The whole counsel of Scripture reveals there is a lot more going on at the spiritual level than just the fall of mankind and the plan of redemption.
There is a scene in one of the ‘Shrek’ movies I watched with my grandkids in which Shrek the ogre is trying to explain to Donkey a little bit about ogres.
“Ogres,” Shrek explains, “are like onions. They have many layers.”
The same analogy can be applied to the revealed Counsel of God. It has many layers, of which the fall and redemption of mankind is but one.
On another level, man exists for the instruction of angels:
“Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; WHICH THINGS THE ANGELS DESIRE TO LOOK INTO.” (1st Peter 1:12)
We are a mystery to the angels. The Bible says they are charged with ministering to us, but that one day, they will be judged BY us. (1st Corinthians 6:3)
“Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with SO GREAT A CLOUD OF WITNESSES, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,” (Hebrews 12:1)
Isaiah 14 introduces us to the first outbreak of sin in the universe.
“For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.”
For his sin of arrogance, God pronounced judgement on Lucifer, the most honored of His angels, and those rebellious angels who followed him;
“Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.” (Isaiah 14:13-15)
The existence of humanity is often described by theologians as the ‘trial of Satan’. So here, we find yet another layer to the onion: the ongoing trial of Satan and his army of fallen angels.
Why a trial? Because God is just. I often wonder about the angels who joined Satan in his rebellion. Why? It isn’t like they didn’t know Who it was they were standing up to.
What made them so crazy?
Perhaps they felt God was being unjust in casting Lucifer out of heaven for just one little sin. In so doing, they also sinned, and were similarly cast out.
In any case, one of the layers of the whole Counsel of God concerns the instruction of angels, including instruction on the subject of sin and the havoc wrought by it upon everything it touches. First, comes the trial.
And then the judgment.
The courtroom is Planet Earth, with Jesus as the Righteous Judge, the angels as witnesses, and with sinful mankind serving as evidence for the prosecution.
It is more than just the trial of Satan. Sin itself is on trial.
Lucifer, called in Scripture, “the anointed cherub that covereth” was highly favored of God; “and I have set thee so” (Ezekiel 28:14)
Isaiah 14:14 defines that first sin as, “I will” — the sin of pride. The trial is to prove what ‘one little sin’ can do — the classic ‘slippery slope’ scenario.
Exhibit 1: Adam and Eve. They are placed in a perfect environment and given only one command — to avoid the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge. They fail — and man inherits a sin nature.
Exhibit 2: Man is allowed free reign until the Flood — the so-called “Age of Conscience”. Without Divine interaction or instruction, society becomes so sinful and corrupt that God saves Noah and his family alive and destroys the rest in the Flood.
Exhibit 3: During the Age of the Patriarchs, God spoke directly to chosen individuals; Abraham, Noah, Lot, etc. Each, even having spoken directly with God, commit some heinous sin.
Having gone from one commandment (the Age of Innocence) to no commandments at all (the Age of Conscience) to direct confrontation,(the Age of the Patriarchs) God progresses to giving mankind the Ten Commandments (the Age of the Law).
Not one person ever kept all ten of them throughout his lifetime, no matter what the circumstances. (David, for example, broke all ten of them.)
Exhibit 4: The Age of the Law, during which time the Commandments of God became so corrupted and perverted that it became necessary to scrap the whole system and replace it with the Age of Grace.
Exhibit 5: To introduce the Age of Grace, God Himself stepped out of space and time, took on the form of sinful man, kept the Law on our behalf, and then paid the price for our sin. (Death)
In so doing, He made a way for all mankind to be saved by faith through grace.
But most of mankind rejects even the free offer of grace, preferring a life of unregenerate sin. That act of rejection, given the Price paid, must make the angelic witnesses gasp in disbelief.
From the perspective of the angelic witness, then, ‘one little sin’ has thus far brought mankind to the point it is today. So far, God has given sin every opportunity to prove itself worthy of its wages.
“For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)
Exhibit 6: The Tribulation Period. The Age of Grace concludes at the Rapture. The Rapture removes the restraining influence of the Holy Spirit, giving Satan (and sin) free reign for seven years. And the end result is the near-destruction of all human life.
Jesus then returns at the 2nd Coming, binds Satan for a thousand years, and reigns Personally from Jerusalem.
Mortal humanity has no excuse, He is right there, in Person, for all to see.
Satan’s influence is restrained, lifespans are extended, there are no more wars, famine or poverty, and humankind is returned to the Eden-like state from which it began.
Exhibit 7: With God Himself on the Throne of human government, ruling with a rod of iron for a thousand years, Satan is loosed for ‘a little season’.
“And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog, and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea.”
The mortal humans who have lived in a state of God-given idyllic bliss for a thousand years, under the influence of Satan, raise an army to bring against the King of Kings and Lord of Lords Himself.
“For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law.” (Romans 2:12)
The trial is over. Sin is judged according to its works. All appeals have been exhausted. Sentence is pronounced and carried out immediately.
“And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever. And I saw a great white throne, and Him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them.”
This is the SECOND resurrection. Unlike the first resurrection, it has only one phase.
“And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.”
“And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.” (Revelation 20:10-12,14)
In the overall Plan of God, as outlined in Scripture, everything has a purpose. There are no omissions, no errors, and no inconsistencies.
From Genesis to Revelation, a central theme of Scripture is that sin is the cause of death. Sin will ultimately be eradicated from existence. And so will all those who “received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.” (2nd Thessalonians2:10)
The lake of fire was created and prepared for Satan and his angels. But since man’s spirit is created in God’s image, it is also eternal and immortal, in that it cannot be destroyed.
So those that reject Christ and choose to follow Satan have to go somewhere.
They will not cease to be, but they will cease to matter. They will spend eternity nameless and alone, tortured by the flames — and the memory of the day they rejected the opportunity to avoid their fate.
Praise the Lord for that OTHER central theme of Scripture.
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)
Featured Commentary: The Fourth Apostasy ~ Pete Garcia