Easter is the true story of Good and Evil. It is the story of those who were eternally lost, but now are eternally found. It is also the sad story of one who was an angel who served God, an angel who was in the very Presence of God and yet chose to become His adversary.
To understand the depths of God’s Love, it is important to go back to a place called the Garden of Eden and see how God is calling us back there. Many years after the Garden, God revealed His Great Love through a Man named Jesus. Jesus was God’s Ultimate Reminder that we were created for a place that seems to come to life now only in our dreams. Jesus came to tell us the Truth. That Place is real!
And if we believe Jesus that we can go there, then we must also believe that God loves even the most vile sinner and wants him to be restored and cleaned up in time for supper in God’s Kingdom. Is it possible God might even love the one we call satan?
Let’s go back to the Garden. There was someone there with Adam and Eve. Let’s read Ezekiel’s description of a creature called Lucifer. The name Lucifer means “Light Bearer.” (You can read more in Bible commentaries about why Ezekiel’s description is considered to be a description of Lucifer, who came to be known later as satan.)
You were the angel of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty.
You were in Eden, the Garden of God;
every precious stone was your covering …
On the day that you were created, they were prepared.
You were an anointed guardian cherub.
I placed you; you were on the holy mountain of God;
in the midst of the stones of fire you walked.
You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created,
til unrighteousness was found in you.
In the abundance of your trade you were filled with violence
in your midst, and you sinned;
so I cast you as a profane thing from the mountain of God.
(excerpted from Ezekiel 28:12-18)
God created Lucifer. God placed him in the Garden and anointed him to be a guardian of the Garden. Lucifer was blameless in his ways until the fateful day when he began to worship his own beauty instead of worshipping God.
Revelations 12:4 reveals that satan was able to persuade one third of the angels of heaven to rebel with him. Lucifer’s name was changed to match his new role. Lucifer became satan, a name that means “adversary.” God did not create Lucifer to be his adversary. Lucifer used the Gift of God called “free choice” to choose to become satan.
God gave His angels free choice, as He would do with His humans. God does not enslave anyone. He wants it to be our choice to worship and serve Him. However, as loving as God is, He will not tolerate rebellion. He will move rebels into a “time out” if necessary to protect the rest of His Creations.
I believe God loved Lucifer … but He had to impose consequences for his continued rebellion. God removed Lucifer from his position of responsibility, but apparently He allowed him to stay in the Garden. God showed both Justice and Mercy.
God did not take back the gifts He had given satan. Even when we misuse the gifts God has given us, He does not take them back. And He does not turn His Back on us. He continues to call us to return to what He created us to be.
For God’s Gifts and His Call are irrevocable!
As recorded in Luke 10:18-20, Jesus said He saw satan fall from heaven. His resting place became planet earth. Satan continued to have some power. In fact, Jesus in John 14:30-31 says, “the prince of this world is coming,” referring to satan. Jesus did not acknowledge him as a king. Jesus was and is the King of Kings, not satan.
New Neighbors for Satan
Naturally, satan wanted to expand his kingdom. It must have thrilled him to have new creatures created. But, as much as he wanted it to be a slam-dunk of their worshipping him, it wasn’t. Satan had a dilemma. His power was limited. He could not create anything. And he could not kill anything. Everything would depend upon his persuasive ability to get these new creations to choose him instead of God. Just as God had given him free will, so God continued this important design feature in His Human Creations.
God, of course, knew satan was in the Garden. He knew satan’s heart and his desires. But God could not and would not turn His Children into robots. Their Joy in HIm … their ability to continue heaven on earth … depended simply on their willingness to obey Him.
Why Did God Put Humans in a Place Where He Knew Satan Lived?
What Love God must have had for satan to send ambassadors to him! It is worthwhile to pause for a moment now and consider the Love that allowed God to love one who had made himself an enemy. Consider the Love that poured from Jesus on the cross when He asked God to forgive those who were sinning against Him.
Jesus told us to love our enemies, to do good to those who persecute us. Every soul who humans label as an “enemy” is no enemy to God. They are His Creations. He does not want them dead in their sins. He wants them to come back to what He created them to be.
Even when satan continued not to acknowledge God as His Creator, The Lord of Love filled the Garden to overflowing with His Goodness and Love. Satan was not sent out of that environment of Love. As fast as satan tried to bring up the darkness, God turned on more Lights.
And the day came when God brought Adam and Eve to the Garden. Satan heard God Himself give the directions he had heard so often before. Everything Good could be had by simply knowing that God was God and obeying Him in every detail … and remaining in His Love.
Remain in My Love!
Jesus was later to give the same Message God gave to Adam and Eve. “Remain in My Love.”
As the Father has loved Me, so have I loved you.
Now remain in My Love.
If you keep My Commands, you will remain in My Love,
just as I have kept My Father’s Commands and remain in His Love.
God gave Adam and Eve access to everything in the Garden of Eden. However, there was just one tree from which he warned them not to eat. I imagine that tree as a little tree out of the way in the garden. A stubby little tree satan had planted perhaps. It grew up with God’s Love right beside the evil rebellious parts of it. It was the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.
Couldn’t God have just weeded it out? Jesus also addressed that issue in His Message. Jesus told a story about plants that grew up with weeds, even after good seeds had been planted. Is this not the picture of satan? Is it possibly the picture of the rest of us? (I have more than a few weeds in my life that become visible more often than I like.) There were some who thought they should go and pull up those weeds.
Listen to what Jesus said!
“No,” He answered,
“because while you are pulling the weeds,
you may uproot the wheat with them.
Let both grow together until the harvest.
At that time I will tell the harvesters:
First, collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned;
then gather the wheat and bring it into My Barn.”
God wanted to give more opportunities for weeds to disappear and the true wheat to shine through. The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil continued to grow in the Garden. It may never had been known to us, except for Adam and Eve.
God told them plainly not to eat from that tree. But satan tempted. And they disobeyed God. The course of history was changed with their choice. Prior to that bite, when they simply trusted and obeyed God, all they knew was the all encompassing Good. Now they knew evil also. Every tortuous evil flooded their minds. Temptations, new longings, new regrets, new fears — they now had it all.
Satan did then what he still does. He tempts. He rejoices in our fall. He condemns us. He convinces us God will condemn us. He convinces us we must hide from God. Hiding from God is the first step in putting separation between us and God. Adam and Eve tried to hide, but they discovered a new Truth. It is impossible to hide from God. David the Psalmist later said it this way:
Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Where can I flee from Your Presence?
If I go up to the heavens, You are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, You are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there Your Hand will guide me,
Your Right Hand will hold me fast.
If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”
even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to You!
God came to His Children not in condemnation, but in Love. In response to God’s probing questions (to which He already knew the answers), Adam and Eve confessed their sin. God did not condemn them. He accepted their realization they were completely uncovered before Him. He then covered them in Love with the skin of an animal, a beautiful example of the future time when Jesus’ Body would be the covering for us in our sin.
The Consequences of Disobedience
While God forgives, He frequently does not erase the consequences of our sin. God dealt with Adam and Eve and satan by putting them in a long “time out” from the Garden. He refused to allow them to continue and eat from the Tree of Life, which would guarantee they would live forever. Living forever with Him and all the Good He was, was what God wanted for His Children. Living forever with the tortures of evil was not what God wanted for His Children. Setting limits on their time on earth limited their exposure to evil and their ability to continue to perpetuate evil.
God still loved His Children. He went with them out of the Garden. He brought consequences on them, not to torture them … but to remind them of how important it was for them to be responsible caretakers of all He had given them. In spite of their disobedience, God realized their need for more training. Instead of firing them, He essentially made them His Apprentices.
Adam worked the ground to bring forth the life within it … the very ground from which he had been created. Eve also labored, a co-creator with God, bringing forth life from her body.
And God made it very easy for them to spot satan As God drove him from the garden, he now was quite visible, especially to Adam as he tended the ground. While Lucifer had once walked, satan was now crawling on the ground where he could easily be spotted. He could lick the earth he had once been assigned to guard.
Did Adam and Eve being Infected with Evil result in a horrible Terminal Illness genetically passed on to the rest of us?
Is There A Cure?
Stay tuned for the next post to find out the answer!