“God Is Everywhere” ( Psalms 138:8, KNOX ) by Carley Evans


Satan before the Lord
Satan before the Lord (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If I should climb up to heaven, thou art there; if I sink down to the world beneath, thou art present still. ( Psalms 138:8, KNOX )

A puzzle here in David’s words and in the oral rendition of the story of Job – God is everywhere! We imagine God is incapable of being in the presence of evil, but that is obviously not so. Yes, He turns from His Son at the Cross when all the sins of the world attach themselves to Jesus; but God is found even if we climb to the heavens or descend to the realms of death and hell. That the Lord comes into the presence of the Enemy, Satan is evident in the beginning moments of the story of Job.

One day, when the heavenly powers stood waiting upon the Lord’s presence, and among them, man’s Enemy, the Lord asked him, where he had been? Roaming about the earth, said he, to and fro about the earth.Why then, the Lord said, thou hast seen a servant of mine called Job. Here is a true man, an honest man, none like him on earth; ever he fears his God, and keeps far from wrong-doing. Job fears his God, the Enemy answered, and loses nothing by it. 10 Sheltered his life by thy protection, sheltered his home, his property; thy blessing on all he undertakes; worldly goods that still go on increasing; he loses nothing. 11 One little touch of thy hand, assailing all that wealth of his! Then see how he will turn and blaspheme thee. 12 Be it so, the Lord answered; with all his possessions do what thou wilt, so thou leave himself unharmed. And with that, the Enemy left the Lord’s presence, and withdrew. ( Job 1: 6-12, KNOX )

God’s ability and willingness to be in the presence of the Enemy is nearly as difficult to understand and accept as His ability and willingness to suffer and die. God is engaged with death and evil. To think He is not is to misunderstand Him. God does not create death and evil; but He allows both. In so many ways, He uses both. Why?

Some would say, “To manifest His Power.”

Advertisements

“Among The Heathen” ( Psalm 46:10, KJV ) by Carley Evans


Gustave Doré, Depiction of Satan, the antagoni...
Gustave Doré, Depiction of Satan, the antagonist of John Milton’s Paradise Lost c. 1866 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

God says:

“Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.”

Do you think God means you to stand quietly, listening? Does He mean for you to shut your mouth? Open your ears? Does He mean for you to meditate? Pray? Is it a stillness of the body? Or, is it a stillness of the spirit? Or both?

How do you know He is God? Does He tell you? Do you just know He is God by being still? Is there some revelation? Do you become aware of Him when you are quietly still?

Do you notice God says “I Am God.” He also says, “I will be exalted among the heathen.” And, He says: “I will be exalted in the earth.” How is God exalted “among the heathen?” How is God exalted, lifted up among unbelievers? How is He exalted in the earth?

When does this knowing of God occur? I think about Job in particular; he isn’t still or quiet when God permits Satan to attack him.  Rather than be still, Job protests; he wrestles; he argues; he questions. Eventually God says, “Be quiet. Who are you to question Me?” And Job shuts up; he repents in dust and ashes because now he knows God. No longer is it just a report about God; it is a personal encounter.

Once the encounter with God is personal, then God is exalted among the heathen for this is the point at which the heathen becomes believer.

 

“He Shall Rise Again To Life” ( Matthew 20: 17-19, WYC ) by Carley Evans


Jerusalem
Jerusalem (Photo credit: swallroth)

Jesus teaches some truths privately. He takes aside His twelve disciples — including Judas the betrayer — to tell them about their trip to Jerusalem. We’re going up there to the city of God so that I can be condemned to death. I’m going to be ‘scorned, and scourged, and crucified.’ But I’m also going to ‘rise again to life’ on the third day. He may even speak an aside in Judas’ direction, This will thwart the plans of Satan, those plans in which you are to be deeply involved very soon.

Imagine the twelve looking at each other. What did Jesus say? What are we doing? Why are we going to Jerusalem? Did Jesus really mean He is going to die? And what else did He say? He’s going to rise again to life?

“And Jesus went up to Jerusalem, and took his twelve disciples in private, and said to them, [And Jesus, ascending up to Jerusalem, took his twelve disciples in private, and said to them,] Lo! we go up to Jerusalem, and man’s Son shall be betaken to princes of priests, and to scribes; and they shall condemn him to death. And they shall betake him to heathen men, for to be scorned, and scourged, and crucified; and the third day he shall rise again to life. [And they shall betake him to heathen men, to be scorned, and scourged, and crucified; and the third day he shall rise again.]”

Then, upon entering the city, the crowds greet them with waving palm branches and shouts of “Hosanna! to the Son of David! Blessed is He that cometh in the Name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” (Matthew 21: 9, KJV)  You can almost hear the disciples, What are we to make of this? These people don’t seem to want Jesus to die? What’s going on? Is our Master mistaken?

These men walk about in a daze, not fully knowing. The next thing Jesus does is clear the temple of money-changers, saying to them, “My house shall be called the house of prayer, but ye have made it a den of thieves.” (Matthew 21:13, KJV) Next He heals the blind and the lame. Then, He tells the chief priests and scribes that God has “perfected praise” in the mouths of infants. (Matthew 21:16, KJV) He laments over Jerusalem, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them who are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!” (Matthew 23:37, KJV)

From the moment Jesus enters Jerusalem, He challenges the chief priests, scribes, Pharisees and Sadduces as well as the Herodians. Eventually, the plot to kill Him is fully developed and His statement to His disciples comes to pass. Soon they know.

“Free From Fear” ( 1 John 2: 2, NIV ) by Carley Evans


The author of 1 John writes simply, “[Jesus] is the atoning sacrifice for our sins.” Now and then in the Word, God sums up the gospel in a brief, powerful statement. Here it is again — the three major elements of our salvation: Jesus, His atoning sacrifice, and our sins. Jesus says it Himself, “The Son of Man is not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:28)

Jesus calls Himself a “ransom”; the author of 1 John calls Jesus “the atoning sacrifice.”

Today, a “ransom” is paid when someone has taken a child from a family. Today, not many of us fully understand an “atoning sacrifice.”

I gather that theologians wrestle with these concepts — did Jesus pay off Satan? or God? Did He substitute for us on the cross or did He carry away our sins on the cross?

I’m not a theologian. When I read the words “He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins” and the words I Am come “to give [My] life as a ransom for many” I only know what it means to me —  I am not punished because Jesus paid a debt I owe. Whether He paid it to God the Father or to Satan or in some fashion to both, I do not know. I only know I am free from fear.

“A Conditional Treaty” ( 1 Samuel 11: 2, HCSB ) by Carley Evans


The Ammonite Nahash besieges Jabesh-gilead. The defeated men beg Nahash to make a treaty with them on the condition that they serve him. But the conqueror replies, “I’ll make one with you on this condition: that I gouge out everyone’s right eye and humiliate all Israel.” The elders of Jabesh say, “Don’t do anything to us for seven days. And let us send messengers throughout the territory of Israel. If no one saves us, we will surrender to you.” (1 Samuel 11:3)

Nahash must not be very intelligent. Why allow messengers to go about the territory seeking help for a conquered people? Nevertheless, Nahash allows this very thing! He allows these defeated people to seek a savior.

The messengers reach Saul’s hometown, Gibeah. They tell Nahash’s terms to the people who begin to weep loudly. Saul, coming in from fieldwork with his oxen, becomes aware of people crying. When Saul hears the reason for their sorrow, “the Spirit of God suddenly takes control of him, and his anger burns furiously.” (1 Samuel 11:6)

In his fury, he takes a team of oxen, cuts them into pieces, and sends them throughout Israel with — I presume — the same messengers. The message Saul sends is: “This is what will be done to the ox of anyone who doesn’t march behind Saul and Samuel.” (1 Samuel 11:7) The people “go out united” because the “terror of the Lord falls” on them.

The messengers return to Jabesh-gilead to tell the people there that deliverance is at hand. Rejoicing, the men go to Nahash and say, “Tomorrow we will come out, and you can do whatever you want to us.” (1 Samuel 11:10) The next day, Saul — with troops in three divisions — invades the camp of the Ammonites and slaughters them. “There are survivors, but they are so scattered that no two of them are left together.” (1 Samuel 11:11)

Obviously Nahash would be better off if he’d just make that treaty with Jabesh-gilead — plenty of servants, the result. No need to set such a wicked condition as gouging out the right eye of every man, woman and child. For Nahash winning is not enough. He wants total humiliation of his enemy.

Ever think of that way — that Satan isn’t satisfied with ruling in hell. It’s not enough for him that he ‘escapes’ the realm of heaven and roams the earth, that he controls demonic forces and defies God at every turn. He must bring us down with him — he is unable to bear the fellowship Adam and Eve enjoy with God in the garden. He must destroy this joy. He must totally humiliate us before God. Happily, God provides more than a Saul or a Samuel for us. Our deliverer is Jesus, the Son of God. With God, no conditional treaty is needed. Utter defeat of our enemy so that “no two” of his forces “are left together” is what we enjoy because of the power of our God.

 

“Guarded From The Evil One” ( 2 Thessalonians 3: 3, HCSB ) by Carley Evans


A bodyguard forms a living shield between assailant and target, whether the assailant is armed and highly dangerous or unarmed and highly annoying. The bodyguard is willing to take a bullet or a verbal barb as the protector.

Jesus is our bodyguard. He stands between us and our adversary, who prowls around like a hungry lion, seeking anyone he may devour. Jesus “directs [our] hearts to God’s love” and to His own endurance. (2 Thessalonians 3:5) In this, Jesus gives us His protection, His perseverance, and God’s awesome love. In Him, we are strengthened.

Jesus is the ultimate shield from the evil one. After all, “from the beginning, God [chooses] [us] for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and through belief in the truth. He calls [us] to this through [the] gospel, so that [we] might obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (2 Thessalonians 2:13-14)

Therefore, “may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father, who loves us and gives us eternal encouragement and good hope by grace, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good work and word.” (2 Thessalonians 2:16-17)

“Satan’s Song; God’s Answer” ( Isaiah 14: 12, ESV ) by Carley Evans


Lucifer, called ‘Day Star, son of Dawn’ and functioning as one of God’s great angels, decides at some point in his service to the Almighty to seek to “ascend above the heights of the clouds; [and to] make [himself] like the Most High.” (Isaiah 14:14) Lucifer’s pride and haughty spirit goes before his fall. (Proverbs 16:18) Since the fall of Adam and Eve, mankind reflects Lucifer turned Satan. Truly, mankind is made in the image of God, but our reflection is now of Satan, not of God.

God the Holy Spirit says to Satan, “How you are fallen from heaven, O Day Star, son of Dawn! How you are cut down to the ground, you who lay the nations low! But you are brought down to Sheol, to the far reaches of the pit. Those who see you will stare at you and ponder over you: ‘Is this the man who makes the earth tremble, who shakes kingdoms, who makes the world like a desert and overthrows its cities, who does not let his prisoners go home?’ ” (Isaiah 14:12,15-17)

And, we are Satan’s prisoners. We are his prisoners until and unless we are covered by the blood of Jesus Christ. “For God so loves the world, that He gives His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God does not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him. Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already.” (John 3:16-18)