Hello and welcome-or welcome back-to Renaissance Woman!
As I continue my study of Isaiah 45:7, and specifically my study of the word “evil”, I wonder about the role of Satan in the existence of evil. There are a couple of scripture passages I’ve shared before that are worth taking another look at. The first is in Galatians 5 verses 19-21 where the Apostle Paul writes, “Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like…” The second is Jeremiah 17:9 which says, “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked, who can know it?” My study has made it clear to me that it is mankind and not God who is the source for those things I think of when I hear the word “evil”.
And, I say again, that “evil” isn’t the best translation for the Hebrew word ra. Bad and calamity are better choices although my personal favorite drawn from the Strong’s concordance is “injurious to happiness”. It is also important to remember that the Hebrew word bara, often translated as “create”, does not necessarily mean “to make something from nothing.” My study of both the word and its usage throughout the Old Testament has caused me to settle on a definition of “to cause something new to come into being and grow towards an intended purpose”. I can see God doing exactly this throughout the Old Testament as He deals with Israel.
It is interesting to note that when God does bring calamity upon His people, He isn’t the source of it as in He brings something entirely new into being in order to bring about said calamity. Two examples are when He uses nations already in existence: the Northern Kingdom being taken captive by Assyria (See 2 Kings 17) and Judah being conquered by Babylon (See 2 Kings 254 & 25). This is fascinating to me because there is no record of Assyria being aware they were a tool used by God. No doubt they were certain their god had triumphed over the God of Israel. The Book of Daniel does record the fact that the Kings of Babylon were aware the God of Israel was a living God but they never did come to serve only Him. Something else interesting to note is that fact that, while God did use these nations to bring about calamity on Israel, He also kept the promise He made to destroy them. There is nothing but ruins to bear testament to the fact the kingdoms of Assyria and Babylon ever existed. Truly, “the kingdom is the Lord’s and He rules over the nations” (Psalm 22:28) and that the God of Israel “makes the nations great and destroys them; He enlarges nations, and guides them” (Job 12:23).
It is clear to me those things we call “evil” are sourced in the flesh. Our God is certainly a God who knows good and evil (See Genesis 3:22), is a present God (at hand!) and will use whatever or whoever is at hand to bring about His purpose in the microcosm of our lives and the macrocosm of the world around us. What about Satan? Isn’t “the devil made me do it” a viable excuse for some of the things we human beings do? I cannot see that it is. There are too many scriptures to list here but I encourage all of you to look up how many times the words “repay according to your deeds”, “reward according to works” or some variation of the same appears in scripture. We human beings reap what we sow.
And yet-the Book of Revelation calls that serpent of old a great dragon “who deceives the whole world” (Rev. 12:9). Ephesians 6:12 speaks of principalities, powers, rulers of the darkness, and spiritual hosts of wickedness in heavenly places. 1 Peter 5:8 says we have an adversary who “walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” The Bible makes it clear we have an enemy whose wiles ought to be respected-because he’s been deceiving a long time-but I can see nothing in scripture that tells me this enemy ought to be feared in any way.
Consider Luke 10:19 where Jesus says, “Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you.” Consider also Romans 16:20: “And the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly.” Jesus has defeated every foe, including and I should say especially Satan, and His living in me means His victory is mine. Be afraid of a roaring lion? What for? Our savior is the Good Shepherd and He is the one who is able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him (Hebrews 7:25).
There’s a brief passage in Amos 3:12 which never ceases to fascinate me when read in the light of Hebrews 7:25. This passage is “…as a shepherd takes from the mouth of a lion two legs or a piece of an ear…” There’s a footnote in the Archeological Study Bible which states, “a piece of the sheep was saved to prove to the owner that it had been eaten by a wild animal, not stolen by the shepherd” (Page 1450).
Who is our God? Is He the one who has come to seek and to save what is lost but will settle for two legs and a piece of an ear? Is that the story of the One who is risen from the dead and ascended to the right hand of the Father? Would all authority in heaven and earth have been given unto Him if He’d presented pieces of His sheep and said, “I’m sorry, Father, I tried”? Of course not! David describes himself as a shepherd who, when a lion or bear took a lamb from the flock, he went after it and struck it, delivering the lamb from its mouth (1 Samuel 17:34-35). We have an even greater Shepherd who returns with His lamb and says “rejoice with me for I have found my sheep which was lost!” (Luke 15:6) He need not settle for pieces of his sheep because He is able to save to the uttermost.
I was going to call this post “Ain’t No Bite Marks on Me” because that is the truth. I have been rescued and my wounds have been treated with oil. My Rescuer is, was, and shall be speaking to me and I have learned to know and love the sound of His voice and another I will not follow. My Shepherd has told me I am more than a sheep. I am a Called-Out One. I no longer walk in darkness but in His marvelous light. I am a member of His body. I am a member of His church, cleansed and sanctified by the washing of water by the word. He presents me to Himself glorious, without spot or wrinkle. Or bite marks.
This is my identity. This is your identity. We do not need to fear anything: not any evil human beings might do and not any stratagem of an already defeated enemy. We live within the beating heart of the God who is Love. There is no fear in His love because His love is perfect and casts out all fear. We may find ourselves walking through the valley of the shadow of death but we need fear no evil for our God is not only with us but IN us. We are in Christ therefore we are new creations. The old things have passed away and Behold!, all things have become new. We have been saved to the uttermost!
Unless noted otherwise, all Scriptures are quoted from The Holy Bible, New King James Version, Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, Tennessee, 1982
NIV Archaeological Study Bible, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 2005, Page 1450