What Angels See
God certainly could have chosen to simply annihilate Satan. He had taken all that had been created in beauty and made it ugly and marred. He had taken those intended for intimate relationship with God and turned them into enemies of the very One who had so created them. He had led a rebellion in the very presence of the Eternal Father and caused those beings created to serve as worshipping agents to become instead hostile opponents of the glorious One. Yes, God certainly COULD have chosen to simply annihilate Satan.
While the Adversary was turning humans against their Creator and against one another, the Lord of Heaven was quietly drawing out an army of rebels and liberating them to serve Him. For a while it looked very much like God’s plan was a mega-fail. His Rescuer was betrayed by one of the very ones He had poured out His love upon, had graced with daily provision, had permitted to see what others could not see. A crucified supposed-to-be-rescuer dying helplessly on a cross along the heavily trafficked roadway into the “holy city” was, for the moment, Exhibit-A of the conquering power of Satan. But God was still Almighty-Creator. He COULD have annihilated Satan, but He did not.
Instead He fashioned a totally different plan. Satan taunted the Lord by declaring that, “Your people only serve You because You protect them from pain, provide lavishly for their needs, and make their lives easy. Take all that away and you will see that they don’t TRULY honor You!” So the Lord chose one of His most adamant, dedicated, hateful opponents and turned his life completely around. He designated him as the ambassador of a radical new mission. He created a whole new race of people. He defied all human logic and expectation by extending a gracious offer of liberation to those considered outcasts, unworthy, unredeemable. And He gave them every single privilege and benefit formerly offered only to those nearest to Him. Then He sent His former enemy out to declare that radical new message of hope and thus creating hostility and murderous resentment. With the stirred passions of rejection, He permitted them to place His chosen ambassador in chains and without due process, hold him in prison for nearly five years.
Again it appeared for a brief period of time that God’s great Adversary had won. But rather than cave under the pressure, rather than resent his horrible circumstances and turn against his God, he chose instead to use his bondage as a platform for proclaiming God’s totally free grace! God could have annihilated Satan, but instead he drowned his taunting beneath the praises that rose from His people in the midst of their suffering. He broke the power of Satan’s darkness by the testimonies of the afflicted as in those dungeons of affliction their praising hearts radiated His glory. He shut the mouth of the lion by the happiness of His servants who often lost all they once possessed. Their joy in their trials exceeded the temporary thrill of the followers of Satan with their shares of human prestige and possessions.
So what do the angels see? They see the wonder of a radically transformed people finding their satisfaction in the realities of family intimacies enjoyed in a new living relationship with their Creator. They see unshakable trust and unquenchable joy even in the midst of frequent suffering. They see contentment in chains!
“I, Paul, a prisoner for Christ Jesus on behalf of you Gentiles…So I ask you not to lose heart over what I am suffering for you, which is your glory!” Ephesians 3:1,13
See you Sunday, Church!