A Panoramic Study of God’s Plan

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“Remember the former things long past, for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me,

Declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things which have not been done, saying, My purpose will be established, and I will accomplish all My good pleasure

Isaiah 46:9- 1

Preface

            The story of the Plan of God answers life’s most perplexing and epic questions!  What is the real meaning and true value of life?  Is there an eternity with certain and tangible consequence?  What happens when we die?  If God is the creator, and He is good, why is there so much struggle, pain, difficulty – evil?  Is there a real spirit-realm and an actual devil with some kind of destructive, calculating, rebellious agenda?  Does absolute truth and righteousness exist?  And if so, is there going to be a day of reckoning?  If there’s a spirit-realm and a spiritual war of good and evil, how do we know what’s going on in a realm we can’t see, but obviously affects our lives?  Could my life make any real difference in this crazy, mixed up world?  Will there ever be peace?  Is there hope? 

            Questions about life, the human experience, and the tragic history of humanity leave us longing for meaning, answers and personal significance.1  In the gospel of John chapter ten verse ten, Jesus, as the good shepherd, stated that He came “…that they might have life and might have it abundantly.”  But in the same verse He spoke of a thieving, murderous enemy.  “The thief comes only to steal, and kill, and destroy…2  An evil enemy and a good shepherd in the same passage, with man, spoken metaphorically as sheep, caught in the middle!  It seems like God wants to save us and Satan wants to destroy us – wow!  What makes us so special?   

            Well, fundamentally, it’s because of who we are; our value comes from our origin.  We’ve come from Adam and we’re created in the very image of God; Adam was bequeathed the earth itself as an inheritance and commanded to fill and rule it for eternity.  That’s a significant legacy!  But Adam rebelled and paradise was lost.  And there was death in the Garden of Eden.  But love, grace and redemption was pledged to all who would believe in a promised Savior.  And much later, there was another death on Golgotha.  Wow, this story is getting dangerous!  There’s more.  Those who would simply believe the promise of a Savior were born from above and become part of God’s redeemed family.  These children were promised that God would send His Son once again in the future as the second Adam to regain paradise lost.  Presently, the children of God are being prepared for that time when Jesus returns as the King of kings.  The coming King will subdue and judge this wicked world and then establish His Kingdom, while entrusting authority, dominion and glory to His brethren who followed Him in faithful obedience.  Imagine yourself, a future world-ruler serving the King of kings in the age to come.  Imagine yourself becoming a manifestation of God’s grace as a redeemed sinner while at the same time a testimony and vessel of God’s righteous judgment condemning angelic majesties to an eternal lake of fire.  Holy Smokes!    

            In C. S. Lewis’ story “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe,” four children passed through a wardrobe into another world, another reality.  With time, they learned and grew in understanding.  That understanding gave them incredible potency, power and significance which transformed their lives into an epic battle between good and evil.  Suddenly their lives were of huge significance because of who they were – “sons and daughters of Adam.”   

            The Word of God is that venue through which we discover our incredible importance, power and significance as sons and daughters of Adam and co-heirs with Jesus Christ!  The Word of God is the only source of information whereby we can enter into that unseen spirit-realm and thus, be equipped to live as redeemed and victorious warriors in the only real battle that matters – the spiritual battle of good and evil.  Will we follow our fleshly desires and chase after the lusts and lies of this evil and worldly cosmic system?  Or will we believe the truth and give ourselves to God in humble submission and faith?  Eternity will tell.     

            Yes, there is a real Satan, a real Shepherd, and a very real battle for our lives!  Through a biblical study of the story of the Plan of God, we can realize our true significance as God’s redeemed children.  We must have our vision cleared.  We’ve got to be equipped as warriors on the battlefield in the few years God gives us in time.  There’s way too much at stake to be idle.  Paul says, “Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men, but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil” (Eph. 5:15-16).

Introduction to the Plan of God

            God has provided the answers to every question in life, but it can be difficult to discover them without understanding the big picture.  Vantage-point is so important.  To have a proper perspective of our lives in time, we must step back to see what has occurred in the past and what is going on in eternity.  Scripture speaks to these issues, but our traditional practices of reading through the Bible, studying theological tenets or searching His Word for individual answers, fall somewhat short in helping understand where we actually fit into God’s eternal plan.  This book is intended to provide you with the ability to look at the plan of God from eternity past to eternity future, and see a panorama of God’s plan as it is progressively revealed in the Bible. 

            In any pursuit, a clear understanding begins with, and depends upon a comprehensive survey – a bird’s eye view.  For example, the physician first studies bigger pictures of anatomy and physiology before he performs surgical procedures on tiny nerve endings.  In the military, every soldier completes basic training before he or she specializes in a more technical realm such as nuclear submarines.  So the student of the Bible must understand that good Bible study principles demand that we develop a panoramic understanding of God’s Word in order to more clearly understand specific passages and their theology.  This overview gives us a base from which we can more accurately interpret and connect the parts to the whole of Scripture; thus, understanding Scripture as a whole becomes a critical tool for Bible interpretation.

            Context is one of the most important tenets in Bible study, because it determines the interpreter’s accuracy on so many levels.  In the Bible, every word, sentence, paragraph, chapter, and book has a context – a backdrop, or a “stage.” The better we answer the “who, what, when, why, where and how” of that backdrop, the better we can arrive at an intelligent interpretation of the individual passage being studied.

            The Old and New Testaments consist of sixty-six books written over a period of fifteen centuries, on three different continents, in three different languages, by some forty different authors, on an incalculable number of subjects.  These authors range from wealthy kings, to imprisoned prophets, from successful businessmen to poor dirt farmers.  Thus, hundreds of different historical and cultural circumstances provide context to the myriad passages in the Bible. 

            So how does the Bible student synthesize and understand such a mass of information?  This problem brings us back to the plan of God and a very important question.  “Is there one backdrop that stands behind the entire Bible providing a type of biblical positioning system?”  The answer is, yes, and that backdrop is the eternal plan of God.  Similar to a global positioning system that pinpoints one’s exact location, an overall understanding of God’s plan functions as a navigational tool, enabling the Bible student to correctly relate any portion of Scripture to God’s eternal plan.

In our study3 we will address theologically significant topics such as:

  • the eternal nature and preexistence of Sovereign God
  • the creation and history of angels
  • the origin of Lucifer, his rebellion as Satan, and his influence on God’s plan
  • man’s creation, fall, redemption, future and significance in God’s plan
  • a survey of five covenant promises of God that form the very infrastructure of the Bible
  • Israel’s creation, preservation, redemption, future and significance in God’s plan
  • Christ’s mission to redeem mankind from sin at His first coming –  and His mission of redemption and restoration of the world’s geopolitical and physical realm at His second coming
  • the Church’s origin, influence, future and significance in God’s plan

Additionally, common scientific questions related to origins will be addressed, such as:

  • the age of the earth
  • the historical sequence of the dinosaur’s existence and duration in creation
  • the ice age
  • continental drift
  • evolution

            These scientific issues, along with a few exegetical, contextual and theological issues will be addressed primarily in the end-notes so as not to detract from the study itself.  These issues will be treated with the understanding that scientific discoveries are not absolute, exhaustive, inerrant or immutable; because no matter what realm of science we may be studying, the theories, tenets and conclusions change as new data is gathered.  However, theology, as opposed to any other science, is absolute and limited to a fixed body of truth – the Bible.  God’s immutable Word is “forever settled in heaven” (Ps. 119:89) and is always the defining standard of truth.  The created physical world was brought into existence by God’s Word (Heb. 11:3).  As such, the physical world conforms to the natural order created by God Himself.  To the extent that science, in an effort to explain physical phenomena, posits theories which contradict Biblical doctrines, we know these theories are deficient and erroneous in some respect.  Thus natural science will continually be “catching up”4 with Biblical revelation.  We should not try to deductively interpret the unchanging Scripture using ever-changing extra-biblical historic, archeological or scientific conclusions. 

            Another important Bible study principle is that the Bible must be studied inductively, its meaning must be derived from its own context as it is compared with other passages on a given subject.  A misinterpreted passage will never stand the test of comparison to the rest of Scripture.  Thus, Scripture will be our guide as we trace the story of God’s plan and purposes.  Over 700 scripture references are cited and will aid your personal study in the future, giving an ever-growing understanding of God’s plan.  While the author does not claim inerrant exposition or understanding of the passages, each passage has been carefully included paying attention to its biblical, theological, historical and grammatical context.  Along with studying the Plan of God, the reader is encouraged to read through the Bible in its entirety once a year gaining a more comprehensive understanding of God’s plan.      

            Perhaps the most valuable contribution of knowing the story of the plan of God is understanding the huge importance of the believer’s free-will, exercised in faith, and its enormous impact on God’s plan of the ages in the unseen angelic kingdom.  We will see how man’s creation, fall, redemption and destiny make perfect sense when juxtaposed against the greater context of Lucifer’s history in eternity past.  We will see why mankind’s story (history) settles for all eternity, God’s answer to the Satanic rebellion that took place before the dawn of time. 

            Now, if you’ll refer to the corresponding time line in the back of the book; we’ll start from the beginning, actually, before the beginning of the world as we know it.

A Panoramic Study of God’s Plan

Eternal God

            God existed before creation, time and space.  Scripture teaches God never had a beginning, He always is (Ps. 90:2).  In Exodus 3:13-15, God revealed to Moses that His memorial name to all generations was “Yahweh,” or “Jehovah.”  This name comes from the Hebrew verb “hayah” which means “to be.”  Thus, God’s self-appointed name – “I AM,” expresses His eternal, unchanging, self-existence.  God always is.  God always was.  God always will be (Rev. 1:8).  Scripture never tries to explain or justify a “beginning” for God. 

            So we can safely say that in eternity past, going back as far as Scriptural revelation will take us, prior to any type of creation, the eternal “I AM” – God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit existed together in glory, perfect harmony and love.  “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God” (Jn. 1:1-2).  Jesus spoke of this era that predated creation when He and the Father enjoyed perfect fellowship and glory.  In His high-priestly prayer He says, “And now, glorify Thou Me together with Thyself, Father, with the glory which I had with Thee before the world was.” “…for Thou didst love Me before the foundation of the world” (Jn. 17:5, 24b).  

Original Creation in an Undated Eternity Past

            Sometime in eternity past God determined to create.  When most people study the Biblical account of creation, an automatic assumption is to start with the book of Genesis.  However, there are other biblical accounts of creation that predate the six days of Genesis chapter one.  These passages account for the creation of both the material and immaterial realm.  The Genesis record only accounts for the material realm as it relates to mankind and we will look at that aspect of creation later.  However, two creation passages from Colossians chapter one and John chapter one deliberately include every created entity both in the spirit and physical realm.  These passages reveal Jesus Christ’s preeminence as the Creator and Sovereign over His creation.

“And He is the image of the invisible God, the first-born5 of all creation.  For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities — all things have been created by Him and for Him.”

Col. 1:15-16

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God.  All things came into being by Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.”  Jn. 1:1-3

            Both the invisible (spiritual) and the visible (material) realm were created in subjection to Christ the Creator and were fashioned in order to reveal and share in eternal God’s glory (Job 38:4-7; Ps. 33:6-9; Jn. 1:3; Col. 1:15-16;6 Heb. 1:2,10; 11:3).  Most would assume the invisible spirit realm was created before the visible realm, and there is a passage that substantiates that assumption.  Job 38:7 states that all the angelic realm were present and worshiping God in perfect harmony at the time of earth’s creation.  

4“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?  Tell Me, if you have understanding, 5Who set its measurements, since you know?  Or who stretched the line on it?  6On what were its bases sunk?  Or who laid its cornerstone, 7when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy?” Job 38:4-7

                 The “morning stars” and the “sons of God” are the invisible, spiritual angelic kingdom described by Paul as “thrones, dominions, rulers or authorities” in Colossians 1:16 (cf. Job 1:6; 2:1).  These angelic beings existed before the earth’s creation and were all shouting for joy as their Creator spoke material out of immaterial (Heb. 11:3).  We see in Job 38:7 a snapshot of the invisible angelic creation existing alongside a perfect earthly creation; all in complete and loving submission to the Creator God (Col. 1:16b).     

            The construction-type language found in Job 38:4-7 augments and predates the Genesis account (Gen. 1:3-31).  In Job, God constructs the terrestrial ball referring to its foundation, architectural measurements and blueprints, while in Genesis 1:2 a terrestrial ball already exists and is simply being described as formless, void, dark and in deluge.  Job’s passage focuses on a perfect earth as it becomes the center-stage of God’s plan and program for all eternity.   

            How long creation existed in this state of perfect submission, blessedness and glory is impossible to tell.  Lucifer (the “Morning/Shining star” or “son of the morning” Isa. 14:12), the highest of the spirit-realm would have first existed here in a perfect state of blessing and authority.  Earth’s history from this time until the fall of Lucifer could have been very short, or it could have existed for millions or even billions of years.7  Ezekiel chapter twenty-eight sheds much light on what could have taken place during this period of time (after earth’s original creation and before the creation of mankind in Genesis).  If Ezekiel 28:12-18 is carefully studied, a significant period of time is entirely likely to have passed before Lucifer’s fall enabling him to function in his God-given position for possible eons in an un-fallen state.  Speaking of Lucifer’s created state before he rebelled, Ezekiel says,

12“You had the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty.13  You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone was your covering: the ruby, the topaz, and the diamond; the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper; the lapis lazuli, the turquoise, and the emerald; and the gold, the workmanship of your settings and sockets (settings and sockets are translated “timbrels and pipes” NKJV), was in you.  On the day you were created they were prepared.14  You were the anointed cherub who covers and I placed you there.  You were on the holy mountain of God; you walked in the midst of the stones of fire.15  You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created until unrighteousness was found in you.”

Ezekiel 28:12b-15

              Lucifer was given a supreme position of responsibility and privilege that included many roles.  He was created as “the anointed cherub who covers (guards),” and as such he was appointed to guard the very presence of the glory of God at His throne (cf. Exo. 25,37; Nu. 7:89; I Sam. 4:4; Ps. 80:1; Isa. 37:16; Ezek. 10: Heb. 9:5).  Evidently there was no creature closer to God or any other that had unprecedented access to God than Lucifer.  He was placed on the “holy mountain of God,” a position signifying rule and authority over the angelic creation.  It was on this holy mountain that the Most High God ruled as Sovereign (Isa. 2:2-3; 11:9; 14:13b; Dan. 2:35, 44-45;Rev. 17:9-11).  Lucifer seems to have functioned as a type of angelic prime minister having been given authority and jurisdiction over the entire angelic realm.  As the “anointed” cherub, he was set apart as the highest ranking Cherub.  He was covered with the dazzling array of nine of the twelve stones in the breastpiece of the linen ephod later assigned to Israel’s high priest (Exodus 28:17-20).  In his high priestly role Lucifer would have represented God to the angelic realm, and conversely, the angelic realm to God.  He was the chosen vessel who conveyed worship and glory from angelic “sanctuaries” (Ezek. 12:18) to God’s throne.  Apparently Lucifer was also gifted with inherent musical ability identified as “timbrels and pipes” (Ezek.28:13b).  His ability to produce music, coupled with supreme wisdom and holiness, made him the consummate angelic worship leader.  He “walked in the midst of the stones of fire.”  These stones of fire should be understood as representing God’s holiness (Isa. 6:2, 6; Ezek. 10).  For Lucifer to walk among these coals of fire is to accentuate his perfect holiness.  Moses and Joshua were to take off their shoes when they approached God.  The Seraphim in Isaiah 6:2 cover their feet with two wings possibly shielding themselves from the very holiness that Lucifer walked upon.  Finally, and perhaps most ironically, Lucifer is also described as being “full of wisdom,” which according to Proverbs, only comes with a full measure of “humility and the fear of the Lord” (Prov. 2:7).

            Lucifer was created by God with unprecedented virtues of beauty, glory, holiness, power, authority, wisdom and yes, humility.  He was clearly the zenith of God’s creative order.  As for the angelic “thrones,” “dominions,” “rulers” and “authorities” in Colossians 1:16, Lucifer was the highest of these spirit-world majesties.  His newly created (Job 38:1-7) earthly abode in the “Garden of Eden” (Ezek. 28:13a) was a powerful example of majesty, honor and dominion given to him over the angelic realm as God’s own Viceroy.     

            From these roles it is clear that there could have been two locations of ministry for Lucifer; one in heaven at God’s throne and another on earth among the angelic realm.  It might be easier to picture this scenario if we were to fast-forward to eternity future in Revelation 21 where we see a striking parallel in the New Heaven, the New Earth and the New Jerusalem.  God’s throne will be in the New Jerusalem which will be on, or in close proximity to earth (21:2).  The kingdom of mankind will be ruled by kings who will bring the glory of the earthly nations into God’s presence in the holy city (21:24-26).  Those kings will function as priestly vessels of glory and praise toward God in the New Jerusalem and at the same time, kingly vessels of authority and blessing coming from God back to the earthly nations.  Revelation 21 seems to be a book-end mirror image of the scene in eternity past when the heavenly and earthly spheres were occupied by the angelic realm. 

            Lucifer, as the primary intermediary between heaven and earth, was the one who conveyed God’s authority, majesty and dominion to the angelic realm, and in turn, he was the channel of angelic glory, praise and adoration to the throne of God.  We can see how God’s heavenly throne and the earthly creation could well have been in close proximity as they will be in eternity future.  It makes good sense that Ezekiel’s description of the “garden of Eden” along with the angelic “kings” and “sanctuaries” were on the original earth that was created in John 1:3; Colossians 1:15-16; Hebrews 11:3 and described in Job 38:1-7.  God’s creation in eternity past was a spectacular angelic estate freely occupying both a material and spirit-realm in perfect harmony for possibly eons.

Lucifer’s Fall

                    Being in God’s presence and reflecting His glorious light through the stones of his dazzling apparel, Lucifer was exactly what his name in Isaiah 14:12 indicates – the “bright and shining one” (Hbr. helel).  Lucifer displayed the unprecedented and unveiled brightness of God’s glory.  Ezekiel 28:15b-17 states that the source of Lucifer’s rebellion was his pride stemming from this splendor and beauty.

15“You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created until unrighteousness was found in you. 16By the abundance of your trade you were internally filled with violence, and you sinned; therefore I have cast you as profane from the mountain of God.  And I have destroyed you, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire.  17Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom by reason of your splendor.  I cast you to the ground; I put you before kings, that they may see you.  18By the multitude of your iniquities, in the unrighteousness of your trade, you profaned your sanctuaries.  Therefore I have brought fire from the midst of you; it has consumed you, and I have turned you to ashes on the earth in the eyes of all who see you.”

 Ezekiel 28:15b-18

            Lucifer’s arrogance caused him to forget that he was merely a reflection of God’s glorious splendor (v. 17).  It is conceivable that some of the angelic realm began to marvel at Lucifer’s glory, noting his authority, dominion, majesty and beauteous splendor.  Perhaps Lucifer was not careful to humbly convey that glory to God.  Perhaps he began to relish the compliments which he allowed to turn into worship, and his lust for power and glory grew.  Perhaps he began to require the favor?  Lucifer’s God-given authority went to his head (I Tim. 3:6).  Thus, the first division of eternity started – in a sanctuary (v. 18).  The angelic realm became polarized – one holy side and one rebel side.  God allowed free course for the deception to take hold, revealing who of the angelic realm would resist or follow.  Lucifer would have needed considerable time to influence the host of fallen angels to turn from God as he mounted his rebellion through the “abundance of his trade” and the “multiplication of his iniquity.”  In working through this angelic scenario in eternity past we can see how he would have had both time and opportunity to steal the allegiance of one-third (Rev. 12:4) of the angelic realm in his quest for glory, power and worship.  The abuse of authority and lust for personal gain that fueled Lucifer’s rebellion in eternity past is exactly what has fueled every abuse of power and authority on earth throughout mankind’s messy history.      

            As the sins of Lucifer’s trade began to multiply (Vv. 16, 18) and his rebellious spirit began to infect the angelic host, God pronounced judgment, casting Lucifer down to earth away from His presence, His throne and His Holy mountain (Ezek. 28:16b-17; Isa. 14:12).

God’s Judgment of Lucifer and Earth         

            The Father had seen enough; and finally, one last time when Lucifer returned to the throne of God feigning worship, God put a stop to it.  Lucifer was cast from God’s throne to the earth in utter humiliation before the angelic majesties (Ezek. 28:18; Isa. 14:12).   

              God judged Lucifer’s earthly domain by sending it literally into a state of darkness, chaos and deluge.  It is this state we see described in Genesis 1:28 and Jeremiah 4:23-28.8 How long the earth existed in this judged condition is impossible to tell, perhaps eons.9,10 

            God condemned Lucifer, removing his glory, honor and authority, but his rebellious spirit did not stop when God cast him from His throne.  Isaiah 14:13-14 records Lucifer’s response to this judgment known as his five “I wills” where he expresses his heart’s intention to “ascend to heaven,” to “raise [his] throne above the stars of God,” to “sit on the mount of the assembly in the recesses of the north,” to “ascend above the heights of the clouds” and finally, to “make [himself] like the Most High” (Isa. 14:13-14).  It is essential to note that God had already entrusted to Lucifer all but the fifth of these arrogant aspirations in his previous un-fallen state (cf. Ezek. 28:12-15). 

            In the fifth “I will,” Lucifer uses the title Elyon, “God Most High,” revealing his ambition to be like Sovereign God, possessing or ruling over all creation; Lucifer sought all dominion, power, glory and honor that was God’s.  The name, “Most High,” is consistently reserved for God alone, the Supreme Sovereign who “owns” or “possesses” all of His creation, invisible and visible (Gen. 14:18-22; Deut. 32:7-8; Ps. 97:9; Dan. 4:17,25, 32, 34; 5:21; Mk. 5:7; Lk. 1:32).  Lucifer could have used any one of a number of descriptions or names for God,11 but chose this title based on his covetous desire for God’s own sovereignty and glory.  Because of Lucifer’s arrogance, he was blinded to his own subordinate state as a creature, that only the Sovereign Creator can be the One who possesses all glory, honor and dominion of creation.

            God could have immediately executed the full sentence of His judgment (Isa. 14:15) and banished Lucifer and his angels to the eternal Lake of Fire

(Mt. 25:41).  He would have been perfectly just in doing so.  On this point, Donald Grey Barnhouse says “There was no lack of power or opportunity.  But if God had thus brought down the first enemy, He could never have created another mighty being like Lucifer with the freedom of choice, for there would always have been the possibility of another rebellion and the necessity for another repression.  The history of heaven would then have been dotted with a series of disasters.12 Instead, God pronounced judgment on Lucifer (from now on referred to as “Satan” or “the devil”) and his angelic hosts while still allowing them to exist in a state of willful, open rebellion.  It was as if God were allowing Satan the opportunity to make good on his five “I wills.”  God devised a plan to demonstrate once and for all that His judgment on Satan was perfectly righteous and just; thus ending any and all future rebellions before they began.  He would use an inferior creature to demonstrate His justice – forever.  Subsequently, God’s plan for mankind, and the world as we know it, began.

Time Begins – God Restores Earth; Man’s Creation and Fall

              As noted, the Genesis account of creation was written as it relates to mankind and contains no mention of the invisible spiritual realm’s creation.  The only indication that one might have to the existence of an invisible angelic kingdom isthe presence of the serpent in the garden (3:1) and the presence of the cherubim sent to guard the way to the garden after the fall (3:24).  However, evil obviously preexisted Adam and Eve, for there was a tree of knowledge of good and evil in the garden.13  By the time man was created, a Satanic rebellion was in full-swing with man now entering as a relative latecomer.       

            Genesis opens with God restoring the judged and wrecked earthly domain.  God established a new creation, man, in a mini-theocracy in the Garden of Eden (Gen. 1:3-31).  The earth was perfectly restored with newly created – not evolved14 – human beings in six, literal, twenty-four-hour days (Ex. 20:9-11).  In His new creation, God set man apart from the animal kingdom by creating him in His own image and likeness having the special privilege of fellowship with and obedience to Him.  The animal kingdom was given instinct, while man was given free-will with personal responsibility to His Creator.  The man and woman were given freedom’s test: obedience or disobedience to God’s Word.  Adam was also given authority as the newly appointed viceroy over God’s earthly creation (Gen. 1:27-30).  In Adam, Lucifer was displaced by a vastly inferior creature (Ps. 8:4-5; Heb. 2:7-8).  This new creature, who was made from dirt, tied to the earth’s surface by gravity, bound by time and space, was conversely blessed with God’s own “image and likeness.” Adam’s residence was in the newly restored “garden of God” (Gen. 2:7-17;

Ps. 8:3-8)… he was in the place and position once held by the mighty Lucifer (Ezek. 28:13-15a).

            Words would be inadequate to describe the disdain, offense and humiliation Satan must have felt as he observed this inferior creature exercising authority over his domain.  Up until this point, the battleground was in the angelic realm.  Now, a third party has entered the conflict and is apparently limited by not having an empirical knowledge of the spirit-realm’s existence. 

            Remember, Satan had already entered his challenge to reign supreme in God’s universe, seeking all majesty, glory, power and dominion for himself

(Isa. 14:13-14).  God chose to meet that challenge through the weakness of a new creation, made in the likeness of God – man.  The rules of engagement?  Neither God nor Satan would superimpose their will on man.  Freedom of choice would be permitted among His new creation of mankind as it was in eternity past among the angels.  The battleground?  Man’s invisible soul.  And the chief issue in the raging conflict?  Would man submit his will to God or Satan by believing and acting on the truth or the lie (Gen. 2:17; 4:7; Job 1:8; 2:3; Hab. 2:4; Eph. 6:10-12; Jas. 4:6-8;

I Pet. 5:8-9; Rev. 22:12)?   

            Before God provided the woman, Adam ruled and exercised authority over his domain by naming the animal kingdom (Gen. 2:18-20).  How long this zoological project continued no one knows, perhaps months or even years.15  But the momentum Adam developed in his obedience and fellowship with the Lord was about to be tested.   

              Under cover as the serpent, Satan sought the best opportunity to incite Adam to rebel against his Creator God.  Satan worked through Adam’s counterpart, the woman, to establish his own will and authority in God’s newly founded earthly theocracy (Gen. 3:1-6).  While sin for Adam would have been rebellion toward God, it would also place Adam under Satan’s dominion, thus creating for Satan a beachhead of authority [once again] on earth. 

            As the serpent lied to Eve, Adam could have intervened and prevented the Satanic deception and rebellion from taking place because he had already exercised his God-given authority over the serpent in naming him.  Instead, Adam watched passively as the serpent beguiled Eve.  The serpent was seeking authority and Adam gave it to him.  Adam and the woman took of the fruit and ate of their own free will.  Adam knew both the command and the consequence of disobedience (Gen. 2:17) and his decision plunged the human race into sin (Rom. 5:12).  Adam was held personally responsible for sin, and he and his wife were judged immediately with spiritual death and ultimately with physical death (Gen. 3:17-19; Rom. 5:12; 6:23a).  The seed of sin would be passed (implanted) vicariously through Adam into every one of his descendants.  Man(kind) would hereafter be born physically alive, but spiritually dead ( Rom. 3:23; Eph. 2:1) and a slave to the Prince of darkness (Col. 1:13).

God’s Judgment of Mankind and Earth and His Promise of Redemption

            Like Satan, man lost his privilege to rule God’s perfect environment.  In a clear parallel to Lucifer’s fall and judgment, Adam lost both his place in Eden and his authority in the God-given theocracy (Gen. 3:23-24).  Mankind (Gen. 2:17; 3:19), along with his earthly domain, was judged and cursed with pestilence, pain, disease and death (Gen. 3:17-18; Rom. 8:20-22). 

            However, in God’s judgment on man for his sin, He included the marvelous provision of a Savior, who was promised to come through the “seed of the woman” (Gen. 3:15).  This Man-Savior, coming from the woman, would “crush the head of the serpent” and undo the problem of sin by paying sin’s consequence of death.  The promise included a way to satisfy the judicial wrath of God that had to be poured out on sinful man (Rom. 6:23a).  God’s judgment would be borne by a substitute sin-bearer, “the Lamb of God” (Isa. 53:4-10; Jn. 1:12;

I Jn. 2:2; Rev. 13:8).  In God’s wise, gracious and loving plan, He would send His only Son, born of a woman and in the likeness of man, to pay the penalty for man’s sin (Jn. 3:16). 

            With fantastic irony, God’s solution to the problem of sin and its curse of death would come through the woman, the same vessel used for the deception.  With equal irony the actual judgment of sin would be borne by her “Seed” – a man (the second Adam) who would be identified with all the sins of Adam’s race.  This promised Seed, the Man, Christ Jesus would die and His cross would become both eternal salvation for mankind and eternal condemnation for Satan (Ps. 8:2). 

            Satan, thinking he had gained a strategic victory in his quest for dominion on earth, was placed in “check.”  Time would become a contest whereby mankind’s enemy would ever seek to remove the Savior – the One promised to crush the serpent’s head.  We will see in our study that this promised Savior will also be the promised King, reigning as the second Adam and the rightful heir to the dominion God removed from Lucifer in eternity past, and bequeathed to Adam at the dawn of time (Ps. 2; 8).   

            The promise of the coming Seed made to Adam and Eve became the enduring hallmark of salvation – to all who would simply believe (Gen. 3:15;

Gal. 3:8, 16, 22; Heb. 9:26; Isa. 59:1-21).  No matter what epoch in time, before, during or after Christ’s first or second coming, eternal salvation has always been granted, and will always be granted, by faith alone in the promised “Seed” – Jesus Christ.  Man, born spiritually dead as a descendent of Adam, could now be born-again and receive spiritual life through faith in the substitute sin-bearer, the promised Seed, the second Adam.                  

             Genesis 3:15-12:1 catalogs the two thousand year lineage of this “Seed” from Adam to Abraham.  During this tumultuous epoch in time that includes the world-wide flood and the scattering of the nations at the tower of Babel, Scripture records the preservation and genealogy of the promised Seed.  As the Nations proliferate we are led to a family of the line of Shem in Ur of the Chaldeans where God’s plan for His chosen nation unfolds.

God’s Chosen People Israel – The Vessel of Redemption

              In Genesis chapter twelve God made an unconditional covenant promise to Abram guaranteeing he would become the father of a great nation through which the entire world would be blessed.  Through this great nation and through His “Seed,” Abram would become the father of many nations (Gen. 12:1-3; 15:1-21; 17:1-8; Gal. 3:7-16).  Abraham’s descendants would be permanently situated in Canaan, the Promised Land.  The “Seed” promised to Abram spoke of both the person of Jesus Christ and the nation Israel.  Thus, the remainder of Genesis documents how God birthed, built, preserved, and prepared Israel to become the vessel that delivered the Messiah and His marvelous redemption to mankind

(Gen. 18-50). 

            The Old Testament is Israel’s story as God providentially led His chosen people to prepare for their coming Messiah.  The history of Israel, past, present and future, can be followed simply by understanding God’s Covenant promises to His chosen people.  Following the Abrahamic covenant in Genesis, God made three more very important covenant promises to Israel: the Mosaic, Davidic and New Covenants.

            The Mosaic Covenant served to preserve Israel as a people and set them apart from all other nations (Ex. 20:1-17).  It provided for worship of Holy God by a sinful people, while clearly establishing the need for a Savior from sin (Ex. 20-40; Leviticus).  The Mosaic Law also established Israel in the promised land of Canaan, providing for God’s blessing for obedience and discipline for disobedience (Lev. 26; Deut. 28-30).                                       The Jews were God’s chosen people with a special relationship with Him that promised blessing, but required obedience.  When Israel would rebel, God would send prophets who would call them back to the Law of Moses in repentance.  The nation was continually warned of the wrath that would accompany their sin.  Sometimes the nation responded in repentance and was restored to fellowship and blessing; and sometimes the nation persisted in disobedience to the law and was disciplined and judged.  This cycle of blessing for obedience to the law of God and cursing for disobedience characterizes all of Israel’s tumultuous history from Sinai up through the second coming of Christ.

              The Davidic Covenant stated that one of David’s descendants would be King forever

(II Sam. 7:12-17; Ps. 89:33-34; Jer. 33:15-17).  This king, coming from Judah’s tribe would reign eternally from Jerusalem over united Israel.  Through the Davidic Covenant the “Seed” of the woman promised to Adam and Eve and the “Seed” of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob was known as the Seed (or Son) of David.  His coming would mark the golden age of Messiah’s kingdom.  

              Finally, the New Covenant promised several things that the Mosaic “old” Covenant could not provide: forgiveness of sins, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, a new heart, a complete and eternal inheritance of all the land promised to Abraham, and the personal advent of the “Davidic” Messiah/King reigning eternally from Jerusalem (Ezek. 36-37; Jer. 30-33).  In effect, all previous covenant promises would be completely fulfilled in this New Covenant to a believing Israel in Christ’s Messianic Kingdom.  The work of Jesus Christ on the cross would inaugurate the New Covenant with the indwelling Holy Spirit, forgiveness of sins and a new heart.  However, the remaining promises of an eternal inheritance of the promised land and the presence of the Davidic King reigning from Mt. Zion would not be fulfilled until the second coming of Christ.  Thus, during the Church-age, when we commemorate the New Covenant during communion, we look backward to the cross and forward to His return; we “proclaim the Lord’s death… till He comes” 

(I Cor. 11:26). 

            At this point in our study, it’s imperative that we understand something about Israel’s history.  Because God made all these wonderful promises to Israel, their entire history from Abraham, leading up to the second coming of Christ, has been marked with antagonism by a satanically controlled world system.  It was as though, through these covenant promises, God was challenging Satan’s fifth “I will” (to dominate all of the created order) by committing to do the same… but through the nation Israel. 

            It is also important to note that all four of the above covenants are dependent on the existence and continuance of Abraham’s seed (Jer. 31:35-36; 33:19-26).  Thus, if Satan could extinguish the Jewish people, he could stop God’s plan and prevent God from fulfilling His promises to His chosen people, Israel.  Because of these four covenants Israel becomes the focal point of God’s enemy, who aims to destroy the apple of God’s eye (Zech. 2:8) –  the vessel of redemption and the future ruling dynasty of the world. 

            We can begin to imagine the long-suffering of God as He anticipates Satan’s final judgment.  At the same time, we can begin to comprehend Satan’s urgency as he narrows his scope of antagonism toward what he may think is God’s Achilles heel.  Israel, being center-stage of this conflict, suffers more world-wide and continual antagonism than any nation in the history of mankind.  Thus, God constantly reiterates His covenant promises to His chosen people throughout the Old Testament.  These promises are Israel’s only immutable hope in a history marked by unimaginable trial and unrelenting satanic opposition.16   

            The following passages demonstrate that Israel is destined by God to be a redeemed people who will reign supreme as a nation on earth from Palestine in a golden age under their Messiah/King in fulfillment of the above covenants (Ps. 2; 72; 78:68-72; 89; 110; 132:11-18; Isa. 2:2-5; 4:1-6; 9:6-7;11:1-16; 16:4b-5;  19:16-25; 24:20-23; 25; 26; 27:6, 12-13; 30:23-26; 33:17-24; 35:1-10; 40:1-11; 43:1-21; 51:1-16; 54:1-10; 55:1-5; 59:16-21; 60; 61; 66:7-21; Jer. 3:15-18;   12:14-16; 23:1-8; 24:4-7; 30:1-24; 31; 32; 33; 34:22-31; 50:4-7, 19; Ezek. 11:17-21; 20:33-44; 28:24-26; 34:11-31; 36:7-38; 37:1-14, 21-28; 39:25-29;  Chs. 40-48; Dan. 7:13-14, 27; Hos. 1:10-11; 2:14-24; 3:4-5; 6:2; 11:8-9; Joel 2:18-32; 3:1,18-20; Amos 9:11-15; Mic. 4:1-8; 5:2-5; 7:14-20; Hab. 2:14; Zeph. 2:6-7; 3:10-20; Zech. 8:1-8,13,20-23; 9:10-17; 10:1-12; 12:8-10; 14:8-21; Mal. 4:1-3).17  It’s in fulfillment of these promises through the first and second coming of Christ that God will redeem all (believing) Israel, mankind, and earth itself.  The curse that earth inherited because of Adam’s sin will be lifted; and earth will be returned (redeemed) to its original edenic state where all is in perfect submission to, and in possession of, God’s Son, the Second Adam – Jesus Christ (Ps. 2:8; 8; Rom. 8:18-25; I Cor. 15:24-25; Col. 1:16c; Heb. 2:8). 

To understand the essential components of the above covenants is to grasp the very infrastructure of the Plan of God and Israel’s history throughout the Old Testament, leading into the New Testament.

First Coming of Christ

             In God’s perfect timing, the Father sent His Son Jesus Christ, the promised Seed, the Messiah, to enter Satan’s earthly domain as a man (Mt. 3:1-4; Jn. 3:16; Gal. 4:4).  By the time of Christ’s birth, Satan had obtained dominion over all the earth, possessing every kingdom and all its glory (Job 1:7; Mt. 4:8-9; Lk. 4:5-6; I Jn. 5:19).

            At the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, and in a bold attempt to overthrow God’s plan (Ps. 2:6-9), Satan offered the dominion of all the nations and their glory to Jesus if He would submit to his authority in worship (Mt. 4:8-9; Lk. 4:5-7).

5“And he led Him up and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time.  6And the devil said to Him, ‘I will give You all this domain and its glory; for it has been handed over to me, and I give it to whomever I wish.  7Therefore if You worship before me, it shall all be Yours.’”  Luke 4:5-7

            It was as if the devil were saying to Jesus, “Look, you’ve come to reign as the King of kings and it all can be yours; the kingdom, the power, the glory… no death, no pain – no cross.  Everything can be yours, if you submit to me as the Most-High.”  This offer was legitimate, for the first Adam had handed over his God-given authority to the devil back in the garden.  The devil had gained submission of all the kingdoms of the earth (1 Jn. 5:19); and by gaining submission of the God-Man in worship, he would obtain the very sovereignty of God.  Jesus Christ resisted the temptation and rejecting the offer He maintained perfect submission to the Father’s plan (Mt. 4:10; 26:42).  The second Adam being tempted in all things, was without sin. 

The Offer of the Promised Messianic Kingdom to the Nation Israel

            The ministry of Jesus during His first advent was strictly to the Jews whereby He offered the promised Messianic Kingdom to the nation Israel         (Mt. 10:5-7).  John the Baptist, Jesus, and the twelve disciples all called for the nation to repent so that the Kingdom would come (Mt. 3:2-3; 4:17; Mk. 1:1-4; Lk. 3:1-18).  While the golden age of the Messiah’s earthly reign was promised over and over throughout the prophets in the covenants, the one condition for the kingdom to come was wholesale, national, repentance (Jer. 29:11-14; Hos. 6:1-3; Joel 1:13-15; Zeph. 2:1-3; 3:1-20; Zech 12:10-13:9; Mal. 3:1-7).  In order to conceptualize the type of repentance it would take for Messiah’s kingdom to come, think of what happened in Nineveh when Jonah preached.  In Nineveh, repentance began with the rulers and reached to every household.  The message preached during the ministry of Christ promised geopolitical deliverance for the nation upon repentance, or, destruction to the nation if there was no repentance.  While many believed the message, forming a remnant (which later became the church); a remnant was not sufficient for the Son of David to install His Kingdom.  The entire nation would have to humbly receive Him as their Messiah and King for the golden age of the kingdom to come.   

            Over and over, Jesus proved He was the Messiah through His teaching and miracles; yet the nation, led by its religious leaders, persisted in stiff-necked rebellion.  When it became abundantly clear the leadership of the nation was rejecting Jesus as the Messiah, and at a critical transition in His ministry, Jesus promised only one more attesting miracle – the resurrection (Mt. 12:38-41; Lk. 11:29).  Privately, Jesus taught His disciples that the leaders would ultimately reject Him by having Him crucified and that He would rise from the dead three days later (Lk. 9:22).  Finally, just as Jesus predicted, at the prompting of the leaders, the Jews cried for Jesus’ crucifixion (Mt. 27; Mk. 15; Lk. 23; Jn. 18).  Israel had rejected the King (Acts 2:23; 3:14-15; 7:52).  The promised kingdom for Israel would be postponed.  Israel would enter into yet one more cycle of God’s discipline (Mt. 23:29-39). 

    The Cross

              It was in Christ’s death that God fulfilled His ancient promise of redemption, that the woman’s seed would “crush the serpent’s head” (Gen. 3:15b).  On the cross, the Son of God received all the righteous judgment for every sin ever committed in time –  past, present and future (Isa. 53:4-10; Jn. 1:29; I Jn. 2:2).  Sin, was judged and lost its power of death through the atoning and substitutionary sacrifice of Jesus Christ.  Through the resurrection, God demonstrated that His righteous character was satisfied forever (I Cor. 15:54-57; Eph. 2:19-23).  At the cross, the New Covenant was inaugurated; the Lamb of God had “taken away the sin of the world” (Jn. 1:29).  The work of the woman’s seed was finished (Jn. 19:30), the serpent’s head was crushed; all men who would simply believe in the Messiah and His finished work would receive eternal salvation.       

16For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.  17For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through Him.” John 3:16-17

Church Age

            Sadly, after Christ’s resurrection and ascension into heaven, Israel continued to reject the Messiah in stiff-necked rebellion (Acts 4:1-3, 18; 5:17-18, 33, 34, 40; 7:1-60).  Therefore God sent the saving gospel to the Gentiles (Acts 28:26-28; Rom. 9-11).  By means of the indwelling Holy Spirit, God would live inside each individual who expressed faith in Christ.  This new creation made up of both Jew and Gentile is called the “Church” Gk. Ekklesia – a called out assembly. 

            The Church is the very body of Jesus Christ on earth that is called out of Satan’s kingdom, the world.  The Church-age is described by Paul as a “mystery” age… meaning it was not revealed in the Old Testament, but was now revealed through the apostles (Eph. 3:1-12).  The Church, formidable and unstoppable, is God’s new redeeming agency in the world.  Throughout the Church-age the gospel of Jesus Christ is extended to every nation on earth and Satan’s most virulent attempts to stop it, fail (Mt. 16:18). 

            It is important to note the Church has not replaced Israel in any way.  Israel is in a state of discipline and the Church has been grafted (graciously included) into the New Covenant promises (Rom. 9-11; I Cor. 11:23-26; Eph. 2:11-18).  While the message of Jesus during His ministry was calling Israel as a nation to repentance in order for the kingdom to come; the gospel message during the Church age is preached to both Jews and Gentiles calling them to faith in the Savior who died for their sins.  By faith in Jesus Christ, the Church-age believer, whether Jew or Gentile, receives forgiveness of sins, a new heart and the gift of the Holy Spirit through the long-promised New Covenant (Rom. 1:16; 10:1-13;     I Cor. 1:18-21).          

            During the Church-age, Satan has two primary targets of antagonism: the body of Christ and the Jewish nation.  He seeks to deceive the Church through the lie and dissuade her from “pure devotion to Christ” (II Cor. 11:1-3; Eph. 6:11-12;

I Pet. 5:8-9).  The nation Israel, while under discipline during the Church-age, continues to suffer as the devil seeks to scatter, subjugate and ultimately exterminate the Jews.16  When the Gentiles are gathered in and the Church of Christ is completed (Rom. 11:25b), God will remove her from earth and then resume His program for Israel, introducing the great and awesome “Day of the Lord.”  The Day of the Lord is the consummation of the ages when God will intervene in human history in the most tangible and awesome way.  This period of time will begin with the seven year tribulation period and continue through the Millennial Kingdom (Joel 1:15; 2:1, 11; Zeph. 1:7-2:3; Mal. 4:5; I Thes. 5:2;

II Thes. 2:2).

Rapture –  Removal of the Church from the earth

              The prophetic event that marks the end of the Church-age is called the “rapture.”  Similar to the Church, the rapture is also termed a “mystery” because it was previously unrevealed in the Old Testament.  In First Corinthians 15:51-53 Paul describes the rapture as transporting believers up in an imperishable body that is “changed” in the “twinkling of an eye.”  In First Thessalonians 4:13-17 he describes this same event as giving believers hope of being with their believing loved ones who have already died.  This new teaching describes an event that literally “snatches” (Gk. harpazo – meaning “to seize” or “catch away,” from which we get the Latin term “rapture”) the Church (up) into the air to be with the Lord from that time forward.  In both passages, Paul clearly indicates that he believes this event could take place imminently, at any moment – even in his lifetime. 

             In Titus 2:12-13, Paul exhorts the believer to be continually looking for this “blessed hope,” indicating that the prospect of this event taking place during the present age is likely.  Thus, we can conclude that Paul taught that the very next prophetic event on God’s calendar is the rapture of the body of Christ from earth.  Revelation 19:7-16 reveals the bride of Christ (the Church) is already in heavenbefore the second advent, that is, before Christ returns to earth.  The rapture, which translates the body of Christ before 18 the coming tribulation is an event (Titus 2:13) that brings the believer “comfort” now  (I Thes. 4:18) and “deliverance” from the “wrath to come” during the Tribulation (I Thes. 1:10; Rev. 6:16; 14:10,19; 15:1; 16:1,19; 19:15).

Judgment Seat of Christ

              When the Church-age believer is translated into heaven by means of the rapture he will be evaluated (judged) for reward – or loss of reward – at Christ’s judgment seat (Rom. 14:9-12; I Cor. 3:11-15; Col. 3:23-25).  This judgment is for believers from the Church-age only.  The event is really an evaluation and is for the sole purpose of determining rewards, not salvation. 

            The salvation of the individual in the Church was “sealed” forever at the moment of his/her faith in Christ (Eph. 1:13) and is never in question.  The rewards the individual believer will receive at the Judgment seat of Christ determine the extent of his/her co-regency in the coming Kingdom of the Messiah (These rewards are outlined in the conclusion and implications section  pg.30).  It is extremely important to understand that the eternal salvation of the individual believer is not in question at the Judgment Seat of Christ.  The salvation of the believer is given purely on the basis of faith in Jesus Christ and His finished work on the cross.  Even the unfaithful believer is “saved, yet so as through fire”

(I Cor. 3:15).  While the unfaithful believer is in danger of losing his reward, his salvation is secure for all eternity.  Eternal salvation through Jesus Christ is given as a free gift (John 3:16; 5:24; Rom. 3:24; 4:5; 6:23; Eph. 2:8-9), while the reward of the inheritance is given as a prize for faithfulness (I Cor. 3:14; 9:24-27; Col. 3:17-25; Titus 3:4-8).

Tribulation–Satan Attempts to Unite all Nations Against Israel

              Following the Church’s removal from earth in the rapture, the Day of the Lord will begin on earth with a seven year period of horrific suffering, called “the Tribulation” (Jer. 30:7; Dan. 9:27; Mt. 24;  Rev. 4-18).  The nations of the earth will suffer a double-curse of God’s cataclysmic “wrath” and Satan’s world-wide dominion.  During this period all Israel will return to her Messiah, in wholesale, national, repentance.  During Christ’s first coming, the nation rejected Him as the Messiah, however, during the tribulation, all Israel will turn to Him in repentance and be saved (Rom. 11:25-26).    

            With the church removed and its influence gone, Satan will launch another attempt to completely dominate earth.  He will bring his earthly kingdom to its zenith as he sets himself up as world-ruler through the personage of Anti-Christ.  Satan’s agenda to subjugate and control all political, military, economic, social and religious systems throughout the world, and especially Israel, will be exponentially expanded.  He will set up his image in the Temple in Jerusalem to be worshiped as god (Dan. 9:27; Mt. 24:15; II Thes. 2:3-4; Rev. 13).  Antisemitism will so infect the nations that the tribulation will end in yet another attempt to annihilate Israel as Gentile world forces gather in the Holy Land to fight against Israel in the battle of Armageddon (Zech. 14:1-3; Rev. 19:1-20:6).  After the tribulation period, Jesus will return and Israel will be delivered and established as the chief among the nations in Christ’s kingdom (Isa. 49:22-26; Jer. 30-33; Zeph. 3:14-20).

Second Coming of Christ and the Millennial Kingdom

            Jesus Christ will actually end the massive battle campaign of Armageddon at His second advent.  He will physically, gloriously and personally return to earth with the saints following on white horses (Rev. 19:14).  The Lord will smite the nations that are at war with Israel, overthrow Satan’s kingdom, and

              establish the Kingdom of God on earth (Dan. 2:45; 7:13-14, 25-27; Zech. 14:4; Mal. 3:1; 4:5-6; Joel 2:30-31; Mt. 25:31-46; Rev. 19:15-20:6).  This “return on white horses” is what we will technically call Christ’s “second coming” whereby Jesus Christ delivers Israel by war and retribution out of the Tribulation and begins His thousand-year (millennial) earthly reign as King of kings and Lord of lords (Zech. 8, 14; Mt. 24; Rev. 19, 20:1-6).

              During Christ’s Millennial Kingdom Satan will be bound in the Abyss (Bottomless Pit), so as not to deceive the nations (Rev. 20:1-3,7).  In the Messianic kingdom the world is set free from the “forces of darkness” that dominated earth’s history since the fall of Adam (Rom. 8:19-25; Eph. 6:12;

I Jn. 5:19).  The Kingdom will be a phenomenal time of prosperity when man reigns under Jesus Christ in righteousness, peace and blessing with no Satanic influence.

                        Jesus Christ will demonstrate through His Kingdom reign that there is no blessing, no peace, and no prosperity apart from humble and loving submission to the Most High God (I Cor. 15:24-28).  In His kingdom He will exalt, bless and glorify those of all previous ages (Mt. 8:11; 25:31-40; Rev. 20:4, 6) who fought the good fight of faith while suffering under Satan’s earthly, cosmic kingdom.  Every promise of redemption, restoration and reconciliation to Israel and to the world will be fulfilled completely during this 1000 year period (cf. p. 20).  Throughout Christ’s reign all nations of earth will enter into an unprecedented state of blessing and prosperity under the personal care of the sovereign, loving, wise and righteous King of kings and Lord of lords (Ps. 2:7-12; 132:13-18; I Cor. 15:24-27; Heb. 2:8; Rev. 20:4-6).  The Second Adam from above (I Cor. 15:47) will bring God’s kingdom (Rev. 5:10; 11:15); and God’s will will finally be done on earth as it is in heaven (Mt. 6:10).

Satan’s Final Rebellion and Judgment

            At the end of Christ’s thousand year reign, Satan will be released from the abyss and will launch one final campaign against God’s people and against God’s beloved city, Jerusalem (Rev. 20:7-9a).19  After this final rebellion, those involved will be devoured by fire from heaven (Rev. 20:9b).  Finally, God’s archenemy, Satan, will be cast into the eternal Lake of Fire (Rev. 20:10) receiving his final judgment pronounced in eternity past (Isa. 14:15; Mt. 25:41).

Great White Throne Judgment

            After Satan is cast into the Lake of Fire, the Great White Throne Judgment will begin.  The Great White Throne Judgment is God’s final judgment where all unbelievers of all ages are raised to be judged by the Lord Jesus Christ and condemned to the eternal Lake of Fire (Rev. 20:11-15).

Time Ends – Eternity Future    

              After all judgment in the angelic realm and human realm has been executed, the blessings of the thousand year Messianic kingdom will be transitioned into an eternal state.  A new heaven and a new earth will be established and a new Jerusalem will descend from heaven to the newly renovated earth (Isa. 66:22; II Pet. 3:10-13; Rev. 21, 22). 

            In this final and eternal stage of earth’s long history, all glory, authority, dominion and sovereignty will be handed over to the Father by the Son (I Cor. 15:24-27).  God will be “all in all” once again in an eternal future (15:28).  Human (not angelic) servant-kings will possess the glory and authority of the earthly nations as their inheritance and bring that glory into the New Jerusalem to God Almighty and the Lamb – Jesus Christ (Rev. 21:22-26).  All glory, praise, honor and adoration for the King of kings will be magnified in the physical and spiritual realm by both mankind and angels for all eternity.  All believers of all ages will enjoy blessed fellowship with the Father and the Son while His Holy Spirit will have unprecedented ministry throughout the entire universe, never again hindered by sin and rebellion, angelic or human. 

            In the beginning of our study, we noted that Paul spoke of eternity past in Colossians 1:16, when he said, “all things in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions rulers or authorities” …were “created by Him and for Him (Jesus Christ).”  We noted how the rebel Lucifer sought the dominion and glory that was God’s alone.  Satan’s rebellion wrought the destruction and sin-sick-ruin the world now experiences.  But in the wise, sovereign counsel of the Father and through the humble, obedient work of the Son,

God reconciled “all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven” (Col. 1:20).  For all eternity all things will remain in submission to the Father for His glory, forever.  God will be all-in-all (I Cor. 15:28).  

25For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet.  26The last enemy that will be abolished is death.  27For He has put all things in subjection under His feet. But when He says, “All things are put in subjection,” it is evident that He is excepted who put all things in subjection to Him.  28And when all things are subjected to Him, then the Son Himself also will be subjected to the One who subjected all things to Him, that God may be all in all.” I Corinthians 15:25-28.  

What a glorious new beginning and eternal state!

Conclusion and Implications

              What a calling!  The Most-High God has decreed by His sovereign will that man, not angels, will subjugate the world to come under the authority of the Seed of the woman – Christ Jesus Himself  (I Cor. 6:2-3; Heb. 2:5-8).  God has turned the tables of humility atop pride.  Man, taken from the very dust of the earth, has survived the wreck and ruin of the greatest deception in eternity – the audacity of another “will” other than the “Most-High” – and has become evidence condemning arrogant angelic majesties to an eternal Lake of Fire.  God has chosen to defeat the arrogance of Lucifer with the humility of man.

              In time, space, history, the Lord, in His infinite wisdom, has allowed the satanic rebellion to run its course.  But He has promised redemption for the fallen casualty – man (Eph. 1:14; 4:30), the wrecked and cursed world (Rom. 8:18-25), and even the universe (Rev. 21:1).  The day is coming when God will once again be “all-in-all” (I Cor. 15:28b).  There will be a day when He makes all things new, “He shall wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there shall no longer be any death, there shall no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away” (Rev. 21:4-5). 

              Until that glorious day, God allows sin and rebellion to run its course ending in His righteous and sovereign judgment.  There will be an eternity future that remembers the epic of time, through which God demonstrated the consequences of another will opposed to His in the universe.  God will prove for all eternity, through the faith of imperfect, frail, weak and sinful man, –  that He alone is the Most High God, the only One worthy to be worshiped.  Indeed, all things were made by Him and for Him (Col. 1:16b) and to Him all creation will ultimately and eternally return all glory, honor and dominion.

              “War has been declared.  The great, governing cherub had become the malignant enemy.  Our God was neither surprised nor astonished, for, of course, He knew before it happened that it would happen, and He had His perfect plan ready to be put into effect.  Although the Lord had the power to destroy Satan with a breath, He did not do so.  It was as though an edict had been proclaimed in heaven: ‘We shall give this rebellion a thorough trial.  We shall permit it to run its full course.  The universe shall see what a creature, though he be the highest creature ever to spring from God’s Word, can do apart from Him.  We shall watch this experiment, and permit the universe of creatures to watch it, during this brief interlude between eternity past and eternity future called time.  In it the spirit of independence shall be allowed to expand to the utmost.  And the wreck and ruin which shall result will demonstrate to the universe, and forever, that there is no life, no joy, no peace apart from a complete dependence upon the Most High God, possessor of heaven and earth.’”20

In light of God’s plan and purposes, what is the individual believer’s significance in the plan of God?

            Consistently, throughout the New Testament, participation, exaltation and blessing in the next phase of God’s plan (the golden age of the Messianic Kingdom) is spoken of as a reward which is given by Christ for the believer’s good works done in faith (Mt. 5:11, 46; 6:1-6, 6-21; 10:26-42; 16:27; 24:45-51; Mk. 4:24-25; 8:38; Lk. 12:2-3, 13-21, 42-48; 16:1-13; Rom. 14:10; I Cor. 3:14-15;

4:3-5; 9:24-27; Col. 3:17-25; II Tim. 2:5-10, 12; Jas. 2:21-26; 5:7-9; I Pet. 4:17-18; Rev. 2:26-27; 5:9-10; 22:12).  Simply because a born-again believer possesses the free gift of salvation and eternal life does not necessarily mean that his or her life is going to be rewarded with active inheritance and participation in the Millennial Kingdom – that seems to be reserved as a prize rewarded for faithfulness.  The Church-age believer’s faith, motives, thoughts, words and actions will be evaluated by Jesus Christ at His Judgment Seat and reward will be given commensurate to his/her faithfulness. 

The believer’s rewards will consist of at least:

  • tribes, cities and nations to be governed during the Messianic Kingdom (Mt. 19:27-30; Luke 19:16-19; Rev. 2:26-27),
  • crowns-representing ruling authority bestowed by the King of kings
  • (I Cor. 9:27; I Thes. 2:19; II Tim. 4:7-8; Jas. 1:12; I Peter 5:1-4; Rev. 2:10; Rev. 5:9-10),
  • white garments-representing good works done in faith (Rev. 3:4b;19:7-8),
  • gold silver and precious stones (perhaps the material of crowns or perhaps wealth distributed for the Kingdom age) representing a Spirit-empowered, Christian life lived in faithfulness to Christ Himself (I Cor. 3:14-15), 
  • the inheritance of the “overcomers” in Revelation 2-3 – who:
  • will eat of the tree of life (Rev. 2:7);
  • receive the crown of life, not be hurt by the second death (10-11);
  • have access to the hidden manna, be given a white stone, receive a new name written on the stone which no one knows but the one who receives it (17);
  • be granted authority and governorship over the nations during the Messianic kingdom, be given the morning star (27-28);
  • will walk with Christ in white (garments); his name will not be erased from the book of life, his name will be confessed before the Father and before His angels (3:5);
  • will be kept from the hour of testing (10);
  • will not lose his crown (11);
  • will be made a pillar in the temple of God (12);
  • will not go out from the temple anymore (12);
  • upon him will be written the name of God, the name of the city of God the new Jerusalem and the new name of Christ (12);
  • will sit down with Christ on His throne (21). 

            These rewards will be actualized in a shared inheritance (possession) of the coming Kingdom (Rev. 5:9-10; 20:4-6).  At His second coming Christ Jesus will receive the inheritance of “the nations and the very ends of the earth” (Ps. 2:8; Dan. 7:27).  He will administer His kingdom by bestowing authority, honor and glory on those who walked with Him in faith (Dan. 7:22). 

            Paul tells the Corinthian believers in 1 Corinthians 6:2 that they will “judge the world.”  This judgment takes place when believers inherit jurisdiction and authority over the nations (Luke 19:11-27; II Tim. 2:12; Rev. 5:9-10).  The promise of being a co-regent with Jesus in His Kingdom was exactly what the disciples coveted and were promised by Jesus for their sacrifice and faithfulness in following Him (Mt. 19:27-30). 

            Without understanding God’s purposes as spelled out in His future plan, a believer may not realize the final significance and consequence of honoring God in the details of his or her life now (Gal. 5:17-21; I Cor. 6:9; Eph. 5:1-5; Col. 3:17-24).  If we understand the big picture, it’s much easier to see where we fit in and just how much our faithfulness to the coming King really matters (Rev. 22:12).

Why is man’s free-will so central to Scripture and the Father’s plan?

            We must conclude that the free-moral agency of the individual whether believer or unbeliever is assumed in the Scriptures.  God charged Adam in Genesis 2:16-17 not to eat from the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil.  That command inherently assumes the responsibility of freedom of choice.  The Bible closes with a command not to “take away” from or “add to” the book of Revelation (Rev. 22:18-19); that also inherently assumes the responsibility of freedom of choice.  Throughout the Bible there are literally thousands of appeals to man’s individual choice to believe or not, obey or not, love or not.  Every imperative presupposes free will.  Man is conscious, able, accountable and responsible because of his God-given ability to choose.             

            From creation and throughout all of time, God rewards those who use their freedom of choice to love and obey Him both at the moment of salvation and throughout his walk as a believer (Heb. 11:6; I Jn. 4:7-11).  The gift of salvation is freely given for one simple decision to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ (Jn. 3:16; 5:24; Acts 16:31; Rom. 1:16; 4:5; 10:8-11; I Cor. 1:18-25; Eph. 1:13; 2:8-9).  After that one act of faith, the sinner, being born-again, has the opportunity and responsibility to be faithful by making perhaps thousands upon thousands of faith-decisions to love, honor and live for his Savior.  These decisions encompass the believer’s life-experience of sanctification; and it’s for these works of faith (I Thes. 1:3) he is richly rewarded (Rom. 14:10-12; I Cor. 3:11-15; Eph. 2:10; Col. 3:21;

II Tim. 2:12; Heb. 12:1-2; Rev. 22:12).  Freedom of choice is part and parcel to both our salvation and Christian walk.

            Both the free gift of salvation and the abundant treasure of eternal rewards are contingent upon man’s response to the revelation of the Gospel and what is written in the Word of God.  Love and obedience to God is worked out in the believer’s conscious choice (Jn. 15:10-14). 

            Understanding the distinction between the immutable gift of eternal salvation and the mutable reward for a faithful life gives the believer the balance of security in his salvation (Jn. 5:24; Eph. 1:13-14; 4:30; I Jn. 5:11-13) and motivation to faithfulness connected with the imminent face-to-face evaluation by his Lord (Rom. 8:16-25; I Cor. 3:9-15; 4:1-5; 9:24-27; II Cor. 4:7-5:10; Rev. 22:12).  Much confusion about salvation is resolved simply by understanding that salvation is a free gift, while rewards related to Christ’s Messianic reign are earned, maintained and even lost based on faithfulness.    

Whom does God use to accomplish His purposes?

            Throughout the plan of God revealed through the Scriptures, there is an overarching theme that juxtaposes the humble and the proud.  James 4:6-8 says, “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”  Man’s pride, the root of all sin, is the truest reflection of Satan’s rebellion in eternity past.  On the other hand, humility and submission to the Father are the truest reflections of Jesus Christ who “humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death

(Mt. 26:39, 42; Phil. 2: 5-9).  God is using lowly man, to defeat the mighty but arrogant Lucifer of eternity past.  God has chosen to exalt the humble, the weak, the insignificant of this world (Mt. 5:1-13; I Cor. 1:26-29).  He has chosen to be glorified through those who relate to Him by faith and not by sight (II Cor. 5:7; Heb. 11:1, 2, 6).  He uses the righteous who fear Him and shun evil (Job 1:8;

II Tim. 2:21-22).  He uses and blesses those whom the satanically-controlled cosmos would bypass (I Sam. 16:7; II Sam. 9; I Cor. 1:26-29).  God uses those who reject the world’s lust for power and glory and see Him as their only source of power, glory and blessing (Gen. 32:26-28; Heb. 11:2, 6, 13; 12:1-2).  God honors and exalts those who submit themselves to Him in humble faith and obedience

(Mic. 6:8; Hab.2:4; Luke 14:11; 18:14; Jas. 3:10; I Pet. 5:6).  God has chosen the Poor to be rich in faith and heirs of the Kingdom which He promised to those who loved Him (Jas. 2:5).

            Why is our faith the victory in this age-old conflict?

            Faith is believing in the reality of that which cannot be seen or comprehended by our five senses (Heb. 11:1).  For God’s child, that reality is found in the Bible.  Obeying God’s Word is an expression of love, faithfulness and submission to our Heavenly Father (Gen. 22:12-18; Job 1:8; 13:15).  When we, as believers, respond in faith to our Father’s love and grace we are exercising our free will in submission to His will (Eph. 1:3-8; 2:4-5, 8; Phil. 1:6; I Jn. 1:9).  As believers, each time we humble ourselves by trusting God and not the evil cosmic system or our flesh, we “shun” evil (Job 1:1, 8; 2:3), and Satan is confounded.  The devil cannot control the believer who is living by faith in submission to God; and so his plans and purposes of “possessing the heavens and the earth” are undermined and thwarted by those humble men and women who love God.  The good angels look on, marveling and glorifying the God that they too chose to follow in obedience and love (Eph. 3:10).

              For all eternity, man’s humble faith will become God’s judicial evidence condemning Lucifer’s arrogant rebellion.  The Lord gave magnificent, powerful, and wise Lucifer incredible opportunity to love, glorify and honor the Most High  God for all eternity.  Instead he turned, in selfish arrogance, to love, glorify and honor himself.  Presently, through the weakness of man, God has established a strength – in order to make the enemy and the revengeful [Satan] cease” (Ps. 8:2).

              Believer, the King of kings has given you the omnipotent opportunity, to be one of His kings (rulers) in the coming Millennial Age!  Because of your faithfulness now, you will become a loving vessel of blessing and redemption to the earthly nations in Jesus’ coming kingdom (I Cor. 6:2).  And finally, He will use you, a frail child of the dust, to condemn Satan’s host of angelic majesties (I Cor. 6:3) for all eternity!  The glory, adoration, blessing and dominion you will receive as a co-heir with Jesus Christ in His coming Kingdom (Rom. 8:17) will absolutely eclipse every injustice, hardship and suffering you endure now in time (II Cor. 4:16-5:10).  Persevere in your love for and obedience to Him; the future and reward for your fidelity carries with it incomprehensible consequences!  

Epilogue

At Satan’s final judgment before he is cast into the Lake of Fire, God the Father may say something like this: 

              “Satan, you had everything.  You had perfect communion with Me.  I placed you in My presence, in My holy abode.  I gave you charge over all My glorious angelic created order.  You were the very zenith of My creation.  Everything you had was given to you by grace; you would have been nothing apart from Me.  You were created to enjoy and manifest My majesty, beauty, honor, power and dominion forever.  Yet, what did you do?  You rebelled.  In the wickedness of your heart, you sought your own glory, honor and dominion.  You sought to steal the majesty and glory that is only due to the Most High. 

              Therefore I created man to rule in your place.  Being vastly limited in every imaginable way compared to you, he knew nothing of the privilege of experiencing the fullness of My majesty.  He never dwelt with Me on High.  He was, in your arrogant estimation, a “maggot,” a “worm” (Job 25:6), a “sheep to be slaughtered” (Rom. 8:36).  Of course, you sought his subjugation.  But after he was infected by your serpentine venom, he bowed his head in repentance, humbly confessing his sin and his need for salvation.  He suffered under your cruel hand in your vile and tyrannical kingdom.  He bore the curse of sin in his body.  He was ravaged by suffering, pain, disease and death.  But he stood in My truth throughout time while you spewed forth your venomous lies in his earthly abode.  When he suffered as you incited Me against him, He turned to Me in faith (Job 2:3;

Heb. 11).  He often said, ‘though He slay me, I will hope in Him’ (Job 13:15a).  Millions lived their lives for Me, and many were even willing to sacrifice their lives for Me – and that without ever having seen or experienced Me in all My glory as you did.  Humble and faithful man has forever become your condemnation! 

              And now, Satan, I present to you, the Man, My Son, Jesus.  Existing as God, He did not regard equality with God a thing to be held onto, but He emptied Himself. He took the form of a bond-servant and was made in the likeness of men.  He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross, willingly suffering the full penalty for all the ruin you caused.  To the extent that He humbled Himself as a man, I have exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name (Phil. 2:6-9). 

              Therefore, I decree that you shall henceforth bow at the name of Jesus Christ, the Son of God and Son of man.  You shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to My glory both now and forevermore (Phil. 2:10-11).  To the extent that you have exalted yourself, you shall be forever humbled.  It is now time for your just condemnation.”

BE GONE!

              “How the oppressor has ceased, and how fury has ceased!  The LORD has broken the staff of the wicked, the scepter of rulers which used to strike the peoples in fury with unceasing strokes, which subdued the nations in anger with unrestrained persecution.  The whole earth is at rest and is quiet; They break forth into shouts of joy….  Sheol from beneath is excited over you to meet you when you come; it arouses for you the spirits of the dead, all the leaders of the earth; it raises all the kings of the nations from their thrones.  They will all respond and say to you, ‘Even you have been made weak as we, you have become like us.  Your pomp and music of your harps have been brought down to Sheol; maggots are spread out as your bed beneath you, and worms are your covering.’” Isaiah 14:4b-7, 9-11

              “And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, ‘Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He shall dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be among them, and He shall wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there shall no longer be any death, there shall no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.’  And He who sits on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new.’  And He said, ‘Write, for these words are faithful and true.’  And He said to me, ‘It is done.  I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.’” Revelation 21:3, 4

End-notes

1. It makes perfect sense to discover life’s value in the story written by life’s Author.  Our value comes from God and our relation to Him. Everyone longs for significance.  It is noteworthy that the word “significant” comes from the French word signifier which was used for the “standard (flag)-bearer” on a battle field. Signifier later came to mean “the one recognized” as a leader.  To be significant means to be noticed and to be what matters.  Ephesians 3:10-11 says “the manifold wisdom of God is being made known (manifested or “signified”) through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places (the spirit-realm)… and this “making known” was in accordance with the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  God’s eternal purpose which preceded us has everything to do with us. We are what matters in an ongoing conflict between good and evil.  God is actually demonstrating wisdom, grace, power and justice to the angelic realm through us – humans (I Cor. 4:9).  The spirit realm is watching, learning, even participating.  God is using us as the standard-bearers representing and manifesting Jesus Christ on earth’s battle-ground.

              Man was placed on earth to answer a satanic rebellion started in eternity past.  A most serious war is raging. Paul writes, “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” (Eph. 6:12).  Life isn’t meaningless, nor is it a random dirty trick.  Life’s a battlefield!  Knowing God’s plan simply clears the smoke and gives us the eternal perspective and context we need for our lives in time.  As we gather information from God’s Word about His plan and purposes, our invisible enemy and his methods become exposed while we find ourselves being equipped for fantastic impact and victory in this spiritual war.                                              

              As a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, you have been born (again) into a saga, an epic that raises you to inestimable value and power as you grow to spiritual maturity.  To consider your life meaningless is to believe a lie from the thief and destroyer of life (Jn. 10:10a).  The “Word of Life,” the “Eternal Life,” the “Author of Life,” the “Way, the Truth and the Life” – Jesus Christ, came to bring you abundant life (Jn. 10:10b).                

              Man’s final significance lies in God’s design and purposes, not ours.  Sometimes all we need is a little context, a little explanation as to what is really going on down here (and up there).  Let us study to understand this amazing plan for our lives and let us live according to the phenomenal calling we’ve received, for all the world is, truly, a stage… a stage for the plan and purposes of the Most High God. 

2.  All Scripture references are taken from the New American Standard Bible (NASB) unless otherwise noted.

3.  This book is designed to be an abbreviated study, allowing the reader to cover God’s plan from eternity past to eternity future in one sitting thus developing a panorama of both the plan of God and the Bible itself.  The end-notes develop further insight into issues and questions raised by the document.  The Scripture cited should be studied as time allows in order to develop a greater breadth and depth of understanding God’s plan.

4.  One of the best examples of science “catching-up” with theology is what has happened to the theory of evolution after the advanced development of both the microscope and the telescope.  The closer

one looks into microbiology or the expanse of the universe, the Bible’s dogma stating that God is the Author, Designer, and Creator of all things begins to make more and more sense scientifically purely from the standpoint of intelligent design.  An illustration of this is found in Darwin’s Black Box by biochemist Michael Behe of Lehigh University in Pennsylvania.  Behe describes the mechanism for the rotation of a bacterial cell’s flagellum (means of locomotion) as being an acid-driven motor replete with rod, rotor, stator, and bushing which is able to be viewed only with an electron microscope.  Behe calls this an “irreducibly complex” system.  Such incredible design is evident in every centimeter of the universe and points unmistakably to a designer (Ps. 19:1-7; Rom. 1:19-20).  Science is merely another window through which we can behold the power and majesty of the Creator!  cf. More Than Meets the Eye, Richard A. Swenson, M.D. (Colorado Springs, Colorado.  Navpress, 2000).

5.  The Greek word prototokos “first-born” refers to priority of position, as Creator and Sovereign, rather than origin.  See Psalm 89:27 where the same word is used in the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Old Testament) clearly demonstrating a designation by God for Jesus Christ as the Lord and Sovereign over creation. 

6.  Colossians 1:16 teaches a created order of both the invisible and visible realm.  This invisible realm consists of angelic “thrones, dominions, rulers and authorities” which are created “by Him and for Him.”  In Ephesians 6:10 Paul uses the same language for the fallen angelic realm but includes “world forces,” linking the angelic realm to earthly kingdoms (cf. Daniel 10).  From Colossians 1:16 we understand that the angelic realm was originally created in perfect submission to the Son; all things (visible and invisible) were in perfect submission to the Father in an eternity past unknown to mankind. 

  • If we were to insert an era in the Biblical account that allowed for the existence of dinosaurs, it would be in the original creation of eternity past – after the creation of the angelic realm and before their subsequent rebellion and judgment.  Certainly there could have been an animal kingdom and species unknown to and predating mankind such as dinosaurs during this time.  How long this time existed is an open question as far as Biblical revelation is concerned.  In placing an era that allows for dinosaurs before Genesis 1:2ff, we are not, by any means indicating that this species of animals evolved (See end-note #14).  Allowing for an extended period of time in the prehistoric biological timetable does not require evolutionary development, the second law of thermodynamics actually proves the opposite as things and matter naturally degenerate with time.                                        

              The Biblical Creationist should never be afraid of allowing as much time as science wants to place before the six days of Genesis 1:3-31.  Much history had unfolded in the angelic realm before man’s introduction to earth as noted in the above discussion.

              If dinosaurs are not found in this prehistoric era, then the only other time (in Biblical revelation) they could have existed was after the six days of Genesis chapter one and before the flood of Noah in Genesis chapter 6.  In order to exist during this time (Gen. 1:3-7:11), the dinosaurs would have had to board the ark with Noah and then exit the ark after the flood becoming extinct sometime thereafter.  This introduces a serious exegetical problem in Genesis; for the biblical account does not allow for an entire species of the animal kingdom to have died after the flood.  Genesis 8:17 says that God commanded Noah to “bring forth” with him all – (every single living animal and species of animal) that was on the ark so they may “breed abundantly on the earth and be fruitful and multiply upon the earth” (italics mine).  It was clearly God’s intention that all that boarded the ark be preserved in order to replenish the earth after the flood.  Genesis 9:11-12 says that the covenant of promise not to destroy the living creation with another flood was with Noah and “every living creature that is with you, for all successive (Hbr. olam translated “everlasting”) generations.”  Wouldn’t this imply that every living creature that got off the ark would endure those everlasting generations?  The Genesis account only allows for every species of animal that exited the ark to be the very animal population we see today and the same animal population that will endure on into the millennial and eternal state. 

              A careful study of Genesis 6-9 is in order, paying attention to Moses’ plain speech and his abundant use of absolutes (“all,” “every,”) throughout the narrative.  Moses does not leave any room for a partial flood or any species of animal left un-preserved after the flood.  Moses’ account of the flood leaves no other place in the Biblical account for dinosaurs except during the time before Lucifer’s rebellion which precedes and predates Adam and Eve.  It seems from the Bible’s account, that man is a latecomer on earth as far as earth’s biological history is concerned.   

  • It is important to note that God did not create the earth in the state described as formless and empty (Hbr. tohu and bohu). The term tohu bohu is translated “formless and waste” and is a phrase reserved for judgment (cf. Isa. 34:11; 45:18; Jer. 4:23a) not creation.  Genesis 1:2 is describing the state of the earth’s surface as being in a state of chaos and ruin.  Isaiah 45:18 specifically states that God did not create the earth tohu. Either there is a contradiction in Scripture between Genesis 1:2 and Isaiah 45:18, or Genesis 1:2 is speaking of some sort of destruction laid waste to earth as a result of God’s judgment.  This seems to be exactly what is described in Jeremiah 4:23-28 which perfectly parallels the description in Gen. 1:2.  This destruction and judgment occurred after God’s original creation and is connected with the fall and judgment of Satan in Ezekiel 28 and Isaiah 14. 

Genesis 1:2 is simply describing the earth before God began His work of restoration for mankind. 

  • This is where we would place the ice age bringing on the destruction of that animal species that we now call the dinosaur.  If the light of God was cut off (Gen. 1:2a), and the earth flooded (Gen. 1:2b), then the earth would have plunged into an instant ice age.  There’s no way of telling how long earth existed in this ruined state of judgment (as stated in end-note #7 this is completely an open question).  The terrestrial ball could have existed in this judged condition for eons or a very short time.  We simply have a description of the earthly state when the Spirit of God begins His work of restoration in Genesis 1:2c.  Here we see God the Holy Spirit “moving” over the surface of the deep before day one of God’s restoration begins.  The Hebrew word used for the Spirit’s work here is Rachaph, meaning “to flutter, shake, move.”  The word is used in Deuteronomy 32:11 to describe an eagle hovering over her young and creating heat.  Could this be God’s preparatory activity in warming a frozen earth from an ice age and preparing for the first day’s “light?”  The description in Genesis 1:2 certainly allows for a world-wide cataclysmic judgment resulting in an ice age.  

10.  The Continental Drift could also be placed here at Lucifer’s fall when his earthly domain is laid waste. Tom Garrison writing about Continental Drift in his text Oceanography describes geologists’ surprise to discover that sediments in the ocean floor are only about 4% of earth’s age whereas the centers of the continents are among the oldest parts of the earth.  That means the land (continents) that now stands above the water is the same age and what is under the water is the “new” matter or that which was “disturbed” in the movement of the land masses.  That would seem to demonstrate that the “drifting” occurred in a short period of time and more recently than original creation.  This catastrophic movement of the earth’s surface could have occurred in eternity past at the fall of Lucifer when he was cast to the earth (Ezek. 28:16-18) and the mountains “skipped” or “moved” under God’s cataclysmic judgment   (Jer. 4:23-24). 

It is possible, as some have proposed that the Continental Drift occurred during Noah’s flood.  However, a simple consideration of the continental land masses moving thousands of miles during 150 days (Gen. 7:28) of flooding with a thin layer of water covering the earth (fifteen cubits higher than the mountains cf. Gen. 7:19) would seem to make it impossible for marine life, much less the ark, to endure such cataclysmic, super-tsunami activity.                 

11. Every biblical name of God manifests some aspect of His character or function as God. Elohim – (The triune) “God,” Adonai – “Lord,” Jehovah – “I Am,” Jehovah-Maccaddeshem – “The Lord thy sanctifier,” Jehovah-Rohi – “The Lord my shepherd,” Jehovah-Shamma – “The Lord who is present,” Jehovah-Rapha – “The Lord our healer,” Jehovah-Tsidkenu – “The Lord our righteousness,” Jehovah-Jirah – “The Lord sees/provides,” Jehovah-Nissi – “The Lord our banner,” Jehovah-Shalom – “The Lord is peace,” Jehovah-Sabbaoth – “The Lord of Hosts,” El-Roi – “The strong one who sees,” El-Shaddai – “God almighty,” El-Olam – “The everlasting God.” Apparently none of these wonderful titles manifesting the love and character of God interested Lucifer.  He was not interested in providing any good thing for any part of creation. His only interest was in subverting the whole realm of creation and bringing all into submission to himself for his own power and glory.  Thus he chose the name El-Elyon, “God Most High,” – the Sovereign Authority and possessor of Heaven and Earth.  Another very interesting fact is that the title Elyon comes from the primary root alah which means “to go up, ascend, climb.”  Is it any wonder that Israel’s greatest enemy today is the Muslim faith which seeks their total annihilation?  Their god, “Allah,” disguises himself as an angel of light   (II Cor. 11:14) and has sought this title and position from before time (Isa. 14:14). 

12.  Donald Grey Barnhouse, The Invisible War: The Panorama of the Continuing Conflict Between Good and Evil.  (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing Co., 1965), p. 52.

13.  One of the noteworthy differences between the Garden of Eden in Genesis 1-3, and Lucifer’s Eden in Ezekiel 28, is that Adam and Eve’s Eden includes the “tree of knowledge of good and evil.”  As discussed above it is clear that evil originated in Lucifer’s heart (Ezek. 28:15b) and pre-existed Adam and Eve.  While sin entered the newly restored world and mankind through Adam’s sin (Rom. 5:12), sin and evil were present long before man was created.   

14.  This interpretation of Scripture presents an original creation in eternity past, a chaotic judgment after Lucifer’s fall, and a subsequent restoration of earth in six days.  The interpretation described in this book does not believe in or promote the evolution of any species – man or animal. That mankind originated from one man (Adam) and one woman (Eve) is the clear teaching of Scripture (Gen. 1:26-2:25; 4:1; Lk. 3:38; I Tim. 2:13-14).  The animal kingdom, too, was created “after their own kind” (Gen. 1:20-25; I Cor. 15:39) on the fifth and sixth [twenty-four hour] days. These very same species comprised the same species that went on the ark and got off the ark in Genesis 6-8 and will populate the earth for all eternity as stated above. The theory of evolution is simply a bankrupt attempt to explain origins apart from a perfect God and Creator.     

15.  We are viewing Genesis chapter 2 as an expanded creation account providing further detail of man’s creation, his occupation in Eden, and the introduction of the woman.  It should be understood that man functioned from his beginning (in the sixth – twenty-four hour day) in time/space history after Genesis 1:3.  This means that naming the animals would have occupied real time and space.  We understand from 2:21-25 that the woman was fashioned from Adam’s rib after man, and after he named the animal kingdom.  An apparent problem that this interpretation creates in the narrative is that woman is included in the statement of 1:27 which seems to include the woman’s creation on the 6th day.  This problem is resolved when one reads 1:27-30 as simply a summary statement regarding the creation of humankind as the zenith of God’s earthly order, which is in fact how the passage should be read in its normal sense.     

16.  History clearly accounts for this Satanically motivated cosmic agenda to remove from the promised land, subjugate, persecute and even extinguish the Jewish people.  Pharaoh (Ex. 1, 14), Balak (Nu. 22), Haman (Esther), Antiochus Epiphanes (Dan. 8, 11; 175-168 B.C.), Stalin (1879-1953) and Hitler (1889-1945) are easily recognizable for their antisemitism; but in fact there have only been brief intervals in history when the Jewish people were not persecuted.  No other people group in history has suffered such a sustained onslaught of persecution as the Jews.

(See http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/jewish/

lazare-anti.html and http://www.simpletoremember.com/vitals/HistoryJewishPersecution.htm.)                                              Today, the most obvious and virulent threat to the Jewish people is Islam.  The Islamic religion has persecuted the Jews throughout its entire history; however, today, more than ever, anti-Semitism is manifested through Islamic thought and doctrine.  There is an unprecedented hatred for the Jew and the Jewish state of Israel being spread across the globe through the broadening influence of Islam.  Clear intentions of exterminating the Jewish race have been repeatedly made by recent Islamic extremists such as Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Osama Bin Laden, Yasar Arafat and hundreds of Muslim leaders, clerics and journalists.                                                    How could there be such a variety of seemingly unrelated cultural and geopolitical forces over such a large expanse of history to remain consistently unified on one theme – to be rid of Jews?  The only viable connection between these perpetrators of antisemitism is the Satanically motivated agenda to foil God’s plan of restoring Israel to the land of Palestine and establishing a theocratic reign over all the nations of the earth in His Messianic Kingdom.  

17. These prophetic passages regarding the future of Israel must be interpreted in their plain and literal sense.  Sir Isaac Newton said, “About the time of the end, a body of men will be raised up who will turn their attention to the prophecies, and insist upon their literal interpretation in the midst of much clamor and opposition” (ital. mine).  That clamor and opposition persists to this day.

               It makes perfect sense that these passages would come under continual attack as to their plain-sense meaning since the entire program of God hinges on their fulfillment.  Satan would certainly seek to explain away the clear teaching that God has chosen a people through which He would redeem lost humanity (1st advent) and rule the world (2nd advent).  If Satan could twist the meaning of these Scriptures that promise to preserve this people in the program of God, then humanity would lose sight of God’s extraordinary plan for Israel.  Because of this deception, Satan could then instigate the total destruction of the Jews from the earth with little human opposition.

              St. Augustine (350-430 AD) perpetuated and popularized an allegorical system of interpretation (hermeneutic) in looking at these, and almost all prophetic passages related to Israel’s future. While St. Augustine did much good for Christendom, his Bible study method in interpreting prophecy has led to the common misinterpretation that the Church has replaced Israel.  Augustine’s hermeneutic resulted in an “amillennial” theology (meaning “no” millennium – and no literal second advent and reign of the promised Messiah/King on the earth).  The influence of this theology throughout the Church-age has led to a predominantly less-than-literal view of the future of Israel even up through the 18th century.   

               The 19th century, however, saw a strong resurgence of a more literal and consistent hermeneutic.  Passages related to prophecy were interpreted literally, and a clear distinction between God’s plan for Israel and God’s plan for the Church emerged.  It has been the influence of this “premillennial” (Christ returns physically to earth before His millennial reign on earth from Jerusalem) theology that has given support to the Jews and their future hope in Zion for the past century.  Still there must be a clarion call to see God’s promises to Israel as being literal, historical, earthly and eternal.

18.  In reference to a pre-tribulation rapture, there are many sound theologians who believe the church will endure the seven year tribulation.  These interpret the passages referencing the “Coming of the Lord” as the 2nd coming of Christ to the earth to establish His millennial Kingdom (cf. II Thes. 1:7-8; 2:1, 8).  These would interpret all references to the Coming of the Lord as one advent to the earth after the Triblulation and before the 1000 year Messianic Kingdom.

               The passages used to teach a pretribluation rapture of the Church would be speaking of that last generation of the church that endured the Tribulation and was gathered together to join the rest of the church coming down from heaven with Christ.  This view has huge implications for the church if in fact the church is to endure the Tribulation period.

19.  At this point, the reader may be wondering where the people come from who are gathered by Satan for this final battle against the Saints and Jerusalem (Rev. 20:7-9).  Thinking back to the tribulation period, there were believers who survived the tribulation and entered alive into the Millennial Kingdom.  These Gentiles are referred to by Christ as the “sheep” in Matthew 25.  These will propagate and fill the nations during Christ’s Millennial reign.  As in all previous ages, the children of these tribulation survivors will be born as unregenerate sinners and will need to place their faith in Christ for eternal redemption.  Evidently, many, even in spite of the perfect environment of the Kingdom, will reject Christ.  These unbelievers will propagate and migrate to the “four corners of the earth,” away from Jerusalem where Messiah lives.  At the close of the Millennial Kingdom, Satan will be released from his prison and will gather these together to make war against Jerusalem (Rev. 20:7-9).

20.  Barnhouse, p. 51

About the Author

Slayden MacGregor lives in Brooksville, Florida with his wife Kathleen.  They have four sons.  He graduated from Dallas Theological Seminary in 1996 with a Master of Theology in Bible Exposition and is ordained by the Evangelical Free Church of America. Slayden has served as pastor of Faith Evangelical Free Church in Spring Hill, Florida since 1998.  He provides pastoral training conferences in several countries on the Plan of God, and is an adjunct instructor at Saint Leo University.