and man, and everything else that He created, as the expression of His generousity and love. God intends that His creation be joyously perfect. There is a glimps of this primeval state of things in the Bible. God spoke to Job: Ҧ Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding.
Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? or who hath stretched the line upon it?
Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? or who laid the corner stone thereof;
When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?” (Job 38:4-7).

That is the way it was, and that is the way it ceased to be when Satan brought sin and hatred and rebellion into Gods creation, and later persuaded man to turn his back on God. Because God is love, H is consistently intolerant of everything that violates His own intention in creation. God hates evil with pure and furious hatred because He sees that it is constantly at work to destroy what He has made – at work to destroy man, to destroy families, to destroy joy. He dies not look upon it as man does, that is relatively, because He sees in not limitedly but in the whole path of its effective ruination.

ANGELS

The intelligent order of created beings who serve God is called angels. They have to do with God, and they also have to do with man. Angels are in many ways very much like men. They possess attributes of intellect and personality and will similar to those of man. Angels can speak. So like men are the angels that it is possible to sit and talk with one and not know that he is an angel, but take him for a man. Hebrews 13:2 says: “Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.”

Angels are spiritual beings. They dwell on the spiritual plane, above nature. They are normally invisible to man. They enter the natural order, visibly and invisibly, but it’s not their primary abode. They stand a step higher on the ladder of creation than man. Man, who is set at the summit of the natural order, was made”a little lower than the angels” in the scale of creation. David wrote What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?
For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour.” (Psalm 8:4-5)

The whole natural order, including man’s physical body, is mortal. The angels are immortal. They are not subject to disease or death.

A major difference between angels and men is their mobility. The soul and the spirit of man are perfectly united to his body, and his body is primarily bound to the earth. Thus, as a being, man is limited in his mobility (though he can increase it immensely by inventions that cooperate with the laws of nature).

Angels are in no way bound by the laws of nature. They can travel immense distances very swiftly. A physical object must move at a stated rate from one point in the natural creation to another. There is no shortcut; the whole distance must be physically travelled. A spiritual being is subject to no such necessity. Angels can enter tha natural realm. They can bumit to and obey its laws, but they can also, at will, leave it and ignore its laws and limitations. Far more significantly, angels can inhabit the natural realm without being observed and without obeying its laws. They rove, unseen, among men accomplishing their appointed work.

Angels work actively in protecting people, whether individuals or groups of people who belong to God. Psalm 91 is the great psalm of divine protection.

“11 For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.
12 They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.
13 Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder: the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet.
14 Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name.” 

The protection of God is for those who love Him and trust Him and worship and serve Him.

The victories of Israel against foes and invaders often came by active intervention of unseen forces. When the huge army of Assyria, which had easily overrun a series of nations, came to take Jerusalem and the inhabitants had no military power to repel them, God intervened: And it came to pass that night, that the angel of the LORD went out, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians an hundred fourscore and five thousand: and when they arose early in the morning, behold, they were all dead corpses.” (2 Kings 19:35)

Jesus told of a rich man and a poor man, both of whom died. The rich man went to Hades and was in torment. And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom” (Luke 16:22) Jesus said.

John Wesley, the English evangelist who rode through England alone on horseback for more than fourty days, once met a man who told him that he had been hiding beside the road and would have come out to rob Wesley. When Wesley asked him why he had not, the man said it was because of the men riding beside Wesley. But the evangelist had been riding alone. What the man had seen, Wesley thought, was an escort of angels.

Angels are not all equal in occupation or power. Some angels are set as rulers and leaders over other angels in the work of God. The Bible speak of angels and archangels. Two of the latter, who occupy very elevated places in the plan of God, are named. They are Michael and Gabriel.

God described Michael as the great prince who would lead the angelic forces assigned to defend Israel. In Daniel 12:1 we read: “And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book.”

The angel Gabriel appears two times in the Old Testament, and two times in the New Testament., each on errands of the highest consequence to the plan of God.

Except when they move among men as men, angels are repeatedly spoken of in terms of fire, brightness, white and shining clothing, and in the term of the fear that humans feel when they first see them. Angels also have power to destroy.

SATAN: “ADVERSARY”

Though some deny it, and few really understand it, no human being escapes evil. “Man is born unto trouble, as the sparks fly upward,” an ancient sage remarked (Job 5:7).

Some of the biggest and hardest questions that people face boil down to the single word “why?” This was the mystery that the man Job could not fathom while he went through the searing anguish of evidently senseless suffering, though he later understood it very well.

Except to the radically self-blinded, evil in this world is an observable phenomenon. It seems to be a fact of nature, but is much more than that: evil has a source. 

As much as evil may seem unorchestrated and general among mankind, a ruling purpose lies behind it. It is part of a much larger scheme than the random aspect of its occurance normally indicates.

The Bible doesn’t hide – it expressly reveals – the fierce dynamic that lies hidden behind evil. It declares that God has an enemy and adversary: Satan. He is a being of great power, but he is in no sense a kind of dark force equal to the creator. All of the saved are going to see his power cut short, and they will outlive him by the factor of infinity!

Until that occurs, he is man’s enemy too. While we do not need to fear him, it is urgent to know what can be known about him – right up to the measure of the biblical revelation as it deals with, and unmasks, this master strategist of evil.

Satan is at work today in the world with an intensity unmatched in our experience, and the Scriptures warn that this activity will be stepped up greatly among the nations, both in degree and in velocity, as end-time events accelerate. Unless we are aware of this, we will be caught short and find ourselves unable to cope with the events that decend upon us.

The first rule of intelligent spiritual warfare and resistance to evil is – know your enemy. Know who he is, what he intends, what he does, and how he goes about it.

Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.” (2 Corinthians 2:11)

Satan is a living creature. He is not corporal or physical. He is a spiritual being, but that doesn’t make him any less real. The fact that he is invisible and powerful greatly serves him in the persuit of his cause. The idea that Satan is a term for a generalized influence of evil – instead of the name of a secific living personality – is a strictly antibiblical idea.

The name Satan does not speak of an impersonal influence. It speaks of a single, identifiable, distinct living being with a will, a personality, and a highly directed intelligence. Satan – the name means “adersary” – was at his vreation a very beautiful being. His beauty has been corrupted by evil, but he still disguises and presents himself to much of mankind as god.

The Bible declares that “God is a spirit.” It describes angels as “minestering spirits.” The Bible calls Satan the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:” (Ephesians 2:2) So Satan is a spirit – that is, an intelligent living being who is invisible to the natural eye. This briefportion tells us a great deal about him: First, that he is a prince. Second, that his domane has an important center in the atmosphere of the earth, in the envelope of air in which the earth is enclosed. Third, that Satan is active, or “at work”. Fourth, that his activity is carried out through the lives of fallen or sinful men, who are called “the children of disobedience”. It is a stark fact that Satan exercises some degree of actual authority and control over all people who have never become worshipers of the living God.

Satan’s purpose is to draw people away from God and to keep people away from Him by every means he can use. In accomplishing this, Satan finds it conveniant and strategic to conceal his own identity and his activities as much as possible from human view. He is an enemy, an adversary. Therefore he moves under the cover of secrecy.

Satan makes you question God’s Word – like in the Garden of Eden. He is the father of lies (John8:44), and he will do anything to get you away from God or hinder you spiritual growth after you get saved. James 4:7 has some inportant words for us all: “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” We are, after all, on the winning side…

THE AUTHOR OF IDOLATRY

The being the Bible calls SAs the head of the rebellion against God and against the government of God, he works using every means he can to see that God is replaced as the center of man’s desire. He does not greatly care to what secondary object or desire or pursuit a man gives his chief loyalty, just as long as it is not to God, the source of life and truth. He works constantly to divert man’s attention from God, to direct it to something else. It may be to money, property, fame, power, pleasure, success, science, art, a religious idol, a dead saint, a human leader, a false god, a political system, or anything else. Whatever it is that takes first place in a person’s life is that person’s idol, and Satan is the author of idolatry.

The thing may not be evil in itself, it may be good, but it is accursed when it takes the place of God, and it becomes the destroyer of the soul. A man who refuses to serve God and to love Him on the earth will not be allowed to serve Him in eternity. For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” (Mark 8:36)

Satan’s purpose – on the earth and among mankind and in the heavens – is to oppose God at every point. A chief issue on which Satan opposes God is worship. It is right that people worship God. God calls people to worship Him, and Him only. Thou shalt have none other gods before me.” (Deuteronomy 5:7) Satan does not want men and women to worship God. He desires that they blaspheme Him, using His holy name as an oath and a curse. He has succeeded in getting vast numbers in this way to violate the third commandment continually:Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain: for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.” (Deuteronomy 5:11)

One of the great, intended uses for the human tongue is to sound the worship and adoration of God, to sing His glory, to utter thanksgiving to Him. Satan endevours to pervert that faculty – one that seperates man from the beasts – and to cause the human tongue to be occupied in speaking out curses. It is no accident, it is by express design, that so much swearing consists of the misuse of God’s name. Swearing, when it is deliberate as well as when it is automatic and habitual, is a sign of Satan’s dominance over the persons who engage in it.

Satan lusts for worship. Because it belongs exclusively to God, he desires it for himself. He would rather have worship than anything else, but because he knows he would not succeed in getting great numbers of men to worship him – if they knew that it was what they were doing – he sets up many objects as alternatives to the worship of God. This is idolatry in its crudest form, and the world is full of it.

There is no realm in which Satan is more active than religion. As a spiritual leader, Satan has devised many forms of religion, none of which can bring a man into a relationship with the living God or release him from the grip of sin. Satan’s systems of religion are always nonredemptive. They are unable to furnish what they seemingly promise, usually either an illusory “oneness with God” or some way of man making himself acceptable to God by religious self-effort. In primiive religions he often promotes religious practices for the appeasing of various demon “gods” and forces.

Contradiction of the Word of God is another means by which Satan opposes God among men. His policy is to supress the Scriptures wherever he can – that is, wherever he can get people to cooperate with him in that purpose.

Satan sought to make his lie more acceptable to Eve by adding a promise of knowledge to it. He often sweetens his lies by promising that something good is to be gained by believing them. His method is rather like that of the fisherman who baits the hook with soething delightful and apparently much to be desired. That is his offer to the fish. But that is not his purpose. His purpose is death.

TAKING SOBER MEASURE

In the desire not to overestimate Satan, there is a tendency among some believers to underestimate him and his works, to belittle or mock him, or rather lightly to understand overcoming him. Some seem almost to think that he can be routed by a slogan.

Some attitudes are shallow and thoroughly unscriptural. They are, taken together, a travesty on the depth and sweep of satanic activity in human history. In the last century, by wars and vast annihilations and purges, the toll in human lives soared above 100 million victims of every age. Thetotality of sufferings and grief and loss and dislocations, stemming from the dynamic interaction of human sinfulness and satanic provocation, goes far beyond our capacity to comprehend.

Belivers are in by no means awed by him – in Christ we have the power and authority to overcome him, sometimes by a single act, sometimes at high cost, and we are commanded to do so. The Book of Revelation promises specific, wonderful rewards to those who do.

Have you, as I have, heard believers and even ministers mock Satan or belittle him with ridicule? As though he could be delt with by a wave of the hand or a slighting phrase from the lips! The Bible does not sanction this.

Those who most loudly and assertively boast against him often are trifling with things they know nothing about.

In Jude 9 we read: Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee.” What that mighty angel of God did not dare to do, we would be thoroughly unwise to venture.

No being who has stood at the head of so great a rebellion and conspiracy to overthrow God’s rule among intelligent beings should be casually or indifferently measured. The very fact that God has reserved a place called “the lake of fire” specially for Satan and his followers, and that smoke shall ascend from that place of punishment forever, gives some concept of how God looks upon him.

At earth level we would be wise to heed Peter’s warning:Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:” (1 Peter 5:8) Don’t let him devour you!

BATTLE FOR ALLEGIANCE

The earth we live on is the chief locale, the theater in the universe, of a challenge to the supremacy of God over a portion of His creation. Its habitants are the objects of what may accurately be called a dispute between Satan and God for their obedience and worship. This conflict is so severe that the Bible calls it “warfare”, and men are very much at its center.

Satan hates that any person – that even one person – should worship God and love Him supremely. One of his desires is to show, if he can, that every person has his price, that no one loves God so well that he will allow nothing to stop him from worshiping and trusting God. That is why, at one point of history, God allowed a man  named Job to stand a severe test of affliction. God loved Job and believed that he would not fail or fall.

A series of calamities fell upon Job in a single day. These came by the direct activity of Satan, but it’s interesting to see their immediate sources. From one side, a party of Sabeans invaded his property.  They stole his animals and slew his servants. From another side, the Chaldeans formed three companies and swept suddenly down upon Job’s property in a devastating raid. Men in action, yes, but Satan in action behind them! At almost the same time, a fire broke out in the property ans shortly thereafter “a great wind came across the wilderness and struck the house”, and it collapsed, killing his sons and daughters. Natural forces, yes, but Satan in action behind them!

A key fact here is that the enemy used many instruments in his attack on Job, but he showed his hand in none of them. Job did not know the who or the why, or the what, of these losses.

Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped,
And said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.” (Job 1:20-21)

One more a restriction that was on Satan in the case of Job was removed, but his life was to be spared. Satan filled Job’s body with pain and running sores “from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head”, and Job went “and sat among the ashes”. At this point Job’s wife looked at him and said: Dost thou still retain thine integrity? curse God, and die.” (Job 2:9) It was the counsel of Satan from the lips  of his wife! Seemingly natural speech is sometimes directly prompted by a supernatural source, for a spiritual purpose. When Peter assured Jesus that He would never be killed, Jesus saidGet thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.” (Matthew 16:23)

There was nothing showy about what Job did, but it registered resoundingly in heaven. Job overcame  chiefly by two things – by suffering and faith. In this he was like our Lord Jesus, whose ultimate act of overcoming was to be mocked and spit on and to be nailed in blood to a Roman cross.

ORIGIN OF SATAN

In an allegorical description, Satan is spoken of in the Book of Job in these terms:Upon earth there is not his like, who is made without fear.
He beholdeth all high things: he is a king over all the children of pride.” (Job 41:33-34)

Satan, as he now is called, was not evil at his origin. The one who now bears the name of Satan and the title of devil was in the beginning good. The living being who became the devil was beautiful in every way, in character and appearance.

The prophests Ezekiel and Isaiah tell of the origin and fall of Satan. They tell of the birth of evil desirein him, some of his activities, and they show his destiny.

11 ¶ Moreover the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,
12 Son of man, take up a lamentation upon the king of Tyrus, and say unto him, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Thou sealest up the sum, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty.
13 Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created.
14 Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so: thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire.
15 Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee.
16 By the multitude of thy merchandise they have filled the midst of thee with violence, and thou hast sinned: therefore I will cast thee as profane out of the mountain of God: and I will destroy thee, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire.
17 Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness: I will cast thee to the ground, I will lay thee before kings, that they may behold thee.
18 Thou hast defiled thy sanctuaries by the multitude of thine iniquities, by the iniquity of thy traffick; therefore will I bring forth a fire from the midst of thee, it shall devour thee, and I will bring thee to ashes upon the earth in the sight of all them that behold thee.
19 All they that know thee among the people shall be astonished at thee: thou shalt be a terror, and never shalt thou be any more.
” (Ezekiel 28:11-19)

This passage shows us that the being now called Satan was a created being; that he was full of wisdom; and that he was a being of great beauty; that he was perfect. Then we see that this perfect and beautiful being occupied, by the express appointment of God, a station in heaven, on the holy mountain of God.

The word “anoint” in Hebrew usage means to pour oil upon a person to consecrate that person to God or set him apart for a specific office. God had anointed this being for a special office in the highest of heaven, near the place where God’s throne is.

But Satan sinned. He fell in iniquity. He was driven out of his place of high privilege in heaven because of it. He fell because he became proud of his beauty, and that he turned from serving God and began to serve his own vanity and to seek his own glory. He let his magnificence carry him into vanity and self-pride. That turned wisdom into corruption.

This drove him to extremeties of ambition and rebellion against God. In presumption, he is without limits.

You can also read Isaiah 14:12-17 to see more. Here we see that Satan’s name used to be Lucifer (the light bringer), also called “the son of the morning, and he tried to put himself above God. Five times he said his “I will’s”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: