Friday, January 8, 2016

Understanding the Book of Revelation - Chapter Five, The Key to History

Chapter 5 - The Key To History

“Then another ominous sign (wonder) was seen in heaven: Behold, a huge, fiery-red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and seven kingly crowns (diadems) upon his heads. His tail swept [across the sky] and dragged down a third of the stars and flung them to the earth. And the huge dragon was cast down and out – that age-old serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, he who is the seducer (deceiver) of all humanity the world over; he was forced out and down to the earth, and his angels were flung out along with him.” – Revelation 12:3-4a, 9

“Thus says the Lord God: You are the full measure and pattern of exactness [giving the finishing touch to all that constitutes completeness], full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone was your covering, the carnelian, topaz, jasper, chrysolite, beryl, onyx, sapphire, carbuncle, and emerald; and your settings and your sockets and engravings were wrought in gold. On the day that you were created they were prepared. You were the anointed cherub that covers with overshadowing [wings], and I set you so. You were upon the holy mountain of God; you walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire [like the paved work of gleaming sapphire stone upon which the God of Israel walked on Mount Sinai]. You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created until iniquity and guilt were found in you.” – Ezekiel 28:12-15

The most beautiful, the most perfect being ever created, filled with the sum of wisdom – that was the being we now know as The Adversary or Satan. One of a class of angelic beings known as cherubim (plural for cherub – and no, they don’t really look like chubby little babies with wings), he was anointed by God to become the highest of his class. He was positioned in the throne room of God. At that point he was then not only the most beautiful and wise of all of God’s created beings, he also held the most authority and power of any created being.

From the above passage in Ezekiel we are told several things about the original state of not only this magnificent cherub, but of the original creation as well. This being was in the original Eden, a garden not of plants, but of beautiful gems – a mineral garden – and given authority over it and this planet. From this passage we also see that He was the anointed cherub that covers – he was anointed by God and elevated above his fellow cherubim in power and authority. “You were upon the holy mountain of God; you walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire,” is speaking of the kingdom or throne room of God. So here we see that he was the guardian of the throne of God and was the one who granted or denied others access to it. The imagery used in these two statements is very reminiscent of the ark of the covenant which had two cherubim covering the mercy seat with their wings. This mercy seat was a type, or picture, for the throne of God, and above this seat is where God’s presence manifested itself in the wilderness tabernacle. Just as the cherubim on the ark “covered” God’s glory, so too, did Satan before he chose rebellion.

So, in summary, this most beautiful and perfect cherub was given unprecedented power and authority by God. And in this perfection, he was given something that we don’t have and may never fully understand – the power to make a choice contrary to his very nature. Unfortunately, he did just that, and when he did he became ha’satan – the adversary. Now let’s look at how this happened.

In Isaiah 14:13-14, the prophet has recorded the words of Satan, “And you said in your heart, I will ascend to heaven; I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will sit upon the mount of assembly in the uttermost north. I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.”

Let’s take a look at these five statements and what they mean.

First we have, “I will ascend to heaven.” Here we see that Satan wanted more than what he already had, but the only domain left was the very throne of God. Second we have, “I will exalt my throne above the stars of God.” In Scripture, when the word star is used symbolically it is always a symbol for an angel. So in this statement he is expressing his desire to be in charge of all the angelic beings.

The third statement, “I will sit upon the mount of assembly in the uttermost north,” is a reference of Satan's desire to sit on the throne of God. If we look in the second chapter of the book of Daniel we can begin to see what might be referenced here. “As you looked, a Stone was cut out without human hands, which smote the image on its feet of iron and [baked] clay [of the potter] and broke them to pieces. Then the iron, the [baked] clay [of the potter], the bronze, the silver, and the gold were broken and crushed together and became like the chaff of the summer threshing floors, and the wind carried them away so that not a trace of them could be found. And the Stone that smote the image became a great mountain or rock and filled the whole earth.” The image that Daniel is referring to is one that appeared in a dream of King Nebuchadnezzar. God was interpreting the dream via Daniel. The image represented not only King Nebuchadnezzar's kingdom, but those that would come afterward as well – right up to the time that Messiah (the Stone cut without human hands) will return and establish His kingdom on earth. This passage is pregnant with Messianic connotations. So, knowing that it was God’s will for the Messiah to rule in this capacity in God’s kingdom, Satan declared his desire to rule and reign over Israel in the Messiah’s place.

Fourth we have, “I will ascend above the heights of the clouds.” The word cloud, when used symbolically, is a reference to the manifest glory of God. When the Israelites were in the wilderness they were lead by the manifest presence of God – a pillar of fire by night and a pillar of cloud by day. So, here Satan is stating his desire to make that glory his own, when in fact it belongs to God alone.

Lastly we have the grand finale of the “I will” statements – “I will make myself like the Most High.” When God is referred to in Scripture as the Most High, it is most often referring to God as possessor of heaven and earth. In stating that he will make himself like the Most High, Satan is stating that he wants to make himself the owner, or title-holder, of heaven and earth.

These five “I will” statements are very telling about Satan’s desires. They can also help us understand history and what’s on the horizon. In these five short statements Satan voiced his dissatisfaction with God’s perfect will. Rather than be satisfied with his exalted position, he wanted it all! The most perfect being that God created thought he could take the place of his Creator and since that time has been busy trying to fulfill his desires.

When Satan chose to oppose God’s will, God had no choice but to judge Satan and everything that was under his authority – including the earth. In Genesis 1:1-2, we read, “In the beginning God (prepared, formed, fashioned, and) created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and an empty waste, and darkness was upon the face of the very great deep. The Spirit of God was moving (hovering, brooding) over the face of the waters.” But in Isaiah 45:18, it says, “For thus says the Lord--Who created the heavens, God Himself, Who formed the earth and made it, Who established it and did not create it to be a worthless waste; He formed it to be inhabited – I am the Lord, and there is no one else.” At first glance it would seem that these two passages contradict each other, but God’s Word can never contradict itself. From the passage in Ezekiel 28, we see that the original Garden of Eden was vastly different than the one mentioned in Genesis. In the second verse of Genesis we can see that the earth had become an empty waste, covered with water, but Isaiah says that God did not create the earth to be a waste. What happened between verses one and two of Genesis to cause such a dramatic change? The judgment of Satan. In the Genesis account of “creation” it is actually God re-creating and re-forming the earth out of the remains of what was left after God’s judgment of Satan’s rebellion.

In Romans 8:19-21, we read, “For [even the whole] creation (all nature) waits expectantly and longs earnestly for God's sons to be made known [waits for the revealing, the disclosing of their sonship]. For the creation (nature) was subjected to frailty (to futility, condemned to frustration), not because of some intentional fault on its part, but by the will of Him Who so subjected it – [yet] with the hope that nature (creation) itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and corruption [and gain an entrance] into the glorious freedom of God's children.” Creation is waiting to be redeemed to its original mineral state. In Revelation 21:1-3, we see, “Then I saw a new sky (heaven) and a new earth, for the former sky and the former earth had passed away (vanished), and there no longer existed any sea. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, all arrayed like a bride beautified and adorned for her husband; then I heard a mighty voice from the throne and I perceived its distinct words, saying, See! The abode of God is with men, and He will live (encamp, tent) among them; and they shall be His people, and God shall personally be with them and be their God,” (italics mine).

Note that the new earth will no longer have any sea, just as the original, pre-rebellion earth had no sea. Apparently God used water as part of His judgment against Satan’s rebellion, as He would do again at the time of Noah. Because the Messiah will be redeeming creation and returning it to its original state, we can deduce from the passage in Revelation 21 that the original state of this earth was not as it is represented in Adam and Eve’s garden, but as it was before Satan rebelled – an earth of precious stones, radiant with the very glory of God. In Revelation 21 we also see that the dwelling of God will be with men. Has God given us any glimpse of what His dwelling place looks likes? He has indeed!

“You were the anointed cherub that covers with overshadowing [wings], and I set you so. You were upon the holy mountain of God; you walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire [like the paved work of gleaming sapphire stone upon which the God of Israel walked on Mount Sinai].” – Ezekiel 28:14

“Then in the Spirit He conveyed me away to a vast and lofty mountain and exhibited to me the holy (hallowed, consecrated) city of Jerusalem descending out of heaven from God, clothed in God's glory [in all its splendor and radiance]. The luster of it resembled a rare and most precious jewel, like jasper, shining clear as crystal. The wall was built of jasper, while the city [itself was of] pure gold, clear and transparent like glass. The foundation [stones] of the wall of the city were ornamented with all of the precious stones. The first foundation [stone] was jasper, the second sapphire, the third chalcedony (or white agate), the fourth emerald, the fifth onyx, the sixth sardius, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, the twelfth amethyst. And the twelve gates were twelve pearls, each separate gate being built of one solid pearl. And the main street (the broadway) of the city was of gold as pure and translucent as glass.” – Revelation 21:10-11, 18-21

“And they saw the God of Israel [that is, a convincing manifestation of His presence], and under His feet it was like pavement of bright sapphire stone, like the very heavens in clearness.” – Exodus 24:10

Every time we are shown a glimpse of God on His throne or of His dwelling place it is described in terms of brilliant gemstones and jewels just like the original creation.

Is there more to learn from Satan’s rebellion than what the world once was and what it will be again? Without a doubt! To summarize, we had a created being that had been more perfect and beautiful and wise than any other created being. He then got so full of himself that he chose to act contrary to his own perfect nature and aspired to take over God’s position and authority. God then judged Satan and everything under his authority. By the time we see Satan make his appearance in the Garden of Eden as a serpent, we can only guess that his desire for complete domination had utterly consumed him and that he would stop at nothing to fulfill these five “I will” statements no matter how long it would take, and therein lies the key to history.

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