By Beth Snodderly
A Story to Illustrate Ralph Winter’s "12th Frontier of Perspective: The Challenge of the Evil One."
Once upon a time …
Well, actually, before our time began,
God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit called for a very special meeting of the Heavenly Council. “We have decided to make a new kind of creature in our image,” the Trinity said. “And we want some of you angels to be their guardians and watch over them and help influence them to make wise choices. We are appointing Lucifer, the cherub closest to our glory, to be the ruler of the new world where these humans will live.”
A dialog between God and Lucifer might have gone like this:
God: We are taking a big risk in creating humans and putting you in charge of their world. But we think the risk is worth it because of the GREAT potential for GREAT LOVE. We want heaven’s rule to be freely chosen on earth.
Lucifer: I’m honored that you have chosen me above all the other angels, to be the ruler of these new creatures in my world.
God: Well, you need to realize that they may not always choose to follow your leadership. They may rebel against you, or even try to harm you. We’ve already taken that risk in giving free choice to you angels.
Lucifer: Don’t worry. I won’t let them disobey. I’ll MAKE SURE that they follow my rules.
God: “The meek shall inherit the earth.” My kingdom is not ruled by force.
Lucifer: You made ME the prince and ruler of the earth. Now it is MY kingdom and I’ll do things MY way. I’ll KILL OFF anyone who doesn’t want to do what I say. In fact, I, the cherub closest to your glory, will expect my humans to worship ME.”
God (sadly): “You were the seal of perfection
Full of wisdom and perfect in beauty.
…You were on the holy mountain of God.
You walked amidst the fiery stones.
You were blameless in your ways
From the day you were created—
Until wickedness was found in you.”
Then there was WAR in heaven.
“Michael and his angels had to fight the dragon.” “The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.”
“How you are fallen from heaven, day star, son of the dawn; you are cast down to the earth.”
As for the earth, after Michael and his angels got done battling with Satan and his angels, the earth was a mess. It was tohu wabohu. You can read in Genesis 1 how God went about refashioning the earth to make a place where humans could live—because he still intended to create those humans.
But you might think that now God had a problem. How was heaven’s rule going to be freely chosen on earth when the ruler of the earth had already rebelled against heaven’s rule? Now the whole world was lying in the power of the evil one. And God couldn’t just take back the rulership he had given Satan. That would be to go back on his word. That would be to deny God’s own trustworthy character.
But God had a plan.
God always finds a way to overcome evil with good.
God always knows how he will respond to every possible choice that angels or humans could make.
God planned to work through humans who would choose whom they would serve. In a way they would be voting for who their ruler should be—Satan, or God.
In his wisdom, God knew that humans would not be able to resist the wiles of the devil without supernatural help. And they needed Someone who would show them what God’s will looks like on earth. Someone who is wise and good and loving. And Someone who would be willing to take the risk of being rejected by the very people he was trying to help. Since no one else in heaven was willing to take that risk, God himself had to make the choice to risk being betrayed and killed.
And sure enough, God the Son was the victim of violence. He was the Lamb who was slaughtered. But we are called to have faith in the God who has faith in himself. The Lamb was willing to be slain, from the foundation of the earth. Because he knew that God’s power is greater than death. He knew that death would not be able to hold onto him. And that was God’s peacemaking way of defeating the enemy.
“And the God of peace — will soon crush Satan under YOUR feet.” Because he has brought us out of darkness into the Kingdom of his beloved Son.
Dearly beloved, If God so loved us, we ought to choose to love — one another.
We can choose to be a display window of what God’s will looks like — on earth.
Beth Snodderly is President of William Carey International University and holds the degree of Doctor of Literature and Philosophy in New Testament from the University of South Africa.