The Real Jesus
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The Real Jesus

Chapter 10

Encounter with Satan

   Jesus spoke at great length, in private, to His disciples about His encounter with Satan. The accounts of both Matthew and Luke, together with Mark's one paragraph establishing the chronological place of the event Gust before the beginning of His ministry and just after His baptism), prove that Christ discussed the event in detail with His disciples. Obviously, there were important lessons to be learned.
   Mark said that the "Spirit immediately drove Him out into the wilderness" — showing that the very strongest spiritual compulsion was within Christ; that He knew the confrontation with Satan was necessary; that He had to overcome and conquer the world-ruling spirit (Eph. 2:2), Satan the Devil. Jesus was qualifying to take over rulership of all of the governments of the world — and He had to defeat the present ruler at his own game, according to his own rules, on his own battlefield. It was to be the supreme battle, and the enemy had all the weapons.
   Previously named Lucifer ("shining star of the dawn," or "light-bringer") this great being had formerly been one of the three named archangels, and a personality extremely close to the God family, an individual known from the beginning. Jesus said "I saw Satan as lightning fall from heaven." Jesus was there, and took part in an earlier battle with Lucifer (Isa. 14; Ezek. 28) which had literally convulsed the heavens, rent the earth, exploded stars and planets, and filled space with the junk of a gargantuan, titanic battle.
   Anyone who wants to take the Bible literally as an actual communication to man from outer space, from God, would see the results of Satan's rebellion and battle against God in the panorama of universal destruction that is evident in the bleak, crater-pocked face of the moon; the desolate, lifeless waste of Mars; the impenetrable Venusian atmosphere; the billions of asteroids, meteors, and comets; all the space dust and gas. All the universe gives testimony to the primal war in space that defies human imagination.
   Satan had been confined to the earth — been "chained" by God's decree (in a state called "hell" in one place, but translated from a Greek word, tartaroo, which is used in only one place), but was allowed to hold sway over the earth. Satan was a prince reigning over total destruction, when that Person who was later to become God in the flesh came upon the scene as outlined in the first chapter of Genesis.
   Once, the earth had teemed with billions of creatures. The atmosphere was completely different from today; almost universally tropical, with no polar ice caps, and with abundant, thick, luxuriant foliage providing both food and shelter for billions of creatures. Lucifer was originally given the earth as his responsibility. But the Bible says he tried to use earth as a base for his attempt to overthrow God from His throne. He failed, and, as John wrote in Revelation, his "tail" (comet-like?) drew a third part (of course! there are only three archangels mentioned in all the Bible) of the "stars of heaven" (a common Bible symbol for angels) and "cast them down to earth" (read Rev. 12:3-9).
   The total destruction of the earth was the result; and the massive burial of whole continents teeming with plant and animal life, multiple billions of creatures, resulted in the storage of fossil energy for the use of man in the countless thousands of years yet in the future.
   If scientists believe the earth to be 4 1/2 billion years old, there is no quarrel with Scripture — neither does 10 billion years make any difference.
   There was, according to the Bible, an earlier, perfect creation. Also included were the spirit beings, among them Lucifer. But the resultant cosmic battle literally wrecked a good portion of the universe. Frustratingly to Lucifer, even in the destruction on earth he was to provide future fuel and energy sources to God's greatest creation of all-mankind — destined to rise ultimately to a position even greater than that originally given to Lucifer and his angels.
   John's twelfth chapter of the apocalypse (meaning "to reveal," not "to destroy") is a quick summary of the whole time period from the conception of God's plan for His church, Satan's rebellion and earth's destruction, Satan's attempt to destroy Christ through Herod's decree to kill all the children, and the encounter in the wilderness with Jesus personally.
   "And another portent appeared in heaven; behold a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems upon his heads. His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven, and cast them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to bear a child, that he might devour her child when she brought it forth; she brought forth a male child, one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron, but her child was caught up to God and to his throne," (Rev. 12:3-5).
   Jesus knew what Satan looked like; both in an earlier, beautiful state, and in a later, more grotesque and ugly condition. He is called a "serpent" and a "dragon," as well as "the cherub that covereth" in the Bible.
   When Ezekiel saw the strange creatures covering God's throne he "knew that they were cherubs." Most people believe cherubs appear as naked babes with cupid's bows and arrows — and few realize that cherubs appeared to men in ancient times; that some of them were tremendously famous from the time of Adam until Noah as the guardians to the garden of Eden.
   Cherubim were able to manifest themselves as lions, oxen, men, and eagles; or as an aggregate of all four. Ancient mythology preserves these huge spirit creatures in stone as the "winged bulls of Bashan" on ancient Assyrian king's palaces, and even as recently as 1975, with new discoveries of even greater civilizations in ancient Syria, a wooden bull with a man's head overlayed in gold was recovered from ruins believed to be contemporaneous with ancient Sumeria. Search the great museums of Britain, France, Germany, and Egypt, and you will see hundreds of examples of the worship of "the host of the heavens" in the form of men with eagle's heads (common in the inscriptions of ancient Egypt, and in Egyptian tombs) as "gods"; winged bulls featuring the heads of men and lion's claws and other assorted mixtures of these four.
   When God placed two cherubim with "flaming swords" to guard the way to the tree of life, they remained there from that day until the destruction of Eden in the flood. Remember, that means about one-sixth of all recorded history — a considerable time! The tales repeated down through time from the children of Noah, all of whom had seen those cherubim, gave rise to the mythologies about winged dragons, flying serpents whose mouths breathed fire, who guarded mysterious castles at the top of craggy hills, filled with fabulously valuable treasures.
   Giants and their mythical treasures, St. George and the Dragon, the winged flying serpent which was worshiped by the Incas and Aztecs (Quetzalcoatl, meaning "flying serpent") — these are all mythological tales, endlessly repeated and embellished, stemming from human encounters with cherubim.
   When God told Moses to decorate the interior trappings of the tabernacle in the wilderness with "cherubim," Moses didn't ask God, "Yes, but what do they look like?" He knew, especially since he had come from a background of the royal courts of Egypt.
   Jesus knew exactly what to expect when he encountered Satan. He knew Satan didn't appear as a funny, mischievous man in a weird red body — stocking complete with pointed ears, a tail with spears' tip, and a trident in hand. He knew Satan could appear as a man, or as a cherub, or as a winged flying serpent.
   What is a "dragon," after all, but a "winged flying serpent"? When the devil appeared to Adam and Eve they weren't at all startled to hear a strange-looking creature having serpentine, dragon-like form (but probably standing upright, like a tyrannosaurus) speak to them in audible voice; for they had no standard of comparison. The fact that God, using serpents as a type of Satan, cursed the serpent and from that time decreed he was to "crawl on his belly" in the dust of the earth strongly indicated there were serpentine creatures that stood upright prior to that time.
   Jesus knew that He was meeting one of the most powerful spirit beings in the universe; He knew that He would have to stand the test of the most appealing, magnetic, powerful personality on earth; that He was going to match wits with the vilest, moct subtle, cleverest, most cunning, and superbly (if perverted) intelligent creatures in the universe! He knew that humanly, of Himself, He didn't have the strength and will to overcome a spirit. being of such power. He would need super-human strength, spiritual strength from a righteous source, and the very help of the Father Himself, as well as the power of friendly angels.
   Jesus intended to overthrow Satan. He was to combat the "prince of the power of the air" and conquer him! He was to meet the "lord of the dead" and displace him! He was to allow Himself to be subjected to the greatest test of His human life to date, and had to depend utterly on God the Father for His help to overcome!
   That's why He had fasted for so long! The Bible says Christ "learned by the things which He suffered," and Christ intended to come to know that weaknesses can be overcome with enough help from God!
   Read the account of Jesus' confrontation with Satan just prior to the beginning of His ministry. The story is revealed in the fourth chapter of the book of Matthew. "Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil" (Matt. 4:1).
   When Jesus was "led up of the spirit" it is obvious that He had been, by this "sixth sense" of the awareness of the spirit world, in such close communication with His heavenly Father through prayer that He knew that it was time for this great confrontation — the supreme battle of will between the fallen archangel, Lucifer, and the One who was coming to unseat this Satan and qualify to be the World Ruler. (Perhaps He had received either a very vivid dream, a vision, or even heard an audible voice from an angel. Or He might have just "sensed" it was time.)
   Jesus, with His brilliant mind and the outpouring of God's Holy Spirit "without measure" no doubt knew the Scriptures as no man before or since!
   He was, after all, the "Word personified," as it were, and so was very thoroughly aware of the examples of fasting just prior to a great crisis or a great event in the Bible. He knew that Moses had fasted 40 days and 40 nights, prior to receiving the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai.
   He knew about Elijah's 40 days and 40 nights of fasting, and knew this would also be required of Him in order to utterly divest Himself of any reliance whatsoever on any material crutch, upon any remote temptation to depend upon a false feeling of "self-reliance," but, in this weakened state, after having spent countless hours in deep and soul-searching prayer, would be equipped to withstand the worst temptations Satan the Devil could throw at Him.
   It says, "And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungered."
   The word "hungered" in context implies much more than just "hungry" the way it may appear to us. No living human being today could have the willpower and self-control, together with the physical stamina and strength to endure a full 40 days and 40 nights fast.
   Jesus was nearly at the point of death; he had almost starved by the time Satan the Devil came to Him and hurled every conceivable temptation His way. After the initial temptation of trying to get Jesus to obey his whims by converting stones into bread, Jesus made one of His most important pronouncements. (And a statement that is almost universally misunderstood by millions of professing Christians today, who would rather live by "some", and not "every," word of God.)
   Jesus said to Satan, "... It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God!"
   Then Satan began to probe to find if there was any ego there, any vanity, selfishness, or desire for power or self-importance. Finally Jesus gave a command, and the Devil was forced to obey! "Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve" (verse 10).
   Now read the next verse! "Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him." What does "ministering" mean? What would you do if a person who was very dearly beloved to you were discovered in an emaciated, starving state, a condition of almost complete physical and mental exhaustion?
   Remember, these "angels" did not appear like little pink-cheeked bare babies with bows and arrows — but as mature, kindly, competent, and swiftly efficient men!
   From the time the One who became Jesus Christ of Nazareth — who was the God of the Old Testament — appeared unto human beings Himself (He wrestled in the dust of the earth with Jacob, sat in the shade of Abraham's tent on the plains of Mamre, talked to Moses from a cloud on Mount Sinai), to the other accounts in the Old Testament of angelic appearances, you can learn that angels always appeared to human beings as men! The two men who were the objects of the perverse lusts of the citizens of Sodom, and who had to drag Lot and his family out of the city just prior to its destruction, were angels, manifesting themselves as strong, human men.
   Jesus had no doubt slumped to the ground or was seated with His head in His hands, following this exhausting encounter when a strong arm encircled His shoulder and a deep resonant voice said, "Here, take a sip of this."
   When you "minister" unto a person in this state of exhaustion, you will no doubt provide warmth in the form of blankets and a place to lie down, and give sparing amounts of something appropriate like beef broth or some other richly nutritious and easily digestible food.
   This encounter also serves to illustrate the fact that, when it was needed, angels, who were always around Jesus in unseen, spirit form, would manifest themselves as human beings, and give Jesus even the physical sustenance and protection that He needed, and that He was constantly attuned to that "other dimension" of the heavenly presence of His Father and His righteous angels.
   So, in the greatest spiritual battle ever fought, a battle that was absolutely necessary in the plan of God for Jesus Christ to overcome Satan, the Captain of our Salvation qualified to take over rulership of Earth from Satan.

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Publication Date: 1977
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