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Here’s a question for you: “If you were God, how would you deal with the rebellion of Satan?” I know for me, it wouldn’t be much of a big deal at all: “I am God, I am holy, and he is not. I brought him into this world, and I can take him out. And, hey, it might just teach the rest of the angels not to get any big ideas either.” Zap. Done.
Obviously, that is not how God chose to do it. Once again, His ways are not my ways.
So, how did God choose to deal with the rebellion of Lucifer?
First let’s look at the nature of his rebellion:
“You said in your heart, “I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain. I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.” (Isaiah 14:13,14)
Pride filled the heart of this archangel; “I will ascend…” marked his spirit.
Now, God being holy, just and omnipotent could have easily judged him on the spot and removed him from His presence forever… but He didn’t.
It really does beg the question, “Why?”
Well, let’s consider for a minute what would have happened if He had immediately executed judgment on Satan. What would that have done to the atmosphere of heaven?
Prior to this, all of heaven was filled with glory, praise, adoration, worship, love, awe, beauty, unity, harmony and holiness. The angelic host worshiped and served God because of His unspeakable Majesty, transcendent Holiness and infinite Love. Peace ruled.
Lucifer’s uprising interjected something foreign, alien, disrupting, corrupting.
Had God, the omnipotent Creator, responded in swift and final judgement, the atmosphere of heaven would have instantly and forever changed. God would have become, at that moment, One not simply to be reverently and lovingly adored and served, but One to be eternally terrified of. Angelic worship and obedience would become permeated with a sense of fearful servitude out of pure self-preservation. Love and wonder would not have fill the air, but a pervasive, inescapable sense of dread.
This is not the heaven that God desires, nor will have. His challenge, therefore, is to deal with this rebellion without undermining the loving, joyful, peaceful relationship He has with the rest of His creatures. Lucifer must neither through his rebellion, nor through the outworking of his judgment, spoil the very nature of heaven.
For God to accomplish this, His Plan would not be played out on an un-level playing field, tipped in His favor, with He as Creator, and His Opponent as created; with He being infinite in power, and His Opponent, limited in power. It would be another way.
But it would not be easy!
In order to level the playing field, He would refrain from exercising judgment directly upon Satan Himself, but instead, qualify another, upon specific moral grounds, to judge His Contender. Such a one would, at bare minimum, need to be subject to the same type of limitations of a created being, as Lucifer, and would need to be subject and vulnerable to the same type of temptations to pride and self-exaltation, as Lucifer was, and yet overcome! Such a qualified being would thus earn the moral ground upon which to receive God’s authority to judge Satan who had given in to the same temptations of pride and rebellion.
This would constitute a level playing field. And this, I believe, is what we see in the Garden of Eden, with Adam. That could be developed more fully, but that “playing field” was not actually God’s final plan. He is going for something even greater; He is not only shooting for justice, but also for an excelling display of His Glory.
His Ultimate Plan, therefore, is to un-level the playing field… fully in favor of His Enemy. If He triumphs on that field, then there is exceeding Glory … and indisputable Justice.
His Grand Design would be to send His Son into the arena not on a par with Satan, but as a man, made “a little lower than the angels” (Psalm 8)… a little lower than His Opponent.
“…we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels…” (Hebrews 2:9)
In this Plan, God would place His Son under an immensely greater degree of temptation to self-interest and personal gain than Lucifer ever had, so that by His triumphing over the ultimate test of temptation, He would unquestionably qualify, as the Son of Man, to be the judge of Satan’s rebellion.
The Son of Man would not merely overcome by being content with His position, and not striving for a higher place, as Lucifer did, but He would decisively overcome by fully embracing the complete opposite spirit than that of “I will ascend”.
This opposite spirit that was in Christ Jesus is expressed most clearly in Philippians 2:6-8:
Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing: taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death– even death on a cross”
As such, He counters and conquers Lucifer’s ascending spirit at every point:
Instead of, “I will make myself like the Most High”, He “did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,”.
Instead of “I will ascend…”, He “made himself nothing:taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.”
Instead of “I will sit enthroned”, He “he humbled himself and became obedient to death– even death on a cross.”
No further in the direction of descent could He go. No further from the spirit of “I will Ascend…” could He remove Himself.
For every “I will…” challenge to the Father by Lucifer, Jesus Christ, the Son of Man, countered and overcame with an even greater “Thy will…” surrender to the Father. To every to striving, “ascending” thought of Satan, Christ countered and overcame with an even greater yielding, “descending” thought and action.
Ultimately, ON THE CROSS, He humbled Himself, denied Himself, emptied Himself, surrendered Himself, submitted Himself, and offered Himself to the utmost possible degree and so fully and finally triumphed, overcame, conquered, prevailed, and qualified!
The blood that He shed became the eternal symbol and the sign of His decisive victory!
“It is finished!”
“And I saw in the right hand of Him who sat on the throne a scroll written inside and on the back, sealed with seven seals. Then I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, ‘Who is worthy to open the scroll and to loose its seals?’ And no one in heaven or on the earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll, or to look at it. So I wept much, because no one was found worthy to open and read the scroll, or to look at it. But one of the elders said to me, ‘Do not weep. Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has prevailed to open the scroll and to loose its seven seals.’ And I looked, and behold, in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as though it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent out into all the earth. Then He came and took the scroll out of the right hand of Him who sat on the throne.” (Revelation 5:1-7)
The Lamb has overcome, and all authority to judge has been placed in His hands as the Son of Man, the Qualified One.
“…the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son.”
“…He has given Him authority to judge because He is the Son of Man.” (John 5:22,27)
Now when the angels look upon the Omnipotent Creator, the Holy One, they do not quake in eternal terror and serve Him out of inescapable dread. Now the atmosphere of Heaven is one of awe-struck wonder and inexpressible glory to the God who would go to such unimaginable lengths to not only righteously judge His enemies, and purge His creation from their rebellion, but also to do so through the power of humility, weakness and suffering. Such is a God whom His finite and frail creatures can love, trust and worship with exceeding joy and reverence forever and ever.
“Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. In a loud voice they sang: ‘Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!’
Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, singing: ‘To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!’ The four living creatures said, ‘Amen,’ and the elders fell down and worshiped.”
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This matter of the work of the cross in regards to judgment is but one facet of the whole message of the cross. I’ve chosen to focus on it on this day of Good Friday as a means of viewing the cross from just one more angle, maybe one not previously considered or recently contemplated. The work of redemption through the cross, and of sanctification through the cross, are facets that should be focused on with rich meditation as well on this day, and every day. May God bless you as you continue to “Behold the Lamb”!
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