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Saturday, February 22, 2014

Part III of "God is not working on plan B"

Why did they rebel against God and fight against the angels who remained loyal to God? Speaking about Satan, the prophet Isaiah wrote: “How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars (angels) 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.” (Isaiah 14:12-14) The Hebrew word translated as “like” here is “damah,” and it means to be comparable to, or to resemble, or to be like someone. Satan wanted to be like God. He resented that he was not given the potential which was offered to man. He resented the subordinate role that God had designated for him to play in his grand plan to produce children.
However, in The Incredible Human Potential, Mr. Armstrong insisted that “Lucifer had nothing less in mind than knocking the Creator God off His throne and becoming supreme God himself.” Once again, this defies the very logic that Mr. Armstrong employed to arrive at his conclusions. Think about it, if Satan really did represent the pinnacle of God’s ability to instantaneously create another being, if he really did represent “the sum, full of wisdom” as Ezekiel asserted in his writings (Ezekiel 28:12), then it is not very likely that Satan failed to understand that God could not be replaced. He wanted to be LIKE God. He wanted to be part of God’s family. He felt slighted by God. He did not want to be a servant. He wanted to rule with God. In short, he was jealous of and coveted man’s potential!
In those same scriptures, we read: “Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God…Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth, and I HAVE SET THEE SO: thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire. Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou was created, till iniquity was found in thee. By the multitude of thy merchandise (possessions) they have filled the midst of thee with violence, and thou hast sinned…” (Ezekiel 28:13-16). Several things stand out to us from this scripture: 1) we know that this being is the same individual who appeared to Adam and Eve as the Serpent (compare to Revelation 12:9), 2) God HAD APPOINTED this individual to serve as one of the two high-ranking angels who was stationed as a sentinel at God’s throne in heaven (compare to Exodus 25:18-22), and 3) that all of his tremendous gifts went to his head and caused him to sin. Likewise, these revelations shed some important light on some of the other scriptures concerning Satan, his angels, their sins and their ultimate punishment for those sins.
In the book of Genesis, we read: “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed.” (Genesis 2:7-8) Notice that the Garden of Eden was created for MANKIND, NOT LUCIFER. Yet, we find Lucifer, also known as the serpent, present in proximity to the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. (Genesis 3:1-5) Moreover, we are told that “the serpent was more subtil (cunning, crafty and prudent) than any beast (creature) of the field which the Lord God had made.” (Genesis 3:1) Sounds like the description of Lucifer’s intelligence found in Ezekiel, does it not? So why was Lucifer there? You know the story – he persuaded Eve to disobey God. Why? Because he was jealous of the human couple’s potential – he wanted to be God’s son!
Afterwards, when the deed was done, God told the serpent what his punishment would be. We read: “And the Lord God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat ALL THE DAYS OF THY LIFE: And I will put enmity (hostility) between thee and the woman, and between thy seed (fallen angels) and her seed (Christ); it (he) shall bruise (crush) thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” (Genesis 3:14-15) Notice that the serpent was tied to the soil of the earth thereafter, and that someday he would be permitted to inflict an injury on the Messiah’s “heel.” Nevertheless, the Messiah would deliver a blow to the serpent’s “head,” which usually signifies a fatal wound.
If, however, angels are immortal as Mr. Armstrong suggests, how could that prophecy ever be fulfilled? What is the ultimate punishment for angelic sin? Our culture understands that the penalty for man’s sin is death. (Romans 6:23) Is it fair to have two different penalties for sin? If it is incompatible with God’s loving character and merciful nature to allow humans to suffer torments throughout eternity, why is such a fate acceptable for angels? Could it be that the penalty for all sin is death?
The scriptures we have already examined in the book of Hebrews clearly demonstrate that angels are composed of spirit, but does spirit equal immortality?
First of all, if God created angels out of spirit, that means that spirit can be modified or changed. If Lucifer and one third of the angels could rebel and become purveyors of evil, that means that spirit can be modified or changed. After all, God is the One who does not change. (Malachi 3:6) Paul wrote to Timothy that immortality, self-sustaining life, is a quality that only God possesses. (I Timothy 6:16).
Spirit, however, is not subject to the same laws that govern the physical universe. Remember, the material world was specifically created for mankind. Spirit does not rust or decay. Hence, when we consider these facts and put them together with other scriptures throughout the Bible, we can safely say that angels apparently have the ability to exist indefinitely. However, make no mistake, just like other created things, they exist at his pleasure.
In Jude’s epistle, we read: “I will therefore put you in remembrance, though ye once knew this, how that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed them that believed not. And the angels which kept not their first estate (position or created state), but left their own habitation (heaven), he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day. Even as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, ARE SET FORTH FOR AN EXAMPLE, SUFFERING THE VENGEANCE OF ETERNAL FIRE.” (Jude 5-7) Notice the pattern: communal sin brings communal destruction and death.
What about Satan? What about the penalty for his sin? Speaking about the reason Christ came to this earth, we read in Hebrews: “Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might DESTROY him that had the power of death, that is, THE DEVIL…” (Hebrews 2:14) Now we are ready to finish reading the full context of what is revealed about these matters by the prophet Ezekiel: “By the multitude of thy merchandise they have filled the midst of thee with violence, and thou hast sinned: therefore I will cast thee as profane out of the mountain of God: AND I WILL DESTROY THEE, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire. Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness: I will cast thee to the ground, I will lay thee before kings, that they may behold thee. Thou hast defiled thy sanctuaries by the multitude of thine iniquities, by the iniquity of thy traffick; THEREFORE WILL I BRING FORTH A FIRE FROM THE MIDST OF THEE, IT SHALL DEVOUR THEE, AND I WILL BRING THEE TO ASHES UPON THE EARTH IN THE SIGHT OF ALL THEM THAT BEHOLD THEE. All they that know thee among the people shall be astonished at thee: thou shalt be a terror, AND NEVER SHALT THOU BE ANY MORE.” (Ezekiel 28:16-19)
At the conclusion of the millennial reign of Christ, John wrote that “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 forever and ever.” (Revelation 20:10) Does that mean they will be tortured throughout eternity? I recommend that you read some of the church’s excellent literature explaining the concept of eternal punishment. “And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.” (Revelation 20:14) This supernatural fire is THE END of everything that is thrown into it – for all eternity! Indeed, we read in the very next chapter, “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things ARE PASSED AWAY.” (Revelation 21:4) Can anyone explain to me how Satan and his angels continued existence in a state of perpetual torment is consistent with this scripture?
Brethren, TRUE IMMORTALITY IS A GOD QUALITY! Satan has been lying about what immortality means since the beginning of man’s time on this earth. It is not just any spirit that imparts eternal life – it is the Holy Spirit of God! (Romans 8:10-17) Lucifer and his angels were NEVER offered God’s Holy Spirit; but mankind was offered that Spirit, and it lives in God’s people today! In fact, this very truth underscores the incredible human potential. We are to put on that immortality, to finally become part of the very family of God! (I Corinthians 15:49-57)
Hence, the angelic rebellion DID NOT cause God to change his plans for the universe. The creation of mankind was not “Plan B.” Satan never has derailed God’s plans or altered his purposes, and he never will.
The New International Version makes this even clearer than the King James Version. Paul wrote to the saints at Rome: “The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. For the creation WAS SUBJECTED TO FRUSTRATION, not by its own choice, BUT BY THE WILL OF THE ONE WHO SUBJECTED IT, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.” (Romans 8:19-21) The angels did not wreck anything. God allowed the creation to be subject to futility and frustration to further his own purpose and agenda.
“Plan A” is still on track, and it will remain on track until it is finished. There never has been a “Plan B,” and God’s purpose for mankind and the angels will stand forever!

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