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Ancient Battles in the Cosmic War
8 November 2014
In an article from last month we looked at mankind’s greatest enemy: Satan. As part of his rebellion against his Creator God, Satan hates God and is at war with Him. Because God values human beings so much that He became human Himself and died for their redemption, Satan also hates mankind and is at war with them.
In today’s follow-up article, we will look at some of the major attacks of Satan, from the time humans were created all the way through the first few centuries of the early Ekklesia (Church). God’s Master Plan:
It is this promise of Satan’s crushing defeat, and the particular human being through whom it would come, which has been the driving force in Satan’s attacks upon mankind. The Full Measure of Sin:
Unfortunately for us all, humans were not content to be God’s viceroys under His rulership. We wanted to be the ones in charge, under no rulership but our own. So mankind rebelled against God, the human race became corrupted with sin, and God’s perfection was shattered.
But God did not leave mankind hopeless. In a statement which has been traditionally understood to be the promise of a future Redeemer, God said, "And I will cause hostility between you [the serpent, or Satan in the serpent] and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring. He will strike your head, and you will strike his heel." (Genesis 3:15)
What started off as very good didn’t take overly long to degenerate into something very, very bad. It got to the point where "Yahweh regretted that He had made human beings on the earth, and His heart was deeply troubled" (Genesis 6:6).In this ancient battle, Satan had very nearly won a complete victory. The entire human race had become so corrupt beyond redemption that God had no other choice than to completely destroy all of mankind — except for one man and his family who were still on God’s side. By saving Noah and his family, God snatched victory for Himself and mankind out of the jaws of defeat!
Again, we have to ask what caused such a tragic turn of events? As usual, when there’s an issue that’s really important for us to understand, God doesn’t leave us in the dark, but provides the answer in His written Word: "Yahweh saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time" (Genesis 6:5).
Let’s pause to consider the full import of this statement. Human beings had become greatly wicked — to the point that EVERY thought and desire of human hearts was EXCLUSIVELY evil ALL the time! How could mankind get to such a state in only 1,600 years? After all, it has been about three times that many years since the Flood until now, and mankind has yet to become THAT corrupt.
Well, there’s a hint of an explanation in the text. It’s not the main point of this article, but since we are looking at Genesis 6, we should take a look at the opening verses:
When human beings began to increase in number on the earth and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of humans were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose.... The Nephilim were on the earth in those days — and also afterward — when the sons of God went to the daughters of humans and had children by them. They were the heroes of old, men of renown. (Genesis 6:1,2,4)There has been debate for thousands of years over who the sons of God is referring to. I don’t want to delve into all of that here — you can easily research it yourself and come to your own conclusions. If you look at how that phrase is used elsewhere in the Bible, and if you consider the context of what is being said in Genesis 6, then I believe that it literally means that demonic fallen angels somehow had sexual intercourse with human women — however outlandish that may sound to our "modern" ears. Rosemary’s Baby on a global scale?
This understanding goes a long ways in explaining how mankind had become so corrupt, and why God had no other alternative than to destroy humanity and start over. "But Noah found favor in the eyes of Yahweh.... Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked faithfully with God" (Genesis 6:8,9b).
After many centuries and generations, God, through the Old Testament covenants He made with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, indicated that the coming Redeemer who would crush Satan would be Jewish, But before that Redeemer of all mankind was to come, God wanted to redeem the Jewish people from their slavery in Egypt.
In an attempt to thwart God’s plan of redemption, Satan instigated an infanticide against newborn Jewish boys to prevent God’s redeemer from entering the cosmic battle (see Exodus 1:15-22). Nobody knows how many Jewish babies died, but at least one family found a clever way to obey Pharaoh and defy him at the same time (see Exodus 2:1-10). In this and numerous other ways, Moses was a foreshadowing of the Redeemer yet to come. Numbers 22-25, would not seem significant enough to be called a major attack by Satan. To our human understanding, it seems more like a minor skirmish in which Satan got the upper hand against God’s people.
But God takes this incident more seriously because of the underlying negative spiritual realities. Besides the recounting of the story in the book of Numbers, the Old Testament refers to Balaam seven more times. Furthermore, there are three references to Balaam in the New Testament, and one of those is by Yeshua (Jesus) Himself — see Revelation 2:12-17.
From what the New Testament teaches, it is apparent that an obscure attack of Satan on the Jewish people more than 3,000 years ago still has spiritual significance for the followers of Yeshua today. And the spiritual power behind Balaam can still have its satanic influence in the midst of God’s congregation — see The Deep Things of Satan for more details.
More than a thousand years later, in the fullness of time, God’s promised Redeemer who would crush Satan was about to be born. Not having any newer strategy, Satan resorted to the same infanticide of Jewish baby boys which he used in Egypt against Moses and the others of Moses’ generation — see Matthew 2:13-18.
It’s ironic that, in order to escape Satan’s infanticide in Judea, Joseph, Mary and baby Yeshua found refuge in Egypt of all places — the very location of Satan’s previous infanticide against the Jews and against God’s purposes. That’s just one more prophetic link between Moses and Yeshua.
Despite Satan’s efforts, the Redeemer of mankind was born — Yeshua the Messiah. He disarmed Satan and shamed him publicly by His victory over him on the cross (Colossians 2:15). However, this victory will not be complete until the return of the King, when Yeshua will fully exercise His authority over Satan (Revelation 20).
Even though Satan lost his battle against Yeshua — God who became human — he has been fighting against the Body of Yeshua, the Ekklesia (Church) from the very day it was born on Pentecost (Acts 2). Satan knows that sin-prone humans are much easier prey than the sinless Son of God.
In the book of Acts you can read about the persecution the early Jewish followers of Yeshua suffered at the hands of their unbelieving fellow Jews. As the Ekklesia spread amongst the non-Jews in the Roman Empire, the book of Acts also recounts the persecution that Jewish and non-Jewish followers of Yeshua suffered at the hands of the pagans.
Satan’s strategy against the Ekklesia was a two-pronged approach. In addition to persecution, he was busy sowing false doctrine into the Ekklesia. Some of the books of the New Testament, like Galatians and 1 John, were written in response to these false teachings, these doctrines of demons. This is still a favorite tactic of Satan up to this very day.
Starting with the emperor Nero in 64 AD, and continuing for the next 250 years, the persecution of followers of Yeshua was coming primarily from the Roman government rather than from Judaism. For some specific examples, see my previous articles The Martyrs of Lyon and Two Tales of the Martyr Perpetua.
But Satan (and the Romans) just couldn’t win. The more they persecuted the followers of Yeshua, the more the Ekklesia grew. This was because the followers of Yeshua didn’t just follow Him in their words, but they followed His example in suffering and death. They did not fight back. They did not defend themselves violently. They did not love their earthly lives so as to shrink from death for the sake of Yeshua. They were true and faithful witnesses of their Master.
Many pagans were very impressed and deeply touched. The Ekklesia grew and was strengthened. Nevertheless, false doctrines continued to invade and pervade the Ekklesia, particularly after the first generation of original followers of Yeshua had died off. Satan realized that he could not defeat the Ekklesia through brute force, so he was taking the time to lay the foundations for a more subtle, devious attack.
When the time was ripe, Satan executed his plan. It was such a roaring success that 1,700 years later, the Ekklesia is still suffering greatly from its effects. But that story will have to wait for a future article — The Empire Strikes Back.
This article is 28th a series of articles on this Web site related to Exploring New Testament Realities which also includes (scroll to see the entire list):
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