In the center of the horizontal line is the zero point, through which a vertical line passes. To the right are the innumerable choices that God's creatures can make. They can select that which is good, that which is better, or that which is best. Moreover, they can choose that which is poor, or poorer, and still again that which is poorest. In making these various choices, they can still remain on the right or positive side of the zero point. So long as they stay thus to the right side of the zero, they are still exercising their priceless faculty, the power of choice, the freedom of the will, and yet are still within the will of God.(Continued on the next page)
On the other hand, they can cross over the zero point to the left, choosing to do that which is bad, or that which is worse, and finally that which is worst of all. Of course the moment they, figuratively speaking, cross the zero point to the negative side, they are pitting their wills against God's and are no longer within the limits of His will--hence they are out of fellowship with Him. But in their crossing over and making choices that are contrary to the will of God, they are still exercising the God-given faculty of choice with which they were divinely endowed. Though they cheat themselves out of fellowship with Him in whom they live, move, and have their being, and cast His blessings from them. He is forced, under the regime which He has instituted, to allow them to continue to exercise their choices contrary to His will. Should the Almighty circumvent any of His creatures the moment that such a one crosses over the zero point to the left side and goes contrary to His will, the Lord would cease to be the reasonable, rational being that He is and would become a despot, acting contrary to the foundation principle upon which His government is built, namely, the self-determinative choice of free beings. In thus repressing such free action of His creatures, God would destroy fundamentally the foundation of His entire regime. His whole kingdom would thereby be thrown into chaos. For this reason He permits all His creatures who cross the deadline over into the forbidden land of rebellion against His expressed will to continue to live and to carry on their own activities as free beings, exercising their God-given faculty of choice.
By their crossing over the boundary line which separates the territory of the divine will from that of opposition to Him, they wreck their intellectual and spiritual natures to such an extent that they are in opposition to all that is good and holy and are henceforth unable to submit themselves to the desires and purposes of the Almighty in His development of "the plan of the ages." This fact is seen by a glance at the anointed cherub, together with all whom he influenced to cross over the borderline. We see that this creature was changed into the inveterate enemy of God. He became entirely possessed by wrath toward God and all that is holy, true, and pure. Every time he does anything, he is motivated by sinister desires and acts in direct opposition to the will of God. The same thing is true of those fallen spirits who followed his leadership, and of whom we read throughout the Scriptures. Man in his fallen state is of a similar attitude, for the Apostle Paul declared that "the mind of the flesh is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can it be ..." (Rom. 8:7). From all this data we can see that all of God's creatures, whenever they cross the deadline into the forbidden territory, wreck their spiritual nature and become obsessed, more or less, with a diabolical hatred of God and His will.
As just stated, whenever they cross over into the forbidden territory, they are disqualified for doing the will of God. He can no longer use them in His original number-one plan for them. This is true of both men and of angels. Whenever they thus disqualify themselves for doing His will within the realm of righteousness and justice, the Lord still uses them, or rather overrules their actions and makes whatever they do contribute to the advancement of His plans and purposes. He makes even the wrath of man to praise Him:
"Surely the wrath of man shall praise thee:
The residue of wrath shalt thou gird upon thee" (Ps. 76:10).
The Scriptures are abundant in their testimony concerning the purity and the holiness of God. Being a holy creature, He could not and would not create any evil, in any form. This fact is evident from the further fact that His very nature revolts at the least taint of unholiness. We may therefore conclude that the entire universe which was created by this Holy Being was free from the least taint of that which is unholy. "Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God; for God cannot be tempted with evil and he himself tempteth no man" (James 1:13). Though God did not create evil in any form, we see the evidence of its presence throughout the world. From what source did it originate? My answer is that the anointed cherub who pitted his will against that of the Almighty is the author of this evil power, or force, which we call sin and which has contaminated and corrupted the world and all things therein. Can Satan create anything? Most emphatically, no. God alone is asserted in the Scriptures to be the one who is able to create; that is, bring into existence that which had no prior form nor substance before the specific act of creation. Every time the word translated create is used in the active voice, God is the subject. He therefore is the one and only one who can create.
In this connection it is highly important that we learn what we can about this one who has wrought such havoc throughout the universe. Without this knowledge a person cannot understand what is constantly going on in the world.
The Scriptures are a progressive revelation; that is, they often mention a doctrine by giving a mere suggestion or hint at some fact in its first appearance in the sacred record. Later on, when the demand arises for a further revelation on the same subject, additional light is given. Thus the disclosure concerning the doctrine in question is a gradual growth. It therefore becomes necessary for anyone to trace a given doctrine from its first mention through the Bible in order that he might get the full and complete picture of that which is taught.
The first allusion to him who is known in the Scriptures as Satan, the adversary, and the devil is found in Genesis, chapter 3. In this basic passage we learn that the serpent, who was wiser than all the beasts of the field, approached Eve in such a conniving and subtle manner that she was deceived and was thus led to disobey God. The result of the fatal step, which she took in partaking of the forbidden fruit, was the fall of the human race and the coming of the curse upon the earth.
When a person understands man's original position of supremacy and authority over the earth, the fowls of the heavens, and the beasts of the fields; and when he recognizes the terrific consequences of this one act of disobedience, he immediately becomes apprehensive of the presence, power, and activity of one greater than a literal serpent. An unsophisticated person--who has no theories to support and no preconceptions to uphold--immediately senses the fact that the one causing such a world-shaking and history-making calamity on this occasion was some sinister being with a gigantic intellect, cunning, and power far superior to those of man, who was behind the scenes, and who was directing that first great act of the tragic drama of human history. The keen Bible student senses and recognizes the presence of such a creature in this record, accepts unquestioningly this fact, and searches for more light on the subject.
Confirmation of this hypothesis is found in the fact that, after Adam's disobedience and consequent fall, the Lord God "drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden the Cherubim, and the flame of a sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life" (Gen. 3:24). This new situation demanded the placing of the mighty cherubim--the highest order of celestial beings created by the Almighty--together with the flame of a sword at the east of Eden to keep the way of the tree of life lest man in his fallen condition should put forth his hand, take of the tree of life, and live forever. His thus becoming immortal in his present corrupt state would have doomed the entire race, all of his progeny, to utter condemnation for all eternity. Hence man was driven out of the Garden, and a contingent of powerful cherubim (cherubs) was assigned to the position of guarding the entrance to the tree of life. Why such a powerful safeguard with the flame of a sword? Certainly such a force was not required to prevent Adam and Eve's approaching the tree of life and partaking of its fruit! There were good and sufficient reasons for the Almighty's calling forth such a formidable array of power to do duty on this occasion. The necessary inference suggested by all the facts is that there was an opposing hostile host that might launch an attack to force an entrance to the tree of life. That there is such an archenemy of God and man, who has a vast army of servile spirits at his command, we learn from other portions of the Word of God. That this vast host was threatening the situation on this occasion is demanded by all the facts presented in Genesis, chapter 3.
It is true that the Lord God Omnipotent could have used His mighty power and eliminated all possibility of any further rebellion. But under His moral regime He would not handle the case thus. On the contrary, He acted in accordance with the great fundamental principles upon which His government is established.
We generally speak of this great enemy of all good by the name appearing in the Hebrew text by which he is called--Satan. This name is a general term that indicates simply an adversary. The one who opposed another was--whether he was good or bad--in the original Hebrew usage called a satan, an adversary. This word finally took on a more specific meaning and became the usual name of one who opposes. In the process of time, however, it became more specific and developed into a proper name. It appears in this category in II Samuel 24:1ff and I Chronicles 21:1ff. These two passages are parallel accounts of the same event. In the Samuel passage Jehovah is said to be the one whose anger was kindled against Israel, and who moved David against the people, causing him to number them--to take a census of the nation for determining how many were eligible for military service. In the Chronicles account Satan himself is represented as standing up against Israel and moving David to take this census. Each of these passages supplement the information appearing in the other. By taking both together we see that God, the Sovereign of the universe, was stirred to anger against Israel because of their sin and moved David to do that which brought punishment upon the disobedient people. But the Lord Almighty used Satan--who is always ready at hand to do such things and to pervert all good, if possible--in moving David to do this thing which was in disobedience to God. God was, of course, behind the scenes, using Satan who likewise stood behind as an invisible actor in this drama. David accepted Satan's suggestion and numbered Israel. What anyone does through his agent or servant, he himself does. Since the people of Israel stirred up the wrath of God against themselves, the Almighty had to punish them. Both David and Israel were out of fellowship with God at that time; both therefore had to be punished. One sin, unrepented of, calls for another. To number Israel for military purposes on this occasion was an act of distrust in God. David had, at that time, through his sins unrepented of, wavered in his spiritual life. He ceased trusting God as he usually did and looked to the arm of flesh for deliverance. Since he was in this condition, the Lord allowed Satan to move him along the same groove into which he had fallen--to meet the problems of his day in his unbelief and his trusting the arm of flesh. God took him where he was, allowed him to go on in his self-determined manner, and punished both him and Israel for their disobedience. In thus dealing with them, the Lord used Satan.
An excellent example of God's using men, who are out of fellowship with Him or who do not know Him, is found in Deuteronomy 13:1-5.⁵ The false prophet in this passage against whom God gives this warning is certainly an Israelite, for he arises out of their midst. Being a false prophet, he assuredly is out of fellowship with God. He may be able, by a spirit of divination, to give, as his credentials, a sign or wonder, which actually comes to pass.
The fact that his prediction comes to pass is no guarantee that he is sent by God. The people are warned to examine carefully the message of every prophet. If he is trying to get them to forsake Jehovah their God and to go after other gods, they are to recognize the fact that he is false, and that the spirit working through him is of the evil one. They are therefore to turn from him and to put him to death.
In giving this warning, the Lord revealed the fact to Israel that He would use such imposters to prove His people--to demonstrate whether or not they really and truly love Jehovah their God. He would not move men to become false prophets and to dabble into the occult. When, however, they of their own volition do descend to that plane, the Lord uses them in forwarding His plans and purposes for blessing others. "Surely the wrath of man shall praise thee ..." (Ps. 76:10). All who remain faithful and true to God are always used of Him in a higher and a holier way. For all who love Him and are called according to His purpose, He works all things together for good (Rom. 8:28).
From the book of Job we learn much about Satan. The data found throughout that book unquestionably reflect Patriarchal Times. We therefore are forced to believe that Job, the hero of the narrative, and his friends lived in the times reflected by and echoed in the book--most probably in the days of Abraham. But the philological and syntactical data of the book, together with other evidence, point to the period of Solomon as the probable time of the writing of the book. The Spirit of God therefore came upon the human author, brought before him the scenes and the conversations recorded in the book, and enabled him to give us a faithful and true account of what might be termed the greatest epic of a human soul of the ages.
In this Book of Job we see the next reference to Satan, who is there definitely designated as the adversary--the adversary of both God and man. In the beginning of the prologue, chapters 1 and 2, we learn that Job was a perfect man and one who worshiped God sincerely. He was a man of great wealth. We next catch a glimpse of the throne of God in the heavens of the heavens. To the Almighty seated in majesty on His throne, the sons of God came and gave accounts of their ministries in the various portions of the universe. Among them came Satan, who, seemingly, had just arrived from the earth. The Lord asked him concerning Job and how he was faring. The devil, in his characteristic manner, began to hurl insinuations at him and to question his integrity and honor. "And he [Job] still holdeth fast his integrity, although thou movest me against him, to destroy him without cause" (Job2:3).
¹ Men of science are expecting great revelations never dreamed of before to be made by the great telescope which has just been dedicated at Mount Palomar, California.
² The overthrow of the anointed cherub and the original kingdom over which he reigned in the Eden of God is recounted in verses 11-19. We probably shall not be far from the truth if we connect this event with the wrecking of the earth as is recorded in Genesis 1:2: "And the earth became a desolation and a waste" (lit. trans.). But Ezekiel 28:18,19, has probably a double reference and speaks also of another overthrow of this same anointed cherub (who since his original rebellion and overthrow is known as the Devil), which will be accomplished at the end of the Tribulation when the Antichrist and his kingdom are overthrown. This position seems to be required by the use of the future tense—"the peoples shall be astonished ..."
19 And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat upon the horse, and against his army. 20 And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought the signs in his sight, wherewith he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast and them that worshipped his image: they two were cast alive into the lake of fire that burneth with brimstone: 21 and the rest were killed with the sword of him that sat upon the horse, even the sword which came forth out of his mouth: and all the birds were filled with their flesh (Rev. 19:19-21).
³ Now it came to pass in the thirtieth year, in the fourth month, in—the fifth day of the month, as I was among the captives by the river Chebar, that the heavens were opened, and I saw visions of God. 2 In the fifth day of the month, which was the fifth year of king Jehoiachin's captivity, 3 the word of Jehovah came expressly unto Ezekiel the priest, the son of Buzi, in the land of the Chaldeans by the river Chebar; and the hand of Jehovah was there upon him. 4 And I looked, and, behold, a stormy wind came out of the north, a great cloud, with a fire infolding itself, and a brightness round about it, and out of the midst thereof as it were glowing metal, out of the midst of the fire. 5 And out of the midst thereof came the likeness of four living creatures. And this was their appearance: They had the likeness of a man; ... 25 And there was a voice above the firmament that was over their heads: when they stood, they let down their wings.
26 And above the firmament that was over their heads was the likeness of a throne, as the appearance of a sapphire stone; and upon the likeness of the throne was a likeness as the appearance of a man upon it above. 27 And I saw as it were glowing metal, as the appearance of fire within it round about, from the appearance of his loins and upward; and from the appearance of his loins and downward I saw as it were the appearance of fire, and there was brightness round about him. 28 As the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud in the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness round about. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of Jehovah. And when I saw it, I fell upon my face, and I heard a voice of one that spake (Ezek. 1:1-5, 25-28).
⁴I believe the Scriptures to be the infallibly inspired Word of God. They teach the doctrine of God's creative activity in bringing in both plant and animal life. They affirm that He by special acts created the various species. At the same time I am thoroughly familiar with the evolutionary hypothesis, which, though it is admitted by its leading exponents to be an unproved theory, is taught as a scientific fact.
That it remains an unverified theory is evident from a glance at the article, "Evolution of Man," in the Encyclopedia Britannica (ed., 1943), written by Sir Arthur Keith, M.D., F.R.C.S.. D.Sc., F.R.S.
In the introductory paragraph he quotes approvingly from Sir E. B. Tylor the following statement made in 1910: "In one form or another such a theory of human descent has, in our time, become part of an accepted framework of zoology, if not as a demonstrable truth, at any rate as a working hypothesis which has no effective rival." Sir Edward Tylor died in 1917, "convinced that, as a working hypothesis, the doctrine of evolution had no rival."
Sir Arthur does not, in so many words, attempt to lift the theory out of the category of hypothesis and to place it upon the firm basis of an established scientific fact. He presents certain data from different spheres and interprets the facts as supporting the theory. The evolution of man from lower forms of life is therefore held by many as an hypothesis. The Scriptures, however, are clear in their teachings regarding man's being created by a special act of the Almighty.
There are many sane and scholarly volumes which show that the theory of evolution is still an unproved hypothesis. The student should, if interested, study the facts as they are presented by the opposition.
⁵13 If there arise in the midst of thee a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and he give thee a sign or a wonder, 2 and the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them; 3 thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or unto that dreamer of dreams: for Jehovah your God proveth you, to know whether ye love Jehovah your God with all your heart and with all your soul. 4 Ye shall walk after Jehovah your God, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and ye shall serve him, and cleave unto him. 5 And that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams, shall be put to death, because he hath spoken rebellion against Jehovah your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, and redeemed thee out of the house of bondage, to draw thee aside out of the way which Jehovah thy God commanded thee to walk in. So shalt thou put away the evil from the midst of thee" (Deut. 13:1-5).