"…. Thy Kingdom come, Thy Will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven…" (Lord's Prayer, Matthew 6:10). With this simple, yet powerful prayer, Jesus taught His followers that God's Will is only done where His Kingdom is present. And so, in this post I will discuss several Bible verses that raise the possibility that Satan has sovereign power over the Earth. In addition to the petition in the Lord's Prayer that God's Will be done through the coming of His Kingdom, we have the confrontation between Jesus and Satan in the story of the temptation in the desert (Matthew 4:1-11). Satan tempts Jesus with three different temptations, but it is the third that I want to focus upon – where Satan takes Jesus upon a high mountain, and showed Jesus all of the kingdoms of the world, and said "all these I will give you, if you fall down and worship me." What was the temptation? Think of how many people Jesus could have helped – illness, disease, famine eradicated. The end of wars. The pain of this life could be lifted. I think Satan was preying upon Jesus' compassion with this temptation. Yet Jesus stood firm and quoted the Old Testament command - 'You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.' (from Deut. 6:13.)
The conclusion I want to draw out from this Third Temptation of Christ is that Satan has authority and control over all of the kingdoms f Earth. This is supported by other verses in the Bible such as his being given title of 'god of this world' (2 Cor. 4:4, Job 9:24, John 14:30); And that he is the prince of the powers of air (Ephesians 2:2). So what sort of power does Satan over the world? Is Satan's kingdom at war with God's Kingdom?
Let me raise two other verses on this topic – first, is a verse from Daniel chapter 10, which I have raised several times before in my blog. In this story we have Daniel a prophet of God praying and fasting to God. An Angel is immediately sent by God in response to these prayers – See, Daniel 10:12: "Fear not, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand and humbled yourself before your God, your words have been heard, and I have come because of your words…" But the Angel's response was delayed for three (3) weeks even though it was God's Will that the Angel come to Daniel. The reason for the delay? An unseen demonic spiritual force referred to as the "the Prince of the kingdom of Persia" battled the Angel until the arch-Angel Michael came and defeated this demonic "prince". From this story, we see that Satan's kingdom can temporarily delay God's Will through attacks upon the servants of God. And so, it is not God who is attacked, but God's faithful servants. And this battle caused a short delay in God's Will (an answer to Daniel's prayers) from being answered.
Another interesting story of the spiritual warfare taking place around us is contained in 2 Kings chapter 3. The villain in the story is Mesha the king of Moab. The Good Guys were the divided kingdoms of Israel – where Israel is divided into the northern and southern kingdoms, yet they joined together with the king of Edom and set out to destroy all of the cities and villages of Moab. Would they win? A prophet of God Elisha son of Shaphat was asked and he told the kings that God "will also give the Moabites into your hand…" (2 Kings 3:18). They received confirmation of this prophecy with God's provision of water for their armies. And the combined forces overthrew all of the Moabite cities (v. 25). But then comes the interesting party of the story – the combined armies surrounded the last Moabite city, Kir-hareseth, which appears to be the Moabite capital. And our villain, Mesha, the desperate king of Moab took his 700 tough swordsmen to try and break the siege but they failed (v. 26). He then took his eldest son, and…, well, let's read how God's Word describes it:
Then he (Mesha) took his oldest son who was to reign in his place and offered him for a burnt offering on the wall. And there came great wrath (NIV describes it as a great "fury") against Israel. And they withdrew from him and returned to their own land. (v. 27)
What?! God's Will of destroying all of Moabite cities was prevented by Mesha's sacrifice of his son to the Moabite god, Chemosh. And I like the way the NIV describes it, as a "fury" coming upon the combined forces, and the Moabite was saved. Despite God's prophecy through Elisha, that God would give the Moabites into the combined force's hands, the sacrifice of king Mesha's son caused some sort of force and impact to save the Moabite city of Kir-hareseth. What was this fury or wrath that defeated the combined force's armies? Well, this is a subject of some dispute, but my take is that this was a powerful demonic attack brought about by the sacrifice to the Moabite god Chemosh. And this somehow prevented God's Will of the destruction of Moab from taking place.
Can a man hide himself in secret places so that I cannot see him? declares the Lord. Do I not fill heaven and earth? declares the Lord. (Jeremiah 23:24 – ESV)
So, how do I put together the verses in my last post on God's sovereignty, and this beautiful verse from Jeremiah 23:24, that describe God as an active God, involved in all parts of our lives throughout the whole Earth, with the verses on Satan's power (and his allies), that have demonstrable power against the servants of God? I think that is the key – they can only battle the servants of God. The enemy can only delay the implementation of God's plan, not thwart it. But God's Will is carried out. Well, that is what is on my mind this week. May God bless you with His peace (shalom) this week. In Christ, /s/Tom