Friday, January 01, 2016

“The Crisis in Heaven”

Insight #1 January 2, 2015
First Quarter 2016 Adult Sabbath School Lesson
"The Crisis in Heaven"
For the week of January 2, 2016

This quarter we will study the great controversy between Christ and Satan. The lessons are concerned with where the conflict began and where it will end. They also deal with practical aspects of this engagement of war as it relates to you and to me personally. The title of this quarter's lessons – Rebellion and Redemption – summarizes the struggle between good and evil; between righteousness and sin. The knowledge of rebellion and God's plan of redemption opens our understanding to rebellion and to the recovery from it.

Our lesson this week is about where the great controversy began and to where it continues. The crisis began in Heaven and later was transferred to earth. In both places freedom to choose was displayed. Strong mental power of the top executive angel in heaven bent his will to evil and was followed by man's submission to that bent will on earth. Both Lucifer and Adam deliberately twisted their wills away from and against the will of God. Both are responsible and accountable for their rebellion against God.

The memory text for the week is pregnant with meaning. "Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!" (Rev 7:10). Salvation is the overriding theme of the Bible. It signifies a rescue or a deliverance with special spiritual significance.

Salvation is a multidimensional theme with a wide range of meaning, so simple definitions are impossible. Scripture speaks of salvation as a reality with dimensions that are both individual and corporate, objective and subjective, eternal and historical. Salvation also involves the paradox of freedom of choice and Divine sovereignty. The biblical writers viewed salvation with further dimensions of past, present, and future phases, each of which intensifies and deepens the concept. In the Bible, salvation is presented as a process with a beginning and an end.

Despite the complexity of these dimensions, the Bible constantly speaks about salvation in the context of some very simple and concrete relationships between humans and God. God is the main actor throughout the Bible beginning with the deliverance of Adam and Eve and their son Abel all the way through to that great multitude who shout "Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!" (Rev 7:10). Salvation in this verse is attributed to both the Father and the Son. Both are involved in our redemption. Both are connected with the gospel: this is "the gospel of Christ" which "is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes" (Rom 1:16). Paul in his letter to the Corinthians wrote that "the message of the cross … is the power of God" for those "who are being saved" (1 Cor 1:18). Salvation involves Christ, the gospel, God, power and faith.

"The Crisis in Heaven" involved all the above dimensions. Because of His gift of freedom of choice God allowed Lucifer, His anointed cherubim, to sin. To sin is to die. But had this top executive in the government of God died immediately, questions in the minds of loyal angels would have led to confusion, bedlam, madness and anarchy throughout the universe. Questions would have led to doubt, fear and hatred of God and eventually universal chaos.

But God stepped in and prevented Lucifer from reaping the consequence of his sin – death. The original sin, which began in Lucifer's mind while still in heaven, had to be exposed for what it is. This took time. And it took the crucifixion of Christ to demonstrate, fully, the awfulness of Lucifer's rebellion.

In his process in his rebellion Lucifer took down other angels with himself. Through subtle deceptions he led a third of the angels of heaven, who believed his lies, into rebellion against God. They left their domain and attacked God and His government in heaven, but they lost the war. They were cast out of heaven, came to earth, and deceived Eve. Adam chose to join Eve and Lucifer in rebellion against God (Jude 6; Rev 12:7-9; Gen 3:1-6). The freedom of choice to sin involved death and damnation to the human race as well as to the fallen angels. Consider the lies Lucifer presented to Eve –

The devil uttered three lies to Eve through what appears to be ventriloquism. He spoke through a beautiful winged serpent. (After the fall of Adam and Eve, the serpent was downgraded to a limbless scaled reptile slithering on the ground instead of flying through the air (Gen 3:14; PP 53)). Those lies are still with us and will be until the second coming of Christ. The three lies are: You don't have to obey God (implied); "You will not surely die"; "you will be like God" (Gen 3:1-5). These three lies were echoes of Lucifer's exceedingly strong desire to be "like the Most High" (Isa 14:14).

In the passage recorded by Isaiah 14:13-14, regarding the fall of Lucifer there are 5 personal pronouns ("I will") and 1 adjective ("my") which describe what is in his carnal heart. There are a total of 48 English words recorded as used by Lucifer. In the Greek there are 30 words, and only 24 in Hebrew. Lucifer's use of "I" is 1 out of 8 words in English; 1 out of 5 in Greek and 1 out of 4 in Hebrew. Years ago I wrote in the margin of my Bible the following:

The use of words such as "I", "me" and "my" once in 26 words is normal. Used once in 12 words it is considered abnormal. Used once in 7 or 8 words is indicative of a mental problem. (I neglected to write down the source from where I got this information). The conclusion, whether in English, Greek or Hebrew is – Lucifer has a severe mental problem.

Ezekiel has much to say about Lucifer's fall while still in heaven as one of God's covering angels. He corrupted his God-given character, wisdom, riches, and beauty (Eze 28:15-17). He coveted God's power instead of His character. "God made him good and beautiful, as near as possible like himself" (RH, Sept 24, 1901). But Lucifer wanted more. He coveted equality with God.

Let's consider God for a moment. Do you think he has emotions? Most religions of the world, including too many Christians, believe He has one dominant emotion which is wrath or seething anger. Consider the word used to describe God's reaction when Lucifer sinnind. "Son of man, take up a lamentation for the king of Tyre. …" What is the meaning of "lamentation?" It is a deep sorrow especially experienced when someone dies. God mourned over the loss of Lucifer. He will mourn over us also if we are lost by choosing Satan's way in the great controversy. May this never be!

In the near future Lucifer will have clipped wings as did the serpent that was used by him to deceive Eve. Just as that serpent in the Garden of Eden became a limbless scaled reptile slithering on the ground, so will "that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan" (Rev 12:9) move over the broken chaotic earth for a thousand years, never more to roam throughout the universe tempting unfallen beings.

Our memory text for this week will be proclaimed in the soon coming future reality of heaven by all the redeemed from every age of earth's history – " 'Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!' "(Rev 7:10). But for now let's consider what Paul wrote to the Philippian church members:

Paul in Phil 2:6-8 presents the contrast between the character of God and that of Lucifer. Jesus who was equal with God, because He was and is God. From His equality with God Jesus took seven steps down. He descended down, down, down to death, even to the death of the cross. Jesus did not think it robbery to be equal with God the Father. He did not think this was something to be seized as He was and is God. Lucifer did. Thought equality with God is something to be seized and grasped. So we have two minds set before us. And from these two attitudes mankind chooses – either the righteous mind of Jesus or the carnal mind of Satan. Which shall I choose? What shall you choose. Let's "Let this mind be in" us as it "was also in Christ Jesus" (Phil 2:5). If we let it, it will be in us.

~Jerry Finneman

Raul Diaz