The Enticement and Defeat of Satan
The following article would probably be included as “Chapter 16” of “Restoring the Vision of the End-times Church” if the book were being published today. September 11 has influenced the way we think about almost everything, especially evil and its impact on society. The Church particularly needs to understand the impact of evil upon her at the end of the age, and how it fits into God’s eternal plan for His victorious, overcoming Church. Some of the following points are already included in the book, but I think the whole topic of Satan’s defeat --- particularly since September 11 --- needs a stand-alone treatment of its own.
God has elected to use His Church to defeat Satan. The book of Revelation reveals a great battle between Satan and the Church at the very end of the age which ends with the Church victorious and overcoming Satan by the Blood of the Lamb, the word of her testimony, and by loving not her life unto death. We might ask, “But didn’t Jesus totally defeat Satan on the cross?” What has the Church to do with this beyond what Jesus has already done?
Ephesians 3:8-12 answers that question. Here we see that the eternal purpose of God in Christ Jesus, and the reason that He created all things, is to demonstrate His wisdom through the Church to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. In other words, God is going to use the Church to defeat Satan. We don’t know why God has chosen to do things this way, but it is His choice. Jesus came and legally defeated Satan on the cross and then turned to His Church and said, “I have given you authority over all the power of the enemy.” With that statement He commissioned the Church to carry out the victory over Satan in His name. And He looked forward in time and rejoiced to see Satan fall like lightning from heaven. His Church would be victorious! For over 2000 years, the Church has been battling to gain that victory.
God has saved the final battle in this war for the last 3-1/2 years of the age, during which time the saints will be elevated to full anointing and power in Jesus Christ. We see this in Revelation 12:10 where it reads that “Now the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come.” The saints --- in this anointed and empowered condition --- will battle head to head with Satan and his kingdom. Fully empowered evil will come against fully empowered good. The restoration of creation rests on the outcome. And the book of Daniel is the first to reveal that the saints will be victorious, but through the process of being warred against, worn down, and shattered. Daniel did not understand. Do we?
Daniel sees the saints seemingly defeated at the end of the last 3-1/2 years of the age. This seeming defeat parallels the appearance of Jesus hanging shattered and destroyed on the cross at the end of His 3-1/2 years of public ministry. We know that Jesus invited us to follow Him, and as His path via the cross was His path to victory, so will our paths via our crosses be our paths to victory. As Jesus lived and died during His 3-1/2 years of public ministry, so will we, His corporate body, live and die during the last 3-1/2 half years of the age. We must embrace this vision for the Church at the end of the age, or the things that are coming will confuse and stumble us.
The whole church age has been preparation leading up to this final battle. The first blow that Satan has already dealt is that he has convinced much of the Church that she won’t even be on earth when this time comes. That is a deception of great peril which puts many in the Church at risk of stumbling and falling away when the truth becomes evident. The Church must be on earth throughout the age to complete her commission. How can we achieve this glorious destiny if we aren’t here?
Our understanding of the “great commission” is the preaching of the gospel to all the nations, but we may fail to realize that Jesus also tasked His Church with defeating the devil. Remember that He said to heal the sick, cast out demons, etc. In fact, I believe that is the fullness of the great commission. It is “this gospel” in its fullness that the world is waiting to hear --- and see. 1 John 3:8 says the Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil, as if perhaps this were His primary purpose for coming. And we know that the tasks He started, He turned over to His Church for completion in the power and authority of His name.
Satan is now gearing up for this final assault against the saints by preparing his antichrist world government. His final assault begins in Revelation Chapter 12 as Satan in the form of the dragon goes off to war against the rest of the woman’s offspring who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus. And these saints are given over to the antichrist for 3-1/2 years. By all external appearances, they are defeated. But external appearances are never reality. This is a spiritual battle to be won not by carnal weapons, but by the wisdom and power of the cross. And as Jesus hung seemingly shattered and defeated on the cross, so do these saints at the end of the age appear shattered and defeated. The two witnesses, for example, are overcome and killed and lie in the public streets to be ridiculed and scoffed at by the whole unrepentant world. This is the vision for the Church that we need to embrace at the end of the age --- not necessarily a dominion-oriented, take-charge Church; but a remnant, undefiled lamb prepared for slaughter --- willing to lay down her life for the sake of God’s redemptive purposes. We need to take on the attitude of Job, “Yea, though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him.” In fact, I believe Job is a prophetic statement for the end-time Church.
God said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job?” With that enticement, God lured Satan into a direct confrontation with Job, the outcome of which is summarized in James as an everlasting testament to God’s mercy. Job was deemed by God a righteous man. Yet at the extreme of his trial, he is in the ashes scraping his head-to-foot sores with a broken pottery shard, after losing all of his possessions and children in another building that collapsed. He is left only with a nagging wife who counsels him to curse God and die. This is the path he must tread in order to become an everlasting testament to God’s mercy. Should we find ourselves in such a predicament, would we be content to rejoice while understanding that God’s mercy is being worked out? Can our theology even handle such event? Or do we agree that God is loving and merciful --- but only by our more humanistic definitions? Do we think that Job is an Old Testament story that has no relevance to this age of grace? I submit that Job is an end-times message that needs to be fully understood and embraced by the Church. I submit that God intends to entice Satan against His saints at the end of this age even as He enticed Satan against Job.
Several things are revealed in this confrontation which I believe are prophetic types for the final confrontation. First, Job was further purified by the confrontation. He learned more about God and about his own imperfection, even though God had declared Job a righteous man before the confrontation started. In fact, I believe God needed to find such a righteous man who could stand the fires of the confrontation without shrinking back. In the light of God’s glory, Job repented and moved from glory to glory. And by the way, God never did explain to Job what had gone on behind the scenes involving Satan and the authority he was given over Job. How much more should we trust our Heavenly Father since we have the testimony of Job as a testament to God’s faithfulness and mercy, particularly in the midst of tribulation and testing?
Secondly, Satan was defeated. He turned tail and disappeared and was never heard from again in the book of Job. Job stood up to the test and Satan was humiliated.
Thirdly, God was glorified. His man made of dust from the ground had passed the test. Job had humiliated the once-glorious, most beautiful, and perhaps most powerful being ever created, by His God-given faith and endurance.
The shelves in Christian bookstores are not lined with literature of such vision as this. “Enlarge my tents” --- “rapture me quickly” --- these are the self-serving pleas of a Church totally oblivious to the greater purposes of God at the end of the age. These books you will find in great abundance in every shape, size, and color along with accompanying videos and music. They fill the top ten best seller lists. They are in your face as you walk into the stores. They are quick profit for owners and authors, and they spread a message that does away with the cross, though the cross of Jesus Christ is the one and only thing we are to glory in. Jesus said that those who wanted to be His disciples must deny themselves and pick up their crosses daily and follow Him without looking back, and that those who would not or could not were not fit to be His disciples.
God has staged all things for this final confrontation between Satan and the saints. It is His eternal purpose in Christ Jesus. It is the reason why He created all things. ( Ephesians 3:8-12) Multitudes of conspiracy-oriented websites are warning us against the trap being set by the encroaching antichrist world order. But the joke is on Satan; he is the one being set-up to walk into his own trap. Over and over we read in the Psalms that the traps and schemes set up by those with evil intent will result in their own capture and destruction. The classic example of this will be when Satan goes off to war against “her offspring”, the Church, those who obey the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus. (Rev 12:17)
Many in the Church do not see and embrace this destiny. But the Bible is clear. Every jot and tittle of the destiny of the saints revealed in the book of Revelation will be fulfilled. And there is no question that this scenario, as it is being played out, will have all appearances of a total defeat of the saints --- even as Jesus hanging on the cross appeared to be a total defeat. “Unless those days had been cut short, no flesh would survive.” Even his disciples, those closest to Him who should have known, did not have a clue what was happening when Jesus went to His cross. Daniel 12 says the events of the last 3-1/2 years of the age will be completed when the power of the holy people has been shattered.
Conspiracy-oriented websites are insisting that concentration camps are already set-up to house and eliminate those who oppose the antichrist system. They insist that personnel trains are already running carrying American citizens and others to these secretive termination facilities. I believe much of what these sources say. It is not my call to deal much with this information or to check it out in depth, but much of it rings true as I read it. Typically our response is challenged to be active resistance. When they come to our doors, we are to fight to the death to protect ourselves and our families. It sounds good, doesn’t it? But good is often the enemy of the “best”, and the good fruit of the tree of the knowledge of “good and evil” is every bit as poisonous as the evil fruit. Jesus said to follow Him, and He walked as a Lamb. Certainly He is coming back as a lion, but that is His call, not ours. Perhaps we will eventually be released as lions, but our call at this time is to defeat Satan is by the Blood of the Lamb, the word of our testimony, and by loving not our lives unto death. This is the pathway of the Lamb, not the lion. The Bible says our weapons are not to be carnal and indicates that those who use carnal weapons will perish by carnal weapons. It is the wisdom of the cross that will defeat Satan --- that utterly foolish message that is totally contrary to the wisdom of the world.
The danger in not realizing this scenario is that many will stumble and fall away during these times of conflict, because evil will be displayed on this planet in an all time high. Unless we understand this scenario, we will wonder how God could allow such things to come against His saints. Those who stand on a doctrine of cheap grace and abandonment of the cross will find their loins loosed and their faith crumbling when faced with the dilemma of taking the mark or losing their heads. But God says that those who are beheaded will be resurrected in glory. If we don’t see beyond the cross to the joy and we don’t embrace this true destiny, we may not endure. And Jesus already has told us that many will fall away and the love of most will grow cold.
If I were to summarize all of this, I would say it as follows: “The Bible says that God, Who has created all things, has as His eternal purpose in Christ Jesus the defeat of Satan by bringing him against the Church during the last 3-1/2 years of the age. These saints will be given over to the antichrist system and largely martyred. But by laying down their lives, they will gain the victory and inherit the Kingdom for eternity. God’s mercy will be made manifest even as it was in the case of Job, and He will receive glory from His victorious saints for eternity!”
Since the WTC disaster of September 11, 2001, we have been deluged with prophetic analyses of what God had to do, if anything, with this disaster. What was He saying? Isn’t it that God is loving and merciful? Isn’t it that God is perfect and holy and could have nothing to do with Satan in bringing on this disaster? Come on folks! Read the Bible. In the Bible, the heart of God is revealed. He has continually used Satan to come against His elect for redemptive purposes. Furthermore, Amos 3:6 essentially says that no catastrophe ever comes to a city unless God has caused it. We somehow forget that God is in charge and Satan is a mad dog on a regulated leash. Satan cannot touch God’s elect unless God allows it. Satan had to obtain permission from God before he could touch Job and his family and his property, and so it will be with any and all of us who are God’s elect. However, it is very clear that God will bring Satan and his kingdom into direct conflict with God’s elect saints at the end of the age, and out of this conflict will come victory for the saints which will bring in the millennial kingdom. We need to get hold of the bigger picture here so that we don’t stumble and fall away during the battle and the events leading up to it --- which, by the way --- are called birth pains by Jesus. Why birth pains? Because out of the crucible of tribulation will emerge the perfected and matured saints having washed their robes and made them white in the Blood of the Lamb.
Saints, what is happening on this planet and what is going to happen is all under God’s control and plan. He is leading Satan into a trap which will find him ultimately defeated and thrown into the lake of fire. Take heart! It might seem that Satan is setting up a trap for the saints --- and he is --- but the joke is on him, because he will fall into his own trap. Unless we see this --- and understand it --- we will be in danger of stumbling when this horrific persecution comes. And it will come. Not one thing will be added or subtracted from the events depicted in the Book of Revelation.