Blog Archives

Revelation 12: Our Adversary

Revelation 12 begins with a picture of a woman and a dragon. The woman is about to give birth, and the dragon wants to devour that child. The dragon also has an army which is at war with Michael the Archangel after the woman is taken away to hide in the wilderness for 42 months.

Rev 12:7  And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels,

Rev 12:8  And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven.

Rev 12:9  And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.

I am choosing to highlight this passage because of the one phrase in verse nine that speaks about how Satan has deceived the entire world. This stands out to me because I think that sometimes we think we are above deception. We think that we have everything lined up, and that can lead to a sense of idolatry. We can make ourselves into idols and forget about God which is never a good thing.

I don’t remember who said it, but I have heard it said that the greatest deception Satan ever pulled off was convincing the world that he does not exist. In our society that is steadily losing a belief in the reality of good and evil, I have no doubt that Satan is thrilled. After all, now he is an acceptable alternative to God; he is simply just another choice. When people take away the idea that evil is wrong, evil is what wins.

Consequently, I know I did not talk much about the imagery of this chapter, but it seems highly significant to me to always keep in mind that we have an adversary who is smart. We have an adversary who has in fact deceived all of us; all of us have sinned at some point. We need to be careful that we are following God and make sure that that relationship is in the right place.

1 Peter 5: Our Adversary

As we come to the end of another book in 1 Peter 5, Peter points out that it is very important for Christians to recognize that there is actually an active adversary who opposes us as we try to follow Jesus Christ.

1Pe 5:8  Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:

1Pe 5:9  Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.

I have heard it said that the biggest success Satan ever accomplished was convincing the world that he did not exist. We live in a very sensitive world today which is good on some level. We ought to be considerate of each other. However, this has come to such an extreme that people are uncomfortable saying that anything is wrong. Everything is simply a matter of personal choice and opinion; there is no more recognition of right or wrong. Many people are simply in denial about the existence of evil.

Peter would tell us that this is a blatant lie. There is still an evil adversary, and he is trying to devour us. If we don’t believe that he even exists, then we are going to be caught unaware. That is the main problem here. How can we be on the defense and protect ourselves from the evil one if we don’t even recognize that he exists and is preparing to drive us away from a relationship with Jesus Christ?

Jesus has already defeated evil. We don’t need to worry that somehow Satan is going to overthrow God or anything like that. However, he likes nothing more than making the people of God ineffective and dragging as many people down with him as possible. We need to make sure that we are first of all aware that the attack is coming and then rely on the strength of God to drive away the attacks.

Luke 4: Living in Difficult Circumstances

In Luke 4, we see the temptation of Jesus, and I find it so interesting that the entire episode is book ended by the fact that Jesus was led by the Holy Spirit.

Luk 4:1  And Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost returned from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness,

Luk 4:14  And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee: and there went out a fame of him through all the region round about.

I think this is significant. Obviously, it shows us two parts of the Trinity simultaneously active, but it emphasizes that Jesus was not operating alone. It makes it even more significant than when he is later on the cross and speaks about being forsaken by God. Even in the difficult times, Jesus was following the will of God.

The temptation of Christ could have taken place anywhere. Satan could have met Him in His normal hometown, and Jesus could have undergone the temptation in comfort. However, it was clearly the will of God that He be led into a much harsher environment. Why?

I’m not entirely sure obviously, but it seems significant that this is reflective of the circumstances that some people live in. There are plenty of people who live in difficult environments with very limited resources. For those of us in America, we mostly don’t have a lot of concept of material suffering. However, because of this experience, Jesus did, and He was able to withstand temptation even in this circumstance. If Jesus had not done this, I wonder if some people might say that even Jesus would have sinned if He had to live through what I am living through. He lived in the desert with no food while being directly tempted by arguably the cleverest of all the angels. I think He understood something about adversity and living in a difficult situation.

Ultimately, God knows why God led Jesus by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness, but it is clear that this was a very intentional act.

Zechariah 14: The End

As we come to the end of another book, Zechariah 14 certainly seems to be the kind of thing that we could discuss eschatologically. It seems to be one of those passages that is primed for the discussion of the end times, and I know that there are a variety of used in Christian them as to how this and will come about. Obviously, I have my own perspective, and there are plenty of other brothers and sisters in Christ who have other perspectives, so my purpose today is to bring us together on something I believe we can agree on.

Zec 14:8  And it shall be in that day, that living waters shall go out from Jerusalem; half of them toward the former sea, and half of them toward the hinder sea: in summer and in winter shall it be.

Zec 14:9  And the LORD shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one LORD, and his name one.

At the end of time, God alone will stand. Evil will be a relic of the past, and the people of God will live with Him for ever and ever. The end is not in doubt, and as a matter of fact the end has never been in doubt. Even from the Garden of Eden, it is obvious that the plan of God was to ultimately crush the serpent. Satan might have a certain degree of power in the world today, and evil runs rampant around the globe, but that doesn’t need to worry us about the end. It is not as if God is surprised by this.

I think about this in light of our imminent trek into the New Testament. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. Jesus Christ came to earth to pay the penalty that we could not pay. He took our sins upon himself and served as the Perfect Sacrifice. No one else could do what Jesus Christ did.

Therefore, when we read about the end times and talk about these issues that can create serious divisions, it is wise to remember that God is indeed going to handle evil once and for all; the outcome is going to come without a doubt.

Micah 3: A Discussion of False Prophecy

In Micah 3, we have judgment occurring, and it is particularly interesting to read about false prophets who had apparently been pretty good at the job.

Mic 3:5  Thus saith the LORD concerning the prophets that make my people err, that bite with their teeth, and cry, Peace; and he that putteth not into their mouths, they even prepare war against him.

Mic 3:6  Therefore night shall be unto you, that ye shall not have a vision; and it shall be dark unto you, that ye shall not divine; and the sun shall go down over the prophets, and the day shall be dark over them.

Mic 3:7  Then shall the seers be ashamed, and the diviners confounded: yea, they shall all cover their lips; for there is no answer of God.

These people are going to lose whatever power they did have, but that obviously raises the question of what power they did have. Is false prophecy a real thing?

The short answer is I believe it is. I think it can be something that is encouraged by demonic activity as well. However, I do not believe any demon, including Satan, is omniscient which of course leads to the question of how they have this ability. It is hard to learn the future from beings that do not have unlimited knowledge of the future.

That is a key point to remember about false prophecy. Every time that you see false prophets in the Bible, they are never perfect. For example, I think about Daniel. He was special because he was able to interpret the dreams through the power of God. It wasn’t by his own power since evidently the other prophets were not able to do it by whatever power they had. It wasn’t just human reason. Even if Satan himself had been with those other prophets at that time, he was clearly not able to read the future. Demons do not have perfect knowledge either.

False prophets may indeed make some correct predictions in the same way that I can make some accurate predictions. For example, I might predict something about the stock market correctly. I might predict correctly, and I might be incorrect. No one is perfect on the stock market, but that is because we are not perfect in making our estimates on future activity. Our human reason cannot predict the future perfectly, but that does not mean I am wrong all the time.

In a similar vein, demons are smart creatures. If there was demonic activity influencing the false prophets in the book of Daniel, they are also limited in a similar way. Without that perfect knowledge, even with the potential predictions that might take place, it would be imperfect. They might be right sometimes, but they cannot be perfectly right.

In contrast, prophecy from God is never wrong, so that is an important way to differentiate it. I think about the miraculous predictions of the coming of Jesus Christ. There is no way human way to make these predictions perfectly. That is the differentiation. We might be right sometimes based on human reason, but God, who has perfect knowledge of the future, can certainly impart that knowledge to humans.

With that background, we can advance to this idea of Micah. God is going to take away whatever ability they might have. Their reasoning as humans will be wrong perhaps. I draw this out because I think it is important to recognize that these men were not having godly visions in the first place. Maybe they were following God at one point, but those days seem to be over. They were now false prophets causing the people to wander. However, they still were able to predict certain things correctly by virtue of perhaps human reason for demonic assistance, and it seems as if that is what we’re talking about here. As it says at the end of verse seven, they were not going to be good prophets because there would not be an answer from God. That is the only way to be an accurate prophet.

Proverbs 27: Watch Where We Are Going

I wrote about being discerning in our endorsements the other day, but today we also need to be discerning in what we do and where we go. Proverbs 27 counsels us that it is wise to be aware. It is wise to realize where you are heading and what the consequences might be.

Pro 27:12  A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself; but the simple pass on, and are punished.

I think it is most of us would agree that this is simply common sense. If you are walking towards something evil, it is wise if you can see it coming and avoid the problem. If you are simple or not so bright, you are going to miss the warning and end up right in the middle of the imminent trap.

It is amazing how often we violate this concept even though almost everyone would agree that it is common sense. I know I have done that. You walk into a bad situation, and you know that the situation isn’t going to lead anywhere productive, but you still keep walking ahead. Sometimes this is a result of misplaced optimism, but sometimes this is caused by our own ignorance. We miss the obvious simply because we are not paying attention.

Let me tell you, I think this is one of the most dangerous traps that Satan uses. He leads us into evil, and we don’t even realize where we are headed. We are just overly naïve. We don’t truly discern and seriously consider the consequences. We figure it is no big deal.

That is right where Satan wants us. Our defenses are not up, and we are vulnerable. We need to rely on God to provide us with the wisdom to avoid these traps. As we remember from the beginning of this book, wisdom does come from God, so if we want it, we know the source.

Job 2: Supernatural Conflicts

This is a topic that seems to intrigue even Hollywood. In Job 2, we see the fact that spiritual warfare does exist.

Job 2:2  And the LORD said unto Satan, From whence comest thou? And Satan answered the LORD, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.

Satan, a fallen angel, said that he came from walking around on the earth. I assume he wasn’t just walking around while he was here. In fact, after God gave him permission, he started messing with Job and causing him severe physical pain.

Satan was not the only angel that fell either. Using Revelation 12:3-9, some people have concluded that one third of the original number of angels in heaven rebelled. However, in Hebrews 12:22, we find out there is an innumerable number of angels. In mathematical terms, you really can’t define one third of infinity in any more precise terms than that. However, the purpose of the passage is that there were many other angels that were thrown down from heaven by God.

After they had been expelled, we can see their influence throughout the Bible. Jesus Himself dealt with several demons and threw them out of people while He was on earth. Also, recall that in one of Jesus’ demon expulsions, he found out that its name was Legion. Obviously, that is different than Satan and indicates that Satan does have company.

I think that we now have a little bit of information and can define a little bit of what spiritual warfare looks like. We know that Satan and multiple other angels were thrown out of heaven by God. We know that they are capable of operating on earth, and they seem to be able to cause problems for people.

One thing needs to be emphasized however. While the evil forces seem to have some kind of supernatural power that it is hard to grasp, God is still above all of this. In Job, God had to give Satan permission to cause problems. In chapter 1, Satan complained that Job was so happy because he had a hedge of protection around him. That hedge was provided by God, and Satan could not get through it or else it seems like he would have.

I do believe that there are things going on in this world that we can’t see. Through the Bible, we see people interacting with both angels and demons. However, even though it might seem like the evil is much more prevalent, we know how the story is going to end, and it is a lot better to be on God’s side.

Job 1: Avoiding Fair Weather Christianity

Job gets off to a very interesting beginning in chapter 1 because God and Satan are having a conversation. God brings up Job and how he was an extraordinarily pious man who would even burn sacrifices for his children because he did not know if they had some kind of hidden sin in their lives.

Here is how Satan responded to Him.

Job 1:9  Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, Doth Job fear God for nought?

Job 1:10  Hast not thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side? thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land.

Job 1:11  But put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face.

I don’t know about you, but this is something I can really identify with and have wondered about quite a bit. It is really easy to be a fair weather Christian. By that, I mean it is easy to believe that there is a loving God in heaven who wants the best for us when we have everything we could possibly want. It is easy to believe that there is ultimately a good God in the universe who loves us when we see all of these blessings in our lives.

It is much harder to maintain that faith when times get hard. It is hard to trust in God when everything on earth seems to be falling apart. It is hard to trust that God will always provide when you lose your job and your entire income along with it.

Satan wanted to see if Job could handle being in that second group, and God gave him permission to do whatever he wanted except kill Job. I bet that Satan was thinking that Job would crumble when everything he had in the world faded away.

I think the same temptations are in the world today. We can tie our faith to our possessions, and we can almost see them as an evidence that we are living well. God is blessing us because we are doing good deeds and living the way we should.

As we will find out throughout Job, we need to make sure that our faith is with God rather than with our stuff. We need to make sure that we have real faith rather than the kind that is conditional on the balance in our bank account.

I will say that we might not always understand why God allows us to go through difficult times, and Job did not know why God pretty much gave Satan free reign to terrorize him, but we do need to understand that there is a plan, and the loving nature of God does not change in any of these circumstances.

Jer 29:11  For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.

1 Chronicles 21: Why Was a Census so Bad?

1 Chronicles 21 brings up one of the more complicated and admittedly confusing stories of Biblical history. Verse one sets a very interesting tone.

1Ch 21:1  And Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel.

It is a bad idea to listen to Satan, so the obvious connotation here is that numbering the people or basically taking a census was some major sin.

You have to wonder why. That is the confusing and complicated part. We count things every day, and if you own a business, you certainly know your inventory. In a way, the people were the inventory of Israel. I don’t mean to dehumanize them, but if you are in charge of the country, it is good to know how many people you are ruling. There are many practical reasons that a king would want to know this.

However, in this case, God said that it was bad, and it was so bad that Satan himself was there trying to convince David to do it.

What is the problem?

We can get a little bit of an idea from the reaction that Joab had when David told him to go and count the people.

1Ch 21:3  And Joab answered, The LORD make his people an hundred times so many more as they be: but, my lord the king, are they not all my lord’s servants? why then doth my lord require this thing? why will he be a cause of trespass to Israel?

Essentially, this sounds like he is asking why David would even bother. They are all his servants anyway, so what does he need to prove by counting them? If I am interpreting that right, then the problem is obvious.

David needed to count them because David wanted to know how great he was for having a nation with so many people. Maybe his interest was beyond administrative and practical. Perhaps pride was creeping in.

That would make sense, and God does have a history of not wanting his people to become proud. That would also explain the harsh reaction were 70,000 people died because of David’s sin.

Pro 16:18  Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.

2 Samuel 24: Glorifying in Numbers

Here we are at the final chapter of 2 Samuel. Admittedly, chapter 24 is somewhat hard to understand.

We are greeted with the image of God being angry at Israel. Israel did a lot of pretty bad stuff over the years, and God was angry at them several times. That is not necessarily surprising.

However, after that is where it becomes kind of odd.

2Sa 24:1  And again the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel, and he moved David against them to say, Go, number Israel and Judah.

2Sa 24:2  For the king said to Joab the captain of the host, which was with him, Go now through all the tribes of Israel, from Dan even to Beersheba, and number ye the people, that I may know the number of the people.

2Sa 24:3  And Joab said unto the king, Now the LORD thy God add unto the people, how many soever they be, an hundredfold, and that the eyes of my lord the king may see it: but why doth my lord the king delight in this thing?

This passage implies that taking a census is on some level a sinful activity. What? Why would Joab respond in the way that he did? Why was he so adamant that this was a problem?

We need to do a little bit of cross referencing here. This event also appears in 1 Chronicles 21.

1Ch 21:1  And Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel.

1Ch 21:2  And David said to Joab and to the rulers of the people, Go, number Israel from Beersheba even to Dan; and bring the number of them to me, that I may know it.

1Ch 21:3  And Joab answered, The LORD make his people an hundred times so many more as they be: but, my lord the king, are they not all my lord’s servants? why then doth my lord require this thing? why will he be a cause of trespass to Israel?

First, let me settle this seeming contradiction. The verse in Samuel seems to indicate that God moved David while the verse in Chronicles indicates that Satan provoked David. I think that this can be handled easily when we realize that God needs to allow evil to happen in our lives. He ultimately has power, and the only reason Satan is still around is because God allows him to be. There are plenty of other places you can go on the Internet that talk about why God allows evil in the world, but I do not have time to outline all of that for you in this post.

The important part for us is that God allowed Satan to provoke David to commit the sin. That is why I think that taking the census was a sin. David was listening to Satan rather than God. However, what was God saying that would tell David not to take the census?

I think that the answer comes back to Joab. He was asking why David was taking delight in the number of people. I think that it’s quite possible that pride was creeping in here. Joab was essentially saying that God did indeed add to the people, and the king could see it with his own eyes. Why did David have to go count? Did it need any more proof?

I think this is a pretty good indication that there was pride there. Although it is somewhat hard to judge the intentions, I think that the context is pretty clear. We know that pride is a sin, and we know that David really wanted to have this number. We know that his top advisor asked him why he cared about something that was self-evident, and David again really wanted to have that number. The conclusion seems to be consistent.

It all seems to come back to the number. We need to be careful that we do not glorify in our numbers or ultimately become too proud.

Pro 16:18  Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.