Where does evil come from and if God is good why does he allow it to exist?
Podcast Transcript: For full episode click HERE.
Have you noticed how much we have sterilized the modern telling of the Christmas story? For most of us Christmas is a time of year when we want to think about what is good in the world and forget about the bad. We give a little more, go to church a little more often and often spend more time with our extended family than at any other time during the year.
It is generally a time of celebration, vacation, and relaxation. So who wants to be reminded about the dark side of the Christmas story in a time like this? I can’t blame you if you are one of those people. If I’m honest with myself, I would have to admit I am like that too. More often than not I have airbrushed over the unsightly details.
And what are those details you might be wondering?
The fact that no one was ready for Jesus before he was born?
The fact that hardly any went looking for Jesus after he was born?
The fact that it took the inquiry of outsiders – Magi from the east to be exact – to draw their attention to the prophecies surrounding his birth?
Yes and it was the Jews response to those prophecies that are the most troubling to me. The wise men believed them. The wicked ruler King Herod believed them. But the religious leaders themselves did not. They took the laissez faire, wait and see approach.
However the inquiry of the wise men set off some unsavory events that we rarely make mention of when telling the Christmas story.
Someone wanted the young Jesus dead
Yes of course, it was Herod the king, but who or what was the spirit behind the death decree?
To understand that we need to go back to the book of Revelation.
Read Revelation 12:1-6
“Now a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a garland of twelve stars. Then being with child, she cried out in labor and in pain to give birth. ¶And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great, fiery red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems on his heads. His tail drew a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was ready to give birth, to devour her Child as soon as it was born. She bore a male Child who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron. And her Child was caught up to God and His throne. Then the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, that they should feed her there one thousand two hundred and sixty days.” (Revelation 12:1–6 NKJV)
So who is this dragon – in episode 25 we were introduced the Dragon as a member of the counterfeit trinity (if you haven’t listened stop now and listen and then come back)
In that study we discovered that the dragon was the Counterfeit Father figure in Revelation 13 – but we didn’t go into much detail beyond that. However in Revelation 12 we get a much more specific description starting in the next Verse.
“And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer. So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.”(Revelation 12:7–9 NKJV)
So now we can see that the devil is in fact who we assumed he was – the devil – aka Satan. And we can also see that the 1/3 of the stars he drew down from the sky were in fact other angels who were cast out with him in his rebellion against God.
Now we can see the curtain being drawn back in a sense from what is happening in the invisible spirit realm that surrounds us.
Good and evil are in fact embedded in the spiritual conflict happening all around us on a daily basis
Paul said it like this:
“Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:11–12 ESV)
There is no way to truly understand the book of revelation without a thorough understanding of this matter. The war that started in heaven has come down to this earth, and we are its casualties.
Everyday we see the result of this battle played out in our own life and the world around us. And according to the Bible we cannot resist the devil without the armor of God protecting us.
But who was Satan before he became the great adversary of God and the dragon here on earth?
Scripture tells us:
“You were the seal of perfection, Full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. You were in Eden, the garden of God; Every precious stone was your covering: The sardius, topaz, and diamond, Beryl, onyx, and jasper, Sapphire, turquoise, and emerald with gold. The workmanship of your timbrels and pipes Was prepared for you on the day you were created. “You were the anointed cherub who covers; I established you; You were on the holy mountain of God; You walked back and forth in the midst of fiery stones. You were perfect in your ways from the day you were created, Till iniquity was found in you.” (Ezekiel 28:12–15 NKJV)
You see friend the Yin/Yang is not an eternal symbol of truth because light is not dependent on darkness for balance. There was a time when there was only light.
The source of darkness and root of sin was not created as such by God. God did not create evil nor did he sanction it.
In fact we are told that before his rebellion the devil was in fact one of the covering cherubs in heaven – this means he stood closest to God and was in fact the first and most powerful created being in the universe.
Where did sin and darkness come from then? Its presence is a mystery. In fact the Bible refers to it as “the mystery of lawlessness.” But we can know in fact what its fruit ultimately produced in the life of this fallen angel.
In the book of Isaiah we read:
““How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, You who weakened the nations! For you have said in your heart: “I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation On the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.’” (Isaiah 14:12–14 NKJV)
As you can see, the rebellion ultimately comes down to control. Am I happier when I have complete control of my own life independent of God and his laws or am I happier when I give up control to the God who made me and trust his plan for my life over my own reasoning. This is the dilemma that every being of intelligence faced in heaven and it is still the dilemma we must all choose between here on earth: Who is telling the truth?
The devil claimed that independence from God is freedom. He claimed that if he were in charge everyone would be happier because everyone could do what they wanted to do all the time whenever they wanted to do it. His law was centered on self. I will ascend into heaven. I will exalt myself. I will sit on the throne.
The problem with the devil’s philosophy though was that everyone who followed it would naturally covet that which he coveted himself and there would be an endless fight for ultimate control among those who sided with him which would require force to keep in order – for as we all know only 1 can sit on the throne at a time.
This should sound familiar to those in touch with the recent pop culture obsession behind HBO’s drama series “Game of Thrones.” Whether the producers of the series realized it or not – they produced a series that perfected illustrated the principles advocated by Lucifer’s rebellion against God. Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Without the Spirit of God prickling the conscience of man – one can only imagine how much darker this world would be than it already is.
The truth is when God is taken off the throne – then it becomes an open seat for would-be gods to fight for. And this is at the heart of the lie Lucifer told to the angels in heaven to convince 1/3 of them to join him and that ultimately convinced Adam and Eve.
“Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”” (Genesis 3:4–5 NKJV)
And the moment we thought we had become god we immediately began using whatever power we could get a hold of to rule over one another. The first human to die didn’t die by natural means he died because he was murdered by his brother. And why did Cain murder his brother? Because he wanted to control him and when he couldn’t control him he killed him instead. This is the spirit that still holds sway in the world to this day. The law of the jungle is the law of sin.
So what was God to do?
Would he choose to fight sin and Satan by the law of the jungle they had created or would he choose to fight it thought the law of love?
You see this is the thing most people don’t understand about God because the law of the jungle is so ingrained in us.
Many people when they read this story immediately ask – Why didn’t God just destroy the devil immediately after he sinned? Why did he allow him to spread his lies and in heaven and ultimately down here on earth? Why has he allowed this Great Controversy to engulf the world and even to a certain degree the entire universe?
And this is the reason.
The reason is that if God had simply destroyed devil the mystery of lawlessness would still exist in many people’s minds. Questions that could only be answered as sin was allowed to run its course would have remained and festered in the minds of all until it overtook the universe by a cancer. In allowing the devil to live, God has allowed the devil to demonstrate once and for what is the result of choosing to go down the pathway of self-exultation.
Instead of showing around his power in heaven – God choose to empty himself of it instead through the person of Jesus Christ.
Not only would Jesus disprove the accusations of the devil by coming and living a sinless life here on earth, but he would also redeem that which Satan had stolen though deception.
“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:5–11 ESV)
This is an important scripture for many reasons: Chiefly we can see the humility of Christ juxtaposed with the pride of the devil. The devil lifted himself up to oppose God and Jesus lowered himself down to oppose Satan. Satan thought he could defeat god through his strength and Jesus turned around and defeated the devil through his weakness.
This is the great paradox found in Scripture and is also the secret behind success in our battle with Satan in the Great Controversy. We must go down first before we can go up.
This is the story of Christmas!
This is the reason Jesus came as a babe – this is the reason that Satan (the dragon) tried to kill him through the decree of Herod the Great – but he couldn’t do it until Jesus had completed his mission to show the world the character of the Father. The character of the one we are in rebellion against is not what we have been told by the devil- not even close.
Through his life – Christ revealed that true contentment – true happiness is found in surrender – surrender of the will and surrender of the life to God.
But one day – the time did come for Jesus to give himself up. Not to the Dragon – but to God – on the cross to die the death we all deserved to die.
And it was only after Jesus debased himself in response to the devil exalting himself that total victory over sin and Satan was won forever.
On the cross Jesus cried out “it is finished.” And it was.
The moment the head of Jesus fell to his chest was the moment the Dragon knew he had been exposed for who he truly was before the entire universe.
When Jesus rose from the grave and ascended back to heaven scripture tells us he led captivity captive. He conquered sin and the grave! Through his blood he purchased the whole world and now sitting at the right hand of God in heaven – as the rightful heir – he began his ministry in heaven.
Revelation tells us all heaven cried out saying:
“Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down.” And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death. Therefore rejoice, O heavens, and you who dwell in them! Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and the sea! For the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has a short time.” Now when the dragon saw that he had been cast to the earth, he persecuted the woman who gave birth to the male Child.” (Revelation 12:10–13 NKJV)
The good news of Jesus Christ is bad news for the Dragon. His defeat means that he is angrier than ever. His days are numbered and since he can no longer touch Jesus – who has ascended to Heaven – he turns his attention to the woman who gave birth to the child – no this is not referring to Mary – this is referring to the church of God – the bride of Christ.
And so what he did to Christ he now does to the woman – he persecutes her.
This is the question that is answered in Revelation 13.
The Beast and the False Prophet become the primary agents for the persecution of the church.
And in our next episode we will explore the mystery of the Beast in Revelation 13 through the help of history and Daniel the prophet once again. I cant wait to study it with you on our next episode.
For now though I cant help but to come back to a closing meditation on the life of Christ.
He is the true gift of heaven.
There is no gift you could ever receive that would match the value of the incarnate God of the universe coming into this world as a babe more than 2000 years ago.
His birth, his life, and his death speak to the humility of the great God of heaven. A God of love who refused to force anyone to bow down to him – even his enemies, and instead wins the heart through love and truth.
When you think going your own way will make you the happiest – just take a look at the devil – the dragon – the fallen angel – Lucifer and ask yourself – what has happened to the love, joy, and peace that used to once radiate our of his heart? What has going their own way independent of God ever gotten anyone in the end?
True happiness in life comes from true obedience to God.
And his arms are outstretched for you today just as they were when we was nailed to that Cross. Won’t you reach out to him and grab hold of his hand? Wont you fall at his feet so that he can lift you up?
As the apostle James reminds us:
“Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.” (James 4:7–10 NKJV)